Monday, 30 November 2009

Dragons Den

I have just completed my Dragons Den style presentation where I had to present my innovative new food packaging to a panel of 'dragons' as well as the entire class. If this wasn't scary enough it took place in a lecture theatre, and those talking had to stand at the front with all eyes on them. I had visions of falling on my face or spluttering words throughout the entire presentation but I am pleased to say all went well.

I think that it was a good opportunity to see the classes work and their lines of thinking behind their final pieces. And for many of us it was the first time we had seen each others concepts. We were asked questions and given constructive criticism, which should help us with future projects. Since art is so subjective their will always be some degree of differing opinion but I think everyone produced exciting new products.

For me exercises like this are pretty frightening and I won't be rushing to do another one, but I do think that it may be good to occasionally get the class together and discuss our ideas and concepts. It could provide valuable opinions and lead to a more effective end solution. Do you feel the same? Or do you think that this would be a waste of time that could be better spent completing your work?

Friday, 27 November 2009

Books and Film

Last night I went to see New Moon, The Twilight Saga and I hate to admit it, but it didn't live up to all the hype. Don't get me wrong their was plenty of male torso on show which would have pleased most of the audience but it just didn't live up to my expectations (the film that is, not the half naked men!). I have read all the books by Stephenie Meyer and loved them all. Could this be the reason why I didn't enjoy the film? Can you ever get the same suspense you get from a film as you can from reading a book?

Is your opinion on a film determined on whether you have read the book prior to it? For instance when I watched P.S I Love You I was constantly moaning about things that were different from the book. Do we have preconceived ideas about how the film should be if we have read the book previously?

Does it work the other way round to? After going to see My Sisters Keeper I decided to read the book as I thought it was a very good film. However I was disappointed with the ending of the novel, as it differed from the film. Is this just me being to fussy or do you feel differently about films depending on whether you have read the books?

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Last night I attended the Dundee College awards ceremony held at The Space. On arrival there was a great atmosphere and it was really good to see the amount of people who turned out for this event. I have never been to the awards ceremony before and up until last year I didn't even know that one took place.

There were over 70 students receiving awards which ranged from construction to cooking, hair dressing to horticulture and business management to beauty. It gave me the opportunity to see the wide range of courses available at Dundee College. More importantly it was an opportunity to recognise the hard work and efforts students go to throughout their academic year. Every student had to walk down the red carpet to achieve their award and on doing this they were greeted with applause. This level of enthusiasm is what is needed, and can go along way to making students feel they have achieved a great deal.

Even though it is not possible to give everyone an award I think events like this are really worthwhile. It can make more people aware of courses and future opportunities, but overall it is giving students praise for what they have achieved.

Online Chat

Today I have been asked to take part in an online chat session with students from Aberdeen College. The purpose of this activity is to inform them about life at DoJ, and most importantly the transition between college and university. As a direct entry student to the course I have previously completed my HNC and HND in Visual Communication at college. The years I spent at college were very enjoyable and I think they really helped me to develop a wide range of skills. The briefs we were given covered various topics including web design, typography and digital imaging. And even though there are times I feel that I have missed out on learning other disciplines by not completing the General Course I am pleased I have this background knowledge as I have found the assignments this year easier to tackle.

Graphic Design is a big part of my life now but just a few years ago, whilst I was at High School, I had no idea what it even was. The students I will be talking to today will know lots about Graphic Design but I think its a great chance to give them a little more information about the DoJ course. It is true that they could read up on the course structure, teaching methods and special features in a prospectus but would they ever know what the briefs were? Would they know what the night life is really like? Would they believe that all the student accommodation is as lovely as the photographs shown on the resident pages?

I never had a chance to take part in a web discussion like this but I think I would have benefitted from the knowledge current students can share. Even though I am enjoying the course, it is very different to college and to be honest I didn't expect this. I have had to adapt to a new way of teaching, a new way of researching and a very different approach to final products. Knowing this prior to starting University would perhaps have made the change over slightly easier.

