Welcome to Hot New Things 2019 – an opportunity to profile a selection of the top design graduates coming out of our tertiary institutions. This week, we speak with Sydney Plested from Whitecliffe.
Bachelor of Fine Art (Graphic Design major)
Whitecliffe College of Art and Design
You completed your full-time studies at the end of 2018. Can you tell us what your final year’s project was about and what you focused on?
My project intends to alert the general public to the dangers connected to the Facebook platform, social media users need to be aware that they forfeit their right to privacy when signing up to the Facebook platform. My Project is a video series that takes a strong anti-Facebook stance, it explores the value of our personal data and the negligence of Facebook concerning the protection of our data. Each video within the series has a different core focus, The Cambridge Analytica Scandal, Zuckerberg’s hearing with U.S. Congress, Public response, Public sharing, Location Services, Ownership of data, Capabilities of third parties as well as the recent data hacking scandal. My print work includes information that may not be picked up on by the viewer in the videos, in order to make sure the content in the video is understood.
How has what you’ve recently been working on influenced your design process, and what momentum does it bring to your practice?
I’ve always been attracted to deep research into the background history of a subject, this project was no different. Facebook and it’s controversies was a subject that I needed the information I was referencing to be accurate and understandable for someone who isn’t as familiar as myself, having an in-depth knowledge of Facebook’s practices and controversies became a vital element in the comprehension of my project. As I translated my research into videos, I took the complicated network of information that I had gathered and stripped it down to its most vital components. The decisions I had to make concerning what information was essential and what information wasn’t reminded me of the importance of critical thinking and constant referral back to your initial intention.
What were some of your most exciting discoveries?
I wouldn’t say it’s the most exciting, but the most interesting discovery I made was about how the Internet and social media world has created a new form of economy, the attention economy. A form of economy that doesn’t rely on money but instead profits off of how long you interact with the site/platform. Sites/Platforms operating with the business model that doesn’t require you to pay for its services make up its value in other ways. Information and entertainment nowadays are in an unlimited supply, the limiting factor of the success of such sites rely on an attentive human mind. Being able to understand the concept that attention has become the most valuable currency in the modern age, has made me think a bit more carefully about where I invest it.
And also some of the challenges along the way?
One of the challenges I encountered were as a result of my lack of experience working with after effects, thankfully there is a range of resources I could use to teach myself. I learned a lot, more than I had anticipated when I made the decision to tackle a video series. Another major challenge would be refining my net of research; it would be fair to say that I became slightly overwhelmed at times with the large scope of research. There was just too much collected information, and too many possibilities of approaches I could utilise it for. In order to overcome this, I had to refocus and reinforce my intention for the project, by stepping back I could identify what information was integral to a clear understanding of my subject matter.
What did you love doing most?
The aspect of Graphic Design that made me fall in love with it in the first place is the ability to learn about specialties and topics that you aren’t familiar with. I have an appreciation and love history, any excuse for me to delve into deep hole of research. Whether that means spending hours on the Internet or trying to find just the right books in a library, it is my happy place.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
I find reverse engineering designers work to be intrinsically helpful to how I conduct my own design projects and process. Though I can most certainly appreciate their work purely by visuals, I am interested in what they are referencing, what are they inspired by and how they came to the final product.
I am a believer of using the resources around you, tutors, classmates, family, friends, anyone who serves as another perspective. Having a strong support group is a big plus, a range of opinions and personal experiences can positively affect your design practice and outcomes. Some of the biggest breakthroughs within my projects this year have been when I’ve been discussing and talking through problems I was tackling with the people around me.
Why did you choose to study at your design school, and what do you feel you can take away now that you’ve completed your course?
There are so many benefits to Whitecliffe College of arts and Design. Whitecliffe has smaller classes which means you get more time with your tutors, but you also build strong friendships with your classmates. We have an open plan studio space which allows graphic design students from all years to interact, I’ve had so many interesting discussions about design with students earlier on in their degrees. But what I will make sure to take with me is the importance of critical design thinking that Whitecliffe implements in us as designers, as well as how to articulate it.
Where to next for you? What does 2019 hold?
After my project this year I want to delete my Facebook, or change my settings as soon as I can. Professionally, I see myself in a design studio environment surrounded by people who I can learn from and foster relationships with. Whether it be in New Zealand, Australia or on the other side of the world, the possibilities are endless and I am open to all of them. I’ve also been itching to act on some personal projects that I’ve wanted to do this year but not had the time. I want to take the time to pursue a passion of mine I discovered as a way to keep busy during my semester break, custom clothing that I hand paint, I have already done a few pieces and already have ideas for more. I want to see how far I take my new passion and explore new mediums I can translate my design sense into.
sydneyplested.cargocollective.com | instagram.com/sydneyplested |firstname.lastname@example.org