Filtering by Category: Professional Development

Reflective Report

Added on by James Cronin.

The 'Professional Development' module is coming to an end and I thought it was best to reflect on what I've achieved through the module and areas that need improving in the future:


  • Developed new skills, not just on the PD1 module but also in ADC.
  • Increased awareness of the design industry and certain areas of design such as Advertising.
  • Discovered how important 'professional practice' is to a designer. Paying attention to detail for example is essential when submitting a piece of work or sending out a CV.
  • Taken risks and opportunities to develop as a designer.


The weakest part of the PD1 module has been the physical self promotional item:

  • Not enough time was taken to get it up to a professional standard (time/project management)
  • Strong original idea but not developed enough to a final solution


I've put together a list of goals that would help me develop as a designer and avoid errors that occurred during PD1:

  • Develop the promotional item concept in PD2
  • Incorporate the "James - Ambigram Logo" into the physical design
  • Look into professional printing options (for example
  • Think more about the packaging of the self promotional item
  • Continue to blog in free time and keep up to date with current events in the world of design
  • Start the next project with more consideration for time management and planning (a more regular timetabling system)

Importance of a Deadline

Added on by James Cronin.

Parkinson's Law

Parkinson's Law is a quote from Cyril Northcote Parkinson and it was first published in 'The Economist' in 1955. It states that:

"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."

I think this is particularly true in the context of Graphic Design, as I feel a design is never really finished. It can always be worked on, improved and evolved. In the run up to a deadline, its essential to manage your time well in order to make your work the best it can be.

Why is a deadline so important?

  • Makes you budget your time
  • Alows you to work out what's most important
  • Once time is limited, you need to spend it wisely
  • Gives you incentive, a goal to work towards
  • Schedule improves productivity
  • Increases work ethic and discipline
  • Creates a sense of accomplishment
  • Doesn't allow for procrastinating
  • Prevents overload of work


Added on by James Cronin.

In a few days time I will be heading off to Barcelona to partake in the Erasmus exchange programme for 4 and a half months. I applied for the course during 1st year and had to first be accepted by Teesside and then by Bau, their partner University in Spain. I had heard about the programme from friends already at University and as soon as Paul Denison came to talk to us about the opportunity I applied. Its an opportunity to develop as a designer, which I wasn't going to turn it down. Thats why I'm at university in the first place, to become the best designer I can and hopefully one day, have a job I enjoy! Bau, Escuela Superior de Diseño

Bau is a design school, not far from the city centre of Barcelona. It focuses on Graphic Design but also offers night schooling and a masters course.

Lessons are taught in both Castillian and Catalan, with some teachers also working in English. Bau have a different approach to modules and work in a similar way to American universities. They have up to 20 classes available and allow the students to choose between modules and projects.

Studio P52

I'm going to be staying a couple of minutes walk away from the school in a student accommodation which was set up by some ex-students. The old warehouse has been converted into a studio with bedrooms on the upper floors and workspace downstairs. I'm moving in at the same time as 4 other students, all with different creative backgrounds ranging from film production to professional singing.

I think this creative environment which I am going to be joining can only help me develop as a designer and as a creative person.


Above is a screen shot of where I'm going to be living for the next few months. The A is the design school, which doesn't look too far from the beach. The centre of town is about half an hour walk to the left.

I'm really looking forward to this next part of my time as a student and can't wait to get going.

Reference Book

Added on by James Cronin.

Potential Employers

Throughout the PD1 module I have researched into potential employers in my chosen specialism areas, advertising and branding. I've put together a reference book which contains evidence of research and a shortlist of agencies I aspire to work for. The list contains international/London based contacts as well as others outside London.

This book is also for personal use and runs alongside information captured in this blog detailing the application process and thoughts on how to approach these agencies.

Each page follows a designed format to aid navigation:

  • Name
  • About
  • Contact
  • Website
  • Personal Thoughts

Alongside this information I have included representation of their work, which I have collated. This research process has inspired me to one day collaborate and design for a top agency.

What are they looking for?

Added on by James Cronin.

