Category Archives: Tutor feedback-Part 1

Tutor feedback-Part 1



Open College of the Arts
Tutor report


Student name Malgorzata Lewosz Student number 512751
Course/Module Graphic Design 1 Assignment number One



The first part of the course focuses on getting started by introducing you to the subject and exploring a brief history of graphic design. Overall your response has been positive and from my initial feedback email you have clearly made a few refinements to the work.


The cards do communicate your intended messages, however it would be good to see some more experimental work showing how you have explored the use of type and image together in order to push your ideas a little further.

You need to show you have tested and developed these ideas and certainly a more thorough exploratory approach would be beneficial and allow you to exercise your creativity more. I like the fact you chose to use watercolours to create the imagery for some of the cards but again, try to explore this further as there are no alternative designs, just your final versions (maybe with some small variations) suggesting you have settled on your first idea and not explored alternatives. You can explore ideas by using your sketchbook to quickly draw various designs, looking at composition, visuals (be it drawing or photographs etc) and type.


As a designer it is important to use an investigative approach in order to hopefully arrive at a successful design outcome, even if this does mean you revert back to an initial idea it is the process of exploration that is important, allowing you to make decisions and edit the work to refine it and meet the needs of the brief.


I would also suggest you do some self-initiated research to help support your work and ideas. For example, the typography on the final card that you describe as ‘not so perfect’ – can you find any designers that have created type with these same characteristics? It would be interesting to see your selection.


Overall the work has a delicate and minimal aesthetic with the final card indicating you can combine type and image effectively.


This is a decent start to the first part of this course, well done.


Overall Comments
Project: Sending and receiving

Understanding how visual communication works is crucial to graphic design, your first exercise asked you to explore this through playing visual charades.


Some good quick sketches for this exercise – as you mention on the blog it took you a while to think of images to use so to make it more challenging try to set a time limit.


Assessment potential


You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the course. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications. Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit Assignment two. I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.
Assessment Criteria
The Visual Communications degree has overarching assessment criteria that link to the course and trace the development of your work. At level one these criteria are:

  • Creative and analytical thinking (40%)

Analysing information, formulating independent judgments; employing creativity in the process of investigating, visualising and/or making, developing a personal voice.

  • Research and idea development (20%)

Sourcing and assimilating research material; and using visual language to investigate, test, interpret, and develop ideas.

  • Visual and Technical Skills (20%)

Using materials, techniques, technologies, and visual language to communicate ideas and information.

  • Context (20%)

Awareness of critical, contextual, historical, professional, and/or emerging contexts; and personal and professional development.


Your Tutor Report feedback will make reference to these criteria and give you a broad sense of how your exercise and assignment work, learning log and sketchbooks are meeting them.


Feedback on assignment


Assignment one asked you design a series of postcards that says something about yourself and your interests as a way of introducing yourself.


Card 1: Polska


This card is an intriguing combination of shape and image. I like the use of colour reversal between the stork and the block of red. This works well and does suggest the two are interchangeable or one and the same. The addition of the type does gently clarify what is already obvious on the page. However, I still think you could’ve been more adventurous with regard to experimenting a bit further with type, image and composition, as it appears you have arrived at the final designs fairly quickly.


For the image of the stork try using various scales and play around with the composition of the piece. Perhaps the block of red could occupy less of the space? If it did does this diminish the communication of the card at all? Consider playing with different typefaces and also placing the type in various places at different scales. Experiment with the kerning (the space between each letter) and if using lines of type the leading (the space between the lines of type). You can easily do this in Photoshop but Indesign is best for this. You could also trial the colour reversal with the type as well. Remember to make note of the typefaces you experiment with (this is research after all). This will help you build up a good knowledge of different typefaces and their various characteristics (something you can draw upon in the next assignment). Consider the use of a serif typeface rather than a sans serif one – this might provide more contrast and balance with the already minimal image and composition.

As you have used watercolour paper and paint to create the final image try to experiment with this technique further by producing, for example, colour samples/washes using different tones of red. Try mixing the paint with more water to retain fluidity and a less opaque colour. Try painting the type too. I’d like to see some more work using different materials and techniques, for example, painting paper with red acrylic and then cutting out the shapes you want and then creating a collage with these? Try cropping the whole image down to test the readability of the card. You can do this by making a viewfinder to place around the space to see how segments of the card would look if they were cropped. If you work in Photoshop this can easily be done with the crop tool.


Overall, this is a neat and bold design. It does communicate the intended message but I do think further developmental work would help you to find alternative solutions to the brief and showcase your creativity more.


Card 2: Fashion of the 20s/30s


The second card has a similar feel to the first because of the materials used. This is enhanced by your decision to draw the figure in outline, giving the card a delicate appearance. I do think the addition of the frame works well and complements the figure. Although I realise you made a decision to keep the card (like the first) simple I still believe that some experimental work showing alternative ideas (based on your theme) would be good, if only to demonstrate that you have tried different options. Additional sketches would be great to see, perhaps some trials using the watercolour as at present it jumps from pencil sketches straight into the final design in watercolour. As this is a graphic design course it is important to remember that type and image should be given equal weighting and these effectively combined together to convey a message. Therefore I do recommend you add some type to the card. This can be, as with the first card, quite subtle but should not be considered as a last minute add on – it should be an integral part of the design and given plenty of thought and consideration. As mentioned in previous feedback you could try and incorporate it into the image itself, using the lines of the figure to maybe represent a word or letterform? Some experiments with image and type could be added to your blog for you to reflect on and evaluate. Perhaps you could design your own typeface using figures from the 20s/30s? For example the current figure could represent the letter ‘i’?


Overall, the image is carefully depicted and you have considered the space around it, using your research as influence. Further designs exploring the addition of type to the image would be beneficial as at present this is merely an illustration.


Card 3: Come Fly With Me


This card does prove you can effectively combine type and image together to produce an easy to read cohesive design, well done. I commend you for using your own photographs – often it is very easy to rely on stock photos from the Internet but it is important the work is your own. Perhaps add some of the original photos to your blog so that they can be seen in their entirety? It’s good to see some of your original sketches for this idea. As you have focussed and stuck to the plane formation for the type do try and explore a few other ideas using this image – or even just the type in the sky would be enough to suggest the flying theme as the word itself is mentioned in the text? Maybe try to explain why you think the typeface you have used suggests ‘freedom and spontaneity’? Is it because it has been created by you or makes use of various fluid shapes? I think the vapour trails might have worked but the plane shape should follow them as at present it points in an entirely different direction. The vapour trails themselves are very subtle so I don’t think they are too busy. Perhaps one trail would suffice though as the image you have contains a few criss-crossing across the background. I think the type formation could be presented at a smaller scale to suggest the plane is high up in the sky? Consider exploring the scale of each word to try and make the plane image more readable, just to show you have attempted to refine the form further. The final version on the white background is again minimal in appearance. However, the plane shape and type is enough to carry the theme without the need for the sky to be present. I like the fact that your image is only revealed by the type, this adds to the curiosity of the piece.




Keeping sketchbooks and a learning log is an integral part of this and every other OCA course, not only because they constitute 20% of your marks if you choose to have your work formally assessed but they are also an excellent way to document and reflect on your development.


I can see some evidence of you having used a sketchbook for visual research and to draw down ideas and work through these (for card 3). More evidence of sketchbook and experimental work would be great to demonstrate you have tested and refined your ideas.


Learning Logs or Blogs / Critical essays


On your blog you discuss the book ‘Graphic Design Essentials’ by Joyce Walsh Macario. If it was a book that helped you to work through various exercises then do include some examples of this work on the blog.


It’s good you have included some visual research for the fashion card. However, I would also like to see some design based research. Before starting the course were there any graphic designers whose work you particularly liked? If so, include some visual examples of their work and start to comment on it – why do you like it? Is it fit for purpose? Do they create work that has a trademark style etc?


I would also recommend you reflect on your own work, critically analysing it and whether or not it works as a graphic design. If not, what could you do to improve its effectiveness? It is important you can reflect on your work in this way, as it will help you to edit and refine it.


Suggested viewing/reading


Have a look at the following (if you can) for inspiration and ideas:


‘Typography Sketchbooks’ (Stephen Heller)

‘Pioneers of Modern Graphic Design: A Complete History’ (Jeremy Aynsley)

‘A Smile in the Mind: Witty Thinking in Graphic Design (Beryl McAlhone and David Stuart)

‘Postcard’ published by Laurence King

Neville Brody (pushes the boundaries of type and legibility)

David Carson

Edward Fella

Robert Rauschenberg (interesting use of image, found materials, layers)

Marion Deuchars (handwritten type)

Mike Perry (Mike Perry Studio)

Marian Bantjes

Milton Glaser and Pushpin Studios

Alan Fletcher  (a great designer who used sketches playfully to convey ideas)

Helvetica film (a documentary film directed by Gary Hustwit)


If you haven’t already done so you may want to look at the WeAreOCA blog at or browse through other students work on the OCA Student Site You may want to post your own work for critique or join some of the forum debates that often contain links to relevant reading and viewing.


If this is your first OCA course, and if you haven’t done so already, it’s advisable to take The Introduction to Studying HE course. It’s designed to introduce you to some important concepts and practical techniques that will help you as you prepare to study in HE. The course is available on the OCA website and should take you between five and ten hours to complete.



Pointers for the next assignment


The next part of the course focuses on the creative process of problem solving. This is an opportunity for you to showcase your creativity and experiment more widely with images, typography (remember to reference the typeface you use) and composition. I’d like to see you use more sketches or scamps to portray your working ideas before starting to resolve the final artwork and design.


Try to conduct more research and discuss this on your blog (think about why you like or dislike the work and try to explain why) and also include first hand research (study trips or visits to galleries or museums etc) in this.



Tutor name: Laura Scott
Date 20/04/2014
Next assignment due 29/06/2014