Not only is this a good idea for college students I think it could be used for high school pupils also. Going back to the comment I made about not knowing what Graphic Design was; I was in sixth year trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life. On an open day to DoJ i was shown around the general course and instantly presumed that you had to be good at drawing. I wasn't terrible but the standards of my work didn't even compare to the portfolios that were on show. So I decided to go of in another direction, needless to say I quit and made my way here! But I wonder if I had been shown around the whole of DoJ that day would I have applied? If I had the chance to speak to students online would I know more about the options I had? Would I have applied to University after high school rather then working for a year pondering what to do? What do you think? If you had the opportunity to take part in an online chat would you log on? Or do you think its a waste of time?

Friday, 20 November 2009

Sneaky Shops

On entering todays lecture I was greeted with Christmas music, images of Santa and some glowing fairy lights, and it definately got me in the festive spirit. It also made me realise that Christmas is just around the corner and that I still have lots to buy. And after listening to todays lecture I am pretty sure that most shops know that all these decorations and tunes that they play get their customers thinking the very same thing!

We were informed that supermarkets are designed in a certain way so that the items that we buy most regularly are stored right at the back. So when you go to get that carton of milk for your cereal in the morning you often come away with a lot more than you intended. Sometimes we even forget the one item we went to the shops for in the first place. This is not us being stupid or forgetful, it can all be explained by the layout of the store. We are made to walk through all the seasonal products, tempted with half price goods and buy one get one frees, all cleverly positioned on route to that pint of milk.

This is not the only example of shops trying to get us to spend more money (which most of us don't really have in the first place!), we were told of other sneaky tactics that these companies adopt in order to get us buying. Chairs are often found dotted around the changing rooms, and before today I thought these were purely for comfort. However they aren't there to give us a little rest from all that hardcore shopping (which I originally thought), they are there to keep you in the shop longer. And the longer customers spend in a shop the more they are likely to buy!

At this time of year the shops seem to be mobbed, with hectic customers frantically searching for that special gift. But why is it that we feel the need to spend lots of money in order to show someone that we care? I am not suggesting that we start making our own presents and to be honest if the only present I received on Christmas Day was a scarf my mum knitted I would be pretty hacked off! But I think the best cards you get are often the ones that are handmade. Someone has taken the time to make it, and in my opinion its a little more special than just picking one out a shop. Even though that option is probably cheaper and less time consuming!

This year the class has decided to do a secret santa, and we have the grand total of £5.73 to spend on our unknown victim. I know that this still means we will be spending money but its more fun and the small price tag means that we will have to come up with something more thoughtful than if we had a £100 budget!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Ode To Ms T

Social networking sites are growing fast, with millions of people logging on every minute of the day. However I have never been a fan of these sites and I am probably the only person I know that doesn't have bebo or facebook. All my friends use these websites to contact one and other, post photographs (a bit like the one above) and lets be honest to have a good nose at what other people are up to. But I have never felt the need to join up and share my life with hundreds of people, some of whom I don't know.

Lately there has been a great emphasis placed on social networking and making contacts. Setting up my blog was my first venture into the social networking world. Even though my account has been up and running for a couple of months there are still times I find sitting down and writing a blog very hard. What I do enjoy though, is viewing other peoples blogs, finding out their opinions and views on subjects.

I think that making contacts and having a voice is very important especially for future work and career development. However today I had a visit from a good friend who now stays in London (she's the one thats looking slightly less stupid in the left hand side of the pic!). Even though I speak to her on the phone every few weeks I wonder am I missing out on small pieces of information that she would post online but not bother to mention in a call? Are there pictures of nights out that I haven't seen and will never hear about? I moaned in an earlier post that no one send letters anymore and that email is taking over. I do wonder though, would it be better to receive an email or a quick message on bebo than nothing at all? I suppose that if I did one day take the plunge and sign up that it would give me not only the opportunity to make new connections but stay in touch with the ones I already have!

