GDE740 - Week 1

Week 1 – Research

This week we’re looking at how we pick and choose ideas for self-initiated projects and running with these ideas to really create something we want to produce; not something that’s been dictated or formed from external parameters. We need to consider our project aim, the target audience and assess the appropriate media to communicate our project succintly and clearly.

Whilst listening to the lectures and discussions, I was jotting down ideas I’ve thought of previously that would make fun, impactful and exciting projects. But I really need to narrow down the processes of creating a self-initiated project so it doesn’t lose it’s focus or final aim.

All research has pointed in the direction of identifying the subject – is it a personal project? Is it borne from personal frustrations or is it because you need work to add to your portfolio so someone hires you? Frost clearly stated his self-initiated projects are created from a personal point of view, it’s something he is passionate about or thinks needs to be created or conveyed. He also has the luxury of being able to fund bigger self-initiated work and bring in a manager to keep it on track. Whereas Fuerte’s initial self-initiated projects were needed because she didn’t have a big list of clients and needed to show her voice and style to get her name out there. It was interesting reading her interview with Creative Boom and how she went about using her self-initiated work to find more clients.

All the interviews and other research has shown that self-initiated projects are clearly about taking something outside the day job and just running with it. Picking a creative idea that gives you a buzz and putting your energy and life into this (Bompas was a clear avocate for putting everything you have into these projects). I think that also shows in his work too, his passion for what he creates is clear. Also, if it’s something that is personal to you, you have no excuse to not put your heart and soul into it (aside from the day job!).

I absolutely love Stringers work with Sovereign – still very much in the early stages of completion but he not only took an idea that was personal to him and something he knew needed to be promoted, but he clearly acknowledged his target audience, interview and involved these teenagers in his research and production and analysed how the impact of the world around them affects them and changes the way they behave and think. To include all of this within their game is huge – they’ve taken their emotions and manipulated them into the mechanics of the gameplay. Again, they were able to get “temporary” funding from the Arts Council to initiate this project, although they subsequently lost that when Government changes were put in place. They were still able to utilise the world around them and their audience to navigate and produce this amazing piece of work effectively.

As Miller stated, if you’re working fulltime within a studio, you have to fit in your personal projects around this so they will take longer to produce. Self-initiated projects coudl be big money makers or they could be small projects that don’t give you that return on investment – but alongside the day job, is that such a bad thing? I think nowadays, having read so much online, so many designers use these side projects to go “viral”. I think that’s great if it works, but if you’re producing it for everybody to love and “share” it across multiple platforms, is that really what you want to get out of a self-initiated project? It certainly isn’t for me!

I enjoyed reading the chapters in Phillips book – they were definitely useful in narrowing down exactly what we need to consider for the brief to be succesful. Eg. not just having a wide and vague descriptor for your audience, but really nailing down exactly who it is for. Having a clearer, sharper image in your mind of the exact person you want to see, react and enjoy your piece of work will help clarify the final piece. Jessica Walsh helped back this up – self-initiated projects could end up being quite fuzzy and vague because the designer didn’t consider the audience correctly. She encourages planning, having deadlines, direction and self-created parameters to keep the work on track. Having a set of 6 rules for example, you could have daily drawings or words or feelings, photographs showing daily growth or change, setting rules for the work ensures consistency and constraints to keep the work progressing in the right direction.

The toughest part for me, was putting your own sense of style into the self-initiated work – as in Module 1, I struggled with this back then and still now don’t think I have a specfic “style” – I’m not finding that too much of a problem currently, because, as Fuerte says, it’s about creating your style and voice through these self-initiated projects. Doing this type of work will begin to show who I am and which direction I want to go in. During Module 1 I clearly was still finding my feet and getting to grips with Graphic Design but I loved looking back at the work I produced – I clearly felt I needed some personal inspirational work through my creation of the “Creative Block Dice”. Week 8 was clearly the week for me where I realised you can utilise Graphic Design to really help yourself, the work you produce doesn’t need to be for others to see, use or even like, if it’s a piece of work that’s created just for you, that’s still a success (if it works!!). I also clearly wanted to create something that may make an impact, even if just to one person, but something that touched on a personal issue I have with the world or sustainablitity or politics that could potential help, even just a little. Although I struggled with the design aspect of Week 7, I clearly wanted to make this fairly unknown issue heard in a way that made people stop and think. Asking my family to send pictures of their socks, they then researched into what I was looking at and they were as shocked as I was. Surely this is what self-initiated work for good is about, making more people aware of a problem.

I believe self-initiated work goes beyond problem solving in the usual design sense, it’s about self expression and developing/finding/creating your own style.

In all, I’m going to follow Walsh’s rules for self-initiated work and, although not strictly adher to them, will utilise the directon to really nail down my ideas and create a clear focus of where I want this work to go.


Gosling, E. and Gosling, E., 2021. Hey Studio founder Verònica Fuerte on the importance of self-initiated projects and how to survive a crisis. [online] Creative Boom. Available at: <; [Accessed 28 January 2021]. (n.d.). Me-projects | Johnson Banks. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Jan. 2021]. (n.d.). Studio Claus Due is “interested in content, not style.” [online] Available at:

MAMIMU. (n.d.). 5 Reasons Why You Should Start a Self-initiated Project According to Tokyo Creatives. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Jan. 2021]. (n.d.). Creating Self-Initiated Projects &Walsh. [online] Available at:


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