Sunday, 23 February 2014

Copying VS. Innovation - How to get High Grades

I've had lots of questions recently about 'how to achieve a high grade'. I'm talking about the difference between achieving in the C/D bracket and the A/B bracket. As you've probably all noticed there's quite a big leap from a C grade to a B grade.

The grade boundaries are very high, this is the case with most Art and Design subjects but particularly true of Photography, which has the highest boundaries of all the A&D subjects. To get an 'A' grade this year you will need to get at least 76 out of 80. Alongside this you will need to have achieved a high grade last year (all of the marks are added up)

So an 'A' grade is not the easiest thing to achieve, though it is doable. However, there are plenty of you who could potentially move your work into the 'B' grade category if you focus on a few simple things.

The most important thing to note about high grades is that they are given to students whose work is INNOVATIVE.

To clarify that, this is what Google says:

adjective: innovative
(of a product, idea, etc.) featuring new methods; advanced and original.
"innovative designs"
 What we are looking for is work that leads to original ideas. For a higher grade I need to see, towards the end of your sketchbook, a leaning towards your own specialist area of interest.
Your contextual research is meant to influence your work, particularly early on, but ultimately I am looking for a gradual increase in innovation and originality.
To roughly summarise....
A C/D grade piece of work will feature the following things:
  • Thorough research which links to ideas and themes
  • Research includes own opinions and observations as well as relevant biographical info
  • Clear layout and general development in one or two areas
  • Some experimentation with various techniques and processes
  • Clearly documented tracking of ideas through reviews and evaluations
  • Linking to research through the successful 'mimicking' of the work of others
  • Images are reasonably well taken but can be slightly repetitive
  • Work is heavily influenced by the layouts, ideas and composition of others
  • Work generally concludes with a review and final piece which looks back over what has been achieved in the project
 An A/B grade piece of work will feature the following things:
  • Highly investigative research from a variety of sources which is highly relevant to ideas and themes. This relevance is clearly explained both visually and verbally
  • Research is highly reflective and includes arguments, opinions and links to own thoughts and ideas. Research is reflected upon in a personal way.
  • Exceptionally clear development with some diversions for experimentation. Work leads in one direction and becomes narrower in its focus as the project concludes.
  • Excellent experimentation both visually and contextually- use of studio, darkroom, film types, composition, staging, layouts, interpretations. 
  • Ideas are clearly tracked and project progress can be clearly seen at a 'glance' of the sketchbook
  • Research has an impact on images, and echoes of the style of others can be seen but is not dominant. Images taken are not a direct 'copy' of the work of others
  • Images are well taken and project has an excellent sense of pace - the theme has not been allowed to become 'stale' and repetitive
  • Work is innovative; drawing on a variety of research sources, opinions and own investigations to generate original images and a highly personal response
  • The project concludes with a poignant and substantial body of work in the form of an exceptionally well-presented and justified final piece. This will have been well-considered and reasoning will be evident to the viewer.

The Difference Between AS and A2
During your AS year you will have, no doubt, developed a systematic approach to your projects which worked well for you and earned you your grade. 
It is important, at this stage, to reconsider and tweak your approach. The A2 requires that you step up the originality and allow your creative voice to speak. 
By all means do use the things you learned in your AS year; the habit of evaluating and reviewing, any key names for research, use of Photoshop and camera skills, use of the darkroom. But be wary of working through your projects without much 'soul'.
Our first unit was a big change from the projects of last year, you were given more time to allow a further, personal, element to develop. Ensure that you have made the most of this in your first project and be conscious of it during the exam project.
CHECK through your Unit 3 Sketchbook and ask yourself the following questions:

  •  Does your work genuinely develop or is it a bit repetative?
  •  Did you reach a real conclusion? Is this clear?
  •  Are your images of a good quality? 
  •  Are your images original or are they just a 'copy' of your research?
Be honest with yourself when reflecting upon your own work and you will find it far easier to adjust and improve your grade.

Throughout the exam project you must aim to be INNOVATIVE. Be original but base the foundations of your ideas in the work of others. No artist ever creates work from thin air - there is always an influencing factor but it is PERSONAL COMMENT on these factors that enables us to communicate our own interpretations of the world.

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