M. Leo

My notebook entries

Semester 2

Week 1

Intro reflection

As I had already read through this semester’s handbook, this intro lecture was a bit repetitive, but I am very much ready to get back into things. It was nice to be in a new group and get to know some new people across all years of the creative arts course. I am disappointed we are online for now, but I remain optimistic about the latter half of this term. I find it hard to sit still and solidly focus on hours long teams calls, so I hope to continue the stream of consciousness note styles this semester, to keep my brain and hands doing something while sitting in front of the computer. I’m excited to look into all the possibilities with the theme of ‘animal’. I’ve always been a keen observer of all living things, and love reading fun facts about the animals I see in my own yard.

Tutorial reflection

I’ve been trying to do a little SOMETHING every day to stay on track. This week I’ve done a little research on 3 different animals, gathering some fun facts, information, and pictures. I’ve looked at Albatross, Kangaroos, and Passenger Pigeons. I want into more species that challenge the typical image of ‘animals’ like jellyfish and tiny insects. I’m not sure what I want to do with this information, but with graphic design, it’s all about visually portraying information, which is something I’m always keen to do. I will keep profiling animals, but next week I want to really figure out what visual medium I want to express it in.

Project reflection

It was a bit odd to have a tutorial right in the first week, but it was nice to have a little reflection on last semester. My project last semester was rushed at the end, but I am still proud of how hard I worked to get it done by the deadline. Obviously, as I still have the raw footage, I may go back to it and give it a more polished look. I would love to create a better flow of things, make sure the voice over is very polished. Looking forward this semester, I want to keep up my daily to do lists, and stay on track! I got so much done the last few weeks of last semester, it would be amazing to keep that level of motivation and action going.


Week 2

Lecture reflection

This lecture is always one of my favourites of the semester. It is like going to a virtual exhibition with the theme of ‘animal’. Miranda does a wonderful job of curating pieces from a great range of mediums. I was particularly drawn to the piece with zebra finches on instruments. I loved the juxtaposition of the natural tweets of a finch and the industrial sounds of a guitar, creating a wonderful gallery where birds fly freely. I also was very intrigued in the video of the woman ‘dancing’ like an animal. The unnatural (for a human at least) movements were haunting and stuck with me. I want to look more into the development and meanings of theses pieces soon. I both like and dislike the fact that we are presented these pieces with no background about each work. I enjoy going in with no bias, finding my own meaning in each piece. On the other hand, I feel like I am not truly understanding the artists intent, and may be misconstruing the meaning. This is something I struggle with at galleries: should I view the piece as it is, or wait until I have read the little info plack. Either way, seeing all of these works has created all sorts of ideas floating around my head now. I need to take time to make a mind map and pin down what specific idea I will explore.

Project reflection

As usual, I have tons of ideas floating around in my head, but don’t know where to start… I’ve continued profiling more animals, this week looking at the Kiwi Bird, Pangolins, and Moles. I know I want to do something graphics based, as I had so much fun last semester getting back into using InDesign. A big road block has been feeling like I need to make something useful, not just something fun like posters with animal facts. I’ve very stuck on trying to find a project that seems important enough to me. When doing graphic design, I think of it as solving a problem. I think that to move forward, I need to make a list of ‘problems’ related to animals that I would like to solve, and see how I could use my graphic design skills to solve it.


Week 3

Workshop 1 reflection

Open package I was blown away looking at Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark for National Geographic! It is a very large undertaking, photographing every animal, but I am so appreciative of it, being able to see wonderful photos of creatures all around the world. It will be a great source to use going forward, for ‘stock’ photos of animals. For next week’s workshop, we will be designing our own futuristic animal, which I am excited to see what everyone else comes up with! For my animal, I am thinking of something that would survive a nuclear apocalypse: like an armadillo with a lead exterior. I will have a sit down this weekend and think about all aspects of this creature, and neatly write them down for Monday.


Semester 1

Week 1

Project reflection

This week has been quite interesting; getting excited for in person teaching but then receiving email late Sunday night saying that it wouldn’t happen. I very much hope that in person teaching is able to continue because I find myself getting cooped up in my room and not getting work done. Although I’m quite introverted, I really thrive off of hearing other student’s ideas and having that in person connection.  My major goal this year with my creative practice (and life in general) is to get and stay on a proper schedule. This has always been a struggle of mine but I’m hoping that having an online journal and weekly accountability will help push me in the right direction. Having a solid routine will help both my academic work and my mental health. I’m a bit nervous and intrigued to see how the virtual winter show will go this year. As quarantine goes on, I continue to realise that online meetings don’t have the same sort of connection and energy as in person. Social video meetings are not as engaging, with audio cutting in and out. That being said I am very much intrigued to see the different possibilities in creative outcomes that we put together because of these restrictions. Overall, a pretty basic week, getting the admin stuff out of the way and remaining hopeful for the return of in person teaching!

