Research Point: Locating my practice forthcoming
Defining your practice through your personal statement, even if it’s provisional or aspirational
at this stage, should nevertheless give you some pointers for looking at what’s currently
happening in your discipline. Locating your practice is about defining what you do against
broader external contexts, the historic legacy of this area or any ideas that are driving your
interest. Identifying who is currently making interesting work in your discipline is a good
starting point for this investigation, but obviously raises the issue of where do you start
looking? Specialist journals, current publications, professional networks, galleries, blogs and
media articles are all useful. Equally, online searches can give you access to a range of resources
such as discussion forums, professional networks like the Association of Illustrators or the
Design Council, or an opportunity to email practitioners directly. Try using your keywords as
a starting point for online or library searches to identify new lines of enquiry. Galleries, high
street shops and book stores will all give you some exposure to contemporary practice, be it
publishing, commercial design or through a sense of current trends. Becoming aware of your
discipline while out in the world will give you a feel of what’s on offer. You can follow similar
enquiries through newspaper articles or TV programmes that highlight or review current
trends. Aim to soak up what’s happening at the moment within visual communication generally
as well as focusing in on areas that are closer to your own practice.
1. Access the course reading list, OCA’s online resources and other journals or reading to
identify the most useful texts to help locate your practice.
2. Galleries, artist or design studios, commercial outlets, bookshops and other locations
are all potential places to encounter contemporary work. Identify local opportunities
and visit some of them. This may include joining OCA study visits.
3. Online resources presents a wealth of information. Identify five online resources that
you can use throughout the course to help inform your understanding of contemporary
practice. As a starting point, you can access a list of resources at Link 1.
Aim to develop a body of research material that identifies what is currently happening
in contemporary practice both generally and within your chosen area of study. Use your
learning log to gather this material and reflect on your findings. Reflect on the process
of gathering this research and how it has helped inform your own understanding of your
practice. Summarise your evaluation for Assignment One.
See this research task as an ongoing process through which you regularly access these
resources or seek out new ways to get a feel of what is happening in contemporary practice.
45 Visual Communications 3: Advanced Practice
Framing your work historically
Thinking about your practice within a historical framework can be equally important to
defining what’s going on now. Visual forms evolve but the ideas that drive them often remain
the same. Many contemporary practitioners borrow forms and ideas from previous generations
of designers, either to make reference to a particular period or to re-establish the principles or
aesthetics in a contemporary way. Making connections between contemporary and historic
designers, or vice versa, will help develop your general awareness of visual culture as well as
your critical skills in being able to analyse someone else’s work. You may want to repeat the
previous research task from a historical perspective.
I am interested in a range of different styles from abstract expressionism and the anger of Basquiat and Tracey Emin, to graphic narrative styles of Hieronymous Bosch, Dave McKean and Shaun Tan to Japanese and African cultural styles.