This week was the final project of the first module of the course. It made me feel a bit sad that we had already come to the end of twelve weeks and I can hardly believe how much I have learnt and how far I think I have developed personally on this course. My work took a bit of an unexpected turn this week as I set off in one direction of looking at oil and environmental damage and the brand Shell and thinking about how I could make a ‘shift’ that would reveal the Shell logo in a more realistic light, when I stumbled across the history and background of this enormous global enterprise. I was completely taken aback by what I read, and shocked into understanding how many lies we are told as consumers. I always knew that companies bent the truth a little, but I trusted that the regulations for what you can do and say were fairly strict; in fact, for generations, some companies have not only told untruths but used this dishonesty to cover up unethical behavior- in Shell’s case, in collusion with the Nigerian authorities. Whether it is a result of laziness, or naivety, our reluctance to seek out the truth is something that companies feel they can exploit, assuming the product will go on selling regardless.

It is only when you start looking into the severity of the individual instances that realization of the extent of dishonesty and bad practice dawns.

I found myself quite emotional and shaken by the stories I read about the way Shell had destroyed livelihoods and environments, and even committed acts of violence and murder, in southern Nigeria. I write my response with anger and disgust at their, now obviously ‘greenwashed’, campaign which suggest their aim is to do good in the world. I came to realize that other oil companies, such as BP, were no better and that exploitation is an integral part of production in many commercial spheres worldwide.

I am proud of my work this week and feel that I have come a long way on this course so far. I took an activist role as a graphic designer this week, which is something I have never done before, and which I would like to explore further in the next and subsequent modules. I also want to take some more time devising clever phrases and word plays which catch people’s attention and wake them up lightly to their vulnerability to deception as consumers.

Twelve Week Summary

After completing the first 12 weeks of the graphic design masters course, there are a few things I would like reflect on before moving forward to the next module. While assembling all my projects into an interactive PDF, I have realized how much my work has changed and evolved over a relatively short period of time. At the start of the course, when we were given the task of creating a quadriptych, I feel that the work produced was not to the best of my ability. I was not allowing myself to really dig into the brief and think about the real meaning behind the questions asked. I think this may be partly because I have come from a fashion background in which everything is very much about image. Even on my BA degree course I felt that sometimes I was being judged on how I personally looked instead of my ability to understand and develop my design process. I think week 4 was a turning point for me.   I really decided to step back from the project and look at it from a fresh standpoint. I wanted to really answer the brief without worrying about the end result; not being concerned about producing something beautiful or perfect but creating something real, which gets to the root of the question asked. I have always been embarrassed by my hands: they are clumsy, and I have strange witch-like long fingers. Having said this my hands are one of the most important tools in expressing myself day to day, particularly here in France. If I took away people’s ability to understand me and exposed the way in which I try and express myself in a different language, then perhaps I would push myself out of my comfort zone and expose a vulnerable side of myself to the group. The project was carefully thought out and I felt so proud showing it to the group in the webinar and getting a positive response: people understood what I was trying to say and supported it. After this, I dived head first into the course, exploring and reflecting on all the resources, lectures and discussions between peers. I have taught myself about different intricate brain cells that transmit waves of information to different parts of our body causing us to create; I have discovered the unnoticed and how to evoke this through layering, together with the symbolism of ‘the door’ and revelations from archived postcards from the 1900s. The final week of the course brought me to a new chapter in my creative journey. Taking an ‘activist’ role in graphic design and disrupting the corporate narrative in week 12 really opened my eyes to the many ways in which the medium of graphic design can be used to make a statement or inform the public. I felt moved and angry when I gave my presentation at the webinar that week and it made me realize that I would like to explore this area again in the next module.

I am very grateful for all the support that I have been given on this course from the tutors and from my new peers. I think that the structure of the course is perfect for me as I can go back through the course materials as many times as I want and re-watch the lectures / webinars if I need to. My goal for the next module is to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone to further grow in confidence and find a voice within the industry of graphic design.