Week 12: Critical Reflective Journal

Susanna Edwards in conversation with Maziar Raein

How equipped am I? Arghh! I experienced doubt in myself listening to the first part. How much do I know about the history of design to really be able to express it in a new and original way: you have to know the rules in order to break them.

Raein referred to the history of the design industry, saying that previously the tension between commercial and self-initiated work for designers used to be greater, and that created very interesting work, whereas now designers focus on brands and topics that interest them and they feel are making the world better. I wonder if this shift occurred due to the rise of individualism, and people wanting to have a more authentic connect with brands. As connections between designer and brands become more transparent on the internet, the audience expects the designer to follow the creed they design for.

The lecture moved onto craft, and what it now means. To Raein and Edwards, craft has shifted from maintaining tradition to new ways of creating depth of understanding and detail and finding novel uses for the materials around you. By doing this, you can still maintain a respect for the tradition of crafts such as letterpress, but by using it in a new way you can create a shift in understanding.

Raein suggests creating sketchbooks and personal libraries so that a designer is creating constraints on their references and forming their own frameworks. I’ve previously written about sketchbooks and how I need to start compiling one in order to “discover my own sensibilities”. From there, I will hopefully be able to start detecting the edges, as Raein describes, and others’ too.

To look into:

  • Ryan Gander: Loose Associations
  • Bishopsgate Institute
  • John Burgess: Shape of a Pocket

Case Studies

What are the potential future definitions of design practice?

Returning to our case studies! These have been an amazing part of the course because of the range of practitioners being shown and they have different responses, showing the spectrum of the industry.

Manchipp said that the scope of designers is becoming wider, and that we should find exciting starting points rather than getting stuck down too early in decisions as typefaces. This is something I’m really trying to take to heart because my day-to-day job is so detail-orientated, as is my mind, that to zoom out (like in Power of 10) to consider the bigger image first.

In contrast, Winston feels that design is going to focus more on what problems are we as a society going to have, and where is culture going? With the advent of two-hundred-and-eighty character tweets, images, multiple outlets for media and news, our attention is being constantly split. Should designers utilise this and create small bites of design or design projects that consciously go against this and capture more of our audience’s attention?

Regular Practice has found success in ranging across many disciplines from graphic to product design as they see design as becoming much vaguer than before. The ubiquitous use of the internet means that ideas and designs can be transmitted internationally. However, in order to stand out, design has also become more individual for each market and clients appreciate beautiful pieces of well-crafted print that are as much about the process and design as the content.

The overall message from these answers is that we need to diversify our skills, because clients expect us to be multi-talented.

What are the sectors that might change, or need to change?

Each designer answered with a different nuance, but I think it is fair to sum up the responses with the following points:

  • No matter how the design will be released to an audience, it always comes down to connecting with people
  • Through history, it is the ideas that have endured, not the mode: for example, Picasso’s Guernica
  • The expectation is that creatives have many skills and are able to apply them across different media and that they are able to collaborate with many others
  • The industry can create pockets (or silos, or categories) but it is necessary to disrupt these. In doing so, different pockets might be created, so smash those too
  • Clients sometimes listen more because they don’t know either, so treating them like human (? Intro) is essential (of course it is).

Dunne, A. Raby, F., (2013) Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming. Cambridge MA: MIT.

I wanted to look at this book, but couldn’t find a free online source, and the book costs £35 before payday.

TED (2017) Anab Jain: Why We Need to Imagine Different Futures.

What really struck me about Jain’s talk was her decision to not let the future happen her: she wants to make the future. She asks the audience how much do we push decisions to the future, both as individuals and as a society? She is being an active participant in the future by creating tools to bring aspects of possible futures to life.

The first example she used was how she and her company built drones based on how they felt there could be used in the future. For example, the Nightwatchman drone was able to fly over areas and use facial recognition to see who was there, and another was displayed information and advertising. By creating drones, they were able to experiment with how it felt to work alongside them and what it would mean for society: do we want this? Sometimes, the drones and technology went wrong, but this created and answered more questions.

The second example was an apparatus to show air quality in potential future cities so that people could breathe the future air, which was disgusting, and make decisions about the policies we want to enact for the future. A few days before I had been introduced to an AR possibility in a news app, and I thought it could be used to show people the lack of visibility in the air. This takes it to a whole new sensory level!

She’s found that facts are the starting point, but to really engage people a designer needs to create experiences that allow them to connect with the tangible outcomes of their decisions.

Connected projects

Whilst I looking into this week, I found the project called The Game: The Game. Angela Washko created a game to demonstrate the effect that tactics used by so-called pick-up-artists have on women, and how ubiquitous it is to the female experience. Many pick-up-artists use strategies based on video-game strategies, such as perseverance and ‘wearing-down’, and so to use the format as a way to highlight the problem is a stroke of genius. Ultimately, it is supposed to raise awareness of how female-identifying people are approached and targetted by people using such tactics, and how this makes people feel. Joe also pointed out the work by Frederikke Frydenlund at the RCA, which works on a similar level.

Things I want to do in the break

  • Coding and digital languages: I think it’s really important to stay on top of new technologies and languages, especially with coding being taught in schools. People not that much younger than me will have a solid foundation that I need to build up myself to remain innovative and competitive. I’ve been refreshing my CSS skills throughout this module so that I can layout this blog how I want, and once hand-in is completed I want to expand to Java to create kinetic type …
  • Kinetic type: I enjoy typography so I want to make some projects where the type moves to add another element to the project
  • Data visualisation: somewhat connected to the coding skills, and a way to expand my skillset (note to self: start here)
  • After-Effects and Premiere Pro: Get a solid base in the programmes so that I can use them in the future
  • Break things and distort images and type: because in a lot of projects that I admire, the designer has used novel ways to deconstruct and reconstruct elements.

Week 12: New Steps

Studio Practice

Take a graphic design interest that you are familiar with and investigate how the idea can be improved, disrupted or retold through a shift of application.

This might be an opposing media or environment ( e.g from book to installation, packaging to performance) or an opposing time or fictional future (e.g. speculative design). You can tell the story of your idea in any medium, but ensure the shift you make with your project is apparent, courageous and driven by risk and a rationale.

