Saturday, 5 December 2009

Ian Anderson

This term I've taken part in 2 workshops with Ian Anderson, the last 2 ever in fact. Compared to last summers workshop these were a lot less terrifying, probably because my confidence is slightly higher or maybe because I was used to the critical nature of the sessions. Anyway I think I've gained a bit of knowledge from both of these mainly with regard to presentation skills and with reading and understanding briefs properly.

Workshop 1

The first project sounded a lot easier than it actually was; the brief was to do something pointless for an hour, document it and present it, I had 2 days to do this. I chose to write 100 names (boys and girls) on my hand and then wash off and repeat this for the hour:

I photographed my hand every 5 minutes and wrote down how many names there were each 5 minutes, something that was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. The samples of presentations that Ian showed to us were all about infographics and statistics taken from the experiments which was initially what I intended to do as well but I spoke to Ian and he suggested trying something more creative and exciting. This made sense really as I'm not the kind of person that uses inforgraphics and graphs and charts etc in my work so I tried to create something that was more suited to my style of working - something a bit more delicately crafted.

I ended up spending a lot of time picking out and writing down all of the names from each of the photos to make a list of names the occurred more than once and I used these names to make map like images. I traced over the photographs where the names were by writing the names and also with lines to create small documents of each time.

I then printed these onto an A3 sheet, 1 or 2 for each time and I then printed the list of repeated names. This was the format for my presentation (something that was actually meant to be 10 minutes long but mine was about 2) and I think this is where I started to go wrong.

Ian had actually wanted the presentation to be the most important part of the brief, something that I overlooked completely; I prepared mine about an hour before I had to do it and didn't consider issues with visibility (my images were quite small on the A3 sheet) or timing or even the content really. This was a really valuable lesson, I concentrated too much on the pointless task and trying to make my documentation unique and beautiful when I should have focused on the presentation and selling my idea in an interesting way rather than relying on the work to sell itself which was impossible because nobody could see it! I wasn't as nervous about the presentation side of this task and I think that made it easier for me to take on board the comments that Ian made whereas last time I just seemed to take everything a bit too personally.

Workshop 2

For this 2 day workshop, everybody had to bring a friend along so I took Molly Clifford although I didn't actually end up working with her. The brief this time was to work in groups of 4 or 5 (picked out by Ian) and to create a pitch to present to the "World Organisation" of the future who were looking for a colour for their rebrand, each team was given a colour and had to persuade the "Organisation" to use it. My group was Hannah Davies, Ben Kither, Caitlin Clancy and Jacqui Williams; with the exception of Hannah I hadn't actually worked with anyone else before which was good for the task as Ian wanted us to get used to working with people we didn't know that well. Our colour was yellow.

Again there was a 10 minute presentation at the end of the 2 days and this was the focus of the task, something that I realised this time and so we aimed to have an entertaining and exciting presentation. We began by exploring the associations that the colour already had, where it was currently used and any objects/foods etc that were yellow to gain a bit of background knowledge. It was good to discuss ideas with everybody and share all of our knowledge, something that you obviously don't have when you work alone. We discussed a few ideas and decided that our main idea was to promote yellow as the happiest colour but ensure that it was understood that it could also convey serious messages. Our concept was based on the idea of yellow being like a mother: warm, safe and happy but also warning of danger, informative and looking out or you. We made up limericks combining the ideas of mothers and yellow as a fun way of putting across our idea and also chose to give out some form or yellow food and drink to create a happy feeling that associated with yellow.

I think as a team we worked really well, we discussed and developed all of the ideas together and everybody contributed some form of work through sheets, limericks, food, scripts etc. I really enjoyed working with everybody because there were no issues with work or arguments etc which can always be a problem with group work, everybody was motivated and it was a really positive experience.

Our presentation consisted of an introduction, limericks, a graph about the relationship between yellow and mother, some 'equations' about the benefits of yellow and then our food handout. It was supposed to be 10 minutes but was actually about 5 but I think we presented it well with confidence and, I thought, it was entertaining and lighthearted but still made an attempt at selling the colour. The comments from Ian and Hitch were quite critical though; they thought that we should have explained our idea before launching into limericks and nobody seemed to understand the relationship or relevance of the mother idea which just really irritated me. But that's probably because it was my idea. We got more positive feedback from other people in the group though which was nice.

Again there were some valid lessons to learn about presentation, a good presentation of something not so great is (apparently) always better than a bad presentation of something good which I suppose makes sense but is depressing as presentations are just never good from me. Basically Ian has taught me to always present in the best way to suit the client, always be confident and pick up on the details in briefs as they are KEY.

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