Report and Evaluation of ‘Bolivian Essence’, my degree show brief

Since before Christmas, I knew that I wanted to do a project based on my trip to Bolivia in 2012. I realised that I hadn’t done anything to do with the expedition creatively, and I have always looked back on the trip fondly because I loved it and I really want to go back to South America! I loved the bright colours, which I think has instilled an enjoyment of bright colours in me since the trip.

My research kind of began on the trip, as I used the photos that I took while on the trip as a big source of inspiration, filling in any gaps with images found online. I also watched some documentaries, some more useful than others. I also researched multiple artists, ranging from paper cut and collage artists to illustrators whose styles I liked and was inspired by. I researched artists and designers who use bright colours and quite sharp shapes, as this is what I wanted to feature in my collection. As well as this, I looked at the Print and Pattern books to gain design inspiration, looking at how other designers put their patterns together to create unique designs.

I started to create my mood boards after looking at trends on WGSN and researching my competitors, and a theme on WGSN that really suits my brief is the A/W 18/19 Worldhood one, which is bright, colourful and textural – perfect for Bolivian Essence! The person who would buy my collection is someone around my age (late teens to 30), who travels or is interested in travelling and likes to buy aesthetically pleasing items like notebooks and phone cases – which are some of the products that my collection has been designed for. Therefore I researched competitors in the low to mid price range, like H&M, George at ASDA and John Lewis for the higher end of the market. From this, I learnt that there is currently a trend for quite bright designs, with a tribal geometric influence – and definitely a trend for llamas and exotic birds! I hoped at this point to take this trend further, introducing new motifs while still having the llamas and geometrics that are so popular.

At the beginning of the brief, I struggled a little to start drawing and mark making, but now that I’m at the end of it, I think my sketchbook is the most filled sketchbook I’ve ever handed in! The sketchbook goes from line drawings, to mark making, to collage/paper cuts and finally to oil pastel. Each of these elements feature in my designs, and each is a vital part of the collection. I love the depth and texture that the collages bring to the collection, and I am so glad that this came across in the designs, where the layers of paper are so clear to see. The oil pastel drawings are a very important part of the designs too and were actually a late addition to the collection after speaking with the external examiner in March. They add another texture to the designs, and I really enjoyed using oil pastel to draw with, I find it much easier and nicer to draw with than pen or pencil. The line drawings and mark making are softer background elements of the designs within the collection and are mostly what the secondary and tertiary designs are made up of.

I found taking the drawings into patterns quite difficult, as I didn’t know what to put together and what would work well. It took me a while to get into it, but once I had created a few designs, I managed to get on a roll. I found that while I was at home over Easter, I managed to get quite a lot done because I could just sit and work without many distractions, whereas in Cardiff I get quite distracted!

I am very pleased and impressed with my collection as a whole because a lot of the time during the module I felt quite stressed, but it has turned out to be great! Until a few days ago, I was very worried that none of my collection went together, but after putting them into groups I felt much better, as I could see that they do coordinate – before I was only matching ones with the same or similar motifs. I think that my colours work perfectly for the theme – bright, bold and fun, and grouping them into colours works really well.

Having the buddy system during the degree show build was very useful, as it meant that all the little jobs that needed doing could be passed onto someone else while I got on with other things that only I could do, like blogging. Halfway through the build, I felt quite stressed because I had to rearrange my space but in the end, I was still ready a couple of days early! My space is quite different to how I first imagined it, but I really like it and I think it is much more professional than my original idea. I am very happy with my display, and I like that it is a bit different because I have not used headers, giving that nod to a marketplace, and the products add that extra oomph to the collection.

All in all, although I have found it difficult and stressful at times, this module has been the one I that I have enjoyed the most over the three years of studying here, and I’m really looking forward to graduation and I’m excited to keep on designing on my own terms, whether it be as a career or on the side!


Final Degree Show Space

h7ek0gqiquypgkap3fmka.jpgHere is my final finished degree show space! I am so relieved that it’s done! I am really glad that the layout changed, and I think that this is a vast improvement. It looks a lot more professional, whilst still having a nod towards a Bolivian market, with the samples being close together and overlapping. The cushion as a centrepiece works much better than it being on the floor, as it is now the first thing that is seen when looking at my space, and then your eyes are led around the space to the samples, group by group which I really like.