Saturday, 14 November 2009


For Assignment 3 I had to use the CrossSearch tool on the university's online library catalogue. This database provides the user with useful resources including books, journals and articles, on the topic that is being researched. In this instance I was using this application to search for articles relating to my chosen area of investigation which I identified in assignment 2 - Advertising and Health Awareness.

I had to consider books, magazines, articles and journals and finally make a selection of around 6 to 7 key texts. I had never used this online tool before but after a short while it was easy to follow. In order to view as many related texts as possible I had to do broad searches rather than being to specific. I soon discovered that these texts may not be in the first category you look at and that several searches are required in order to get a wide range of resources.

I managed to find several journal articles which I think could be interesting to look at in more depth however the library catalogue struggled to provide me with suitable books on my chosen topic. A trip to the main library had no success either so the majority of my chosen texts are journals.

The final part of Assignment 3 was to produce a bibliography. I have never had to do this before and I actually found it quite tricky! Whilst researching Harvard Style online I found slight variations between different websites so I have chosen to go with my sisters notes given to her at university. So I hope I've got it right!


Baker, H. (2008) ‘Can a public health intervention improve awareness and health-seeking behaviour for glaucoma?’ British Journal of Ophthalmology, 92 (12): 1670 – 1675.

This journal article outlines an investigation into ‘whether a public education campaign can increase awareness and change help-seeking behaviour with respect to ocular health in an Indian population.’ A study was carried out using different kinds of media to promote the scheme. Results showed that there was an increase in people aware of glaucoma, and that radio is an effective means of raising awareness. This article raises some interesting points that would be useful for further research into effective health advertising. Knowing what media works best can reduce costs whilst also producing as much advertising as possible.

Basil, MD. (1996). ‘Identification as a mediator of celebrity effects.’ Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 40 (4): 478 – 495.

In this Proceedings Paper the effects of celebrity endorsers on consumer behaviour have been researched. Previous studies focus on credibility or attractiveness as being important issues in relation to effectiveness but a review of Burke, Kelman and Bandura’s theories suggests identification is a key factor. After carrying out tests, findings suggest that a ‘spokesperson with whom the audience identifies insures the greatest likelihood of achieving lasting attitude or behaviour change.’ I think this could be very useful in my research and could also be used successfully to promote health awareness in the future. By knowing what triggers a positive response designers can use a certain type of celebrity in such campaigns.

Dibb, S (1993) Children: ‘Advertisers’ Dream, Nutrition Nightmare? The Case For More Responsibility in Food Advertising.’ London: National Food Alliance.

The NFA’s purpose is to ‘improve the health of the general public and increase knowledge and appreciation of the way in which food is produced and distributed.’ This report looks into he effect of advertising on children’s food preferences. It argues for more ‘responsible advertising practices’ and suggests that regulatory bodies ensure that positive messages which inform the public of advantages of healthy living are promoted. This book is now quite dated however it would be good to look at the information found during this period and compare it to advertising that is now produced for children.

Evans, DW. (2008) ‘Social Marketing Campaigns and Children's Media Use.’ Children and Electronic Media, 18 (1): 181 – 203.

In this journal article Evans argues that not all marketing in the electronic media is confined to the sale of products.’ It is noted that the same techniques used by commercial marketers have been adopted to help promote healthy lifestyles. Evan examines recent campaigns and conducts research and evaluation in order to identify their effectiveness. He provides evidence on how ‘social marketing can promote healthful behaviour, how it can counter media messages about unhealthful behaviour, and how it can encourage discussions between parents and children.’ This research could be very helpful in relation to the topic I am researching as it examines one of the key areas I was interested in. The results also suggest that by looking at previous campaigns, which have been successful, designers could help promote ‘smart media use.’

Frank, R., Pindyck, T., Donahue, S., Pease, E., Foster, M., Felton, C. &Essock, S. (2006) ‘Impact of a media campaign for disaster mental health counseling in post-September 11 New York.’ Psychiatric Services, 57 (9): 1304 -1308.

