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Meet the Team Small Town Big Dreams – Dr Brian Dixon

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Dr. Brian Dixon was our academic partner for Small Town Big Dreams audio-documentary ‘The World Turned Upside Down’. He worked with us throughout the series to shape the direction and select participants and to use the evidence gathered to create a Creative Enterprise Toolkit which we are launching next week as part of Belfast Design Week.

We asked Brian to tell us a bit about himself and share his experiences of the pandemic and its impact on University education as
well as what he learned from the interviews for this project.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I’m academic based at the Belfast School of Art, where I head up a master’s program and teach for the Graphic Design and Illustration course. Most of my time is either spent teaching or preparing for teaching, but I am also a researcher, which means I try to find out the answers to specific questions.

At the moment I’m most interested in defining what researchers from all fields can achieve by applying design in their research projects. For example, making, experimenting, prototyping, etc…I am also interested in how you can represent the potential of design as a method of inquiry to academics generally.

Has your work as a course director within Ulster University been impacted by the pandemic?

Mostly it’s a matter of making sure everything we did previously, in real life, through face-to-face interaction, can be delivered online or else compensated for in some way digitally. This is of course challenging for practical subjects like design. The greatest loss here is the materiality of things, the research notebooks, the sketches, and print-outs on the wall. Everything is now a PDF or a Jpg.

Can you tell us a bit about how you think the pandemic has impacted University education, particularly for creative students?

The biggest switch for all students is, as I say, from face-to-face to digital and for practical students, in particular, the possibility of developing material outcomes has all but vanished. In some fields like graphics or IxD this is fine… but for a lot of groups, say fashion or jewelry, it’s next to impossible to make things work remotely. I think there’s also the issue of peer learning. So much of creative education is based around working in the studio and bouncing ideas off each other, being inspired by what your mates are doing, and learning about things through observation, casual conversation, and discussion. This is very hard to replicate online… if not impossible. I’m sure students miss seeing their friends too. If you’re a first-year without any connections yet, it must be especially challenging.

Do you think the pandemic will create long-term change within University education?

Yes, I think things will be changed forever. It’s not that face-to-face lectures, tutorials, or studio work will disappear. These will all return in some form. But I am sure that there will be huge complementary digital emphasis going forwards now that everyone has had a massive crash course in it. We’ll be seeing far more blended learning, where you have both face-to-face and digital components, going forwards. I think too many positives have emerged for it to be abandoned. I feel this will be replicated in other sectors too.

You heard all the interviews in full, what was your biggest takeaway piece of advice or insight from all the interviews?

This is a tough one. There were so many nice insights in there. I think if you group the best of it all together the key thing to take away is that despite everything, whether work-related or personal, there remains hope. We have been given an opportunity to reevaluate our lives and to identify what is important and from this choose a new course if that is desirable.

Many have taken advantage of this and are heading off in new directions whether radically different or just subtly different. At the
end of the day, it all comes back to that age-old notion of finding opportunity in a crisis. If we try we’ll find it there somewhere.

#blickstudios on
We are delighted to be part of the @nerve_centre  Spring Into the Creative Industries Programme with 'A Time is Now' panel discussion on diversity in the creative industries for at 6.30pm next Monday for International Women's Day.

 The Time is Now is a collaborative project by Blick Shared Studios and @creatingaspace focusing on honest and meaningful conversations between early stage creative entrepreneurs. This event is produced in collaboration with @womenfolk.co @belfastdesignwk  and hosted by @nerve_centre

EVENT DETAILS

A vibrant and timely discussion on the urgent need for greater diversity in the creative industries in Northern Ireland.
Join our panel of female creatives and innovators on International Women’s Day as they bring a wealth of life and professional experience to this vital conversation about diversity in the creative industries.

Hosted by Esther Mogada from Creating A Space, this event will see Emily Searle, Sorcha Ní Cheallaigh and Margaret Watiri share their perspectives on the current make-up of the creative sector in Northern Ireland and their ideas on how we can improve diversity within these industries.

This issue is long-standing in the creative industries, and is reflected in the visible absence of a diversity of gender, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation and socio-economic backgrounds among leadership roles in particular.

