Reflection

At first, I was quite apprehensive when finding out that this module would be done in a team, as group projects can often not go according to plan and have problems, however,  I did understand that being able to work within a team on projects is such an important skill that we need as designers and I do feel that I have definitely built upon my team working skills within this project.

I was also concerned that due to the Covid pandemic that this would be another obstacle in our project. As some of us hadn’t actually met in real life before, I thought that this could even cause conflicts but luckily it didn’t. I feel that having to do our project entirely remotely and digitally helped me learn valuable skills including how to communicate well using this method and how to get my work done this way within a team. This was all good practise as I feel that it reflects how digital design projects will most likely be run in the future, which has helped me gain valuable skills.  

I also think that this project has enabled me to build upon my existing illustration and graphic design skills, which was what I was really hoping for in this project. I’ve done lots of illustrating before, but here I was drawing something new and in a different style which has definitely helped me to challenge myself which is a definite positive. 

Overall, I feel that this project has gone well. I am really glad that I was able to work on this project, and that I had the chance to do more illustration work. I feel that this project has hopefully given me an insight into how design projects are run for my future career, and has enabled me to build upon many different types of skills.  

Design Process

After I had found out my role, Millie prepared some research pages for me which outlined five plant varieties and their individual care information. Using her research, I was to create some plant information pages which would contain all of the essential information the customer would require for looking after that certain type of plant, these would be going inside the ‘Grow Your Own’ plant kits.

I made a start on this task by first drawing some examples of possible plant illustration styles that I could do, using the program Procreate on my iPad. I illustrated two styles for everyone to choose from, taking inspiration from some plant illustrations that were on a moodboard that the team leader created. I drew two styles, a more simple line drawing style and a coloured pencil art style, I then sent these examples into the group chat on our Discord server and asked which illustration style would be preferred. 

My initial illustrations of the possible plant illustration styles

Everyone liked the coloured one the best, so then I started working on doing the illustrations of the five plant varieties that were specified to me in the research pages in this style. I also made and used some reference image collages to help me get the details and shapes of the plant varieties more accurate.   

 

My image reference collages

For the illustrations, I made sure to stick to a colour scheme because ‘the color scheme is one of the most important elements; this is because, when used correctly, color can reflect the niche and even the overall business marketing strategy’ (Interaction Design Foundation, n.d.). Millie had already created a moodboard which contained a small colour palette, and other team members were also sticking to this for their parts of the design work, so I added these colours to my palette too to keep everything consistent. As I was illustrating and would need slightly more colours and shades for my work, I did choose some additional colours myself that I would be able to use that would compliment the other colours well, but would also look good on the plant varieties that I would be illustrating. 

My colour palette

My final five plant illustrations

Once I had finished my plant illustrations, I put them onto Box for the others to use, Joe would be using them on his social media adverts and Aury would be using them on the website. Millie then created and sent me some layout mock-ups of the plant information pages. 

Using the mock-ups I was then able to start putting together the plant information pages using Adobe Illustrator. I included the information about each plant that Millie had prepared on her research pages. I also included one of our logos which was designed by Ellis on the pages, I messaged him on our Discord server and he then shared the files on Box for me to download. Once I had finished the pages, I sent them to the group Discord for any feedback, which came back positive and it was confirmed by Millie that nothing would need to be altered on them.

My final plant information pages

Millie then messaged me asking if i’d be able to create some posts for social media. From watching her original business presentation, I decided to create an illustrated Instagram post which outlined what was in our ‘Grow Your Own’ kit. Finally, I created two other posts using a similar format which were illustrated step-by-step guides on how to propagate certain types of plants. 

My social media post showing the contents of the Grow Your Own kit

My social media/website graphic showing how to propagate a cactus

My social media/website graphic showing how to propagate a houseplant

Image References: 

Beards and Daisies (n.d.) Rubber plant [Photograph]. Available online: https://www.beardsanddaisies.co.uk/products/rubber-plant?_pos=1&_sid=29754171f&_ss=r [Accessed 14/03/21].