Initial Ideas

  • A friend working for an international news broadcaster has created a framework within the app which allows AR tools to be displayed to illustrate the news story. The first idea they would like to create is a big block of carbon in front of you to demonstrate how much we emit into the atmosphere a year.
    • One idea I had to use the new technology he has coded would be, with climate change and flooding becoming an increasing inevitability, to show how much sea levels could rise over the coming decades. The user would be able to aim the frame at the ground to see how much they and their surroundings would be underwater. This takes detecting geographic location and altitude from the user and gathering data from different climate change models and displaying CGI water in the framework.
    • Another idea shows air pollution. Before anyone says, “that sounds like what Anab Jain produced and presented in her TED talk“, I thought of this last Wednesday before the course material was released. The AR framework would take in local surroundings and reduce visibility to the user based on air pollution models and recorded data from previous air pollution events (like the Great Smog of London) and current air quality in Beijing.
  • My second idea focusses on a different looming horror: Brexit. Over the weekend, a document detailing plans for Operation Yellowhammer, which lays out plans for a worst-case scenario no-deal Brexit, and what shortages we could expect to face. The document was written as highly sensitive and not to leave department buildings, and written in March this year, but was only leaked on Sunday. There are a number of shortages detailed: fuel, food, and medicine; and I began to think how this might affect everyone.
    • Food: Would it be possible to have a pop-up supermarket displaying all the prices we might expect after price rises or shortages? What would we have to sacrifice in our daily/weekly shop to fit what was available and what we could afford?
    • Medicine: Many of us take different types of medicine, and although some are life-critical in hospitals, millions more rely on medications to maintain their conditions. I am one of them as I have no thyroid glands (hypothyroidism) and take levothyroxine to replace the thyroxine that my body would otherwise make. It’s not a critical condition, by any stretch of the imagination, but to be without it for a sustained amount of time would have an effect on my day-to-day life. What does a potential shortage of medication mean for people with far more serious managed conditions, such as diabetes (insulin needs to be kept refrigerated), epilepsy or severe mental health conditions?

Decision: Medications and Brexit


A family member is a pharmacist and has advised me to make sure that if there is a break in supply, that I have enough supply to cover it. So, selfishly, I have.

As of February 2019, the government has asked suppliers of “7,000 prescription-only and pharmacy medicines” to maintain a six-week stockpile in case of a no-deal Brexit (Clewes, 2019). Reliable data for names of medications being stockpiled, or not stockpiled, is sparse. This is in part because pharmaceutical bodies, such as “The Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA), the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) have also confirmed that they have signed NDAs issued by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).” and that “A spokesperson for the DHSC said the NDAs are used “to protect the commercial interests of the government and its suppliers”.” (Wickware, 2019).

This has been problematic and that as a result of the NDAs, “Warwick Smith, director general of the BGMA, said the agreements were hindering his organisation’s ability to give guidance to its own members” (Wickware, 2019).

The official line is that everything will be fine and that hospitals and pharmacies have no need to order above their normal stock levels. The government has gone so far as to issue a statement saing that “any incidences involving the over ordering [sic] of medicines will be investigated and followed up with the relevant Chief or Responsible Pharmacist directly” (Hancock, 2019)

To retain control and to stop hospitals over-ordering, I can understand the directions from the government. However, it does not assuage the worries of the end-users of medication, such as myself and others. News articles over the past year have switched between ‘don’t stockpile’ and ‘prepare to keep a supply’, and what, and who, should we trust?



Keeping a supply of medication against advice, potentially to the detriment of the health service (if everyone did it) shows me how little trust I have in the government to deliver a smooth exit from the European Union. I voted to remain in the union and am deeply unhappy with the referendum result, but at this time all I can do is to prepare myself.

However, this led to the thought: Mistrust of the government and the ruling elite was part of the reason that the UK voted to leave the European Union. I am now the one feeling unheard, and that my health is being used in a political game, against the years of the people who voted for Brexit also feeling like they weren’t listened to.

How can I demonstrate this?

  • Union flag: make out of different colour tablets and blow away?
  • Ticking down counter to tablets to show each of day between the referendum and (proposed) leaving date, which is 1222 days
  • Effervescent tablets (discounted)
  • Corn syrup blood slow-mo filling the page (discounted)


So far, I have decided to create a collage of tablets to form a Union Flag, and this is where I have got to:


The background helps me see the white tablets. In a longer-term project, I would source tablets of this colour and size and stop-motion them being but into position. As the time is short, InDesign is doing the job. I did discuss with Stuart the irony of using 1222 tablets to create this whilst tablets are being stockpiled.


When the tablets are laid out…

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Writing a script that will export the tablets to the layers for stop motion graphics. It’s slow!

I’ve got a few files to come out, and have managed to render them into a video. It’s rather raggedy, but here’s the link!

For reflection, if I were to do this again, I would add the sounds of a ticking clock or beep as every pill disappeared. I would include some zooming in as the number got smaller, and I would vary the speed of the pills disappearing as negotiations went badly or terribly.


Wickware, C. (2019). Industry and pharmacy bodies confirm signing government ‘gagging orders’ over no-deal Brexit plans. [online] Pharmaceutical Journal. Available at: https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/news/industry-and-pharmacy-bodies-confirm-signing-government-gagging-orders-over-no-deal-brexit-plans/20206944.article [Accessed 21 Aug. 2019].

Hancock, M. (2019). No Deal Brexit – Continuity of Medicines Supplies – NECS Medicines Optimisation. [online] NECS Medicines Optimisation. Available at: https://medicines.necsu.nhs.uk/no-deal-brexit-continuity-of-medicines-supplies/ [Accessed 21 Aug. 2019].

Clewes, G. (2019). Government identifies 7,000 medicines for no-deal Brexit planning. [online] Pharmaceutical Journal. Available at: https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/news/government-identifies-7000-medicines-for-no-deal-brexit-planning/20206222.article [Accessed 21 Aug. 2019].




Week 11: Studio Practice


Case Study 2: Take a brand and look at how it is delivered in different countries, e.g. alcohol, tobacco, transport, cars. Is it symbolised in a different way? Why might colour or typeface have been changed? Does it work at a local level and does it work at a global level?

  • Collect – visual examples and upload onto your blog and onto the ideas wall.
  • Debate – ensure you contribute to debate and discussion and incorporate this into a short 500-word written critical review in your blog.
  • Consider – the impact that the media has on your understanding of visual signs and symbols relating to that piece.
  • Design – your case study:  visual study and written critical review into an editorial piece to be seen in print or on screen.

Guinness: Made of More

Guinness has had a long reputation of being the drink of Ireland, that that you’d never get a better pint pulled than in Dublin, however, it has a huge international consumer base and the company claims that “10 million glasses are enjoyed daily around the world” (Guinness-storehouse.com, 2019). In comparison, the Republic of Ireland has a population of 4.8 million.

The exportation of Guinness to England began in 1801, and by 1815 the company was shipping to European Countries. The ‘West India Porter’, now known as Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, shipped around the world and the market grew so large in Africa that a brewery was opened in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1963. The Guinness Foreign Extra Stout is popular in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, and these are the territories I shall look into in this piece.

Guinness’ branding is made of three components: the logotype “Guinness”, the harp, and Arthur Guinness’s signature, and they have been used in different guises and compositions through the company’s history. Most recently, the harp has returned to its previous 3D design, and the signature given more prominence to emphasis the history, heritage and authenticity of the brand.

The first international advertising campaign featured artwork by artist John Gilroy, who illustrated the copy of “Guinness for strength”. The two most popular posters of this campaign were the Girder” (1934).


