Designing for fun as a graphics student can be difficult. Creating a zine for a different project regained that creative thrill and momentum - I learnt a lot about myself as a designer and as a listener to the many people who let me draw with their thoughts.
I don't know about you, but I've found having restrictions and limits in design can be a lot more fruitful than having free reign. Blank page syndrome comes to us all and we definitely are not immune after having faced it, but we are generally a little more confident and a little less doubtful.
The feeling of designing for hours with Kanye's music looping on full volume as I don't plan and just create - shouldn't be an unusual one. Yet, at the time, A Level coursework was overwhelming and I had become habituated to tip toeing around the edge of my projects rather than sinking my teeth straight into them. Looking back after a about a year, I know this is not my absolute best work but that doesn't matter - it is a reminder of what it feels like to design with a balance of freedom and limit.
Trust me, if you also find yourself in the cycle of not enjoying creating because of your own standards, you do not need to lower them, just trust that they're there - and try something risk-free where there are no real judges - not even you.
The Next Gen. Creatives - Who are We?
The zine tackled topics like“Who are you?” and other questions we didn't quite know how to answer...
Have you ever been asked to choose a group and be completely split between them? Well the reason the zine started was because I put my chair slightly awkwardly in the middle of the two groups in a brainstorming session for NGC. The Next Gen. Creatives are a young people's creative group representing the Attenborough Arts Centre, and being there from the start meant seeing many awkward but ultimately wonderful moments like these.
(to find out about who we are and join the group check out our Instagram @next.gen.creatives - we are always looking for new members)
The session was for our exhibition on being an outsider and facing injustice, and we decided on creating a powerful set of interviews that would frantically overlap each other in the exhibition space. As someone who really values communication, I thought creating a written publication to visually document the power of the work would engage people with the minds of young people beyond the few minutes in the exhibition.
Drawing with words
As you can probably tell by the rest of the blog, I love language and designing with it. Whilst my Graphics Project at the time focused on giving personality to linguistic topics, the Zine drew on the words and personalities of the NGC members so that the design of each page told a story unique to them. It was when I was highlighting from pages of transcripts, that I discovered how rare an insight I was getting by being the only person really listening and responding to what everybody had to say about inequality, identity, isolation and so many more topics that feel even more tragically relevant today (in the time of a global pandemic and the BLM movement).
Knowing from the start that the Zine's content was already there, and I just had to help others digest it, was strangely comforting.
Design Tip: When confronted with blank page syndrome fill it with something you haven't made - quotes, speeches, lyrics, themed images. Find what you have to say by responding to what others have already said.
Seeing the patterns in the ways people responded to uncomfortable questions, felt like an intrusive but fascinating privilege - one that made me think about potentially learning more about life in this journalistic way.
This project gave me many roles, the designer, interviewer, interviewee, editor and reader - and still I learnt so much from the roles other people played. Sometimes we can feel like in order for a project to work we have to plan and create every element of it. Allowing your content to rely on the responses to the prompts you've given - helps to craft your way out of the echo chamber of your own thoughts or ideas, whilst keeping the work relevant to the vision you want to reach.
That is the ethos for the next zine I'm working on, where I ask even more young people to answer even more lighthearted and deeper questions about life during this strange moment in time. It'll be coming soon but until then feel free to click on our first zine below.
Mini Disclaimer before you click!: Like I said there is definitely plenty room to improve it, but this was a liberating and fun one-off piece that I wanted to share as proof that not overthinking and quenching your creative thirst with a random project is such a valuable and productive experience. Ok now you can click :)