Beards and Daisies (n.d.) Swiss cheese plant [Photograph]. Available online: https://www.beardsanddaisies.co.uk/products/swiss-cheese-monstera-adansonii?_pos=1&_sid=7be1615aa&_ss=r [Accessed 14/03/21].

Beards and Daisies (n.d.) Chinese money plant [Photograph]. Available online: https://www.beardsanddaisies.co.uk/products/chinese-money-plant?_pos=1&_sid=30a788dab&_ss=r [Accessed 14/03/21].

Beards and Daisies (n.d.) Asparagus fern [Photograph]. Available online: https://www.beardsanddaisies.co.uk/products/asparagus-fern-pot?_pos=1&_sid=755d5748a&_ss=r [Accessed 14/03/21].

The Little Botanical (n.d.) Asparagus fern [Photograph]. Available online: https://thelittlebotanical.com/product/asparagus-fern/ [Accessed 14/03/21].

The Little Botanical (n.d.) Peperomia watermelon houseplant [Photograph]. Available online: https://thelittlebotanical.com/product/peperomia-watermelon-houseplant/ [Accessed 14/03/21].

Propagating information for social media posts found at:

Gardeners World (2019) How to take cuttings from house plants. Available online: https://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/grow-plants/how-to-take-cuttings-from-house-plants/ [Accessed 02/05/21].

Gardeners World (2019) How to take cuttings from cactus and succulents. Available online: https://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/grow-plants/how-to-take-cuttings-from-cacti-and-succulents/ [Accessed 02/05/21].

Quote:

Interaction Design Foundation (n.d.) What is color theory? Available online: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/color-theory [Accessed 09/04/21].

Communication

One of our first tasks when we were put into our team was to set up our communication channels. Due to the Covid pandemic, we were all aware that virtual communication would end up being our only option since we weren’t allowed to meet in person as a group. We first discussed what platform would be best for us all to use and we settled upon Discord because most of us had used it in previous team projects and found it to be an effective channel for team work as it is a really versatile platform.

Our Discord server had everything we needed to keep in contact with each other virtually throughout the entire project. We mainly used its text channel feature and had channels dedicated to specific aspects of our project such as a general one, which was good for messages, feedback and discussing ideas, we also had channels for organising meetings and 3D work.

We all had access to a voice channel on Discord which was great for having meetings, we were all able to organise when to have a meeting on it, where we would all join the voice channel at the set time and discuss ideas and explain where we were up to and what we needed to do. These meetings were done weekly at first but further on into the module when we all had a bigger workload, the meetings became less frequent. This wasn’t an issue though, as we still maintained contact with each other regularly through messages on Discord.

A screenshot showing our various Discord channels

As our project was entirely digital, we also needed a designated place for sharing files and resources with each other. We all decided upon Box where everyone had their own folders within our shared folder to put their work into which kept things organised and tidy.

A screenshot showing our folders on our shared Box which everyone had access to

Everyone seemed to engage well with all of our communication channels and were all supportive of each others work. I feel that good communication within a team is often a big factor in the success of a project, and due to Covid making every aspect of our project virtual, this meant that our digital communication channels would need to play an even bigger role than if we were to have meetings in person. I feel that a positive to our communication having to be digital is that due to everyone having different schedules it offers much better flexibility and as we had already been doing online university for almost a year, we were already used to having to communicate digitally and I feel this helped how effective communication was in our group. 

Leadership & Teamwork

At first, when I found out that this module was going to be a team project, I was quite apprehensive as group projects can often not go very well and many of us hadn’t even met each other before. This issue was brought up and discussed in some of our initial lectures, as many of my other colleagues felt this way too, which actually helped put my mind at ease. I then realised that being able to work within a team on projects is such an important skill that we need not only as designers but in general too which then encouraged me to make sure I would be a hard-working team member as ‘Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved’ (Stepanek, n.d.), this helped me realise that by bringing many creative people together, we would hopefully be able to create something really impressive.  

Once I found out what team I was in, I was really pleased as it was the project that I really wanted to work on, after watching all of the potential project presentations, I felt that I would be able to fit in best and contribute most to this team. 