Guinness for Strength (1934)

and the horse and cart with the farmer pulling the cart (1949):


Both use playful situations that comically overstate the strength that Guinness can give its consumer, without being misleading. The advertisements do not include the standard logotype branding, harp, or signature included on the product at the time, favouring the strong images and the slogan. The images can’t be compared for colour, as archiving methods might differ, however, the typeface is a powerful heavy san serif font in a bright red tone that contrasts strongly with the colours in the images and the pale background. Classically, red connotates strength and power, and so Gilroy was likely emphasising his meaning.

The people depicted in the images are engaged in manual labour: construction and farming, with a heavy bias towards traits seen to be masculine. At this time, soldiers had come back from the second world war and had found that their roles had been filled by women, and so equating Guinness with not only strength but working too could have been a very deliberate move on Guinness’ part.

In the above adverts, English language and Irish language are used, and both would have been displayed in Ireland. The Irish language poster would have been essential to capture the consumers for whom Irish conveyed a sense of nationalism. During the Troubles, Guinness considered rebranding the drink as an English drink brewed in London, but when the tensions eased, the company instead focussed on engaging an Irish market and Irish consumers around the world (The Economist, 2014).

Exports of Guinness to Africa were vital to the growth of Guinness international market, and in 1963 a brewery was opened in Nairobi, Kenya. The poster on the left was released as part of the same marketing campaign, and on the right is a UK campaign using similar imagery.

Both use the same actions of cutting trees down, although the UK poster uses Caucasian figures in a more comic way (see the figure on the left being surprised by the right man’s strength after drinking the opened bottle by stump. In comparison, the advertisement for the African market uses a similar composition to the Girder poster above and is a more obvious reference that Guinness will give the consumer strength to lift a huge log.

The slogan is different for the African-aimed poster: the word strength has been changed to power, and given a comic-book “pow” flash to infer that drinking Guinness would give you not only strength, but superpowers. The typeface for Guinness has been compacted and there is a crossbar on the G to make it more obvious, and the ‘S’s have more curve to emphasis the shape.

‘Power’ was later used by Guinness to create a black “James-Bond” persona of Michael Power, who was the epitome of the hypermasculine, strong working man. This was successful because it “played into cultural ideals of a strong African male—not unlike hypermasculine ads employed in Ireland, the U.K. and elsewhere” and also because “ower lacked ethnic affiliation, so he could appeal to everybody regardless of ethnic or tribal group” (Thompson, 2014).

The message of gaining strength and power by drinking Guinness has continued in various guises to other territories, for example, Mauritius (left) and the Caribbean (right):

where bright primary colours have been used and radically different type has been used to attract local consumers.

In more recent years, the message of strength has been used to highlight sportsperson-ship for rugby and football World Cups, celebration of black identity and coming together as a community, showing Guinness’ prowess at pinpointing where different cultures perceive power lays and using it to create a sense of “together” (adforum.com, 2019).


Guinness-storehouse.com. (2019). Archive Fact Sheet: The History of Guinness. [online] Available at: https://www.guinness-storehouse.com/content/pdf/archive-factsheets/general-history/company-history.pdf [Accessed 14 Aug. 2019].

The Economist. (2014). Why Guinness is less Irish than you think. [online] Available at: https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2014/03/16/why-guinness-is-less-irish-than-you-think [Accessed 15 Aug. 2019].

Thompson, H. (2014). How Guinness Became an African Favorite. [online] Smithsonian. Available at: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/how-guinness-became-african-favorite-180950097/ [Accessed 15 Aug. 2019].

Adforum.com. (2019). Guinness advertisements archive. [online] Available at: https://www.adforum.com/creative-work/search?brand=guinness [Accessed 15 Aug. 2019].

Design Bridge. (2019). Guinness Identity | Design Bridge. [online] Available at: https://www.designbridge.com/work/guinness-identity/ [Accessed 13 Aug. 2019].

Guinnessarchives.adlibsoft.com. (2019). Guinness Archives Homepage. [online] Available at: https://guinnessarchives.adlibsoft.com/home [Accessed 13 Aug. 2019].

Medcalf, Patricia. (2016) “In Search of Identity: an Exploration of the Relationship Between Guinness’s Advertising and Ireland’s Social and Economic Evolution Between 1959 and 1969”, Irish Communication Review: Vol. 15: Iss. 1, Article 3. [Accessed 13 Aug. 2019].

Murphy, B. (2003). “Pure Genius: Guinness Consumption and Irish Identity”. New Hibernia Review / Iris Éireannach Nua, 7(4), 50-62. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20646449 [Accessed 13 Aug. 2019].


Week 11: Studio Practice Development


Case Study 2: Take a brand and look at how it is delivered in different countries, e.g. alcohol, tobacco, transport, cars. Is it symbolised in a different way? Why might colour or typeface have been changed? Does it work at a local level and does it work at a global level?

  • Collect – visual examples and upload onto your blog and onto the ideas wall.
  • Debate – ensure you contribute to debate and discussion and incorporate this into a short 500-word written critical review in your blog.
  • Consider – the impact that the media has on your understanding of visual signs and symbols relating to that piece.
  • Design – your case study:  visual study and written critical review into an editorial piece to be seen in print or on screen.


After visiting the Museum of Branding on Sunday (see my CRJ for a description), these were my first ideas:

  • Brexit – the Museum of Branding drew my attention to the 1975 Referendum in the UK, which was to decide whether to stay in the EEC or to leave. The campaigns for both sides reminded me of the more recent referendum to remain or leave the EU. I mentioned this to Joe, who said it was a great idea, and suggested I look at how referendums present a dichotomous question that divides people, and how graphic design does this. It seems like too big a question to involve with myself given the time given for the project, and it is something I would like to look at later. LSE has an archive of referendum ephemera I want to look at.
  • Royal family – the Museum of Branding displayed the very first coronation memorabilia of Queen Victoria, and the items produced for subsequent royal marriages and ephemera. Given how the Royal Family is a symbol of the UK and the Commonwealth, as well as being rulers of some pretty shady eras, I thought it would be fascinating to see how, graphically, the Royal Family have branded themselves over the world, and how people have responded to that.
  • Penguin or Faber – Both publishing houses have a great history from which designers continue to draw on. However, I concluded that they don’t really differentiate branding across territories.


Several weeks ago I went to Ireland for a friend’s wedding and I bought a tin of Guinness-flavoured fudge for my colleagues. The tin has sat on my desk and when I saw this week’s brief I thought that Guinness was a good brand to look into.


I’ve visited the Guinness factory at St James’ Gate in Dublin, and know they have distributed their beer across the world for years, and so it stands to reason that they have tailored their branding to the territory. Why did they use a toucan? I decided to dig into the archive online to see how their branding has changed through history and across countries. The archive can be found here. My review will look into how the components of the logo and branding and how campaigns have targetted different countries.

