My Learning Log and blog


As you make your way through this course, you are going to be reading, writing, thinking and experimenting with book design. All your enquiries into the many aspects of book design need to be well documented, via annotation, drawing, photography and any other appropriate means, in your learning log.

Part notebook, part sketchbook, part journal, your learning log will be a book all about books! Specifically, your own enquiries, developments and discoveries regarding this wide-ranging subject, both in response to set coursework and from a more self-directed perspective – allowing you to explore ideas that aren’t necessarily part of your set work. Your learning log is somewhere for you to record your development on the course and also, importantly, somewhere for you to ‘play’ with ideas, to experiment and explore your personal responses to given themes.

Your first brief is to create your learning log.

This can take any form – a hardback A5 sketchbook, for example, or something entirely less conventional. Your learning log is unique to you, so make that evident in a highly visual way. Dan Eldon’s journals are a good example of an artist’s visual response to his particular journey. Visit to view some pages.

You may decide to post selected pages from your hard copy learning log onto your online blog, or use pages you have created online to form hard copy pages for your learning log. This way of working can promote an integrated approach across the two platforms, the physical book form and the online resource.

My original logbook ideas

Initially I planned to use an A3 ringbinder as I had used in previous OCA courses, opening up with 4 landscape A4 ringbinders inside for Assignments 1-4, then using clips to keep each part closed to open as required. I was envisaging a collaged cover with images of my best work, and then individual inside covers for each assignment. Assignment 5, as the culmination would be A3 in the middle after a page of contents. These would then be supplemented by a series of 6 cheap A5 sketchbooks for doing design sketches.

I started in this way for Assignments 1 and 2 , collaging the different elements as I went along. However by Assignment 3 it was becoming increasingly obvious that this strategy would not work well as a way of working through and recording my ideas:

  1. my thinking was increasingly non-linear as threads started in Part 1 were then further developed, and interlinked
  2. my logbook input compared to sketchbooks was of varying quantity for each assignment and so the A3 book was not going to shut flat
  3. Assignment 3 started to be mostly designed in InDesign, printed out and then stuck in, plus most of what I wanted to do was linked to on-line material to go in-depth – linking back to discussion of designers from Part 1 and also videos on designers
  4. Part 4 became very unmanageable – it linked back to identity in Part 1, was mostly concerned with papers and materials and so very bulky and/or I wanted to link to videos of paper-making and binding processes
  5. my sketchbook work with annotations was becoming far more important, and the logbook was starting to just replicate this
  6. I suffer from RSI  and my handwriting is not always legible for a lot of logbook writing.

The Blog

So by Assignment 4 I was just working in my sketchbook but putting notes and links on the blog and decided to continue focus mainly on my blog because:

  1. I got good feedback from my tutor on my blogwork  for Assignment 3
  2. for my professional work I was doing a lot of blog work and getting to know the ins and outs of WordPress, and using WordPress for other courses like Printmaking (see links from . As my learning across the OCA modules is complementary, the one feeding on the other, I also wanted to be able to cross-reference on-line so that it would be clear where some of my thinking comes from in this course without having to waste time repeating and risking self-plagiarism.

I chose the most up-to-date WordPress theme because this was the most visual, and the generic WordPress themes are more secure, mobile-friendly and updated than the designer themes. I experimented as much as I could with different layouts, featured images, galleries etc. WordPress is also very useful as being a searchable database. However I still need to learn to generate and enter my own CSS as the layouts and styles are more limited than what can be achieved eg with Dreamweaver and html coding with Javascript – a design learning curve for the future.

Not all the contents have been updated to reflect my physical submission for assessment with final photos – this is indicated on the posts where relevant.

The Sketchlogs

As I started to pull things together in preparation for Assessment I decided to integrate my original logbook contents and sketchbooks into ‘sketchlogs’ transferring comments from my initial logbook as an in-depth commentary on the sketches and use these illustrations (including collaged pages from my initial logbook) as the basis for much more in-depth and hyperlinked discussions on this blog. These sketchlogs would then complement the blog and my physical Assignment pieces and Project books.

Sketchlog 1 Books cover

Sketchlog 1 Books (A4 landscape) focuses on Book Design and anatomy, mostly from Part 1 Beginning but then including other ideas that came eg on altered books.

Sketchlog 2 Design and Designers cover

Sketchlog 2 (A3) Design and Designers includes work on international graphic design and layout and assignment preparation from Assignments 2 and 3.

Sketchlog 3 Typefaces cover

Sketchlog 3 contains Typeface research and experiments from Part 3.
A Sketchlog 4: My Little Fat Book of Me (Photo of physical submission unavailable – A5) contains my work on Identity from Part 1 and my project work on ‘Anonymous’ from Part 4.

Sketchlog 5 Greed Game cover

Sketchlog 5 ‘The Greed Game’ (A4) contains my material and Islamic design experiments for Assignment 4 The Greed Game. Originally this had been planned as a mirror format – putting two A4 sketchbooks together on an A3 background one facing left to right for Western perspectives, the other right to left for Eastern perspectives. But in the end I had far too much material and too little time to make this work – and too little space in the portfolio case for the submission.

Sketchlog 6 A to Z Experiments cover

Sketchlog 6 (A2 in two parts held together with bulldog clips) contains my sketches and material experiments for Assignment 5: A to Z from Armageddon. This one was a real challenge because my initial sketches had been A2 and many of the experiments were on different hard surfaces. I research different ways of binding large books (eg Anselme Kiefer’s very large books that I had seen in the Royal Academy exhibition) but decided that proper binding would not be possible because it would take up the lefthand margin – my sketches had not been designed to be bound in this way. I also needed to make them possible for assessors to rapidly flip through to get the general idea. So I thought of putting them in a ‘very big box for an unruly and expendable heap’. In the end there was again not enough space in my submission for assessment. So they became just two very large clipped ‘heaps’ – that I can work on further and refer to in future.

 See OCA Assessment submission contents.

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