Thursday, 25 March 2010

Noma Bar

During a critical studies lesson where we all were talking about an artist of our choice and showing examples of their work and Noma Bar was spoke about. I instantly loved the style obtained by the Israeli Graphic designer and recognised some of the pieces from illustrations in the Guardian newspaper. What attracted me about the pieces i have shown here is the simplicity of the ideas and the fantastic use of negative space and colour to convey dual meanings and a combination of elements. The spreads are minimal yet extremely effective. He released a book called 'Negative Space' in 2009 featuring a series of designs.

As i was looking through the collection of work from the negative space book I came across these prints he did for the V&A which fall nicely into the research I am doing about the museum for my end sting project. What i find interesting is the different elements he has chose to include showing the vast range of items shown in the V&A museum. Again Bar uses colour and space to create really effective pieces of design.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The Chase - London

My final portfolio visit in London was at The Chase, an opportunity that came about from my tutor Guy putting me in contact with Chris. I was extremely nervous about going to the chase, due to its stature as a design agency and was pleased i'd had a few visits under my belt to give me abit of practice and confidence before i went. When i arrived we had a brief talk about the corse at Stockport, how it was run and how it compares to other corses. He asked me how i had arrived at the want to do design and where my interests stemmed from.

Going through my portfolio he let me talk through each brief whilst he asked me questions then at the end gave me his overall opinion. He really liked the editorial double page spread using Helvetica Neue, although he said he didn't consider himself an expert on typography he understood good use of layout and structure. We talked alot about the inclusion of the Howies t-shirts, Chris felt they were a weak feature of the portfolio and should be removed. This was quite interesting as i have had relatively positive feedback about the t-shirts however there isn't much to say about them, which sometimes is okay when the idea sells itself. Chris suggested to only include t-shirt designs if the idea was really amazing. Chris really liked the idea behind the photography brief and the title 'Unfolding' he said the wall behind is unnecessary as he understand how the poster would exist. He definitely said the typeface lets the piece down so after many people saying the same thing its something i intent to change.
He seemed quite interested in the Door(way) project and really liked how we came to the decision of cutting down the door, he did however feel as a designer it was a personal project so almost unable to comment on it. He thought it was good to have in the portfolio as i spoke very enthusiastically about the project and suggested having one page with just the open cube and the second page with a blow up of the inside of the cube to show the detail.
When i showed him the typeface i created, again he pointed out his lack of typography knowledge but really liked the design, the idea behind it and things i had been looking at to get inspiration, he then talked about a similar project he did at uni and how to further develop the idea onto a product. My final project was the Water brief, he thought the brief was a little unrealistic to what you would expect in industry but thought the way i chose to communicate my research was great. He asked me lots of questions about how i reached the outcome and my decisions along the way and what i would change etc. Again he highlighted it as quite a personal project yet the story behind it is nice.

After we had looked through all my work we had a chat about the portfolio as a whole and he suggested to have 5 key areas such as layout, advertising, idea based etc and said that he would have rather seen more slides of certain projects over things like the t-shirt brief which was interesting. e.g he suggested to spread the editorial and front cover over two pages instead of just the one.
Considering they were very busy chris spent over an hour talking with me which i was really appreciative of, and was the perfect end to a great few days in London.

Monday, 22 March 2010


As i was heading down to London i thought it was a great opportunity to go back to where i did my placement in October to STEEL the digital design agency and get some feedback. I was probably more nervous about returning back there as i had spent time in and around the members of the team so expected some very honest feedback. I knew I was having a meeting with Nick Bennet before i went who is one of the partners of the company and head of the creative studio. Upon arrival Nick informed me he was giving me a formal interview which certainly put a twist on what i was expecting and the outcome was actually brilliant.We sat in one of the interview room which was quite surreal and he began by asking me why i had chosen to come to STEEL, what the appeal was. What was great about the way Nick approached the meeting was he not only asked me 'interview-style' questions but also guided me through why certain questions are important. E.g to make sure you have researched into what the company is, how it operates, its clients etc. We had quite a lengthy chat before i even opened my portfolio about the industry, where i'd like my career to go, pinpointing what we believe Graphic design to actually be etc, it was great.