Guinness is Irish, right, and no pint of Guinness tastes better than when in Dublin, right? These are common views of Guinness and I want to dig into why that is the case. Is it a cultural view that has grown organically, or is it carefully engineered marketing plan? I will look into the Irish opinions of Guinness and how constructed its reputation is.

Logo and branding

Taking a look at the packaging archives for its trademark logo, progression can be seen (Guinnessarchives.adlibsoft.com, 2019). Here’s a sample of the most notable design changes of the Extra Stout Guinness labels though the years:


In 2005, Design Bridge was commissioned to “to breathe life back into the harp and let it sing once again…” (Design Bridge, 2019).



Design Bridge. (2019). Guinness Identity | Design Bridge. [online] Available at: https://www.designbridge.com/work/guinness-identity/ [Accessed 13 Aug. 2019].

Guinnessarchives.adlibsoft.com. (2019). Guinness Archives Homepage. [online] Available at: https://guinnessarchives.adlibsoft.com/home [Accessed 13 Aug. 2019].

Medcalf, Patricia. (2016) “In Search of Identity: an Exploration of the Relationship Between Guinness’s Advertising and Ireland’s Social and Economic Evolution Between 1959 and 1969”, Irish Communication Review: Vol. 15: Iss. 1, Article 3. [Accessed 13 Aug. 2019].

Murphy, B. (2003). “Pure Genius: Guinness Consumption and Irish Identity”. New Hibernia Review / Iris Éireannach Nua, 7(4), 50-62. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20646449 [Accessed 13 Aug. 2019].


Week 11: Critical Reflective Journal


Museum of Branding

This course is nudging me to go to lots of places that I have always meant to go, and the Brands Museum in Notting Hill is one of them. They have a Memory Tunnel of everyday objects from 1850s Britain to the present day, from coronations to food and household to toys to publications. The teenies era is horrifying: so much One Direction and Minions!

I couldn’t take pictures, but it was good inspiration for this week’s project. In one room they displayed household products such as Fairy and how the packaging designs have changed, sometimes slowly, sometimes radically, over time.

Lecture on Symbolism and Symbiotics by Martin Hoskin

The point that first hit me was that communication is the message received, not the message sent. How many times have I accidentally offended someone by what I said and how I said it, even though the intention was quite different? How many politicians and/or “celebrities” have had to redefine or retract social media posts because they hit the wrong tone or wrong timing and got criticised (more likely: brutalised on Twitter).  Hoskin means it much more as a brand communicating with its consumers, of which there have been many blunders over the recent years, but sometimes thinking of personal examples really drives home how important this point is. He points out that George Bernard Shaw said that “the biggest error in communication is assuming it has taken place”. Again, very true!

We are bound by language and that it has an agreed set of rules that are common between us, however, the rules can differ from community to community and errors can still creep in.

Hoskin said that part of looking at communication is that we have to question what is the intention of the sender? What is being shared, what is the psychological image to signal intent? He uses the example of the swastika as how context has changed. Coca-cola and St Austell Brewery both used the swastika prior to the 1930s to symbolise the purity of the strength of the brands. It wasn’t until the National Socialist German Workers’ Party also adopted it to mean the same concept, and therefore discriminate against and kill millions of people, that the swastika was seen as bad. Swastikas are still used by people of far-right, nationalist, racist leanings in graffiti (cowards).


Case Studies

Screenshot 2019-08-21 at 18.33.29.png


Regular Practice presented examples for this week’s assignment, and it was fascinating to see the design history of the Olympics logo and what it meant for each country. The Olympic logo of five interlocking rings gives designers the room to flex and show the identity of each country. Over the years, the logos have fitted into three categories:

  • Systematic: designed around a system
    • Mexico 1968: the identity by Lance Wyman took inspiration from Mayan ceramics with spiral patterns that grew into a typeface and 3D wayfinding
    • Munich 1972: designed by Otil Aicler, the identity was based on shading a grid of half-square triangles to create type and signs for each sport.
  • Emblematic: figurative example to convey an idea
    • Tokyo 1964: the designers Katsumi and Kamekura used their logo on red circle depicting the red rising sun of the Japanese flag. Such a shape is instantly recognisable as belonging to Japan. Branding materials also included gradients over the circle to add interest and contrast.
    • Beijing 2008: Took inspiration from Chinese stamps and calligraphy, distilling the features such as red ink and torn edges into a unique logo
  • Abstracted: Using an abstract system not immediately connected to the city
    • London 2012: From what I can see, Wolff Olins took a lot of intersecting lines and filled in spaces to create an abstract 2012. Maybe it’s the British way to take the mick out of it? I feel the abstract nature was to not feature any particular icon of Britishness and came out representing no-one? In contrast, the London 1908 Games featured posters of the sports and activities participating as the Games were not widely known and the designers had to introduce the audience to the concept of what the Olympics were.

In conclusion: the variables remain the same between each design, but the global and national context in which the logos are designed is constantly changing.

Breaking News 2.0 by Patrick Thomas

An installation design to confuse and bombard the viewer with lots of information both visual and auditory, whilst encouraging them to critically engage with the content displayed and question, where is the news coming from? Viewers could tweet their own news that would be displayed on a feed in the room, but how reliable was it?

Breaking News 1.0 took place in a shopfront in Liverpool, and passersby were asked to contribute on pieces of paper, which Thomas felt contributed to the project being very authentic and a true reflection of what the viewers were thinking.


It’s Nice That Graduates of 2019, and other inspirational work this week!


I spent some time looking at the selected graduates for this year’s It’s Nice That Graduates for some inspiration. They are all phenomenal, and two really stuck out to me: Suzy Chan and David Massara; because of their layout and typography skills. Also this week I came across this image by Yasmin Crawford.


I also saw an article on Elya Foreyla, a graphic designer aiming to tackle the stigma around Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Her project “comes decorated with bold illustrations and a playful colour scheme, demonstrating the designer’s ability to delve into her research and tackle important issues with intention.” (It’s Nice That, Elya Forelya).



Week 10: Critical Reflective Journal

To start with

Typography is the backbone of what I do here at Walker Book, but this week is a departure from the typography I usually do. For the most part, I work on long-form books and concentrate on making my work ‘disappear’. What I do is supposed to allow the reader to dive as easily as possible into the text without any distractions of awkward line breaks and inconsistent spacing. To make a typographic piece that is to stand for itself is different.


A lot of what was covered in the lecture and additional reading was familiar to me because I’ve studied type design and history in the past. However, I got a lot of context from “A smile in the mind: witty thinking in graphic design” (McAlhone, Stuart and Quinton, 2015) because it puts into words what I think most designers try to do: make people smile. This is a reading text from Week 9, and I feel like it fits into this week too.

From the book, I resonated with a few different phrases. From Michael Bierut, I like the idea that “if you show people a completed picture it doesn’t engage them as much as when they connect the last few dots, and have the moment of discovery”. I like having Easter eggs in my book work, like one hundred fish images in an author’s one-hundredth book, and want to learn how to do that graphically too.

