Studio Project: ‘Plan your Life’

Upon returning for my final year studying art and design at EIT, I have chosen to commence my course by running a self-initiated studio project. This will extend over the next twelve weeks. 

On the first day back, our class viewed a slideshow which outlined a few expectations regarding preparation, professionalism and presentation. This week, we were to use these three attributes to formulate a plan of action and ready ourselves for the year’s work ahead. A new budgeting system has been implemented into our course and will become a part of our ongoing responsibility to organise how our project will be affected by material cost and time-management in relation to the arrival of our products.

I had a look at the studio project brief online to see that we have Tuesdays and Fridays allocated to independent study with meetings and classes on every other day.

This week I’ve made use of my self-directed time wisely; getting a new student I.D, visiting the library to print off a series of questions from the power point slide and studio brief (I know we will get a copy next week but I want to start now) and taking out a variety of books to find inspiration and generate ideas.

Library books

After reading through books such as Green Design Volume 1, Animal Kingdom: Design for Animal Aesthetics and Glass, Resin and Metal construction, ideas are starting to formulate around bringing awareness to a current global environmental issue. So far, I have two overall ideas with one being more art-related and the other design-related.

To make sense of my thoughts, I wrote down some notes in an organised manner:


After writing out my notes, I began to have answers to the set of questions given to kick-start our plans and ideas.

Identify your area of study: What theme/issue is it related to? 

The theme that I’d like to focus on throughout my work is ‘raising awareness’ to implement ‘social responsibility’ using a current global, environmental issue.

In my notes, I wrote out a list of environmental issues that are currently having a negative impact on the environment in a global scale.

  • Overfishing
  • Coral bleaching
  • Plastic in the ocean
  • Deforestation
  • Global warming
  • Shark finning

After pondering upon these issues, I feel an urge to focus on plastic in our oceans. This man-made material has become an invasive inhabitant of our natural marine habitats; polluting and damaging our delicate ecosystem. It endangers our declining marine-life as animals become ensnared in waste or ingest bits of deteriorated micro plastic floating in the water. In turn, we humans will be ingesting plastic waste through the fish we source from our ever-increasing polluted oceans.

Due to my personal connection and love for our natural world, I feel an urge to engage myself into a visual conversation that will raise awareness regarding the importance of our relationship to nature. In becoming aware of how important our role is in preventing plastic inhabiting our oceans, perhaps we can take steps to conserving rather than consuming and destroying.

Are there specific themes, issues and skillsets you wish to focus on? 

Themes & Issues: Bringing awareness to the global, environmental issue of plastic as an invasive material in our ocean habitats.

Skillsets: Throughout the year, I am hoping to be able to apply a range of materials to my practice. It would be wise to continue developing design and branding techniques as an extension of last year into my project. I would also like to use mixed media such as illustration, painting using a specially formulated epoxy resin with acrylic, gouache, collage and digital media in video format. It sounds like a lot but I am forming a plan to bring these skills into a cohesive idea.

What or who are your influences in terms of projects, concepts, artists or designers?

Throughout the week, I have been surfing the net, reading through library books and speaking with my tutor Peter in relation to my different ideas and how I’d possibly like to depict the issue of plastic in the ocean. I have been looking at various project’s such as Seawalls, Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea, The Drifters Project and World Oceans Day to see how people are already responding to this issue. I have also discovered articles products being made from upcycled ocean plastic and will use these throughout my research blog posts.

I’ve also looked at different artists and designers in relation to my current thoughts on either exploring more art-related pathway or a design-related pathway.

Art-related: To undergo a personal, material exploration combining the fluid media of epoxy resin mixed with acrylic paint and solid media of found plastics. I would create compositions that demonstrate the beauty of our marine wildlife/habitats through fluid texture, colour and pattern but are juxtaposed with rigid, plastic materials embedded into the surface. The idea would be to explore ways in which I could use these mediums to bring an awareness to plastic being an invasive material in our ocean habitats and wildlife.

Potential influences:

Design-related: To make an awareness campaign, targeted at a young adult audience, for the current global, environmental issue of plastic being an invasive material in our ocean habitats and wildlife. To reach out to the audience through social media platforms and arrange the campaign around the notions of ‘social responsibility’, creating a means to get individuals involved in making change to the plastic issue. The aesthetic theme throughout my campaign would be related to the idea of collage and collections, using analogue and digital media to produce a visually communicating brand.

Potential influences:

Peter has directed me toward these artists as well: Sigmar Polke, Julian Schnabel and Tony Cragg. I will do some research on these artists and see if they fit into my ideas/ contexts. At this stage, my research is only just beginning. More posts are yet to come that will show a more in-depth consideration of contemporary/historical contexts.

How will you offer a different point of view or solution?

So far, I can see that many designers are coming up with solutions to make upcycled products such as clothing, shoes and even beach huts. Artists are responding by making work to display in public sectors and galleries in the hope to bring about awareness on the plastic issue we face.

I would like to think of a way which could not only bring awareness, but involvement in solving the issue together. This is where my design-related idea has more scope because a campaign has the power to bring people together for a common cause.

What reading resources are you engaging with? 

Many; books, online articles, art and designer website pages and conservation social media pages and sites.

What are the materials, tools and technologies you are likely to work with? 

If I go down my art-related path, I would be using fluid and solid materials in the forms of epoxy resin, acrylic paints, hard plastics, paper, thinners like isopropyl alcohol, canvas and/or wood. Various tools needed to carry out the use of such materials would be gloves for health and safety, plastic cups, paddle pop sticks for stirring, blow torch for reducing bubbles and creating cells in the painting process (will explain more in research), palette knives, scissors, pens, pencils, measuring cups, brushes.

If I go down my design-related path, I would be using gouache, illustration and digital media in the Adobe suite, paper, pencils, pens.

Either way, I’d be utilising mixed media to create imagery that has a contemporary aesthetic relating to collage and collections.

Are there specific costs?

The resin will need to be sourced from the Auckland store, ArtResin. It will cost $265 NZ (free shipping) for a 3.78L bottle. This is the cheapest available source with a certified health and safety confirmation for use in artworks. I already own acrylics, gouache, note books, pens etc.

I may also use my budget to buy canvases, masking fluid and pouring medium but I am also making sure I will spread my budget out wisely for use over the year, not just in studio project.

How will these factors affect your plan of action?

I need to back up my reasoning for these materials with sound research, present my ideas to lecturers, namely Peter, and have a material list approved and signed off for Katherine to place an order.

How will these decisions enhance your focus?

Because of the process it will take time to receive some materials. I won’t be able to dive straight into exploring those certain mediums. Therefore, it will be vital for me to spend the first two weeks delegating time toward research, defining a clear idea and proposal/brief so that my materials can be approved. If I choose to do the art-related idea, then I would like to have an order placed by next week so as to get started in material exploration. I’ve also decided to use a platform called Basecamp to create an online timetable/ ‘to do’ list for each week. Basecamp allows me to keep an organised timeline to stick to and keeps me up to date with reminders for due dates.

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Setting up my studio

On Friday, I came into EIT and found Hayden and Allen in the workshop to ask whether I could paint over the tagging that someone had left behind last year. Hayden was more than happy and provided me with the correct paint, a paint tray and brush to get on with the job. Two coats later; having tidied up my studio space I feel that is now a presentable and professional area to work in. This makes me feel set and ready to continue into the second week.



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