Intro reflection

Unfortunately for me, the uni internet was down all day today so I wasn’t able to see Miranda’s introduction lecture. I previously skimmed through the material on blackboard but this week I took a serious look into it, trying to wrap my head around how the projects will interlink this semester. I made sure my online calendar was up to date with deadlines and tutorials. I also printed the briefs out, getting my notebook binder all set up for the upcoming term.

Prep Work Done

  • Online calendar setup
  • Project briefs carefully looked over
  • Notebook prepped with checklist at the front

Week 2

Project Reflection

After such a great introduction lecture, I needed to dump some ideas out of my brain. I dislike having our workshops at the end of the week, as I’m always fired up and ready to do work after them, but the week is already almost over, so I feel a bit behind other groups.  That being said, I dedicate Thursday afternoons and Friday mornings to Creative Arts. As a result of my brain dump after the lecture, I seem to be captivated by the themes of understanding, enjoying, appreciating, and honouring in relation to nature. These are basic themes that I will continue to ponder this next week, and start thinking of practical ideas. As we are required to research on 2 different artists this semester, I’m going to try and briefly look into at least one artist a week, and later on focus on the most intriguing ones to do in-depth write ups on.

My brain dumb done over lunch – The ideas of enjoy, understand, appreciate, and honour all came together as core themes I want to look at in relation to nature

Lecture Reflection

Our in person introduction lecture was wonderful today. I really feel like I’m proper back at uni!  Although we are distanced and wearing masks, I tend to forget about it after a few minutes. Miranda has also been enforcing the hand washing and sanitising which puts me at ease too. These intro lectures have always been some of my favourites in interdisciplinary practice. I absolutely love seeing all the art pieces presented. Miranda always does a great job of showing a very wide variety of pieces from different mediums; from classic fine arts to commercial films to performance art. I really like the idea of a string of consciousness notes, that is always nice from me to look back on and see my live thoughts. I would’ve appreciated seeing the title of the piece and artists name for each one, but I’ll be sure to book back on blackboard and do a deeper look at the ones that intrigued me.

Artist – Andreas Gursky

In the introduction lecture, the artist that caught my attention most (at least visually) was Andreas Gursky. The scale and composition of his photos are quite astounding. From a graphics prospective, the geometric prospective of human society is wonderfully juxtaposed the nature. While some are digitally manipulated, I think it is a necessary thing to do, to heighten the emotions and visual aspects of his subjects. Particularly with his image of the Rhein, Gursky employs manipulation to create a ‘perfect’ image, with no distracting human society. The relationship between nature and humans is an idea very much present in his works, and something I might wish to employ myself this semester.


Week 3

Workshop Reflection

The start of a new workshop is always fun, walking into the studio and seeing what things are set up. During the lecture, many ideas were floating around in my head, so the stream of consciousness note style was a great way to get some of those down on paper to remember for later, when working on my individual project. It was very nice to go outside for a little walk and search for acorns, though it made me aware of how hard the perfect acorn is to find! It just goes to make me appreciate how trees must produce 1000s of acorns to reproduce one successful tree. Natural forests that thrive without human interaction are a truly wonderful part of life and need to be appreciated and protected! The idea from this workshop that stood out to me was the similarities of the artistic process of creating things and the natural process of growing trees. Both start out with 1000s of ideas and acorns and then certain ones grow to become a fully realised piece of art or tree. I’m intrigued to see how our little acorns progress week by week and will be sure to document their growth.

Artist – David Nash

Somehow I came across David Nash on Wikipedia, and was immediately interested in the fact that he works out of Blaenau Ffestiniog in northern Wales! I was absolutely blown away, seeing images of his wooden sculptures. He does a fantastic job of exploring the basic ‘element’ of wood, transforming it into such fantastic geometric shapes, and putting them into a gallery setting. I was particularly intrigued by his work ‘Ash Dome’ which has sort of been ongoing for more than 30 years. With ‘Ash Dome’ he planted and shaped a group of trees into a directed circle. While visually stunning, what is also fascinating location in Snowdonia. It’s a beautiful piece that I would love to see in real life, but the exact location has been kept a secret. It makes me curious to think if anyone has accidentally come across it, not realising what it is. I find myself thinking about what it will look like hundreds of years from now, what people will think. Another project of his, ‘Wooden Boulder’ is also an ongoing project, seeing where the natural elements move a giant boulder he carved made out of wood. It has disappeared and reappeared over the past 30 years, always in different areas of our landscape.