Every project i showed Nick he asked me a multitude of questions, he wanted to understand how and why i had made certain design decisions, this was good for me as its the first time i have really had to justify every single detail, which he seemed really happy with the way i could explain things. He picked up again on the strong use of layout shown throughout the portfolio and also the editorial and font specimen sheet. He really liked the idea behind the photography brief yet felt the typography completely undersold the piece, suggesting the typography needed to have the same impact that helvetica neue had on the editorial pages, where the titles was powerful but didn't disturb the background. He absolutely loved the Door(way) brief, he thought the idea, concept, hands on approach were all really great and added something different to my portfolio. He then delved into lots of questions about how i work individually and within a team, giving me scenarios and problems to solve on the spot. which again was great practice for me to start answering those types of questions but also a great confidence boost to realise he agreed with my answers. We had a lengthy discussion on how to improve the pasta festival project, he was hesitant that the idea was becoming too graphical and was keene to get an organic feel back in to the poster, otherwise he absolutely loved the idea. He said that i should definitely include the pictures of the real pasta on the plate for further interviews as it really communicates the idea.Finally we came to the water brief and again he asked me lots of questions and was quite impressed with the outcome and decisions i had made about certain elements of the newspapers. The only unfortunate aspect was the writing in each of the newspapers didn't match the style of the front covers, which is something that has cropped up when speaking to people about them, this was something unavoidable at the time as the front covers were completely a last minute addition to the pieces but is definitely something worth considering if i return back to the project to retouch it.

Overall Nick was brilliant, he acted in a really professional manner, kept me on my toes by asking me some tough questions which really put me on the spot, i think this was a great way to approach it for me as it was completely different to the other visits i had had. A piece of advise he gave me was to try and include something digital in my portfolio by the time i leave or set up a professional website to use instead of my blog, which is something i am definitely considering.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Very Studio

After walking back and forth past this pub for about 10 minutes I gave the studio a quick ring to see where they'd hidden it and it turns out its just above the pub!! I had the visit with Richard and we sat downstairs in the pub, which was abit surreal. We had a brief chat about what i had been up to, what sort of thing we had been doing so far this year etc. Rich was dead down to earth so I found it pretty easy to chat to him. Initially i went through my portfolio explaining each brief and how i had tackled each project then at the end he gave me feedback. On the whole i felt it was really positive, he commented on the attention to detail and layout that ran throughout the portfolio and was pleased with the small amount of explanation used. He suggested over the next year to define the order of the portfolio better and to maybe think about introductory pages before the Water and Door(way) brief. He really liked the pasta festival idea and we had a good chat about how that project can be taken further looking at creating Italian landmarks and making them out of pasta then putting them against a London backdrop. The only other thing he mentioned was maybe reducing the Water brief down to two slides instead on three as it was better to communicate it in that way.

Overall he gave me some great advise. We had a great chat about living in London and the benefits he has had as a designer moving to the capital. He happened to be on the same corse as Craig Oldham and know James from Thoughtful too so we had abit of a chat about them and the degree at Stockport too.

St. Gallen book design - Evening talk.

When I was looking into events at the St. Bride library i noticed a talk was being held in the evening about the book design exhibition, which i thought would be really interesting to attend. I have never been to a talk about an exhibition before so i thought this was a great opportunity. The talk was held by 3 publishers Roland Fruh, Richard Hollis and Robin Kinross each talking for about 20 minutes each.

Roland Fruh:

Roland Fruh mainly talked about Rudolf Hostettler, an infamous typographer and print maker who was the co-editor of SGM a typographic magazine. Within the magazine was a dispute for years between Max Bill and Jan Tschichold about the difference between traditional design and new typography. Fruh talked largely about the articles written from both sides of the argument highlighting examples and influences. He talked alot about the importance of continual debate within Graphics and Design and how design is always evolving through time and with added technology.
I wrote down a quote he read out that i thought was really interesting.