In spite of the Covid pandemic, which meant that some of us hadn’t actually met in person before we still all managed to work well together throughout the project. Getting used to working with new people was really beneficial as it is very likely in the future we’ll be working with people we don’t know on other projects.

As a team, we all communicated well with each other on our Discord chat, and thankfully there wasn’t any conflicts. All team members were hard-working and good at helping each other and giving feedback if it was necessary. Everyone engaged well with our team meetings unless they had other commitments, and in these instances Millie would communicate with that individual about what needed doing that week. 

I think that the reason why we got on well as a team was probably helped by the fact that we all seemed to be really happy with our individual roles, the process of giving out the roles was done in a really fair way by the team leader who listened to what each members preferred roles would be. A large aspect to how this project went so smoothly was definitely down to the leadership which was really good. Millie suited the role of team leader very well, she was always very approachable if we had any questions or needed help and was good at organising us all. 

References:

Stepanek, M (n.d.) Mattie J.T. Stepanek quotes. Available online: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/488495-unity-is-strength-when-there-is-teamwork-and-collaboration-wonderful [Accessed 25/04/21].

Organisational Skills

As outlined in our team project plan ‘our outcome was to create a multitude of materials relating to The Potted Plant Company.’ This included creating the branding, packaging designs, assets, website layout design, promotional material and a final website. Millie laid out all of our individual job roles and then stated the materials which each member would need to create.  

Our project plan which was created by Millie stating what work was required by each group member

Millie ensured everyone knew the work that they were expected to create and let everyone get on with the tasks at their own pace and didn’t keep pushing us, but was still available if we needed any help. I personally feel like this slightly more laid back approach is actually a really positive method as there seemed to be a good balance which I feel was really beneficial for everyone in the team so I feel hopefully no one felt too pressured, which can often cause conflict. 

However, this laid back approach isn’t to say that we were being complacent in regards to the organisation and planning. The planning that was in place was clear, concise and fair and what we were all required to do as individuals was outlined early on in the process. We always planned any group meetings in advance and made sure the times and days were suitable for us all. For the majority of our group meetings, everyone turned up and engaged which was great for our group dynamics. 

A production log was also kept by Millie throughout which mapped out what each group member had been doing each week. This was good for everyone to keep track not only on what and when they had done their tasks, but also to see where the other team members were. All of our work was also organised in a tidy way on our group Box file, we all had our own folders to share our work so that if the others needed those files, they would be able to find them easily.  

A screenshot of the production plan

For my personal organisational skills, I decided not to create a personal timetable or anything as I was confident enough in my personal time management to know that I would meet any deadlines. However, as I was also relying on other people and others were relying on me, I made sure to often try and get my jobs done before the deadlines. 

Individual Role

Once we had established which team we were going to be in, we all discussed our possible roles in our initial group meeting. Millie, the team leader asked us all what our strengths and preferred roles would be, this was also a great chance to break the ice initially and for us to get to know each other a bit better. After this meeting, Millie then came back to us with our confirmed roles. 

My role was to do the illustrations for ‘The Potted Plant Company’s’ website and promotional/social media material. I was really happy with my role because it meant that I would be doing things that I really enjoy and what I consider are my strengths within design. I was also hoping to be able to work on an illustration project as I felt that I needed to add more illustration work to my portfolio and gain more experience, as illustration is something that I hope to do in the future. I also wanted to be able to challenge myself as I hadn’t ever really focused on solely drawing plants before. 

I feel that the role suited my personal skills too, including how my role fits into working within a team. I am good at communicating with others which is crucial, especially in a team environment. I also feel that one of my strengths is how I am good at meeting deadlines and time management, I knew that I would need to take even more care with this aspect seen as though it is a team project and others will be relying on and waiting for me with certain things. I was to work with everyone else within the team, as most members would be using my assets within their work. I also mostly worked alongside Millie as she was also creating the promotional materials. 

I’m also good at accepting both positive and negative feedback on my work, as I know how important it is to accept any constructive criticism and have the ability to be able to adapt my work from this. Throughout the project, the feedback on my work was actually really positive which I think helps to show that this was the right role for me.