‘After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the New York State Office of Mental Health (NYOMH) initiated a three-phase multifaceted, multilingual media campaign that advertised the availability of counseling services.’ This study examined the link between spending and the number of calls the organization received. Results show that during the periods of maximum advertising calls peaked. The authors conclude that due to the findings sustained advertising is most effective in ‘encouraging individuals to seek mental health services.’ This study highlights a topic I was interested in researching further. It also suggest that in the future campaigns may have to be sustained in order to have a positive health effect.

Kahn, C. (2001) ‘How the media influences women’s perception of health care.’ Marketing Health Services, 21 (1): 12 - 18.

This Comparative Study/ Journal Article examines ‘the effectiveness of media sources that marketers use to channel direct-to-consumer campaigns to women.’ A study was carried out whereby female participants were divided into groups depending on several social aspects including their marital status, age, employment, etc. Health care information was presented through various formats including Internet, magazines and radio. The results of this research show that women in certain ‘population segments’ reacted very differently to the information depending on how it was presented. These findings could be very helpful for future health care advertising. By understanding different groups of people designers can gear their campaigns to have maximum impact.

Lewis, M., Watson, B., White, K. & Tay, R. (2007). ‘Promoting Public Health Messages: Should We Move Beyond Fear-Evoking Appeals in Road Safety?’ Qualitative Health Research, 17 (1): 61 – 74.

The authors of this journal article conducted experiments through a series of focus groups. The aim was to gain knowledge on how successful fear provoking messages are compared to positive appeals (in relation to road traffic injury prevention advertising). Their findings suggest that more attention should be placed on ‘positive emotional appeals.’ Another useful article that researches the topic I am interested in. From a design point of view, the more knowledge of what type of advertising works the higher the chance that the public will be influenced in the future.

McDonald, PW. (2007) ‘A practical, cost-effective method for recruiting people into healthy eating behavior programs.’ Preventing Chronic Deisease Public Health Research, Practice and Policy, 4 (2): 1 -7.

The study outlined in this journal article is ‘to determine whether classified newspaper advertising is an effective and efficient method of recruiting participants into a healthy eating program and to determine whether segmenting messages by transtheoretical stage of change would help engage individuals at all levels of motivation to change their eating behaviour.’ A study was carried out to find out the effects of placing adverts in newspapers. The study had a positive response from the public and attempts to send influential messages to different audiences was deemed successful. The journal also suggests that this approach was a cost-efficient compared to many other common promotional methods used. I think these facts are very interesting for both my research and future projects. Designers need to use the best method of communication whilst also meeting a budget and this research outlines a possible solution.

Slater, JS., Henly, G., Ha, C., Malone, M., Nyman, J., Diaz, S. & McGovem, P. (2005) ‘Effect of direct mail as a population-based strategy to increase mammography use among low-income underinsured women ages 40 to 64 years.’ Cancer Epidemiology, Biomakers and Prevention, 14 (10): 2346 – 2352.

This journal outlines a study carried out to find successful strategies to ‘enroll eligible women’ into the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Programme. A randomised trial was carried out to access ‘the effect of two mailed interventions on mammography utilisation.’ Results collected a year later showed that direct mail has a positive effect; the number of women using this service increased. These mailers were aimed at low paid women, therefore direct mail should be considered for use by designers aiming to effectively inform similar groups in the future. These findings are very interesting and will be good for my research as they look into ways of producing effective health advertising.

My Top 5!

For assignment 3B I had to complete the online tutorial and guide to using the web on the Intute website. I found the tutorial very helpful, it was simple to understand and it also allowed you to try out various searches to see how results differ. For future online research I will definately use the guidelines outlined in this tutorial as they will provide the best and most reliable results. You can follow this tutorial at:

I had to work through the website and produce a list of my top 5 websites. Throughout the tutorial I was given recommended websites to look at, all of which were reliable sources.

My Top 5 list of websites that I think ate useful for keeping up to date with Graphic Design:

  • - this design magazine contains articles, news and reviews relating to 'all aspects of the communication arts worldwide.' It would be a useful resource for keeping you up to date with the latest styles, what forms of communication are successful at thr moment.

