Professional Development

Professional Development – First Week

As part of the BA top-up course we need to consider our career goals, how to achieve them or other aspects we could improve on to help us with our creativity or other professional skills – for example learning new software, or maybe taking up another creative skill such as Photography or Drawing.

My Goals

Although my long term goal is to be a teacher I don’t plan to do this until my children are older. This has got me considering a few options.

I used to be into photography and many years ago I purchased a DSLR but unfortunately this now has a chipped lens. I am considered taking this up again and purchasing a new camera but something more portable like a Panasonic LX100.

In the past I have used my own illustrations in my work and I’m considering maybe expanding my illustration skills, possibly combing with with my photography by using these as a basis for my illustrations.

Previously I have made my own jewellery and I’m a generally crafty person. I ran my own e-commerce website,, selling handmade wedding stationery too.

I am thinking about printing my illustrations and/or photography onto some jewellery then possibly selling this on Etsy/Folksy, eBay or at Craft Fairs. I think Folksy is the UK one? I will be looking into this more.

Although I want to push my creative skills I don’t want to go to far away from what I already know so I’m hoping to combine skills I already have with some new skills.

I have briefly considered getting a Graphic Design placement and/or doing some Charity Graphic Design work. However, I’m not sure this is something I want to pursue at this time.

Critical Studies

Critical Studies – Representation Lecture

First lecture was discussing representation. How different groups in society are represented and who is behind these representations.

Still feeling a little shell shocked and I’m not entirely sure I’m on the right track with my understanding but this is my take on it/my ideas on representation.

Representation of a particular group (whether that group be based on gender/ethnicity/sexual orientation/class or another group) is done by those in power. Which, although things have moved on in regards to race, gender and sexual orientation, is still predominately white heterosexual males.

And what advantage would they have in creating and maintaining, often, very unfair stereotypes? There are two things which I can think of which really could be one as they tend to go hand in hand – money and power. Those in power do not want to lose their grip on society and repeating certain stereotypes helps to keep the rest of society in its place.

Working Class

In the UK the working class has been turned on by the working class. A popular idea peddled in certain media outlets, is that we are land full of benefits cheats yet the reality is people who cheat the system are in the minority. There are many working poor stuck in their situation because they are on zero-hours contracts and struggle to claim benefits. And because of their erratic working patterns they have difficulties budgeting properly and often get into debt. Some are being made to wrongly register as self-employed by their employers which reduces their rights and means they can legally receive less than minimum wage. Minimum wage only applies to employees or workers. Many people visiting food-banks are in work, the so called “working poor”.

But even with all that the struggles that come with low paid intermittent work these people are often vilified in the media and by the government. As someone who has tried to get help I can tell you that the thresholds for most financial help  is very low as I mentioned here. I have also claimed JSA and Income Support in the past. I can tell you that the money does not go far – I did not live a life of luxury.

Scapegoat – Somebody’s Agenda

Certain parts of society are used as a scapegoat to hid other problems. The poorest in society, the ones with the smallest voice get a “good kicking”. When people with money and power (like with the 2007 – 2008 banking crisis) make a royal fuck up which effects millions of people across the globe it is the poorest that suffer with low wages (rising inflation but wages have stagnated for many), reductions in benefits partly due to the changes in thresholds.

A good example (or bad if your are working class) of how the big problems within this country are deflected on to those with the least control of how the country is run. For those in power what is better than getting the working class to perpetuate the myth?

I couldn’t help but show a few headlines from the Daily Mail at this point, that well renowned journalistic masterpiece full of unbiased stories without any right wing agenda whatsoever.

“Mother-of-five who pockets £18,000 a year in benefits says she needs MORE handouts because she can’t afford to buy school uniforms for her children (but still manages to spend £20 a week on cigarettes)”

Mother of Five
Mother of Five. Very unflattering shot featuring lots of rubbish/general un-tidiness in the background

“Mother of 13 on £30,000 a year benefits who lives in a five bedroom house is branded a ‘scrounger’ by her OWN daughter because she’ll ‘keep having kids to get more handouts”

Mother of 13
Mother of Thirteen. Not looking her best is she?