While looking at the job vacancy ads on the links in the previous post I thought it would be useful to compile a list of the recurring themes/traits/skills that an applicant must have:

  • enthusiastic
  • hardworking
  • interest in the area they are applying for
  • fast learner
  • ability to work to a deadline
  • react to short notice tasks
  • work under pressure with high workloads
  • express a keenness to work with a team
  • work independently
  • working knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite
  • push themselves to the limit of their capabilities
  • design experience
  • open minded
  • passion for craft
  • resourceful

One line I thought was interesting on a job advert found on was:

"The agency is keeping an open mind on level of experience. Strong creative and attitude is more important."

Which shows that a good portfolio and professional skills in the interview can get you that job.

10 Design Job Sites

Added on by James Cronin.

As part of the Professional Development module we are required to start thinking about work experience and applying for jobs. Below is a list of 10 useful sights that help designers find jobs in the design industry:

  1. - advertises some of the best jobs in several design disciplines
  2. - "the catalyst that puts together people and companies to create a real spark"
  3. - institute of practitioners in advertising
  4. - provide links to graduate internships
  5. - develop student and graduate placement programs
  6. - source of jobs in web design, branding and other design disciplines
  7. - alows you to search for available jobs and also has a good careers advice section
  8. - alows you to search available jobs via location as well as discipline
  9. - nicely designed site and are run by a team of designers
  10. - our own uni site has a great careers section

Using these resources will be essential when it comes to looking for a job or internship during the summer. From reading the guardian and the Creative Review blog I regularly see updates on job availabilities but dedicated time must be taken to fully navigate each site to find the right job.

Howies - A Deconstruction

Added on by James Cronin.

Analysing and deconstructing a pre-existing brand or company is a useful tool for professional development, as it allows you to work out whats working and what might not be. Your findings can then be applied to your own professional practice and the work that you produce. Howies Howies are a small active clothing company based in Wales, they make men's and women's clothing for sport and everyday wear.


  • Originally set by Clare & David Hieatt in 1995
  • Based in Cardigan (West coast of Wales)
  • Named derived from Clare's maiden name, 'Howells'
  • Eco-friendly - abide by ethically correct practices
  • Sell sports clothing / equipment to men & women
  • Range of sports include: mountain-biking, surfing, skateboarding and hiking
  • Main competitors include: Bamboo Rider, Yew Clothing and Levi
  • Have their own printshop
  • Clothing is made in China
  • The company is now run by Timberland
  • Don't have their own in-hourse design team
  • They commission freelance writers, designers, photographers and illustrators
  • They also include customer contributions to their publications
  • Host competitions and sponsor sporting events / teams


  • Howies have a small printed publication and website
  • The identity is an outdoor, sporty and environmentally friendly company
  • The lifestyle they promote is active and ecological
  • The language they use throughout their site and publications is friendly and informal
  • The graphic language used is a nice balance between computer and hand generated imagery
  • They use a mix of illustrations and photography
  • The typeface used on both the site and publication is sans serif
  • In terms of stock and material choices they have favour good quality which they believe will last longer
  • The materials are ethically sourced, an example is their organic cotton
  • The editorial is portrayed as a 'personal message' from Howies
  • Its a collection of articles and used as a form of interaction with the audience and their clients


  • They exist to sell environmentally friendly clothing and sports equipment
  • "we believe that making a product that lasts longer is better for the environment" -
  • They are not the first to sell clothing to this target audience but there views on ethically sourcing the materials are original


  • The Howies 'model' continues to work as they re-enforce the brand by sponsoring sporting teams
  • They adapt: A vegan pro skater informed Howies he was cutting off their organic jeans leather label so they made an animal free one in his honour
  • They are listed as one of the UK's most ethical brands
  • They believe designers should show benefits of eco-design and sustainability
  • Howies themselves admit they are green but could be greener
  • Timberland have taken over Howies and now produce four catalogues a year
  • 1% of all their income is donated to eco projects

What's working / What's not working?

  • The logotype is simple and clear - it can be used on any coloured background (dark or light)
  • However the blue colour is used inconsistently throughout the website and publication
  • No one in the class had heard of Howies, this maybe be because:

- we are, as students, the wrong target audience

- they rely on their strong relationship with existing customers and focus their attention on these customers returning

- it may be because they want to appear smaller and more personal

Social Networking

Added on by James Cronin.

