Before starting university, I knew I wanted to become a creative. However, I knew that I was not a fine artist, nor was I a product designer. Instead I was an individual who balanced between these two worlds.
I wanted the freedom to explore a huge range of topics, processes and materials in ways that a fine art degree would offer. At the same time, I wanted to create beautiful sleek homeware objects like a product designer, but without the restriction of having to search for a problem to solve.
I needed a hands-on course where I could create expressive and bold designs that merged the two worlds of design and art together. I wanted to be able to create physical, functional sculptural objects to bring joy to the user and interest to their environment. Finding a course that allowed me to do all of this was very hard.
This is where Artist Designer: Maker at Cardiff Met comes in. This course offers all of the above and more. It allows you to explore and experiment with a huge range of ideas, topics, processes and materials, becoming a creative who has a lot to offer by being skilled in multiple material areas and a plethora of processes.
You can work in traditional materials like metal, wood, glass, enamelling and ceramics, or newer materials and processes such as 3d printing, CNC milling, resin casting and even digital design. It allows you to become whoever you want to be – you can be an artist, a designer, a maker or even an amalgamation of them all.
For example, I see myself as a designer maker who works in wood and metal in a very structured way similar to product design. I bring this together with the expressiveness and bold use of sculptural aesthetics from fine art in all of my creations.
My projects always follows a similar structure which consist of 3 main stages:
- Ideas and development
The research stage has allowed me to explore a huge range of topics and to visit some amazing places. For example, the Collect exhibition in the Saatchi Gallery, design week in London, the National Museum Cardiff, Craft in the Bay, St Fagan’s National Museum of History, London Design Museum, the V&A, the Natural History Museum in London, Three Cliffs Bay in the Gower and many more across the United Kingdom and France.
My research work has also given me a new appreciation and love for libraries, including our own on campus that is filled with some amazing books on art and design. The library has also allowed me to discover an amazing resource called WGSN. WGSN is a trend forecasting company that is highly regarded and respected by many designers worldwide. Having access to their insights allows me as a designer to keep my work as current as possible, so I can keep on top of contemporary modern design trends.
The ideas and development stage comes next, and for me this is very heavily CAD orientated. I use a range of different software packages that were taught to me by our amazing CAD tutor Charlie in first year. Initially I start off with some very basic hand sketches that I import into a package called Rhino. This software allows me to explore my ideas quickly, developing them in rapid succession in a thorough way that allows me to explore every component of the object in detail. It helps me to see how they will fit together and work as a whole.
From here I use rendering programmes like Keyshot and Enscape to see how the design will look in my chosen materials, and how it will fit into its environment. This helps me to gain a better understanding of what the object should look like once manufactured.
I then create physical scale models of the objects. These are either done by hand or through modern CAM techniques in our amazing soft modelling workshop. We have access to a huge range of equipment ranging from hot foam cutters, vacuum formers, laser cutters and CNC mills to 3D printers.
Finally, the fun bit – the making. The course is heavily orientated around this right from the start. Personally, I have fallen in love with woodworking, and many of my projects reflect this. Throughout the manufacturing stage I’m supported by our amazing woodwork technical demonstrator Nigel.
He’s trained me to use a wide range of industrial machines such as planes, saws and sanders, and taught me some amazing skills and processes such as wood turning, joinery, steam bending and bent lamination. This has given me the ability and confidence to be incredibly versatile and bold in my designs.
Artist Designer: Maker has given me the opportunity to combine a logical design and making process like this with the freedom to be expressive and artistic. That’s why it’s been the perfect fit for me.