Baseline Shift is a series of design talks, events and workshops organised by a team of students for students at the department of Typography & Graphic Communication for the duration of the Autumn and Spring term. These talks happen on a weekly basis – every Wednesday, and are usually led by guest lecturers who are professionals in the subject. They aim at helping students expand and redefine their understanding of what a designer is, and what design can do.
I joined the team in the summer before the beginning of my third year at the department which made my job a bit challenging but also very engaging because of the ongoing pandemic. Since in-person teaching and events were limited to a minimum, the team had decided that all the talks for the upcoming year would be happening online.
These talks had already been happening for a few years now so the team and I were provided with guidelines which were written by past students who had been working on Baseline Shift.
As a team we organised a few initial meetings between ourselves and the client – James Lloyd. These happened over the summer and we discussed how the new online events would commence in the upcoming year, what changes we might introduce to the guidelines and the talks, and how we would make them digital friendly, as well as discussing potential speakers we might invite.
In the first stages of the job we had to do a lot of research on how we might introduce new alterations to the branding as well as strategies for promoting the events online and in the department so that students would be aware of the importance and benefits of the sessions and come to our talks. We also had to look up potential speakers and suggest four whose talks we believe would be meaningful and engaging for students in different years – from Part 1s up to MAs. Since Welcome week was beginning on the 21 September, we had to get everything done and signed off by James by the 18.
Working as a team, we managed to decide on speakers, rethink Baseline Shift’s branding, including poster design and screen graphics, talk about roles in the team during the year and set up all of the promotional materials in one single InDesign file for ease of use.
For speakers, I suggested four, but after a unanimous decision we only picked one of mine, which was the Bulgarian graphic and motion design Studio Four Plus who later went on to give a wonderful presentation.
For changes in the branding, I personally worked on creating animations for Baseline Shift’s Instagram story, animations for Baseline Shift’s Facebook posts and an animation to be played on the department screen. All of these you can see below.
After organising a plan of action, the team started splitting into roles. We had two main ones: Promotion – two team members responsible for the creating and posting of promotional materials, and Attendance and blog writing – two team members responsible for attending Baseline shift (run on Blackboard Collaborate this year) to run, gather from and document the sessions each term.
In the spring term I was grouped with another member of the team to do promotion, which meant I had to overlook the designs she created for every weekly event, make sure one of us posted promotional materials on Facebook and Slack (for MA students) on Monday and Instagram story on Tuesday, update the department screen graphics every Wednesday, take down and put away the old posters and print, cut and hang the posters for the new session on Wednesday.
I also voluntarily handled all speaker contact in the duration of my time on the team which gave me the opportunity to make some lasting contacts within the design industry as well as improve my communication skills.
After a successful spring term, the team decided to meet up during winter break to talk about changes in the roles for next term as well as some updates on some of the branding material. We were looking for a new message for the department screen stating that Baseline Shift sessions would be back soon to be played during the break. I worked to create a new message which you can see attached below, however we decided that there was no need for such a message since there was no one in the department during that time.
For the second term, the whole team switched roles so that everyone could experience every part of the job, which I believe was smart. That meant it was me and my partner’s turn to attend the sessions and write blog posts afterwards. We decided that at first I would be leading the sessions and taking notes while she would also be taking notes but write the blog posts afterwards which I then overlooked.
I really liked this role since it challenged my fear of speaking in public, however having all talks online over Blackboard Collaborate made it a bit easier. Also, my camera did not need to be switched on which was great! I even got a few emails back from our guests saying that I had done ‘excellent chaperoning’.
For some of the sessions me and my partner switched our attendance roles and she was the one leading the session while I had to write the blog posts. To be honest, this role was a bit more challenging but I’ve always had a problem with writing which I also managed to challenge working on this job and even slightly overcome.
I really enjoyed being part of the Baseline Shift team and am even sorry that I was this late in joining and was only able to do it for one year. I believe this is a job that allows students to develop a range of skills from design and professional communication to public speaking and writing. I would recommend this job to anyone even slightly interested in developing their professional skills in all of these and other directions as well as to people looking to expand their contacts in the design world.