Why should you network?Social networking sites connect people to other people from anywhere in the world and is becoming an essential tool for freelance designers, to help get their names out in the design community. Its a great way of meeting new clients and for online business and freelance work.

Reasons why Graphic Designers have to use social networking sites Below is a summary of the points made by 'Naldz Graphics' on social networking. The article is well written and extremely informative.

  1. Build a good online presence
  2. Join design networks
  3. Meet both new and professional designers
  4. Showcase works
  5. Get comments and feedback for improvement
  6. Meet new clients
  7. Learn new things from others
  8. Promote your website
  9. Be known as a designer
  10. Give and get inspiration from others

My accounts Below are some of the social networking sites I am a member of. Please feel free to visit them and add me.

Twitter - online social networking and micro-blogging service - an online Business Card

Zerply - an online C.V

Behance - my online Portfolio

Vimeo - youtube for designers

10 Tips for Design Students

Added on by James Cronin.
After reflecting on my first year as a design student, I've compiled a list of tips which got me through the year and would hopefully be useful to other students:
  1. Get a Diary- keep track of deadlines, up coming design events and important design dates
  2. Be prepared - having all the tools at your fingertips is essential for a designer
  3. Environment - create an environment you can work in, close your facebook, turn off your phone
  4. Put in the hours - you will have to work hard to meet those deadlines
  5. Take breaks - get some fresh air, take your mind of your work for a while
  6. Read about design - read blogs, design articles, magazines and ses whats happening in the world of design
  7. Research - solving a design problem will require a knowledge of the subject or client your are designing for
  8. Pay attention - attention to detail is important in the design industry
  9. Experiment - take design risks, try something new and be innovative
  10. Have fun - the most important point. Design is a way of life, would you really want to be in any other career?

Self Promotion

Added on by James Cronin.

What is Self Promotion?In todays design industry, a designer must promote themselves in order to make a career out of what they do. They must adapt to advances in design and show an understanding of their chosen design field.

A designer must try to stand out from the rest as it is such a competitive industry to be a part of.

How do you do it?

  • First of all you will need to decide what area of design you want to be a part of and tailor your promotion to that niche.
  • Next, decide what makes you stand out from the rest. What type of designer are you?
  • Produce a promotion pack to send to potential employers. (This may include a design manifesto, a personal statement, a CV and of course, examples of your work)

6 Self-Promotion Ideas for Creatives I found the above article, by Antoine Reid, very informative and well written. Antoine is a graphic artist who specialises in Graphic Design and Social Media. He states that self promotion is not about boasting but instead it's a way of pushing yourself to the front of the line in your field while staying relevant and known.

Self Promotional Item

For the latest professional development module I am required to produce a self promotional item that could be sent to design agencies to draw attention to myself and gain their interest before following up with my CV and application. I have put together my own 6 ideas on how to create a succesfull promotional item:

  1. Work must be appropriate to send out to professional contacts.
  2. Elements of the self promotion should be flexible for different situations and contacts.
  3. If the promo needs to be posted it will have to be easy to duplicate a number of times to send to more than one agency.
  4. The item should work along side a digital version that could be sent once interest has been gained.
  5. As a designer develops and reinvents themselves they need to be able to do the same with their self promotional item.
  6. The item must be appropriate, exciting, professional and help you stand out from the crowd.


Added on by James Cronin.

Before I start this blog I think it would be wise to set up a few goals I'd like to achieve by using this web log process. The purpose of this excercise is to get a clearer view of where I want to be as a designer.

  • Consistency - blog at least every couple of days
  • Concise - brief but comprehensive
  • Learn - gain knowledge of design industry and graphic practice
  • Structure - keep a solid layout throughout
  • Reflective - develop skills in personal analysis

All these themes are reflected in the 'Module Handbook' for Professional Development which can be found here.


Added on by James Cronin.

As part of the latest 'Professional Development' module at University, I'm going to be keeping a blog on current events in the field of Graphic Communication. Each week I'll be writing entries about interesting things I've seen, heard or read in the design world and how they will affect my future career as a designer. The blog will focus on design and in particular the design industry, but I will also take this opportunity to talk about my own work and development.