From Aziz Cami, “What is great about wit is that it triggers questions in people’s minds. They start imagining – what would a person be like who has a van like this? … Curiosity must be satisfied”. How can I use my graphic design to represent myself and others that only makes people more curious about us?

I most see myself in the wisdom from Alan Fletcher:

  • I see wit as cerebral acrobatics
  • Other times I go to bed without an idea in my head, and I wake up to find it’s all there – and I’ve written the caption too.
  • If an idea is not coming as quickly as it should, my mind takes off somewhere else… I actually have to discipline myself.
  •  I have to set up my own boundaries, and fence myself in

I think I could learn from this, especially the confidence to give myself the boundaries and produce something within that, rather than keeping my approach too open and not committing to anything!

One of the magic moments where an idea presents itself was the tetrahedron approach to the Week 1 challenge. I was making my bed early on the Tuesday morning when the realisation that a tetrahedron fitted my goal of an arrangement of four equally even (size and hierarchy-wise) panels.


The company work for, Walker Books, published a great book about the joys of reading as a child called A Child of Books that was illustrated by Sam Winston, a guest lecturer on this course. I was inspired by his use of type to create images:

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I dug a little further and found that all his typography is amazing, my favourite pieces being:

I also went back to the D&AD archives for this year for inspiration on words and form as they have a specific category. These are the entries that spoke to me most:


It occurred to me that we are designing from text already set (although we had free range) and that some of the examples we’ve been given have been written and designed in parallel.

Kinetic type

Stuart posted up the Dia Studio on Instagram, and it’s a whole new level of moveable type. This is another area I would love to explore and develop my skills in.


Most of my work is black ink (and shades of grey) on white paper, and I want to play with colour! I’ve been restricting myself because mono is what I know, but colour can bringing type to life… everywhere … even if it’s just a different colour to black:


Karina Yazylyan

And can’t you just hear this poster by Alan Kitching?


This poster was created by Mike Clayton (the typesetter from below ) and Catherine Dixon, showing the lost vocabulary used in the Fleet Street area from its printing heyday, and their meanings.


St Bride’s Letterpress Workshop

I’ve known about St Bride’s for a few years now, and I’ve been on a tour of a workshop previously. When this week’s theme was typography and there was a letterpress course this Wednesday I decided to “Just Do It” and sign onto a course.

Mick Clayton took me and my fellow participant, Emma, through letterpress printing on an Adana press, a fairly compact (as letterpress printers go) set-up that you can bike from Bristol to Germany. Mick came into typesetting as an apprentice, and when he completed his apprenticeship six years later, spent years working as line compositor for newspapers based in the Fleet Street area. The stories he had to tell! The number of words he had to set!

I had hoped to work on my project a little, but the task of the workshop was to set by hand a short piece of text about printing in England. Even though the type pieces are tiny and light individually (a composite of tin, lead and antinomy), the weight adds up.

It made me aware of how lucky I am to work in the age of desk-top publishing. Picking the individual letters didn’t take me too long, but adjusting the spaces between the words by trial and error took me twice as long.

My galley proof (the quick proof you do before properly printing) had two mistakes, but as I picked up my block I did not, I repeat I DID NOT drop half my letters. Spoiler: I totally did. Mick helped me sort it all out though, and then I got to use the Adana! We had to do everything, from inking up, to the registration of the sheets, to adjusting the pressure of the press on the paper.

In the end, I have lots of sheets with the first four lines of the text on, with one missing comma and one slipped ‘l’. That’s good enough for me.

My main aim was to learn about the sheer volume of text the compositors had to set and how letterpress has shaped our understanding of typesetting today. If you have a chance, go!


Week 10: Challenge


Take an excerpt from a national poet or writer and translate into a new typographic form.

  • Take the first line – draw it, typeset it, build it;
  • Then take the body of the text and typeset it.
  • How does leading, positioning, stresses on particular words and detailing affect the power of the piece?
  • How is meaning affected by interpretation in a tangible way?
  • What is the relationship of the page?

Ideas that I considered

One of my favourite passages of all time is this passage from The Tempest, by Shakespeare:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Prospero, The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158

and it would be lovely to create a stage of type to demonstrate this, but I felt this was overly ambitious for a week-long project.

Another favourite is The Coram Boy by Jamila Gavin, which revolves around Foundling children at the Coram Hospital in London and Handel’s performance of Messiah in London in the 1750s. I wanted to set a passage on a musical stave to reflect the words, but I struggled to find a passage that would enable me to do this. This seemed a backward way of working, and I don’t want to shoe-horn a passage into a form: I want the form to be led by the passage.

My flatmate works with children and young adults on the autism spectrum, and we chat about the characteristics of the people she works with and how they react to language and the environment around them. She passed me a few books: The Reason Why I Jump, The Autistic Brain, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, all of which are written either from the perspective of a person with autism. Synesthesia and sensory overload are two very common experiences of people with autism, and I thought that it would be fascinating to create a piece that would introduce a neuro-typical reader to these experiences. This passage from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close interested me:

“Then, out of nowhere, a flock of birds flew by the window, extremely fast and incredibly close.  Maybe twenty of them.  Maybe more.  But they also seemed like just one bird, because somehow they all knew exactly what to do.”

The protagonist, Oskar, goes on a quest around New York managing his fears and phobias and so I could use the passage and his journey around a grid-based city.

Chosen passage

Finally, I have settled on this passage from a very meta book that will allow me to play around:

The novel begins in a railway station, a locomotive huffs, steam from a piston covers the opening of the chapter, a cloud of smoke hides part of the first paragraph. In the odor of the station there is a passing whiff of station cafe odor. There is someone looking through the befogged glass, he opens the glass door of the bar, everything is misty, inside, too, as if seen by nearsighted eyes, or eyes irritated by coal dust. The pages of the book are clouded like the windows of an old train, the cloud of smoke rests of the sentences. It is a rainy evening; the man enters the bar; he unbuttons his damp overcoat; a cloud of steam enfolds him; a whistle dies away long tracks that are glistening with rain, as far as the eye can see.

Calvino, I. (2007). If on a winter’s night a traveller. London: Vintage, p.10.

Methods and Experimentation

Letraset has fascinated me, especially the grungy look, and the ability that it would give me to position letters however I wanted them, and control the

Things I want to try:

  • The Letraset typeface will be san serif, and so I will choose a serif font to typeset the passage to create contrast
  • Using tracing paper as a medium to create layers and tones of black
  • Using different utensils to press the letters from the transfer paper to create different textures

I’ve also booked on a one-day letterpress course at St Bride’s Foundation. In all likelihood, I will not be able to set the passage in this day, but I’ll consider the day as a building block in my skills.