Mother-of-five on benefits demands a bigger home because it’s ‘unfair’ that her 11-year-old daughter has to share a box room with her four little brothers”

Mother of 5 wants bigger home
Mother of 5 wants bigger home. Same pattern as the other two photos – no one ever looks happy.

A Pattern

The pattern here – lets vilify the mother especially is she has more than 3 kids because after all she should keep her legs shut – forgetting completely that it does take a man to have kids too. And also lets forget that most people don’t have 12 kids. It gets parts of society frothing at the mouth because they have worked hard all their life, they had to buy their own house with no help from anyone else, they can’t afford to smoke and so on… We now have a government that only gives Child Tax Credits for up to 2 children except in certain circumstances. It is worded quite nicely on their site;

A child born as a result of non-consensual conception

You can claim for this child if you get Child Tax Credit for 2 or more children and a child born on or after 6 April 2017 is likely to have been conceived either:

  • as a result of a sexual act which you didn’t or couldn’t consent to
  • at a time when you were in an abusive relationship, under ongoing control or coercion by the other biological parent of the child”


Non-consensual conception, no the word the government are looking for here is RAPE. And if you have been RAPED you have to fill a form in recount your story to an “approved professional” who they decides whether you are telling the truth.

But, if you believe what you read in some papers, making women who have already suffered at the hands of men suffer again might be a price your willing to make those women pay.

Gender Stereotypes from Birth+

Blue for boys and Pink for girls. Where does this come from? It is a modern 20th century invention and originally blue was for girls as it was considered more delicate and pink for boys as it was considered stronger.

What about the idea that girls wear dresses? Up until around the beginning of the 20th century both boys and girls wore dresses up until some time between 2-8 years old.

The reason was mainly to do with potty training plus dresses allowed for growth. There was other ways to tell the difference between boys and girls – for example the style of their hair. The dress alone was not an indicator that the wearer was female. Yet today in many peoples mind it is still entrenched that only girls and women can wear dresses.

John Lewis caused some people to be outraged when it adopted gender neutral clothing labels:

Genetically women do not need to wear dresses and genetically men do not need to wear trousers (kilt, anyone?). Boys wearing dresses in the past did not change their reproductive organs and wearing them today does not make them girls either and it does not make them transgender or gender fluid. Dressing in certain ways is to do with fashion rather than biological differences between women and men.

Men and Boys are strong, women and Girls are NURTURING

The stereotypes of females being nurturing, more delicate, more emotional and males being strong both physically and mentally, whilst also being aggressive is still prevalent today.

I was looking at the Smyths Toy Catalogue and saw a marked difference between the toys marketed towards boys and girls. There was some overlap – both boys and girls were shown playing with some toys. For example the toy kitchens were played with by both sexes along with some of the science toys like a telescope although there was some science toys clearly marketed to girls like the lipstick making kit. There was also outdoor toys like scooters which although they had the pink version for girls they at least had both sexes using the scooters.

But there is plenty examples of clear gender stereotyping.

Children's Dressing Up Outfits
Children’s Dressing Up Outfits

Apart from Owlette (the red PJ Masks character bottom right) there is a clear divide between the dress up outfits.

Girls – princesses, ballerinas and fairies. Princess and fairies are not generally known for the physical strength. The colours are all pastel and don’t the girls look pretty with their hair done and make-up on (not sure if you can see that in the image but it is there).

Boys – superheroes in the main. Know for their physical ability to over power their target with or without the use of weapons and their ability to outsmart their Nemesis using their intelligence. The predominate colour is black with dashes of red, blue and green – no pastels insight.

Take a look at these next few images, I could not find a girl using these violent toys. What message is this sending to young boys about how they should be?

