Research & Curate
Writing – not something that comes to me easily. I have never written so much as I have since doing this MA course and yet I’m still not convinced I am getting any better at it!!
The biggest hurdle, when it comes to writing, is ‘what’ to write about. Once a topic, subject or question is clear, then the research and discovering elements can be fun and enjoyable, making the writing element less difficult.
The tutors this week have talked about how graphic design and writing go hand in hand – I don’t believe this has always been the case, but I know that personally, I have become much more aware of what I write and how I write, especially in the last few years.
I own a website and I have a social media presence, so writing has become part of my every day from writing content, a blog or even just a simple Instagram post. I have been expected to write content for clients too – even having to correct their grammar and spelling every now and then!
As I mentioned in my previous blog, graphic design books were once quite rare in the bookshops but there are many more being published today, and it is designers that are writing them.
This week’s lecture talked about ‘Ethnographic Research’, which I hadn’t heard of before. It is the study of people’s lives from the view of within their community. Many authors or journalists can spend large amounts of time embedded within a community in order to accurately represent what life is truly like when writing about them.
There was also an interview with Andrew Sanigar, the commissioning editor from publishing house, Thames and Hudson, who describes themselves as a ‘Museum Without Walls’ and publish books on various subjects including Art, Design, Photography, Fashion, Pop Culture and Jewellery.
It was an insightful interview into the process of an author pitching an idea through to the publication of a book.
What I took away most from the interview was that when it comes to writing, write about something you know or something you are passionate about. ‘Bring knowledge and a level of expertise to a project’ – Andrew Sanigar.
It would be lovely to publish my own book, especially about something I was passionate about. Working in collaboration with photographers, printers and of course experts on whatever the subject might be, would be very exciting and fulfilling.
A book can give an experience to the reader which I don’t think can be duplicated as well online, so as long as books continue to be published, I will continue to buy them!
As I explained above, the hardest part of writing is deciding ‘what’ to write about. So, when it came to this week’s challenge, I found it quite hard.
The challenge was to research and find two possible stories that reflect a viewpoint of your town, city or locale.
The two points that I took away from the lecture this week were 1) write what you are passionate about and 2) the idea of ‘Ethnographic Research’ – fully embedding yourself into a community to gain a better understanding. I wanted to keep these things in mind when deciding what to write about.
I saw on the ideas wall that I could be ‘flexible’ with my location and started to think about a place where I visited a few years ago and completely fell in love with.
Music has always been a part of my life and country music was always a favourite of my Dads. It wasn’t particularly cool to admit to liking country music in the 80s or 90s but in recent years it has had a resurgence in popularity with the likes of Chris Stapleton, Kip Moore, Mo Pitney, Luke Combs and Maren Morris, adding their own unique sound to the genre. What is even more surprising is that country music is becoming popular here in the UK with British born acts breaking onto the scene – Ward Thomas, The Wandering Hearts and The Shires.
Because I had taken my Dad to Nashville a few years ago for a family holiday, I wanted to write about how music had taken over the city famously nicknamed ‘Music City’. Visually there is so much to see, and while music is definitely the reoccurring theme, there is more to the city than just music and I felt, the look and feel of the place would be worth researching and writing about. If I could spend five years embedded within the culture and community of Nashville – there wouldn’t be any complaints!!
The other angle I wanted to look at, still connected to Nashville, was that since the recent BML movement, a lot of country acts have changed their name in case of any connotation’s associated with racism in past history. I wanted to investigate and see if there was a history of racism in country music and if so, what is the effect on current country music acts both in the U.S.A and here in the UK.
However, when chatting with the tutors, it became clear that I was being too ‘flexible’ with my location and that it might be better if I tried to bring my stories closer to home.
When rethinking my ideas for my stories, I realised that I am living within a community of my own and have been for the last 17 years!!
There isn’t much significant history about the village of Oakley, where I live, but it does have an amazing community.
So, it took a while to decide on the two ideas for my stories that I am going to write about over the coming weeks, and even though I didn’t get to write about Nashville, I managed to link both ideas to my local area and still sneak country music into one of them!!