Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I saw this a couple of years ago, when Bryan Edmondson came into university to give a talk, but it has always stuck in my mind, and thats when you know a piece of design is good. I just love it.

SEA devised the name, identity, and visual campaign of signage, menus and packaging, for the London bar OQO. The campaign relates to the cocktails they sell, and the simple idea of shooting them from above created the strong visual identity of the circle. Everything fits together through this simple visual theme. The brand name is elegant, clean and stylish, and the cocktail images are quirky, eccentric, and appealing in such a unique way - drinks are not usually advertised this way, it makes them look so extraordinarily different that it implies this bar would be a whole new experience, not just a drink. These cocktail images are also incredible because they work big or small, fitting to the context. Sea have really done such an amazing job.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Paul Gorman talks about Barny Bubbles


The late Barney Bubbles is an artist I greatly admire, so when Paul Gorman came to give a talk about him I was keen to hear more.

Barny Bubbles, born Colin Fulcher, was only really recognised for his fantastic music graphic design after the release of Paul Gorman's book, Reasons to be Cheerful. Tragically, Bubbles suffered from depression and in 1983 he took his own life. He had never taken ownership of his work and refused interviews, and still to this day his work is being discovered. Today, due to Gorman's book, he is being given the recognition he should have received in his working life.

His music graphic design of the 1970's and early 1980's is truly wonderful. He created over 150 fantastic record sleeve designs for artists such as Hawkwind, The Damned, Elvis Costello and Ian Dury and the Blockheads. Other projects included: concert posters for the Rolling Stones and The Muleskinners, a psychedelic light show for Pink Floyd, logos, set designs, music press ads and music videos. His work varies greatly; he took inspiration from artists such as Kandinsky, Roy Litchenstein and Jackson Pollock. Such as a cover Barney designed in 1978 for The Damned, Music For Pleasure, was inspired by Kandinsky, where Bubbles spelled out the group’s name playfully with abstract shapes.

One of Barney's most famous works was the Blockhead logo he designed for Ian Dury & the Blockheads which demonstrates simple, but brilliant visual thinking. It is playful and witty, it looks stylish and the message is strong.

Barney went on to do further design work for the band, creating the cover design for the album Do It Yourself in 1979. The sleeve was printed in twelve different versions onto real sheets of wallpaper. The design was based upon the theme of home improvement suggested in the title as well as then giving the purchaser a choice of their own as to which of the different designs they would like. These are some of my favourite designs, purely for the conceptual thinking.

Barney designed covers for the early Elvis Costello albums. The cover for This Year's Model was deliberately designed to look like a misprint. He built in mistakes; he cut off the first letters of the artist and album name and it has the CMYK printer test marks to the right hand side. It was subtle yet quirky. I love the idea of incorporating mistakes into work; something unpredictable and unexpected is exciting and something that cannot be recreated.

The many cover designs Barney did for the band Hawkwind were lively and magical. The block colours of red, black, grey and orange on one of the covers make it look imperial and almost fascist, like a piece of propaganda. It looks striking and powerful, and if it was on a shelf it would definitely catch my attention.

I love the varying style of Bubbles' work which was always quirky and eye catching. There is always a strong concept that is presented well visually.

Manchester Artists' Book Fair

Saturday 6th November 2010

This exhibition was held at The Holden Gallery in Manchester Metropolitan University. I enjoy making my own books so this was an exhibition I was excited about seeing. And it did not disappoint, there was a whole array of hand crafted books and printed publications available to buy from various independent artists as well as collaborative groups. The style of book varied from authentic hand made collage work and hand stitched fabric editions, to clean prints on white paper, precisely bound together in a neat book.

What fascinated me was what the book said about the individual. These were very personal publications, even though the content varied from short stories to purely illustrative pieces, to zines that publicised various local talent. Each one showcased a highly different style and different talent in numerous fields. This fair was a great way for these artists to get more recognition.

There was a great selection of different paper stock that was used, some feeling so delicate I was afraid to touch them, such as these by the artist Angela Davies. They are very tactile beautiful pieces, and I love how inventive she has been.

There was also gorgeously shiny printed photographic publications. So many different styles of working appealed to me, and I would like to explore all of these formats and rare paper stock in my own work.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Design Symposium North

Design Symposium was originally conceived in 2007 by Liverpool agencies Uniform, Smiling Wolf and Black & Ginger. The event is run in collaboration with natural industry organisations D&AD and DBA alongside the city’s creative industry bodies, Merseyside ACME and Design Initiative along with venue sponsor LJMU and media partner How-Do. The symposium exists to bring together design professionals, design buyers and students and to raise the profile of design and creativity in the Northwest.

I attended a portfolio surgery, a workshop and a lecture at this event at Liverpool, seeking to gain valuable advice from professionals.

D&AD Portfolio Surgeries and Work Placement Offer

I was lucky enough to have 3 portfolio surgery sessions, where I presented my portfolio to a creative from Chase, Tim Sharp from Uniform and Stuart Radford from Radford Wallis. I was seeking criticism, I wanted good honest advice about how to make my portfolio better, and this I received. They told me how to improve the presentation of my work: bigger images rather than lots of small ones because these lose the detail, and black borders taken away so it looks clean. The best bits of the projects should be highlighted by enlarging sections and presenting it on its own in a clean white page. It is about selling your work, each page should speak for its self. Another tip was that more of the work should be presented in site so that the work seems more real and is given context. I recieved positive criticism in general, the professionals liked the hand-crafted illustrative style of my work, but said that some work should be more on brand and a bit less personal. In particular, an Alton Towers project that I did needs to look more like it is for Alton Towers, so I am going to work on that.

