Sunday, 31 August 2008

Bains and Haslams ‘Type and Typography’

I recently read a copy of Bains and Haslams book ‘Type and Typography’ in which they pointed out that one of the key problems with type is that it can sometimes fail to get across crucial elements of our sound system (such as expressions, gestures, emphasis, age, accents etc) – it ‘irons them out’. Up until this point I had never really seen type as having these effects, however as I began to think about type does loose these vital characteristics that we take for granted in speech. For example we have all received an email, a text message or instant message that we have taken the wrong way or misunderstood because type has ironed expressions. It is interesting to see how the use of ‘smiles’ and expressions such as ‘lol’ have begun to be used in day to written (or typed) correspondence to get round these problems. Bains and Haslam obviously point out that as designers we are normally able to use typography creatively to get around these issues however we do need to be careful to make sure messages aren’t misread.

Another interesting point from the book is that large amounts of black copy on a white background can put a strain on our eyes – for that reason books are often printed on an off white stock.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Design and build your own typeface for free -

This is a fantastic new website from FontShop which allows you to design and then build your own unique typeface. Once you have created it you can then download it (both for a Mac and a PC) and share it with other users of the site (you can also search and download theirs). This is a fantastic idea – if you are working on a logo you can create a really unique typeface for a client or if you want a typeface with a really specific look that you just cant find anywhere now you can just build it yourself (and name it after yourself, naturally). I can’t wait to use it in a project!


En Garde Arts Logo

This is the logo for a non-profit street theatre group called En Garde Arts. I’m usually a bit cautious about designers using spray paint stencil effects in logos as sometimes they look a bit like they are trying too hard to be ‘down with the kids’ but this logo has pulled it off brilliantly thanks to some fantastic typography with the ‘e’ ‘g’ and ‘a’.

Curious Pictures

This is the logo for Curious Pictures, a production company that produces adverts and television programs. I really like the way the question mark has been turned around to make a ‘p’ – it’s what makes this logo really special and you can see that a designer has had a real ‘eureka’ moment when they realised it.

Remembrance Sunday Postage Stamp and the D&AD’s

Only two pieces of design received a nomination and none won a highly sort after ‘Black Pencil’ this years D&AD awards which was abit of a shock to the graphic design industry. This stamp to commemorate Remembrance Sunday was one (see my article below for my thoughts on the other) and I personally fell that the judges may have been a little harsh. Even in a year where, allegedly, the quality of entries was so low that only two where deemed good enough to gain a nomination I still feel this graphic was good enough to take home a pencil. It is a simple idea beautifully executed – everything pencil winning design should be. Or at least that’s my opinion anyway – does anybody else have any thoughts?

Vincon Carrier Bags

These bags where one of the two pieces of work to get a nomination in the Graphic Design category for a Black Pencil at this years D&AD’s (see article above). I can see why they didn’t win – it’s not exactly the most original idea to have the handles working as part of the design, but they are really nice pieces and they do have that all important ‘damm, it’s so simple why didn’t I think of that first’ factor.

Jo’s Jewellery Logo

This is a really nice simple logo designed by Pentagram for an independent jewellery designer called Jo Calver. It’s a really nice simple make that both uses the letters of Jo’s name but also the idea of jewellery in an interesting way (the ‘o’ looks like a ring or necklace hanging on the ‘j’).

National Express – Miniature Prices Adverts

This one of a series of new adverts for the National Express promoting the idea miniature prices to destinations such as London and Scotland by using miniature toys. I really these adverts, the use of the stop-fame animation with the miniature characters is brilliant (reminiscent of the Cravendale Milk adverts – I wonder if the when done by the same guys…) and the scripts and fun (again, like the Cravendale adverts…).

Fine Line Features Logo

This is the logo for New York based film production company Fine Line Features. Simple and effective – I love the use of the top of the ‘F’ being made to look like a movie clapperboard.

The V&A Museum of Childhood – More fantastic design from the V&A

After success of their promotional design work for their ‘Uncomfortable truths’ exhibition (the exhibition that explored the links between art and the slave trade – the logo was the coloured ink smudge that resemble an African head in profile) the V&A have again commissioned some fantastic illustration based adverts to promote their museum of childhood. The 70’s colours, fun illustrations and superb copywriting (headlines include ‘get there by train, by bus or by the power of greyskull’ and ‘vintage Barbie dolls, love like a sister, decapitated by a brother’) combine to make some really good posters.

I’ve also heard that they produced a sticker set as a mailer that allows you to create a spaceship from a old bottle – I haven’t seen one of these yet but it’s a brilliant idea for a piece of ambient media.

American Institute of Architects Logo

A very simple but clever mark.

Skittles Advert

This is a nice ad for Skittles which aims to explain where skittles some from – a take on the idea of the Midas touch.

Art and Architecture Logo

This is the logo for the British society Art and Architecture which aims to promote collaboration between artists and architects – a very nice, simple logo, the large black sans-serif ‘A’ representing the architects and the inner white handwritten or serif ‘A’ the artists – both working together to make the design.

Saturday, 23 August 2008 - Website with a difference

We had a freelancer in at work yesterday who showed me this website for an American / Dutch design agency called Modernista that really caught my eye. Most agencies websites act as and online portfolio/list of famous clients/trophy cabinet – Modernista have on the other hand have created a website which is supposed to show what the internet thinks of their company. The best way to understand how it works is to visit the site for yourself - - but it basically works by having a red navigation in the top left hand corner then when you click on one of the options the website behind the navigation changes, i.e. when you click ‘about’ it takes you to Wikipedia or ‘work’ it takes you to some Flickr pages that have examples of their work. I think it is a really clever idea and show that the agency do things differently and have original ideas – things that as a client you want from your design agency.

There are however a couple of issues with the site – when you go to ‘about’ and it takes you to the Wikipedia page there is a disclaimer at the top from Wikipedia that indicates that they aren’t best pleased about being used like this. I also don’t understand why they have used words like ‘ab.ou.t’, ‘wrk’ or ‘n3wz’. Also, allegedly, the idea isn’t even that original either – apparently it was done by another smaller agency first.

The Modern Flower Co. Carrier Bag

These are some items designed by Multistory as part of their rebranding of a London chain of florists ‘The Modern Flower Co.’. Although the rebrand as a whole looks really nice (the logo set behind a trellis pattern like a flower growing is fantastic) it is the bag that really caught my eye – I like the way that instead of the rope for the handle being hidden inside the bag it weaves in and out of the wall of the bag like a green plant growing up the trellis.

KFC Finger Lickin’ – New print campaign for KFC based on it’s old strap line

Even thought the company haven’t used the strap line for a few years when you think of KFC you still think ‘Finger licking good’ – this is the key idea or concept behind this eye catching new print campaign for fast food company. The design agency BBH have taken the different items for the KFC menu and made pictures out of them using finger paint. I really the bright, friendly and fun look of the ads, they really stand out from the usual fast food adverts which are just a photos of a large greasy burger and fries. Creative Review slightly spoilt the ads for me though by suggesting that the pictures could possibly look as if they hands made greasy from eating a KFC meal…

Font Clock by Sebastian Wrong

This is a really neat clock designed by Sebastian Wrong, a sculpturer product designer from London, where the typeface of the minutes, hours, date, day and month all change – a really nice, simple idea that reminded me of an article written by Francesca Bennett about an italic poster. (

Another nice thing about this piece of art/product is that it isn't an idea that will just sit in an art gallery - it is available to buy for your own home from the top end furnature makers Established & Sons. Visit their website at

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Britain from Above – New TV Series from the BBC

Britain from above is a fantastic new three part series from the BBC presented by Andrew Marr which looks to take a birds-eye view of Britain and the way we live. I saw the first episode on Sunday night and was completely enthralled. The program looked at how the machine of modern Britain works, from the road networks and shipping lanes to fibre-optic internet cables and electricity generation. The program also looked how the little things we each do because so many of us do them have a huge impact (I never realised the chaos that it caused each and every day when Eastenders finishes and millions of households all over the country put the kettle on to make a cup of tea). The numbers that where quoted in the program where mind boggling, but the thing that really made the program (and will not doubt win it lots of awards) where the computer graphics and simulations that where used to show things like taxi routes round London, aircraft flight paths, internet and phone usage, road use at hour and even how busy our shipping lanes are. People always say that they are just one person and as such can have little impact – well this program really showed how all these little impacts really add up and the effect they have. It also gives you an idea of just how close to capacity our country operates. I would well recommend trying to catch the first episode on the BBC I-player and watching the next part on Sunday evening.

St. George’s Crypt Annual Review

It is not unusual for companies, when producing their Annual Reviews, to take this opportunity to turn what could be a fairly mundane report into something really special that represents the company (after all it is being sent out to their most important investors and share holders). This is what B&W Studio have done for a charity based near where I live, St. George’s Crypt in Leeds, which helps homeless people. The report its self is very well designed with some fantastic photography, but it is the holder that really stood out for me – it is a congregated card board folder which when folded out looks both like a Christian cross (it is a Christian charity) and a box that a homeless person would sleep on when the they where living on the street.

Citroen C-Crosser Billboard Advert

This is a fantastically simple billboard advert for the new 4x4 C-Crosser car from Citroen that is so simple, yet effective, that it needs no explanation (well, ok then, the Citroen logo is broken apart so that the two arrows look like two mountains that the 4x4 car is designed to go up).

Anti-slavery Poster / Advert

This is a new poster / advert for an anti-slavery charity by Saatchi & Saatchi. Very simple but very effectively the poster makes people see the connection between the slave ships of the 18th century and modern human trafficking and that just because the methods have changed doesn’t mean that people suffer any less.