"with every thesis someone believes himself to be telling the truth; he only notices that is merely half of the truth when he meets the other half of the thesis"

He also highlighted some familiar design magazines such as Eye, CR, Issue etc that he said generate a form of debate yet are formed by careful editing and many of them lack controversy stating "they all have something, but they all lack something".

Richard Hollis

I was really excited to hear Richard Hollis speak as I own a few of his books and find he explains things in a really understandable way. He began talking about Hostettler similarly to Roman Fruh, and about the influence English typography had on him and his remarkable understanding of Graphic culture. Hollis talked about the intense precision that the Swiss aplied to their books, the sensitivity they had for the content of the book paired with the design. and the careful use of typography that ran throughout. Hollis talked through all the names that shaped The International Typographic Style, from Josef Muller-Brockmann who was the creator of the grid and formed the Swiss style to Paul Klee who was a typical 'Basel designer' who very much worked Asymmetrically and in block type. He went on to talk over the two types of design in Switzerland with symmetry linked to book design and traditional symmetrical layouts and Asymmetry linked to modernist typography and advertising.
He finished by highlighting the pleasure in the exhibition of being able to look, feel and read the books, he talked about the how beautiful the books were and how beautifully they had been made. and a rare treat to hold them.

Robin Kinross

The final speaker wrapped up the night by briefly talking about the achievements of all 3 speakers and the importance of their role as publishers to understand the depth of the St.Gallen book collection. He spoke mainly about Switzerland as a country and the character it has explaining that no single city is Switzerland, that each city has its own unique character and history and acts individually.

I am really pleased i attended the talk as it gave me a greater understanding about not only Swiss design but some important factors that relate to modern day design practices aswell. I was able to buy a copy of 'Ultrabold' which is the quarterly journal of the library which covers talks, exhibitions and literature held there.

Exhibition: Book design in St. Gallen

During first year, each student was given a typeface to work with over a series of projects. The idea was to research the history of the typeface and really understand how to use it. I was given Helvetica Neue. Up untill this point I didn't really know a great deal about Swiss typography or the International Typographic Style which emerged in the late 40's in Switzerland. Since learning about Helvetica I have grown really interested in Swiss graphics and the use of grid systems looking at many artist such as Josef Muller-Brockmann, Max Bill, Jan Tschichold, Armin Hoffman etc. So when the opportunity to visit an exhibition that celebrated over 60 years of book design from St. Gallen (the most northern of Switzerland's cities) I was really excited to be able to visit. The exhibition was held at the St. Bride Library which is a fantastic old building with spiral staircases that not only acts as a library but holds exhibitions, talks, a theatre and Alan Kitching's typography workshop. The books on display were a really nice collection of traditional editorial and structural editorial designs which looked at graphics, illustration, and many different genre's of art.

What I was really impressed with in the exhibition is I am so used to seeing things in glass boxes and having to admire something from a distance. About 90% of the books shown in the glass panels were available to look through at the back of the room. This brought many of the books to life for me as the textures and paper styles of many of the book covers were the real essence of the design. It was great to be able to see the differences between the books and feel them with my own hands.

There were a few typographical posters on display such as the one below. I love the way the faded type overlaps and the general dynamic of whole poster i think its really striking. Also in the room was a series of huge old printing machines. What suprised me about them was the sheer size and mechanics that went into them. Overall the exhibition was really informative and a brilliant display of some beautiful editorial and book designs.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Pat Carroll

During my time doing Visual Communication in Art Foundation. I was fortunate to be taught by Pat Carroll, who was a member of Central Station Design Agency which was the face of factory records and the music scene that Manchester controlled. I have begun to contact quite a few agencies and am preparing to leave the 'Stockport College nest' so before i do i thought it would be a good idea to utilize the talent around and get as much practice in as possible so i arranged to see Pat to show him my work.