Tim Sharp also talked about pace, where it is interesting to vary layout, in a book for example, rather than being consistent which the use of space, so that it is more surprising to the viewer. This sounds obvious and I don't know why I have not thought about this a lot. I need to consider this in projects as well as my portfolio.

At the end of the session Tim Sharp from Uniform asked if I would be interested in doing a work placement, and after emailing I was offered a 2 week placement in February which I am delighted about.

These surgeries were extremely useful and I am so glad that I went. I believe when I make these alterations my portfolio will look much more professional, and I am very excited about doing the 2 week placement with Uniform.

D&AD Workshop

This was run by the organization Shellsuit Zombie, which is made up of recent graduates who want to help graduating students meet creative industries. They gave advice on how to network, how to present ourselves well and how to go about initially finding a job.

They highly advised:

-Doing a placement. These look good on the CV, can produce portfolio work, they can give you exposure and even a job, and you learn so much while doing them.
-Any commercial work you can for anybody, even for friends and family, anything paid just as long as it is something live and real.
-Networking and giving yourself exposure is also vital. Attend events that give you contact to clients, such as this, and apply to exhibitions such as New Blood in London, a D&AD graduate show that attracts many professional creative’s.

It is so important to do other work other than university. It is vital you gain experience with real briefs. When applying for jobs, professionals will be looking for a level of this experience, so I am doing all I can this year to gain experience outside university. They hammered in the fact that you have to work very very hard to get somewhere. Shellsuit Zombie are doing just that themselves.

What I did not like about the session was that they said most major design groups are in London. They did say this does not have to be a starting place, but it is a place you might end up. Shellsuit Zombie moved to London themselves. I do not want to move to London, so this worries me a bit, but there has to be good job opportunities outside London, maybe just fewer of them. So I'll just have to work even harder.

D&AD Student Award Talk

Radford Wallis

Stuart Radford, who did one of my portfolio surgeries, introduced Radford Wallis who are a multi-disciplined design company based in London. Stuart Radford has been creative director of the company for 10 years, and their clients include Land Securities, Norwich Union, Ted Baker, Royal Mail and D&AD, along with many others.

Radford talked about a few of the briefs he has worked on. One lovely little piece was a miniature brochure for Hopkins Architects that reflected the client’s environmentally friendly philosophy with paper that continuously unfolded to reveal the words recycle, renew, reduce and reuse. It is a simple idea that is interactive and enticing. It made me think about how this unfolding technique of paper could be used in other formats, such as business cards? I think that interactive pieces will always create intrigue and excitement.

Radford commented on how important it is that you should always enjoy a project. In the lecture he talked about how much fun he had had on the project, Fayre on the Square, for the National Hospital Development Foundation. They were asked to design material to advertise a summer fayre fundraiser. Taking inspiration from the events location, they created different shapes out of turf that would represent the Fayre. I like the fact this project involved a very hands on approach of much cutting and Radford said he enjoyed this. The shapes were then advertised and used in posters, and the results were cute, fun and engaging.

D&AD Awards

Following this talk by Stuart Radford, we were then informed of the D&AD awards. The winners and runners-up of this competition get a reputation and publicity and more often that not you get offered a good job. It was explained that industry are supporting new talent, and when you enter a competition like this it shows you have a level of confidence to present yourself, which is vital in getting a job. Awards are a good place to start presenting yourself in a professional standard.

The awards are judged upon firstly, good ideas, then something that is well executed and something that is on brief. The size of the boards, where your work will be presented for judgment, vitally needs to be considered. Presentation is key - will it stand out, will it be different from others?

We were then taken through this years briefs and shown examples of previous student entries that had received an award. This years winner was an idea for the Ikea Catalogue, where the items it sells were categorised by colour in an illustrated spectrum. Customers could then easily view the items that matched in colour. A simple idea that makes complete sense.

We were told that digital entries have more chance of winning because fewer people take this route. It is also what is needed in industry at the moment, designers who are capable of doing moving image. The advice was to think about where it goes, push the idea and push the boundaries. Thinking about how far it goes rather than where it stops is a better way of thinking. In presentation, demonstrate how you do things, not just what you've done in this instance. In these awards, as well as in industry, they are looking for flexible problem solving and a breadth of ideas.

I thought that these awards sounded like a really good way to promote yourself, and so I am hopefully going to enter as long as I can find the time. It sounds like an opportunity that should not be missed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Paint Splodges

Experimenting with ways I could represent a plant. These don't mean anything, but I just like them because of the texture and colour, and I may incorporate them into further work.

Not Just Fleurons

A new project which asks us to explore plants in the broadest possible way.

These are my initial experiments and thoughts. I started thinking about how plants represent growth and expansion and thought this could be represented through a style of type. For my type experimentation I have used Helvetica Ultra light - to represent the multipurpose and delicate nature of flowers.

I then started to think about how flowers and plants can come from all kinds of people and represent numerous voices, so I played around with overlapping meaningful words that could represent this.

Another idea was to create flowers with the things that come with them, like tags, suggesting the theme of messages.

Further themes I want to explore are warmth and healing because flowers often create harmony. In the theme of healing, I thought as well as emotional harmony and healing, I could look at homeopathic medicine and other medicines that use flower and plant extracts to physically heal.

I have also created a logo for the flower. I have realised that this project is going to be a constant battle with cliches, as plants and flowers are used for so many things, but my thoughts are that if I create a symbol I could juxtapose it somehow, putting it into situations that question its cliche? I'm not sure if that makes sense, but what I mean is it might be interesting to play on its familiar and common nature, rather than trying to completely subvert it.