The creative industries are vital to the Northern Irish economy. As the sector we rely on to create and sell us ideas, content and products, diversity is arguably most important here so that we can understand and create things of value that reflect society as a whole.

https://www.blickstudios.org/events/the-time-is-now-diversity-in-the-creative-industries-panel/
Next in our series of @womenfolk.co Dig Deep events is 'A DIY Guide on Instagram' on Sat 13th March from 10.00am - 12.00pm featuring the lovely @laurentaylorcreates and our own Blick resident @dannisimpsonart

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The aim of this event is to help you gain knowledge of how to build a brand or business on Instagram through hearing the story & journey of Lauren Taylor and Danni Simpson. They will be sharing their insights on how they have built their business, how they have built their brand and how they navigate growing their audience and business on Instagram.

https://www.blickstudios.org/events/a-diy-guide-to-instagram-with-lauren-taylor-danni-simpson/
Next in our series of @womenfolk.co Dig Deep events is 'A DIY Guide on Photographing Your Work' next Wed evening 6.30 - 7.30pm full details below

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We understand how hard it can be to know the basics of photography and we wanted to create a workshop that covered the basics and that you can walk away with tips and tools that you can implement straight away. 

We will be covering: 

-Basics of photography - creating a strong focal point, using exposure and white balance to get your images right, working with natural light

-Telling a visual story with your images 

-Different types of set up - plain backdrop, editorial styling and flat lay. 

-Editing your images - using software to improve your photos

-Images for print and web use 

- Backing up and storing your image catalogue

Get your ticket at 

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-diy-guide-on-photographing-your-work-with-carrie-davenport-tickets-141958777525?keep_tld=1
Blue Skies. Spring is definitely in the air. What a lovely start to the week
The tiniest bit of spring in the air in the Cathedral Quarter this afternoon. Fingers crossed things are starting to look up and these streets will be busy with people again in the not too distant future!
We have this great online event on setting up a website yourself for your creative business on Sat 20th Feb part of our @womenfolk.co Dig Deep Programme but open to all to attend

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A DIY Guide on Creating Your Own Website

The aim of this event is to help you become knowledgeable in getting started with understanding how to set up your own website DIY style.

We will be covering:

– What is important to include on a website ( information, photographs & copy)

– How to make your website user friendly & accessible

– Practical tips on using different platforms such as Squarespace

– Domain names

– SEO

– Planning content

– Consistency

– Products to display

– Logistics of the backend of selling online through a website

As a creative, it can be hard to know where to start or what to include when creating your own website for your creative business or personal project.

This is a DIY workshop to help you get started on your own. This event will help you understand how to design the website you want, the tools on how to create it and a clearer understanding of how to navigate the different platforms available.

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OVERVIEW

The workshop will be split into two sections. The first part of the workshop will be facilitated by Karishma Kusurkar @karishmasworld who will be giving us practical tools on how to create a website and using Squarespace as an example of how to use it.

The second half of the workshop will be led by Emma Jackson of @hunterpaperco and @huntandgatherbelfast who will be giving us a presentation of how she built her own business and website herself.

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WHO IS THIS FOR?

This event is for anyone that is looking to set up a website for their creative business.

Whether you already have a website and are looking for tips to navigate the platforms or update your current website, or you are someone just starting out and needing a push to get started, this is for you.

https://www.blickstudios.org/events/a-diy-guide-to-setting-up-a-website-with-karishma-kusurkar-emma-jackson/
We have a great new online event this Wednesday evening on creating your own brand. It's part of our @womenfolk.co Dig Deep programme, but open to all to attend and is kindly supported by Ulster Bank so is free to attend. Tickets can be booked through our website:

https://www.blickstudios.org/events/a-diy-guide-on-creating-your-own-brand-with-karishma-kusurkar/

Full event details are below and on our website (link in profile) 

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A DIY GUIDE ON CREATING YOUR OWN BRAND WITH KARISHMA KUSURKAR

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

6:30 PM 8:00 PM

AIMS

The aim of this event is to help you become knowledgeable in getting started with understanding how to set up your own brand DIY style.

We will be covering how to create your own logo, what font to use, and what important things you need to include in setting up your own brand.

As a creative, it can be hard to know where to start when designing your own brand, especially at the beginning as you may not have the finances to pay for a professional graphic designer to put it together.

WHO THIS IS FOR

Whether you are just starting out in business, wanting to create a personal brand, or need a refresher on how to create a brand, this is for you.

We wanted to create an event where you can walk away with practical tools that you can apply and implement into your brand.