  • - this offers a range of resourses for all kinds of designers from case studies to practical information. Reliable resource for designers to use, I would know that the information is factual.

  • - this magazine focuses on news and jobs withing design. This could be extremely useful when I leave university and I want to get a proper job!

  • - has an online communication network for artists in the UK. I would be able to upload pieces of my work whilst also having weekly updates of whats on in the art world.

  • - this website has a search engine for art and design. It produces fewer results than google but I would know that the pages I view would be relevant and from a reliable source.

My Top 5 list of websites that I think will be useful in keeping up with developments in the news and fields outside my discipline:

  • - this website allows you free access to stories from around the world, as well as access to previous articles written.

  • - this website has a section purely on art and design. It contains lots of information, bringing a range of resources from the BBC's own archives with links to other online sites.

  • - Access newspaper articles online. Quick and easy way to keep up to date with what is going on in the world.

  • - provides access to online books. This provides me with a reliable resource where I can view texts I am interested in.

  • - this site gives users the opportunity to access discussion groups. These groups cover a wide range of topics and debates. I think this would be useful for finding out what the public think of a particular issue.

I think this has been a very good assignment. Prior to the tutorial I thought I knew how to use a search engine but since going through the online guide I have learnt little pieces of information which will be very helpful with future research.

Friday, 13 November 2009

What is Art?

During todays lecture I was asked whether I am a artist, craftsman or a designer. I consider myself a designer due to the nature of my course. I am given briefs that I need solve, there are restrictions and specifications, and all in all my job is to solve a problem. Also the word design is in the title of my course so that maybe swayed my decision!

We were then shown a serious of photographs showing many works of 'art' from paintings to sculptures and asked what category they fell into. For some of the pieces this was an easy decision but for others there was no right or wrong answer. So what makes one piece of work art and another design?

Is something only art when it has pride of place in a gallery? Is the decision that a piece of work is either art or design made by critics? Does work have to fall into only one category? For example we were shown a photograph of an Egyptian Sphinx, I personally think this falls under all three categories; art, design and craft. What do you think? Is it neither? Is it in fact architecture or some other form of art and design?

Another set of photographs compared sculptures to everyday work and I found this particularly interesting. For instance, we were shown a sculpture made from logs, which was then compared with a pile of firewood. Are they different? Or are they the same? How can one be seen as art but the other not?

It made me question if I am only a designer? Even though my job is to communicate a message or solve a problem does that mean that my solution cannot be art?

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Last night I attended a talk at Sensation on Psychology of the Home. The speaker spoke about this in some detail, mentioning why places seem to be so meaningful to some but not to others. For some individuals home is there house, its where they grew up. For others it could be their town, their community or indeed their country. One women commented that she had travelled her entire life and that home wasn't any one place, but it was where ever she was staying at the time. It was any building from a house to a hotel room where she could lock the door, take her shoes off and relax. It was where she was comfortable and in control. Another example that got raised was how some people living in America, for instance, may have Scottish routes. And for them an image of Scotland can be very powerful, even though they may have never been to that place, and perhaps never will.

This got me thinking, where is my home? Its a very easy question for me to answer. Its my house, my town that I grew up in, its where my family are. A much harder question for me to answer is whether this will always be my home? I have stayed in Dundee for three years now, and even though most of my belongings are here its definately not home. I don't think it would matter if I had no possessions in my house, it would still be home to me. It holds to many memories, shared experiences to not mean something to me. I do wonder though, when I grow up and have a family of my own will that place, that community, that house become my home? Or will my heart always be in Leven?

So where is your home? Is it your house? Your community? Or do you not have any sense of emotional attatchment to one particular place? Do many places conjure up memories? Where do you see your home in the future? Will you go on to live in the same place you have done your entire life or do you want to escape what you call home?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Bringing Communities Together

The other night I went up to Baxter Park to watch the fireworks. There was a massive turn out and everyone there appeared to enjoy the music, bonfire and fireworks display. Even though it was only on for a couple of hours it really brought people together. This got me thinking about a topic that got raised at my seminar earlier in the week - the importance of street football. (This may seem like an unrelated topic but its going somewhere!)