Showing Pat my work was a great idea. He talked through every project with me asking me exactly what my trains of thought were and how i approached each project. We spoke lots about how my pasta festival brief can be furthered and the importance of making the logo work at logo size! He really liked the diversity in projects i had and thought that i communicated the ideas behind the projects really well which has given me a massive confidence boost. What was really interesting was he picked up on the 'Perspective' photography project that i was abit unsure of after my first meeting with Chris, he said the second idea was alot more interesting and i was more enthusiastic about the 'unfolding' idea so this reconfirmed to me that it was better out than in.

Alun Cocks

Today Alun Cocks came in to speak to us about his agency, Dust that he runs along side Patrick Walker and Pamela Bowden. They all met at university in leeds and Alun even attended Stockport College. He showed us a great range of work, alot of it with careful consideration to printing material, texture and adding a really hand crafted style to it. His first piece he showed us was largely made of mark making, something we had all worked with in first year and added a real different approach to the brief. During his talk, although his quick flicking from slide to previous slides was abit sporadic his content was great, he talked largely about how doing one good project leads to a job that leads to better jobs. This echoing what Stuart and Chris from Thoughtful had said a week earlier in their talk.

What was really good at the end of the lecture was we were able to go an have a look through most of the pieces that he had included in his slide show. And the photographs gave them no justice as the quality and precision of the books and pieces he had done were excellent. And to be able to feel them made me really get to grips with his explanation of the briefs.

Aswell as operating their own studio Dust collaborate with Mick Marston to form Fine & Dandy which is a side project heavily based around pure illustration. Fine & Dandy are part of CIA (Central Illustration Agency) which represents over 45 different illustrative artists/outfits.
Below is a piece by Fine & Dandy that really stuck in my mind, i love the sense of working towards that goal of being paid to do something you would give an arm and a leg to do anyway.


After the presentation from Chris and Stuart from Thoughtful I stayed in touch and arranged a portfolio visit with Chris. As this was going to be the first time I showed my work to someone who wasn't directly involved with Uni I was understandably a bit nervous, however as soon as i got into the studio i felt quite comfortable in the surroundings and with Chris.He suggested I talk through each project then at the end he would then go through and give me feedback. I felt quite confident talking through the projects. It was refreshing telling a new person about the briefs we had and why I chose certain outcomes. I quickly realised from talking about the projects in that environment that there were one or two that weren't as strong as the others and that i didn't enjoy talking about as much.

Chris then went through each project and gave me some great feedback. He suggested ways i could improve the layout of a few of the pages, such as having a few more pictures of the inside of my 3D box and maybe having a large picture on A3 of the full box. He advised me of how to make a few projects stand out more. What i found really helpful is he highlighted the project i began to have doubts about when i was talking about it and he talked me through why he believed it was the weaker of two ideas and i should leave it out. This was great as i agreed with him on most of his points.

Overall the experience was a real pleasure and it left me feeling confident that the ideas in my projects were good and that i didn't have as much to worry about as i had thought.

Exit Through The Gift Shop - a Banksy film

"The story of how an eccentric French shop keeper and amateur film maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner with spectacular results. Billed as 'the world's first street art disaster movie' the film contains exclusive footage of Banksy, Shephard Fairey, Invader and many of the world's most infamous graffiti artists at work. Written by Sundance Film Festival"

I didn't really know what to expect from this film/documentary before i went to see it. The caption above was all i had read about it and was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be completely different yet completely accurate. 'Exit Through The Gift Shop' not only gives you an exciting look into an unknown world but introduces you to this truely unique individual Thierry Guetta. Who, rightly or wrongly achieves his own stature as an artist. Banksy has been extremely clever in making this film and has shown his audience just why he has been so successful.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Decode - at the V&A

An exhibition which is currently running at the V&A is Decode. The exhibition in itself is something different for the V&A as the museum has never held a technology based collection of this stature before. The videos i have watched have given me a few directions to go with that would go nicely with this particular collection however i don't want to be too specific with what design i choose as i want it to work over any medium and really resemble the essence of the V&A

Video capture from Recode by Karsten Schmidt for Decode exhibition identity, 2009.