This is a DIY workshop to help you get started on your own. Even if you are planning to pay for a professional, you may not know what is required to ask for, so in this workshop, we will be covering the following:

A simple break down of what branding is

Brand Guidelines

Typography

Brand Identity - what is a brand identity, what is it used for, and what is in it?

Logo ( how to create a logo that translates well throughout various platforms, what format it should be in, where your logo will be placed, where it needs to be,

Fonts ( what fonts are suitable & what they communicate)

This event will be facilitated by @karishmasworld
We have put together lots of free business and self-care resources for creative businesses as part of our @womenfolk.co Dig Deep Programme. We will be adding more content each week, to help you on your business journey

https://www.womenfolk.co/dig-deep-resources1
Looking forward to having our spaces filled with busy creatives again. Hopefully in the not too distant future
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We just wanted to wish everyone Merry Christmas and a Happy New year! ⁠
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What a year it has been, with everything going on. We hope that you all take the time to relax, and have a well deserved break and slow down over the Christmas season.⁠
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Spend time with your loved ones and stay safe! ⁠
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See you all in 2021!
Gorgeous sunny start to the week at our Hill St studios 🌞☀️
All 4 episodes of our @stbdpodcast audio documentary 'The World Turned Upside Down' on the impact of Covid-19 on the creative industries in Northern Ireland are available now for listening on Soundcloud Spotify and iTunes with full details on our blog (link in bio) 

https://www.blickstudios.org/.../small-town-big-dream.../

Big thanks to project co-creators and hosts @karishmasworld and @graeme_theory and academic partner Dr Brian Dixon and project funders FutureScreensNI and @northernirelandscreen
@belfastdesignwk took place from 2nd-8th November 2020 and included a Pop-Up Design Museum in venues across Belfast city centre with work by commissioned designers.

It was great to see such variety of work from designers & makers, the different types of people collaborating together and the will to keep going and showing up, despite how testing 2020 has been. 

The theme of Belfast Design Week 2020 was "Environment" and it was great to see the broad spectrum of how people interpreted the theme within their work. 

Thanks to everyone that joined us and supported us this year!
These are some of the highlights from this year's Belfast Design Week as filmed by @foreversocialweddings
We are excited to introduce our newest Blick Resident - @dannisimpsonart ⁠
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Danni is an Australian artist who specialises in Commercial murals and Illustrations. Her style is an urban fusion of detailed floral illustrations where wildlife clashes with architecture and typography, sprinkled through with dashes of art deco and mandala patterns.⁠
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Danni has a side project, The Creatives Market which showcases local NI Makers and Creators will be holding a virtual Black Friday Christmas Market to encourage people to Shop Small and local this year. ⁠
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Head over to her page today to check it out or visit her website at www.dannisimpsonart.com⁠
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Be sure to check out the full interview on our website https://www.blickstudios.org/meettheresidents/meettheresident-danni-simpson/⁠
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Filming this week in our main room in our Malone studios which is currently available to rent hourly or for the day or evening, prices and info on our website or get in touch for more info

#creativespace #creativeworkspace #coworkingspace #creativehub #workspace #studiospace #Belfast #southbelfast
We had some gorgeous light shinning on our Malone Road studio this morning! Feels like the last of those crisp autumnal mornings before winter arrives!
Monday morning vibes at our Cotton Court Studios! ⁠
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We love how different all of our different studio spaces are but still have the same feel about them. ⁠
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We make sure in all studio spaces that there is a relaxing communal place for everyone to come together ( socially distanced of course). ⁠
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#blickstudios #creativespaces⁠
We've got that Friday feeling at our Hill Street Studios! We hope that you all have a great weekend and keep cozy!
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact across the globe across all industries.

As a creative business-focused organization, we wanted to understand how other creatives have been affected by the pandemic as well as how they have coped with the situation that has been forced upon us.

The toolkit provides an insight into how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the creative industries in Northern Ireland and gives practical advice and guidance on how to stay positive during this period of uncertainty.

The toolkit was compiled by Dr. Brian Dixon Ulster University from evidence gathered from the Small Town Big Dreams audio documentary ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ about the impact of the pandemic on NI creatives.

To get access to the toolkit, click the link in our bio and it can be downloaded or visit our website at www.blickstudios.org
Very sad to see the Cathedral Quarter so empty on a Saturday evening 😥