The Street Football Project aims to 'establish a network of street football clubs who would play each other in friendly leagues and tournaments, breaking down barriers and bringing different groups and communities together.' There was a similar project set up in my town last summer and even though I didn't participate (1. because I am too old and 2. Even if I wasn't I can't play football to save my life!) I think its a really good idea. Not only does it get people together it gives teens something to do. Growing up in Leven is not the most exciting place to be, so having a project such as this gives younger people something to look forward to, keeps them fit but also keeps them from wandering around the streets getting up to no good.

Some people may argue that this scheme is a waste of money and that the cost to fund such events could be better spent. However it could actually save so much money. Youths may be less likely to particpate in crime and vandalism because they having something more exciting to do. It will hopefully have a positive impact and lead to new attitudes amongst this age group. So are these people right, is it a waste of money?

Getting back to bonfire night, I know this only takes place once a year, but could councils arrange similar events more often? I am not suggessting fireworks and bonfires in the middle of summer, but seasonal events. Perhaps small music concerts, bringing local bands together? Outdoor activities on those rare warm days in summer? I know this would all cost money but I think it could be effective. I know that I would certainly go along to such a project if it was on in my home town, as I am sure others would.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


For my seminar the other day I produced a poster about advertising. Whilst looking into this area I became interested in why some adverts work and others don't. And how some adverts no longer promote the product they actually sell. Take Cadburys as a prime example, their adverts of late have contained a drumming gorilla and two weird looking kids with funky eyebrows! Neither commercial shows chocolate, people eating chocolate or in fact mentions the word chocolate. So how is it successful?

You tube has become very popular for viewing short funny clips which get people talking. Cadburys have adopted a very similar approach, their quirky little videos become topic of conversation. I have already pointed out that the adverts don't contain any mention of chocolate, but this doesn't seem to matter. Its the fact that these adverts are so different, so bizarre that helps promote the product. People discuss the advert, which in turn advertises Cadburys through word of mouth.

Another good example of this type of advertising is Compare the Meerkat. There are no cars shown in the commercial, instead we get a cute little meerkat in a velvet robe. But it works. If you were to look up comparative websites for car insurance I am pretty sure that would be one of the first sights you would view. This may because these types of adverts are usually rather dull, but in this case the commercial is rather funny and therefore rememberable.

I think this is a very interesting approach to marketing and I wonder if it could be used to promote a wide variety of products? For instance could it be used to tackle health issues? Put a new spin on government campaigns? Can humour engage a wider audience? Or would the important message be lost?

For the next two assignments I will be looking into advertising and hopefully find out the answers to some of these questions!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Letter vs Email

Is it just me or do you love it when you receive a letter through the post? I am not talking about bank statements or mobile phone bills (which is what most of my mail consists of ), but a proper handwritten letter.

Email has definately made communication quick and easy. But is it now so popular that it could threaten one of the oldest ways of communication? I think it is brilliant that you can contact someone half way across the world (or indeed the person sitting next to you!) via email and receive a reply the very same day. It allows millions of people to keep in touch with friends and family, keeps businesses alive and allows information to be shared across the continents.

But can emails ever bring that warmth that comes from a good old fashioned letter? Can you get as excited about opening your inbox as you can about finding a letter on your floor? Your name scribbled across the envelope, not knowing who its from or what the contents will be about!

Can they ever be as sentimental? Eventually you will have to delete your mail to allow for space in your inbox, and once thats done your mail is gone forever. I guess you could print it of but it would never have the texture, colour, size or smell that come with a handwritten equivalent.

There is something special about the fact that someone has taken time to sit down and write to you. These pieces of paper can bring back so many memories, and I think that is why so many people keep them, so they can read over from time to time.