I've managed to get hold of a few flyers currently for the V&A and am interested to see the colour scheme they are using. It is great to see some bright and vibrant colours and is something to bear in mind when considering my ideas on colour and texture.

Howies End Sting

An end sting we have all looked at is the one above for Howies. The company mainly deal in active clothing for sports such as biking, skating, canoeing etc and have a really interesting range of t-shirts that promotes being active and not conforming to our computer generation. What the designer has done above is use the stitching you would find on jeans and created the outline of the coastline of Cardigan bay where Howies head quarters is and very neatly having the R appear where the exact location of their building is. Brilliant

End Sting Brief

We have each been given a logo to research and create an end sting. An end sting occurs at the end of an advert where the logo appears in an animated form leaving the logo at the end. I have struggled to find examples online as they are part of the advert but the ident above is a similar style with the logo appearing then animating then reverting back to the original logo.

The logo i have been given is the V&A museum in London. The V&A is the worlds largest museum of decorative art and design. It has a mass of collections raging from jewelry, pottery, glass to ceramics and more. The logo was designed by Alan Fletcher and is already a piece of design genius. This makes my task even harder as i love the logo and don't think it needs adapting. Anyway unfortunately I'm not going to get away with that so i have started looking into what type of collections the museum holds and what exhibitions are currently on there to get a sense of direction.

London Pasta Festival

Due to the amount of work we have had i have only just began to look at the Combined Elements brief again, where i combined London with a Pasta Festival. I felt my idea had been strong but was having problems with the logo and the overall execution of the idea. I started by looking at logo designs that incorporated a circle or were based around an oval shape. I particularly like Paul Rand's abc logo and the one below which is the logo for the Fashion Centre created by Pentagram.

I also took a trip to Borough Market in London to have a look at how packaging enhances a product and what impact the logo or advertisements have on the look/feel of the product.

I have began a selection of ideas of how to recreate the plate (the idea of the plate) and started to introduce typography to start to see how that will work.

What i found was although i like the idea of type creating the plate. for the purpose of the logo the type becomes unreadable at such a small size. I decided however to take this idea further and explore how it could work as a poster or a campaign. The information surrounding the river could be made up of either names of famous italian restaurants that line the River Thames or famous central London food markets. After that are a few logo ideas.

The project is still very much on going and I am thinking of creating more images with real pasta on a large scale using iconic images of London (such as Big Ben, red telephone boxes, black cabs, the tube etc)

Craig Oldham (Music)

As we have begun to finalise our portfolios I have begun to contact agencies for potential portfolio visits:

Mike Dempsey

While I was doing some research on Alan Kitching I came across a series of prints by Mike Dempsy which I thought were very clever and used a very minimal technique which I aim to achieve with my book covers. The designs below were taken from a project called 'Tart Cards' where a series of typographical solutions were created in place of the cards normally left in London phone boxes by prostitutes promoting their services.

Alan Kitching

As i was looking through my research with my tutor he suggested I look at Alan Kitching as he explores some raw methods using type and colour. From looking at examples of his work he spans over a vast area of letter press to screen printing to graphic design and illustration. Its fantastic to see this style of design still heavily favored by an artist as the computer has unfortunately taken over old methods of creating print. I love the overlay of colours and general style that kitchen holds throughout his pieces.

I also found a huge article in eye magazine on Alan Kitching and an exhibition he is holding at St Bride Library which has unfortunately just finished. However i found out about a book exhibition which i plan to attend.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Photography Suite

As we are in the process of designing out portfolios two project that I needed to photograph properly was the cube I made for the Door(way) brief and the newspaper front covers for the Water brief. To do this i spent an afternoon with Graham the photography technician. Up until this point I had had little to no experience with photography or a photography studio. However Graham was able to assist me to take some nice photo's of the two projects.

Below are the front covers for my 3 newspapers:

Below are the images of the cube I made: