Although our overall project to raise awareness of the Creative Spark within the local community was a group effort, we each took on individual responsibilities and roles in order to bring our efforts to a successful and satisfying conclusion. The fact that individuals within our three-person group almost always took this responsibility upon themselves without prompting is a measure of how well we worked together as a group and I feel that the relaxed atmosphere and balanced workload resulted in a project that had a balanced and organic feel to it.
On a personal level the most time-consuming aspect of my work for the project was almost certainly the animation of the tree growing out of the Creative Spark logo with surrounding words becoming visible with time. I can’t remember exactly how we came fix upon a tree motif for our project but we probably all had a role in its conception and once we decided upon a natural tree coupled with a digital counterpart I set about working in CINEMA 4D, using the Xfrog plug-in to show a generic tree growing upwards and branching out with leaves finally sprouting from the outermost branches. CINEMA 4D is a very user-friendly piece of software and the Xfrog plug-in has a straightforward workflow that can result in fairly impressive animations without a huge investment in time spent learning how to use it. Overall I was very happy with how the animation turned out and I think our contacts in the Creative Spark, Sarah and Sophie, were impressed with our use of their logo and the quality of the overall animation. The animation is now on the Creative Spark vimeo account, which we helped to set up, and also features on the Creative Spark facebook page.
Meanwhile Robin and Matthew were working on other aspects of the project such as designing the promotional cards to be distributed to points of contact within the local community. Work was also done on a banner-style poster to be hung wherever we left the cards. Myself and Robin distributed the cards one morning and Robin and Matthew dropped off more to other outlets that evening. We first approached a local community centre and the man we talked to allowed us to leave some cards at the reception. We also hung a poster on an already overcrowded notice board but it was here that we started to realise that although large banner-style posters look very well when hung up it can be quite difficult to find space in public amenities to hang large posters. This, again, was a problem when we approached a manageress in Dunnes Stores who was quite happy to let us leave business cards in the small section they have set aside for community information but felt that her regional manager would not want larger posters hung in the store. Another small lesson we learned was that lunch time is probably not the best time to visit a cafe to ask to leave promotional items although we probably should have realised that before we went in.
As the time for the exhibition organised by one of the other groups approached we decided to source a suitable tree to plant as part of our contribution to the events to take place at the Creative Spark on 22 October. Sophie suggested either a Ginkgo Biloba or ‘Handkerchief’ tree and I found both available at a garden centre in Johnstown, Co. Kildare. The Ginkgo was substantially cheaper than the Handkerchief tree and no less attractive so we decided to order one. Robin paid for the tree and arranged for delivery to his home address. We compensated him with our share of the cost.
Trying to get some publicity for our tree-planting and the broader exhibition was also part of our overall plan so I drafted a press release to be sent to the two main local newspapers. Initially I envisaged waiting until we had a suitable photograph of the planting before sending out the press release, but in the end we decided that sending it out before the exhibition might prompt one of the newspapers to send along a photographer. Having done press releases as part of our Public Relations module last year I had a good idea what was required and what was the format to use.
The exhibition itself took place on a very wet and miserable day and with the light fading fast Robin and Matthew planted the tree while I took photographs. Sophie entered the frame for one of the shots to emphasise the joint nature of the enterprise to raise awareness of the Creative Spark. I should, however, have taken a number of photographs at this point as the one I got was not really satisfactory for the purpose of publicity. There were a number of other good shots that will be suitable for blogs and social media.
In terms of numbers of the general public showing up, the exhibition was not as successful as we might have hoped but it was very well organised by the group whose project it was. The two speakers at the inaugural Spark Plugs social club meeting, another group project, were particularly interesting and the quality of student work on display was very high. Overall it was a very positive coming together of everyone involved in this joint CM DKIT/Creative Spark initiative and from a personal point of view the possibility of meeting with creative industry professionals in the future is very appealing.
Looking back at my own involvement in this group project I’m very satisfied with my own contribution to what was an excellent group effort. Everybody within the group was willing to work and this, in turn, made me feel that my efforts were not going to be diluted by a lack of effort on the part of others. I feel the relaxed atmosphere in the group also helped with the initial process of coming up with creative ideas that were original but also very suited to the ethos and activities of the Creative Spark.