Week 1

Who? Where? What? Why?

Eek! At 45 years old and about 22 years since I last stepped into a University, I am now a student again!! I am about to embark on a 2-year MA Degree course in Graphic Design (part time and online), based at Falmouth University and I get to share my journey (my highs, lows and musings) with you – the reader.

The first weeks challenge is to introduce myself, to give an insight into who I really am and why Graphic Design is part of my life. This is to be done by producing a quadriptych (four images) to communicate the answers to the questions, Who? Where? What? Why?

One of the hardest things I’ve found about being a designer, is designing for myself! Without a client or a set brief, narrowing down the endless options to something I am 100% happy with, has always been a challenge.

A main reason for applying to this course though, is to find out and explore exactly the kind of designer I want to be – what better way of starting than asking these initial questions.

Sketch Book

Who am I?

My name is Louise but everyone calls me Lou. I have many roles, daughter, sister, aunty, friend, colleague, wife and mother but in my professional role, I am a Graphic Designer. We tend to judge people by the career they have chosen for themselves and when we meet someone for the first time, the question ‘What do you do?’ is shortly followed after an introduction.  We are made up of many other traits, characteristics and values though, which we are not always aware that we have. But thats the fun of getting to know people, right? and hopefully others can give some insight into who we are as well.
For this first week’s challenge, I decided that I would select 3 images for each section and try to narrow down the various options. I wanted to show that I was a Graphic Designer (a photo of me at my desk) and that I have a family (photo of my husband and children) but also that I might be made up of other things and that I have values and experience in life (a photo of a necklace, that I wear every day).


Where am I?

I have lived in a few places over the years but again, I wanted to select significant places that mean something to me. I was born in Broadway, Worcestershire (photo 1), which is where my parents still live and it’s where I got married. I always thought I might move back there to live because it’s so beautiful, but we visit any opportunity we get!

I moved to Plymouth (photo 2) in 1994 to attend Plymouth College of Art & Design and completed a HND in Graphic Design. It was the first time I had to put a portfolio of work together for my interview and I was so nervous getting it out of the car, that I drop it all over the road! They accepted me anyway and I still have my letter – I was so excited. I was only there for 2 years but I had a blast and I loved it. It was my first proper learning curve – I don’t think I had used a Mac up until that point!

I am now based in Oakley, Hampshire (photo 3), just a few miles outside Basingstoke and this is where I run my design company, Eley Designs. This is where I am bringing up my family and it reminds me of being back in Broadway, a little.

Watching the case studies we were recommended this week, the question was asked to all studios that gave interviews, “Does where you work affect how you work?” Asking myself that question, I would have to say yes. I have worked for a corporate company for the best part of 10 years in an office environment. While I enjoyed my time there, it was the least creative I have ever been. Having my own business now and working from home in the country, has allowed me to be so much more creative and has taken me back to what I love doing the best.

Of course the type of work I do and the clients I have, have completely changed, but I get to be as creative as I want and I have the freedom to choose.


What is it that I do?

I was fortunate to complete a Foundation course in Art & Design straight from school and I got to sample various disciplines including Photography, Fashion Design, Pottery, 3D Design, Life Drawing and Graphic Design. I enjoyed Graphic Design so much so, I went on to select it for my National Diploma. It was here that I entered a competition to design a logo (photo 1) for a local Arts and Culture Festival and won! That feeling of creating something by my own hand that everyone would see and recognise, well, it was then I knew that this was what I wanted to do forever!

After Uni, I got my first job as a ‘New media Designer’ at IBM (photo 2). Wow! This was huge! I have never done any kind of ‘New Media’ design or ‘Website’ design – nothing. They loved my portfolio though and were willing to teach me everything I needed to know. I loved it there, I met my husband and made some great friends. However, the longer I stayed there, the less creative I became, and I soon realised that whilst the experience and skills I gained in all other areas of design (which were in valuable and I still carry with me), it became very clear that Print Design was what I loved doing best.

I got the opportunity in 2009 to set up Eley Designs (photo 3) which brings me up to date!

What Do I Do?

Why Design?

In the case study of Intro Design Studio, Julian Talbot says Really it all comes down to whether or not you’re a fully-fledged designer and that’s based on how good your design skills are and you can’t learn that. I don’t think you can learn that. It’s intuitive, it’s something you’ve either got or you haven’t got. You can always become better, but you can’t become a designer if you’re not inherently a designer I don’t think. You can make yourself more commercially viable, but you can’t just make yourself into a designer by learning more tricks.”

This is how I feel about why I am a designer – it’s in me. My friends take the mickey out of me because I am always organised and tidy, but I thinks it’s how I go about my life. I see design everywhere, in what I wear, how I live, what I eat, what we do as a family and that all has an impact on the type of designer I am.

I love doing my job and I think I am okay at it (photo 1). It is a gold star but if you notice, 2 of the bulbs don’t’ work. This is to symbolise that I can always be better and learn more. Also, as Tom Finn from ‘Regular Practice’ says “It’s kind of interesting to be in a place where you can see that you’ve developed because you’re recognising the mistakes that you’ve made previously.” 

You are always learning, and mistakes are there to learn from – they aren’t always bad things.

I have an eye for detail (photo 2). I can see immediately if something isn’t straight – I know when one of the kids have been sat at my desk because they move everything!!! I love the detail too – once you’ve got the concept of an idea, putting it together and getting it ready for print, can be exciting and nerve wrecking at the same time.

Finally, one of the main reasons why I love design – is the end result (photo 3). Being in print design, means for most of the time, there is an end product. You have a tangible piece of design work that had been printed and is out there in the world. The excitement of receiving that piece of work through post or delivery, makes it all worthwhile. I can hold of that piece of work in my hand and say, “I made this’! That makes me happy.

Here is my finished Quadriptych…

Who? Where? What? Why?

Writing isn’t my strong point, but I am going to have to get used to blogging more frequently on this course! Onto week 2….


Who, What, Where and Why? Case study. 2020. GDE710 for MA Graphic Design. Falmouth University.