Tutorial Reflection

Sometimes I tend to be anxious and shy away from one on one tutorials, but after I go to one, I always find them massively helpful to nudge the creative process forward. It is also a good time to reflect on personal goals for this year. I need to keep up with my notebook, and I think the online format should help, being held accountable for every week as a ‘mini’ deadline. I’m already a bit behind updating it, partially because group 3 is at the end of the week, but I’m trying my best to go with the flow and make things work naturally. Miranda mentioned David Merleau’s ‘Forest Talk Radio’ and although I’ve only briefly looked at it, it sounds fascinating, a combination of nature walks, storytelling, and location specific audio. While I still want to do something graphics based, I will keep an open mind to anything. At the same time though, I need to start thinking of concrete ideas and how they could play out at a virtual winter show.

Project Reflection

After the workshop I had many ideas in my head, which I’m glad I was able to get down in the stream of consciousness notes. As with last week, the key ideas I keep thinking about are understanding, enjoying, appreciating, and honouring. Miranda touched on these with the concepts of plant blindness and vegetal ontology, which I will be sure to look more in-depth into. As far as my own practice goes, this whole summer I had been having fun with plant and bird identification apps, but I hadn’t realised how much these apps relate to the key ideas I’ve had! Using those apps is sort of my way of learning and appreciating nature around me. By educating myself on names and facts about nature, I become more appreciative of the little things around me. I had the idea about some sort of plant ID cards, and after walking out of the workshop and immediately seeing a tree with a little ID tag, it seemed to be a sign that that would be a good way to move forward!


Week 4

Workshop Reflection

This week’s workshop was all about going from ideas to concrete project proposals, which I think is one of the hardest steps for me, as a person who constantly has ideas floating around in my head! Something that I’ve really found helpful over these past few weeks is the use of stream of consciousness notes. It is so helpfully to see on paper the different directions your brain goes. I think having the huge piece of paper on the floor this week was great for this weeks crucial step. I try and think of things like a reverse pyramid, you start at the top with lots of ideas, and through stream of consciousness and rumination, you slowly whittle your way down to a single idea. Something really important that Miranda said at the end of the session (and for next weeks workshop) is to keep project briefs airtight, simple and explainable, so the audience has no questions. With group projects, I can tend to be a people pleaser, saying things like ‘oh well, do whatever works for you’. But it’s important to remember when in a professional environment pitching a project, you must be in charge and direct to the point!  I think I did a decent job of simplifying my idea of making a paper tree forest, but I’ll be sure to think of any small questions that could come up before next weeks ‘pitch’ presentation.

Project Reflection

Next week’s progress on my personal practice needs to mirror what was done in this weeks group workshop: narrowing down ideas and starting to experiment with concrete ideas. I’m still very much in the ideas and concept phase, but it was promising to see how the transformation of ideas to solid plan can happen in a few short hours with this weeks workshop. I’ll have do that myself, have a solid brainstorming session to consolidate my ideas in the sort of reverse pyramid style. As for what I’ve personally done, I’ve tried to be conscious of the small things I notice in nature. Whether it’s the lawn mowing outside my room, the cat around campus, or some stars out my window, I want my project to be about the positive aspects of nature and bring attention to the often overlooked. I’ve seen the little ‘positive affirmation’ cards on the bridge to campus across Penglais hill, and think something in that vein could be a great project. As the cards on the bridge are positive quotes about life in general to boost mood, I could do cards with positive facts about nature to bring awareness to whats around us. Perhaps make it into a sort of nature walk around town, as I always love interactive projects. As always, I have lots of ideas floating around, and will try and iron them out for next week!


Week 5

Workshop 3 reflection

This week is always a fun one, hearing everyone else’s ideas. There were aspects of everyone’s pitches that I enjoyed, and I am glad we were able to sort of combine Amy and Farrah’s ideas. Surprisingly I have not seen any masks on the ground these past few days, but I suppose I don’t get out very much! I think the idea of painting on masks is wonderful, not simply to show images of the effects of pollution, but to also make the mask special, so you don’t want to lose it or dispose of it. The masks I wear were sown by myself to custom fit, so I can’t imagine accidently losing one in the streets! Perhaps that is an idea we could push forward when we do our march with the masks we found: the idea of making your masks personal and precious so you hang onto them.  