First thoughts and planning


My next stage was to typeset the first paragraph, which I did as the words formed sleepers under railway lines disappearing into the distance, based on an internet image I distorted. The eye follows away into the distance, but the words come from the distance into the foreground, as railway lines are two-directional. I typeset them in Jenson, an old-style serif, growing in size with leading about 110% of the point size to create a block, but adjusted so that ascenders and descenders do not cross over. As awesome as it would have been to letterpress this, I did a digital option in case I couldn’t use my own text (which I couldn’t).

The text is set on an A4 page so I can print it to size earlier, but at this point, I aim to alter the size.

I’m also using tracing paper to create misty layers with charcoal drawings and Letraset to contrast. Train timetables are precise and sharp, but the text specifically mentions steam (which I have drawn using ‘C’s) and a cafe sign and a fuzzy overall disposition.

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My aim overall is to layer these pages together to create one final piece.

I’ve kept it monotone, and part of this is because this is how I am used to doing typography, and suddenly I want to splash bright colours all over the piece. However, I don’t think it fits the text quote right. Maybe a sepia tone, to embody a type of nostalgia, against a cold coloured background for the chilly outside.

Final piece


Week 9: Critical Research Journal

McAlhone, B., Stuart, D., Quinton, G., Asbury, N. (2016) A Smile in the Mind; Witty Thinking in Graphic Design. London: Phaidon.

From the book, I resonated with a few different phrases. From Michael Bierut, I like the idea that “if you show people a completed picture it doesn’t engage them as much as when they connect the last few dots, and have the moment of discovery”. I like having Easter eggs in my book work, like one hundred fish images in an author’s one-hundredth book, and want to learn how to do that graphically too.

From Aziz Cami, “What is great about wit is that it triggers questions in people’s minds. They start imagining – what would a person be like who has a van like this? … Curiosity must be satisfied”. How can I use my graphic design to represent myself and others that only makes people more curious about us?

I most see myself in the wisdom from Alan Fletcher:

  • I see wit as cerebral acrobatics
  • Other times I go to bed without an idea in my head, and I wake up to find it’s all there – and I’ve written the caption too.
  • If an idea is not coming as quickly as it should, my mind takes off somewhere else… I actually have to discipline myself.
  •  I have to set up my own boundaries, and fence myself in

I think I could learn from this, especially the confidence to give myself the boundaries and produce something within that, rather than keeping my approach too open and not committing to anything!

Austria Solar: Annual Report


I mean, WOW! I love new printing technologies but I’d never heard of this one. The design by ServicePlan brought the report to life in the right way as it demonstrated the company’s values: the light-reactive ink isn’t just impressive, it’s intrinsic to the report’s value. How graphic design should be used.

Week 9: Brief 3

Studio Practice

How can a message be enhanced through the medium in which it is implemented?

Communicate an emotion that you perceive your city or a chosen location to be ‘about’. Take the word and use an appropriate material/form/medium whether 2D, digital, 3D or immersive.

Communication design challenge

Take an emotion and create a material response to how you communicate that emotion in material and form. You may choose to communicate the word directly or you may choose to create a juxtaposition if there is a contradiction or tension, i.e. New York is Tense.


Walthamstow is mosaic

Walthamstow is incredibly rich in history, creativity and industry, as well as being very multicultural. Waltham Forest is Borough of Culture this year, so I’m finding ways in which the people of Walthamstow are coming together. There are signs hanging from the streetlights to advertise this, and I love how they are highlighting how culture is beneficial to all of us.


Mosaic is an ancient art form, and maybe not technically an emotion, but it’s the word I feel best describes Walthamstow. Each piece is worthy in its own right and together makes a rich and detailed image. I will be taking parts of the cultural history and bringing it together to make a new piece that represents Walthamstow as it is today.


Here’s a map of Walthamstow, for context! In the past, the waterways to the west of the area were used for various industries. In the 14th century, the River Lea was diverted to the Coppermill Stream that powered the mill to grind corn. In the late 17th century, the mill was used as a paper mill, and the name of the stream was changed to Paper-mill River. It might have also been used as a gunpowder mill in the English Civil War, as other mills in the Lower Lee Valley were. Late it was used as a mill to roll out copper ingots transported by canal and river from Swansea to flat sheets of copper, which were then used pressed to become coins of a local currency.

Now, the view is different, with homes being bought over by city workers and land being developed into properties not many can afford.

In reality, our well-being came second to the deep pockets of private developers. My home—an area so rich in culture and life, a place I’ve built memories with for over a decade—will be demolished, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.



To make my project, I planned to make a mosaic using pieces of food packaging from different cultures and using different languages on the packaging. Walthamstow is a diverse area, as I talked about in a challenge a few weeks ago, and I noticed many food shops catering to cultures on my walk along the High Street. Food is also a unifying element in many lives: we eat together to build bonds, no matter where we come from. Cutting up the packaging is deliberately destructive, but bringing it together creates a multi-cultural meal.

With a little more time, I would have sourced delicacies from each culture and featured these, as well as attempting an in-depth conversation with the people I met in the shops about their experience of Walthamstow. As it was, it was close to closing time and I wanted to ensure I was able to get to as many as I could. I didn’t find as much food packaging with Tamil or Urdu on, so I bought locally-produced newspapers in those languages.

The image I planned to make a mosaic of is the doorway of a Warner house: two doors brought together in an archway. As I explained above, Warner houses and flats were affordable housing in the 1940-60s that brought many new people to the area, and they were welcomed into the community. In this article a longstanding resident of Walthamstow points out that even at affordable rates, the person on the average income of the area cannot afford the new properties being built. As white, middle-class and working in the media, I feel like I am perpetuating the problem of gentrification wherever I move. The choice of using the Warner house of time gone past is a symbol of a time when Walthamstow was genuinely affordable and how these properties are now coveted by people moving into the area.

Here are images of the packaging and food I bought:


Stumbling Block


This is the point I have got to thus far. I was cutting up my packaging and started to arrange it, and hit a huge block of self-doubt that I couldn’t move around. I feel it looked like a school child’s art project.

What do others think?

In the seminar, Kris said that the liked  the flat lay, and that it reminded her of images like this:

If I were to do this project again, I would completely forget about the mosaic of the Warner house fronts, and instead, concentrate on my visual centre being a flay lay.  I would interview the people working in the shops and ask them to pick a food item that meant a lot to them and to describe the story behind it. The flat lay image would have rollover portions where you could listen to the people talk about their chosen food.

Week 8: Critical Reflective Journal

This week’s resources took us back to our case study creatives, answering the questions:

  • What would you like to be doing that you are not doing in your work?
  • How important are side-projects and are you currently working on any?

As with previous weeks, there was a wonderful range of answers from the creatives. Manchipp from SomeOne said that he wouldn’t choose anything else, because he has worked very hard to create an agency to enable him to do the work he wants to do: a variety of projects that stretch him, that are radically different and strategic and forward-thinking. From there, the studio is inventing its own projects and software to allow it to further its working processes and techniques.