Some close ups of the different groups of designs:

I think grouping the designs has worked really well and separates but also brings them together. Before they were grouped I was struggling to see which designs went together but now I can really see that the collection works as a whole which I am very pleased about!

Buddy System

During the last two weeks, I’ve had a buddy to help me put up my degree show, which has been very useful! My space was quite easy to fill and paint, as there were no walls to put up or take down! Because of this, my buddy was able to get on with filling, sanding and painting quite quickly. This meant that I was able to get on with putting up my space quite soon, which was a relief. Other than painting my space, my buddy has done lots of little jobs for me, like putting my press packs together and mounting back up work. This has been so useful, as they are tasks that would take so long when they don’t really need to be done by me, unlike things like blogging and organising my space. Having the extra time to adjust my space has been amazing, especially since it went through such a change!

Final Updated Card Collection

My final updated cards are a much cleaner and simpler version of what I previously handed in, and I think that they are a lot more sophisticated, tidier and commercial than before.

Dandelion and Bluebell

The dandelion and bluebell designs are a very similar layout to the previous ones, but the hand-cut element gives them more personality and character, even though the shapes and imagery are essentially the same.


Oak and Horse Chestnut

Again, with the tree designs, the layout of them is very similar to the previous designs, but with a cleaner background that makes the eye focus on the design rather than the background.

Hedgehog and Woodmouse

The animal designs have changed more, where I have done entirely new drawings, with the animals in different positions. Because I drew them in a few different positions and angles, it gave me the option to choose what looked best, rather than just going for the first thing that I draw. I am really pleased with these, as I think the designs are a vast improvement on the previous designs. The animals have more character, and seem more alive!

Great Spotted Woodpecker and Chaffinch

I also think that the bird designs have improved, as I did multiple drawings again. The details have been simplified, but you can still tell what sort of bird they are. I really like the simplicity of the whole collection of new designs and the border that ties in with the illustration finishes each card off. Each card has a corresponding envelope with a mark making pattern on the outside, which matches the border design of the card, and this really brings the card collection together and finishes it off.


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Additional Sketchbook Work

In order to improve my card collection for Consultancy, I went back to drawing and cutting paper by hand, rather than laser cutting. By doing it by hand, it adds more personality to the imagery, as it is not so perfect, and it was less like putting a jigsaw together for me! I experimented with various drawing techniques, including continuous line, to get my drawing freely and feeling more relaxed. When I felt I had done enough drawing for each card subject, I moved onto cutting paper, creating multiple of each subject (i.e. lots of leaves and conkers etc.)

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I chose what I thought was the most successful cutting for each subject to go on my new and updated cards, and I think just going back to drawing and cutting by hand (and not using technology!) the imagery has a much lovelier feel to it, with a more personal feel.

Putting up my degree show space

Yesterday I put up my samples how I wanted to, which was what was in my space proposal. I quite liked this setup but after talking to the tutors, we agreed to try something different, as this version wasn’t very professional looking, and also not market-like enough – it was somewhere in the middle. I said my goodbyes to my lovely plant, took everything down and took probably the quickest trip to IKEA anyone has ever done!IMG_5428

The new layout idea was to put the designs into groups and display them around the edge of the space, with my floor cushion placed on a shelf in the centre of the wall. After getting back from IKEA and putting the shelf up, I proceeded to sort the designs into groups (with assistance from the tutors), and then arranged them into layouts which worked well for the space on the wall.

Sorting them into groups really helped me to see which designs coordinate, as I had lost sight of this and was a bit lost in the madness of putting a degree show up. After rearranging my space, I felt a lot more relaxed and felt better about my collection as a whole, as I had begun to overthink it.

Products featuring in my degree show

For my degree show, I will be displaying a couple of products: a floor cushion and some notebooks. I am displaying them to show what my designs look like on a product, in addition to the CAD Visuals.

The cushion was made with digitally printed fabric, and I made it myself. The back has a simpler, tertiary cacti design on it. I am really pleased with it, as it was the first time I put a zip in for a good few years! The design works really well on the cushion, and the scale is perfect. I am very happy with the result.

I got these notebooks made, which I really like. I think all the designs really suit the notebooks and work on a small scale.