And what about the message these are sending to girls? I could not find a single image of a boy pushing a pram or playing with a doll.

I wouldn’t recommend sewing like that as you likely to end up sewing your fingers. Always pay attention, needles are sharp! (even on those kids ones, I know I used to have one)

Many toys are based on TV series or films. Although I think there is more positive female and male roles on TV and in film aimed at children there are still many stereotypes which prevail. Even if a TV programme in itself contains non-stereotypical characters often the adverts between these programmes do.


Crafty Business Autumn Fair Poster

I created this poster for Crafty Business Sheffield ( They are having a Craft Fair at the Victoria Hall Methodist Church.

Initial Sketches

With not much to go on – no images to be included just a list of information that needed to be on the poster. Because this is a craft fair it feels right that it has a handmade feel. Also, I wanted to include “Autumn” in the poster too. I sketched out a few ideas, two examples below:

Initial Sketches
Initial Sketches
Leaf Sketch
Leaf Sketch

Vector Illustration

I used my sketches to create vector illustrations in Adobe Illustrator. The majority of the illustrations are based on hand-drawn sketches with some details added later, the text (apart from the bottom section) is hand-drawn.

Client Feedback

First Version of Craft Fair Poster
First Version

Crafty Business wanted their brand to stand out more and felt that the text should be bigger. But they liked the unusual leaf motif and did not want to see that changed.

Final Design

After receiving feedback from Crafty Business I created the final design. Their name is in a bold banner to add emphasis to their brand.

Crafty Business Sheffield Autumn Fair Poster
Crafty Business Sheffield Autumn Fair Poster

The colour scheme utilises autumn colours therefore creating a striking, eye catching poster.

Software Used: Illustrator and InDesign


Induction and First Day at Nursery

Last Wednesday was my induction for the Creative Practice (Graphic Design) course. First hurdle – finding the room. Luckily I wasn’t alone, there was quite a few of us who couldn’t find the room. Plus I had the excuse of only being in that room once before!

It was a bit overwhelming, a lot to take in but hopefully it will make more sense when I officially start which on the 18th of September.

Critical Studies Essay

There is a 4000-5000 word essay to write which I don’t find that scary actually, once I have decided what it is about I should be able to break it down into chunks. The hard part is deciding what I want to write about. After this is complete I will start start planning the final major project and this begins in January next year.

Professional Development

This is the part of the course where I need to show some sort of development of my skills career wise. It has got me slightly stumped as my plan was to concentrate on graphic design rather than teaching right now. I don’t want to take on too much, I wanna make sure I pass this course first.

Thinking along the lines of learning more software, possibly Experience Design CC. Although I’m not that interested in the competition side of things, there are design competitions and entering them would at least give me some more design practice. Got a lot to think about and I’m not really sure where I am heading with the Professional Development part of the course.

Major Project

Not even thinking about this one yet as it ties in with the essay. What ever I end up writing about will influence the final project so until I have at the very least started the essay I won’t be thinking about this.

Elijah’s First Day

My youngest, Elijah, had a great day. When I asked “Did you miss me?” he responded defiantly “No!”. When I said we needed to go home he didn’t want to, I had to bribe him with a Barney Bear. He has settled in very well, too well in fact – I think I could have left him there and I’m not sure he would have cared!

Only downside is the Monday afternoon session, I’m in from 2.00 p.m. to 5 p.m. He gets up early, around 6 a.m. sometimes earlier and is often in bed by 5:30 to 6 p.m. I am hoping that once the first lot of lecturers are completed I can come in earlier and leave earlier. Also 2 p.m. is my “drop” time. For anyone who’s got kids that get up early you’ll know what I mean, the time that you suddenly feel like you wanna go to bed, those last hours before bed drag and the only thing that helps is very strong coffee. And lets be honest even that doesn’t work that well!


I’m panicking less than I was on Wednesday, such a lot to take in but I think I will just have to take it all one step at a time and hopefully this will come together and make more sense next week when I head back in.