Sam Winston has found that he has designed his career so that he can’t imagine not doing what he is doing, and that he tends to create his side projects and bring them into reality as his main project.

Sarah Boris would like to work more with other materials such as rugs and textiles for homeware, and creating collaborations in order to do so.

Intro recommends getting outside more and that personal projects take the pressure off main hustles, maybe by allowing you to be more objective about them?

It feels like a range of answers approached in a different way: clearly, each individual is enormously satisfied with what they do, and it is nice to get behind their public image.

What would I like to be doing that I am not doing in my work?

COLOUR! I want to use all the colour. I typeset mono fiction books and sometimes I worry that my use of colour is not developing.

I want to be starting more of my own projects that mean something and push boundaries and are seen by more people. I want to collaborate with others in different fields to create projects that are really special.

What side projects am I working on?

Currently, I am finishing off a friends’ wedding stationery for their wedding on Friday, which is the first I’ve done. I offered to do it as I had never done a set before and was interested in creating a range of products with the same theme. It’s worked well: they are simple and are based on a piece of artwork the couple commissioned. I’ll have better photos when the wedding is here!

On top of that, I am doing maintainance work on my aunt’s non-alcoholic drink range. The drinks and brand are her creation, and I worked with her to develop the logo, branding, labels, photography and website, as well as point-of-sale materials. It’s been developing for the past eighteen months or so, and as her business grows, the needs of the labels change too. For example, I have recently added EAN barcodes to the labels so that they can be sold into distributors and larger shops. Sometimes this kind of work is frustrating and not creative, but it is very much necessary and part of the deal when taking on work like this. It’s a pleasure to see my aunt’s business build and flourish.

Other self-started work is … nil at the moment: I’ve chosen to focus on the course and work time-wise and do not want to split my attention further. I’ve turned down some commissions for this reason, and they wouldn’t further my skills enough to be worth it. Harsh, but true. However, I do have a few ideas percolating that I would like to bring into life when the time is right.

Brian Eno: Oblique Strategies

I had not heard of this before, but I can see how these cards have had an influence and the idea has been used by other people. The cards themselves seem difficult to get hold of, and so someone has created a webpage using the cards. Wikipedia also lists a few examples:

  • Use an old idea.
  • State the problem in words as clearly as possible.
  • Only one element of each kind.
  • What would your closest friend do?
  • What to increase? What to reduce?
  • Are there sections? Consider transitions.
  • Try faking it!
  • Honour thy error as a hidden intention.
  • Ask your body.
  • Work at a different speed.
  • Gardening not Architecture.

They are a useful intervention when you feel like a creative project has slowed to a halt and you can’t see a way around it. The cards do not necessarily introduce any new ideas, but the randomness of the selection of the card, and that they are written by a creative authority, gives your mind permission to step outside of itself and consider a different option.

A while back I bought the School of Life’s “Know Yourself” cards, and School of Life is on our reading lists quite a bit, so here I am, going to be a little vulnerable. These are questions designed to make you question yourself, rather than suggestions by Eno. (I’ve preselected cards because they aren’t all to do with careers and vocations, and there is a limited amount I want to put public on the internet):

Lift five things that are important to you in your life. How much of your time do you give to each of these?

Family, friends, creativity, food, running. These seem to be quite broad! I don’t spend enough time with family: although I  call my parents once a week, and text in between, I can go weeks without talking to my brother. That’s not always my fault, and we are always there for each other when needed. Friends: I don’t have a core group of friends as such, I feel like I flit between different groups, and always have. I have great friends through work and activities and then some I’ve picked up along the way. Sometimes I try to combine groups, which can go great or terribly. Creativity is my main occupation, and what I spend the most time thinking about. It might not be the type of creativity I am supposed to think about (for example, the course, or work) but my mind is usually creating. It has taken a long time to learn how to refine and focus my ideas. I’m not a foodie: I like eating food, preferably when I haven’t had to make it! I see it more as a fuel but do appreciate good food.

Rank in order of importance for you in your career: money, status, creativity, social impact, colleagues.

Creativity, colleagues, status, money, social impact.

What often impairs your decision-making process?

Perfectionism, or the idea of what it should be. I sometimes worry about the execution and the minor details so right that I stall because to carry on would create something imperfect. Sometimes I get so caught up in the planning and excitement of the idea that I find it challenging to see it through to the end. It’s almost the opposite of the other. Both of these things I am tempering with CBT-style techniques.

When do you cry or want to cry (as an adult)?

I’ve always been pretty tearful. Whenever I face a hard situation, my default physiological response is to cry. Upset? Tears. Sad? Tears. Anger? Tears. Frustrated? Tears. It would be more useful to express my negative emotions in other ways, for example, anger, by not crying as it can look infantile when in a professional setting. Why this response has developed has an interesting root (not for the internet). Sometimes, though, if I am alone, I have a massive cry, let it all out and then I find my bounceback is greater than it would be suppressing the emotion.

What things do you often buy that don’t – on reflection, much of the time – actually satisfy you that much?

Clothes and confectionary! Oh, the dresses look so lovely modelled by lithe models in bright studios! When I get them, I am reminded of how much the clothes are pinned for the photoshoot, and how by modelling the clothes to the average shape, they fit nobody quite right. Forget about trousers: they are designed for people without thighs. The newness quickly wears off. With sweets, the idea is always more satisfying than reality.

I Ching

I came across I Ching as it was mentioned as being used by Mary Malone in His Dark Materials as a way of helping her make a decision, much like the Brian Eno cards. It does involve, in the books, a certain otherworldly element, but it has been used as a system of divination the Chinese culture for over two millennia.

Short and long yarrow stalks are used to form long and broken lines of six (a hexagram), and there are sixty-four hexagrams arranged like so:


Through a process I don’t quite understand, the stalks go through the process of “dividing and counting, dividing and counting and setting aside … she soon found the ritual coming back … she came to the numbers which indicated the hexagram she was being given … and then she looked up the meaning. She read:
Turning to the summit
for provision of nourishment
brings good fortune.
Spying about with sharp eyes
Like a tiger with insatiable craving.” (Pullman, 2011).

The hexagram meanings given seem to be more like horoscopes: open to interpretation and how much can it really give you? However, it is a system that absorbs the diviner ritually and gives a new perspective that allows the diviner to make a decision.

Weird stuff I’ve been reading/watching/absorbing

Throughout the course we’ve been recommended to absorb as much “weird stuff as possible”. I’m not sure this week is weird, but it is a look at the world outside design!


what if? by Randall Munroe, creator of xkcd

A belated birthday present, a book that has been mentioned to me several times over the past few months, and a friend decided to buy it for me! He also bought me London Underground by Design, which I need to crack open.


Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition

I’ve been to this a few times over the years – sometimes I’ve loved it and sometimes not. They always display the images so small. I want to be able to feel as if I can fall into the photos! This year was great, and some amazing images.

