Tuesday, 29 June 2010

A heartfelt goodbye

Along with a mention by Nicholas Clee over on Bookbrunch, this week has seen me trying to 'keep it together' with a guest post on the blog of popular crime writer Sam Hayes, as well as waxing predictive over on Beat, a cultural magazine for Windsor. (Thanks to editor Melanie Gow for inviting me to write for her.)

In rather sad news, the dedicatee of The New Goodbye, Never, the Samoyed I've shared my life with for the past eleven and a half years, was put to sleep peacefully in the garden last Friday. Hopefully the dedication of the novel stands as testament to the important part she played in my life. Life is proving strange without her.

Monday, 21 June 2010

He is ping pong

Cat Lane isn’t the only one of LCC’s summer crop to have been involved in The New Goodbye. Last summer at Creative Review I was lucky enough to enjoy the company of Yong Ping Loo, who spent 6 weeks working with me as a design and production intern, as well as helping out at CR’s Click conference in Singapore. Yong Ping has kindly provided the behind-the-scenes videography of Nicole’s cover shoot.

I caught up with him again recently, as he prepares to step into the working world, having just submitted the final project for his Graphic Media Design degree with the London College of Communication (LCC). His Graduation Degree Show, Power Off, starts at the end of this week.

You’re coming to the end of your time at university. What does the future hold?

I am trying to arrange and plan as many placements as I can, put together a good degree show and other exhibitions. Hopefully all my hard work will pay off and one thing will lead to another, a job in London.

I have also won a place in D&AD’s 2010 Student Awards Book for my response to their Disappearing Cities brief, so hopefully more opportunities will come from that.

A still from Yong Ping's Disappearing Cities film

Before coming to London you had already gained a diploma in Mass Communications from Singapore’s Ngee An college. Are there any striking differences between studying in the two cultures?

Although Singapore has a pretty diverse society, you get to meet a wider variety of people of different backgrounds, ethnicity and cultures in London. This makes the learning experience here more varied and interesting.

Compared to my counterparts in Singapore, I had more time on my hands in London. Though we have very busy periods here, everything is spread out comfortably and feels a little less stressful. This affords more creative experimentation, and allows for freelance jobs and work experience. And there is a far larger and more established creative community in London.

You attended Creative Review’s first Click conference in Singapore after your internship with us. Did you pick up any insights into the differences between working practices over there compared to in Britain?

I believe clients here are more daring, which allows the industry to produce more groundbreaking work. Singapore has a very good and internationally competent creative industry but it doesn’t have the recognition that the UK enjoys. Singapore is a small country compared to Britain. In London it feels like there is more room to grow, for both big and small fishes, with enough food to go round for everybody.

As someone who has benefited from the experience of work placements, how do you feel about the culture of unpaid internships within the design industry?

I believe there should be a minimum wage for internships within the design industry as some students may struggle to support themselves and their study. That being said, having done it myself, it is not impossible if you work hard and are sufficiently self motivated.

You’ve done a large amount of voluntary environmental work for organistions such as ECO Singapore and the British Council. How do you balance this moral standpoint with trying to develop a career in advertising, where a large proportion of the industry is there to persuade people to buy stuff they probably don’t need and that’ll just hang around for a few years before becoming landfill.

I am still trying to strike a balance, It has been pretty good being on LCC’s advertising pathway as we focus on environmental, political, social and cultural issues. And we tend to question the ethics and norms of advertising. However, still being relatively new to the industry, I am going to be open-minded in my approach as I have more to learn and be exposed to.
 Identity work for the hmm/ahh exhibition

Say you’re working for an agency and are given a corporate client who’s been in the press for, thinking about recent events, neglecting environmental sanctions, and the client’s looking to green-wash its image. How do you get around that?

Trick question! Professionally, I would put my best into whatever account I get put on. With my background and knowledge, I might be able to come up with a win-win solution and not produce something irresponsibly green-washed. And might even convince the client to take more action to become green beyond the cosmetics.

Looking back over your degree, and the stuff you’ve picked up along the way, do you have any advice for anyone considering a similar path? Are there things you know now you wish you’d known before you started?

My advice is simple: work as hard as you can and be the best you can be. And I also refer to the late Paul Arden's quote very often: “It is not how good you are, it is how good you want to be.”

I believe I have done as much as I can during my studies, though I wish I had possessed more confidence in myself and my portfolio earlier on in my degree, as I would have applied for more internships.

Film of DIY fans left for the benefit of hot Tube passengers

To see more of Yong Ping's work visit iampingpong.com


Saturday, 5 June 2010

The New Goodbye - what do you mean you haven't downloaded it yet?

So we have an app. I'm a little late in mentioning it, here of all places, but fortunately lots of other people have been doing so.

Thanks to everyone who’s tweeted about the book so far. A special shout out to Patrick Hussey at Arts & Business, who went out of his way to help. There have also been tweets from Amelia’s Magazine, Design Week, Making Hay, Art at Heart and PD Smith, plus plenty others. Adele Mitchell pointed me at Surrey Life after downloading the app, so fingers crossed and plenty of gratitude from me for that.

Plus there’s been some more general web action. The first piece was my guest blog on Catherine Hawley’s Juxtabook. Then Aliya kindly pointed all the MNW-ers in my general direction. This was followed by a piece on Web Designer magazine’s blog, then cameThe Literary Platform’s Showcase and another guest spot, this time on design agency Mat Dolphin’s site. Last week fantasy maestro Mark Chadbourn flagged up The New Goodbye on his blog and yesterday also saw me take up some prime space on Me & My Big Mouth, the blog belonging to Scott Pack, publisher for The Friday Project.

Monday will see a post about the app on the Creative Review blog, and hopefully next week will bring some more coverage too. I also have a guest post to write for Sam Hayes when I get a spare moment or two. Something around the letter K.

Meanwhile I'm off work for a week and celebrating my daughter's second birthday.