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.