Projection of the Saturn V and Apollo XI mission to the Moon on the Washington Memorial, Washington DC

A life-size video of Saturn V was projected onto the Washington Memorial (the giant obelisk) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the successful Apollo XI mission. Here’s a live feed.


NINE, from the book “KickAss Plays for Women” by Jane Shepard, directed by Coral Tarra

A friend’s flatmate starred in this play at a tiny pub theatre in South Kensington, and we went along. I’m always interested in going to see new and weird things, and to support friends. I had no idea or expectations of what to expect, and was quickly drawn into the room where the two nameless characters were kept captive by unseen people or things. The event overview describes it aptly: “NINE explores the need for connection, and the tender, brave and brutal search for the understanding of what it is to be human. A harrowing, funny and tender account of the psychological and sometimes painful cost of survival.”


Pullman, P. (2011). His Dark Materials. 1st ed. London: Everyman’s Library, pp.713-714.


Week 8: Mind the Gap

Studio Practice

What skills do you have? What skills do you need?

  • Write a list of your skills and a list of skills/ ways of working/ thinking/ or area of knowledge that you wish to develop
  • Create a design that summarises a process model that works for you at the moment; highlighting the skills you have and the gaps you have.

This piece of work needs to communicate your process model.

This could be a diagram or a 3D statement that clearly communicates a thought process that is relevant to you at this moment (how you deal with weaker skill gaps and how you maximise your talents).

Over the progression of this module, I have been keeping a mental note of skills that I admire in others on the course and case studies that have been presented to us. It’s fascinating how differently each of us approaches the challenges and to experience it with the other students means that my experience is widened about ways in which the briefs can be seen.

What skills do you have? What skills do you need?

  • Write a list of your skills and a list of skills/ ways of working/ thinking/ or area of knowledge that you wish to develop

The list of the skills I would like to build came quickly to me. They are:

  • Depth & 3D: giving my creations layers and a real sense of three dimensions (even if in 2D)
  • Video: How to storyboard and shoot an effective short video, and edit in programs
  • Short animations: like above. I see both of these skills as adding a fourth dimension, time, to my work
  • Razor-sharp photos: Yes, I think I take alright photos now, but how to make them super-sharp and convey a story
  • Creative layouts and white space: I can do it, but want to take it to another level
  • How to stage photoshoots with multiple objects: Like Yuki Hannes and her Ace & Tate shoots
  • Creative coding: how to use technology and data to create art and design that have depth and substance
  • VR: how to use the technology to help and educate

I also thought about soft skills that would help me as a designer:

  • Pitching ideas: how to craft a killer pitch that will win me work and/or funding
  • Self-promotion: how to really get myself out there
  • Confidence to approach and collaborate with people I want to

These ideas are just the start!

What skills do I have at the moment?

I find it really difficult sometimes to own what I can do, but so far:

  • Typesetting and typography: this is my job so I would be concerned if I didn’t have confidence in my skills to do this
  • Artworking: ditto!
  • Print processes and effects: years of working in production means that I know a lot about small and large scale printing processes, and I keep up with the latest technologies
  • Logistics and schedules: from sorting and distributing small village newsletters to embargoed Star Wars annuals, I can sort things where they need to go
  • Interactive PDFs: I am really proud of my application PDF!
  • Getting absorbed into a project and putting my heart into it: I love adding little easter eggs and bits of design into my work to interest the reader
  • Thinking outside the box and going on a bit of a tangent – sometimes a pain, but I am trying to harness this for unexpected results.
  • I am more resilient than I give myself credit for.

What skills do you have? What skills do you need?

  • Create a design that summarises a process model that works for you at the moment; highlighting the skills you have and the gaps you have.

This week didn’t go to plan: I experimented and failed. That’s OK.

I was really inspired by Yuki Hannes campaign’s for Ace and Tate, particularly because she used everyday objects that you wouldn’t expect to find in an editorial shoot. Talking to Stuart, I thought that still-life photography would be something that I could work on this week and expand my skill set.

A few weeks ago I identified the double diamond method as a process that I most identified as working towards. Of course, mine not as foccused as the model, but I feel like this is fine.

I wanted to invoke the sense that I was drawing on skills that I already had, and so I started looking around my room for objects that would reflect that: and discovered that they were all warm, brown and honey tones. I set up a studio background using my bed frame and a cork board for the base:

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This is the start of my idea process: not a blank space but one already shaped by my experiences. The corkboard is one I refashioned from a large cork board we used to have in my parents’ kitchen, and I made it into a smaller one for a world map poster for my brother. It was still too big for his room though, so I nabbed it when I was back at home. It fits perfectly, coincidentally, into space in my new room.

The items I gathered were very personal: the bottom joint of a recorder gifted to me by my grandfather when I used to play; and my first wooden recorder. I performed at Sadlers’ Wells on it (music was my first creative pursuit). The circular lamp was made by my dad in a “let’s make all our gifts Christmas” and casts interesting light on the background. The photo album was a birthday present from my friends with some truly awful photos of us all in, and I happy-cry every time I see it. The snake headband is a piece I made for a Medusa-fancy dress costume a few years ago, and the brown tape represents an essential part of screenprinting! The little wooden block is a letterpress “R” that an old colleague gave to me when I left my last job, and it has been wrapped up in the brown paper to keep it safe.

Using these objects was recognising the creativity and experiences of the past and putting them together to make something new, by using a skill I hadn’t tried before.

I started laying objects out, and used a lamp as a spotlight to create shadows with my main light as the fill light. Objects came in, and out, and although my intention was to take one ensemble piece with all the items, playing and trying out different arrangements was part of the process. Here are the images in the layout:


In my animation, the first view to be seen is the background, which then fades into white. Then items laid out on the screen in a purposeful no-grid. I’m used to using column and page grids every day and I wanted to cut that sense of security from myself when I started. One image fades, then a series of words also fade in between the images: Explore, Define, Source, Build, Show; to describe the process by which I feel I work from. Build is important in this context: making something from little pieces, bit by bit.

The type is an outlined blue against the warmth of the images, as a contrast between emotions and codified words. The outline is deliberate too: the words may go some ways to describe the process, but there is something that goes inside too. The words also grow in size to reflect the complete of the project (which I have taken to be linear. My confidence in projects is often more winding).

The timing and overlap of images and words are important as often there isn’t such a clearly defined, 1, 2, 3, and stages come together and overrun. The time as things are shown and are hidden means that it’s not too overwhelming: things occur as they are supposed to.

Here is an image of the words together (not as they appear):


Show is the last word the displays in the centre, after the other words and images have faded. It is the most fragile part: the opening of the wings to show the project to the world and to receive feedback, whether invited or not.

The final image grows from the centre: the image with all the objects together.

So I tried to make something I never had before, and it failed! I’m going to keep on working on animation skills for the next module.