Week 6

Artist – David Merleau

Miranda told me about David Merleau’s ‘Forest Talk Radio’ at our tutorial a few weeks ago, but I finally got around to doing a deeper look. The way he blends all sorts of different aspects together to create wonderful things. Merleau’s background is in radio broadcasting and traditional storytelling, but he has a personal interest in nature. He cleverly combined these skills to make ‘Forest Talk Radio’, an app where plants come to life and tell their stories. The app is location based, so it uses your phones GPS to see where you are and play the appropriate story. His content is funny and engaging, presenting educational material in a natural way. I want to channel what Merleau has done, using a variety of different skills to make something great. Instead of radio, I want to do something graphic based. ‘Forest Talk Radio’ takes place in Laurier Woods in Merleau’s home town of North Bay Ontario. I need to settle on a location for my walk so I can begin to curate location specific content.


Week 7

Tutorial Reflection

Deadlines and stress are piling up this week, leading to lots of anxiety, but I am glad I was able to make it to my tutorial. Despite being behind, Miranda was encouraging, specifically in talking about art as a ongoing ‘practice’. I have always tended to be a procrastinator when it comes to school work, but I need to see creative arts as my daily ‘practice’, not a string of deadlines. Continually working everyday and keeping to a schedule is a big challenge for me, but I really think the first step in accomplishing it is shifting the idea from ‘work’ to ‘practice’. Once my essay is out of the way, I will be able to relax and set aside time for creative arts. I’m looking forward to the feeling of ‘flow’ and getting some great things done soon! In the tutorial notes, Miranda set out a good list of questions I need to ask myself about my project to get everything sorted for the winter show. I’ll be sure to look at the proposal form to help guide me in the right direction for an online show.

Tutorial Reflection

I’ve been dealing with panic attacks recently, so not much has been done relating to my individual project. That being said, I was able to make the tutorial this week and have a good outline of what I need to do. I’ve picked out a route for my walk, and will be testing it out soon, hopefully its not to strenuous! I’ll be sure to take notes of things I notice or things to research for possible content on my cards. To help relax and keep myself on track, I made a little ‘to do list’ calendar to keep above my desk, so I can plan out my days and get the satisfaction of checking things off! It was great to do something in InDesign and gets me fired up to start designing my cards.


Week 8

Artist – Anthony Burrill

Anthony Burrill is a graphic artist that works primarily in the medium of traditional letterpress. He combines simple geometric letterforms with lovely messages to make striking pieces of work. When I saw him talk a few years ago in Norwich, he was such a great speaker and had a very fun an approachable tone, which is definitely reflected in his works. I appreciate the ways in which he takes such a basic form of printing and uses it to spread messages. He has printed posters decrying the Gulf of Mexico oil spills using actual oil as the printing ink. More recently he printed posters saying ‘No Safe Place’ using charcoal from the Australian bush fires, giving proceeds to charity. His themes of using a simple graphic form to spread a positive message is something I really want to channel with my ‘natural affirmation’ cards, so it was great to look back on his work.

Project Reflection

I’ve really started to get practical things rolling this week, specifically when I made the connection with Anthony Burrill! The visual practicality of simple graphics combined positive messages was the missing piece I needed to kickstart myself to practical work. It literally was staring me right in the face, as I’ve got some of his prints on the walls of my room.

As I fill out the proposal form, the questions have helped guide me figure out what to do for the virtual Winter Show. As I’m unsure whether I will be home in Chicago or not, (and the weather in Aber is quite unpredictable in December) I will prerecord myself going on the walk, and coming across the cards, commenting on things I see along the way. Since the walk is about an hour long and quite varied in location, the audience will be able to check back from time to time to see where I am and what I’m seeing, on a livestream loop. At this point, it’s more about the practical DOING, and getting my cards made, which is always amazing to do when I get in the ‘zone’ of designing.


Week 9

Workshop Reflection

After todays workshop and Miranda’s lengthy email, I was a bit disappointed to see I’m not in the show at this moment, but I’m self aware of what I need to do to be ready for next week. As the deadline was pushed back a week this year, I think many of us seemed to ignore that, thinking that because the Winter Show isn’t for another three weeks, that we still had quite some time. I completely understand where Miranda was coming from, wanting to have things done and polished with quite some time to spare though. That being said, it was good to have time together in the workshop today to talk about our projects and get suggestions on plans for the virtual winter show. I hadn’t realised that the show is going to be more like a seminar, with each of us having individual slots to present our project. Miranda made the great point of using my slot to actually get people outside, as a nice break from being inside on a virtual seminar all day!

So, now I have a hefty ‘to do’ list of things I need to finish before next week.

  • All cards designed
  • Set up ‘about’ page
  • Finalise winter show ‘workshop’
  • Film 30 minute short walk

Project Reflection

After the workshop, the weather was lovely, so I went on my walk, taking texture photos to use as the background of my cards. I was sure to take light and dark versions, so I can use black or white text. Over the weekend I put together one finished card: the bulk of the designing is now done, I just need to substitute text and images on the other cards.

I’ve also pondered what to do for my individual slot in the Winter Show. Miranda’s point about actually getting people outside to break up the day and give people a ‘nature break’ will be great, especially since my cards point out the cognitive benefits of taking a break to walk! I plan to film a shortened version of my walk, about 30 minutes. My individual slot will be about an hour, with 15 minutes before to explain what my project is about, 30 minutes for the actual walk, and 15 minutes afterward, to talk about your experiences on your walk. I know I will be at home in Chicago now, so the 30 minute short walk will be a pre-recorded video done in Aber, but the audio and my narration will be a sort of generic guided walk. So the audience can either stay inside and watch my 30 minute walk in Aber, or go out on their own walk and listen to just the audio of my walk, and see how it applies to their own surroundings.

I’ve got a busy next week, but I’ve been in the zone this weekend and have been having fun getting things all done!


Week 10

Project Reflection

This week has been a bit crazy but it’s all starting to come together! I’ve finished all five cards that will be along the short route, and done a bit of a tester walk filmed on my phone. This tester walk was great because I now have a clear idea of what needs to be done for the final walk video. I need to record the audio voice over separately, so I’m not huffing and puffing while walking. This way I can easily script and edit around the walk to have a polished final cut that is slick. I’ve gotten a GoPro out and will be doing a few little tests to find out what the best angle is (on my head or chest) and Miranda has suggested to use a nice stereo audio recorder to fully record the nature sounds.

For the physical cards, unfortunately the library cannot laminate things, but I’ve found some creative crafty solutions using cardstock and sleeve holders that I’ve tested to be waterproof and quite sturdy! It’s a lot to get all together for the show, but I’m chugging along and it’s so great to see things coming together.

Workshop Reflection

It was such a nice break to start this weeks workshop with a little guided reflection/meditation. As I’ve been a bit behind I wasn’t quite in the full on reflection stage, but inbetween the ‘ahhhh panic’ and ‘finished satisfaction’ stage. It’s a hectic stage to be in, but seeing everything I’ve done this past week is great. It is good to take time to have a little mindful reflection session in the middle of hectic times, to thank yourself for everything you’ve been doing. I’ve still got a lot to do, but I need to remember to take time to pause and really realise what I’m doing and reflect to make my work as good as it can be. The point Miranda made about needing time to reflect before a exhibition needs to stick with me. While it is exciting for the work to be fresh, you must have time to reflect and tweak to make this as great as possible.

Tutorial Reflection

Todays tutorial was at a bit of a hard time, being right in the midst of finishing things up, but it is still good to have some last minute input, especially as I’m not quite in the reflecting stage of my project just yet! Miranda gave me some audio walks to look into, which I will go over this weekend. It will be good to get an idea for pacing and getting the script for my walk together. I’ve got a lot to do this week, but I’ve set it up in easy to do chunks with my daily to do list. These are the basic points of things I’ll be getting done this week.

  • Prep
    • Laminate
    • Cards out
    • Get audio recorder
  • Record
    • Do the walk
    • Record script
  • Edit
    • Final cut together
    • QR info page

Week 11

It’s all done!

So I have had an absolutely crazy week, packing to go home, and finishing up work for all my modules. Having my daily to do list was essential, and really helped me get through the week. The biggest kink in my work was that one of the cards I had placed was gone when I went to film, but I powered through, adding it in the edit. I cleaned everything up in a ready to present powerpoint for the Winter Show and am ready with multiple formats depending on technical difficulties.

The Winter Show!

The Winter Show was an absolute marathon of art and a hefty afternoon, but it was absolutely amazing to see how everyones work came together, without too much technical difficulties. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of feedback I got, being able to see how differently people interpreted my work. I was most taken aback at how many people mentioned the theme of transportation, which is something that didn’t really cross my mind when working on the project as a whole.

Overall, I am very happy I was able to be included in the show and get feedback from the public, from people who were seeing my project from the first time. Everything may not have been as polished as I wanted it to be, but I still came out with something that I am proud of and would like to work further on, perhaps making a booklet of cards.

About Me

Hi, I’m Leo and am in my final year here at Aberystwyth. Originally from Chicago, I’ve lived back and forth between the UK and USA the past 5 years, previously doing a foundation in Graphic Communication. I’m still figuring WordPress out, so bear with me!