Harvey Nichols Wonderful Life Print Adverts

These are two adverts by DDB London designed as part of the ‘Wonderful Life’ campaign for the high-end fashion retailer Harvey Nichols. The adverts, for both the menswear and womenswear collections, are designed to show that little decisions, such as which shoes we wear, can have a massive impact on our lives. For the womenswear they have designed a simple graph with shoes on one side going from slippers to sexy 6-inch heel and mens bodies on the bottom going from a middle aged fat guy to a well toned ‘Diet Coke brake’ guy. The idea being the better your shoes, the better the guy you can get! This advert is so simple that other than this graphic there are no other words or images other than the Harvey Nichols logo. The menswear advert goes along very similar lines showing two different life routes – both starting with one decision – which shoes to put on. These adverts show how a well thought out and clever advert might not even need any words to make it work.

Now Showing – A Exhibition of Old School Screen Printed Movie Posters

Now Showing is a new collection being displayed in London’s Cosh Gallery (or on the internet at that was devised and curated by the designer Darren Firth. Firth set a group of designers the brief to illustrate a movie poster for a cult or obscure film from the past. The resulting posters have a really refreshing feel about them when compared to today’s highly photoshoped film posters. I feel they give a better ‘feel’ for the film than simply a large photo of the leading actor (as many film posters are today). They look like works of art in their own right that someone has carefully designed and created rather than the throw away designs that we are bombarded with today. As a designer looking at these posters I think it would be great if I could work some screen-printed designs into my future projects – I think they would really stand out because they look so different to the designs we are used to seeing.

Tap – Campaign to promote tap water over bottled

According to Provokateur, the agency behind Tap, over 2.7 million tonnes of plastic is used each year in the UK to make bottled water, which is often little more than filtered tap water. To combat this they have created a campaign that involves selling stickers (70% of the profits go to charity) that you can stick on your own bottles and then fill them up at home. Nice idea – it made me smile though as this was a brief set to some students on the University of Leeds Graphic and Communication Design course two years ago – and some students had come up with the same solution!


Nike are once again taking advantage of new technologies in their new campaign called Nike PHOTOiD. Previously they had a very successful and ground braking campaign when they teamed up the Apple I-Pod to create a website / shoe that allowed you to create a music playlists to go with your workouts and then get feedback. Now they have created a service that allows customers (especially fans of customising their own clothes/shoes) to take a photo with their camera phone of an object or scene from their environment that has interesting colours then send it as a message to Nike. Nike will then send them back a link to a website where they can view their own unique pair of Nike Dunks customised using the key colours from the photo plus the original photo – if the customer likes them they can even buy the shoes. This is an example of a brand embracing new technology to market and sell their products. Visit

Biker by Wilfrid Wood

This is a model entitled ‘Biker’ by London based artist/model maker Wilfrid Wood. According to wood it was inspired by “someone on the internet really. He didn’t have a helmet on though. Or pants. Bet he was standing in such nonchalant way, looking great.” If you ask me it’s not a biker at all, it’s The Stig from Top Gear, minus his white racing overalls… Visit to see more of his work.

Mercedes-Benz G-Class Ambient Media

These are two new ‘posters’/ pieces of ambient media designed by German designer Jung von Matt for Mercedes-Benz. The posters have been designed to highlight the cars ability to perform on all terrains and instead of the usual uber-macho designs that we have seen from other car manufactures such as Nissan or Jeep they have created these clever posters made from real stones, sand and gravel that depict the cars in each terrain. These will no doubt cost more to produce and install than traditional posters but will definitely stand out more, be more memorable and give a better impression of the brand.

Typography Billboard

This is one of a series of billboards designed by Marian Bantjes for the Stefan Sagmeister. When the series of billboards are placed together they read (in Austrian) ‘complaining is silly, either act or forget’. I thought this poster stood really well on its own with the beautiful ornate type and bright vivid orange that almost glows in the dark.

Amplify Logo by Wilfrid Wood

Wilfrid Wood has recently designed this new identity for the design agency Amplify. As an artist / model maker Wood works with his hands as opposed to a conventional designer who uses a Mac, when I am briefed to create a logo I do my research, then do some sketches before finally putting together the final logo on my Mac, Wood instead did his research, did some sketches then created the logo by hand out of clay, taking two weeks to carve an perfect it before photographing it. I think this is really interesting way of creating a logo and guarantees that you get something completely unique with a hand made quality. Visit to see more of woods work.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Leeds City Art Gallery

I took a trip to the Leeds City Art Gallery this morning, which has been refurbished and got several new pieces since I last visited. I think the refurbish has been a big success, it has given the gallery a new lease of the life and the clean, white walls not only make the paintings stand out more but also extenuate the wonderful architecture of the building that houses them. Unlike some art galleries I have visited at Leeds, what ever your taste, you are sure to find a section that apples to you with work ranging from illustration, photography, modern, Victorian painting and sculpture. Work comes from all over the world (not just Europe) and the exhibitions regularly change work from both local artists and pieces, which are loaned by larger galleries such as the National Portrait Gallery or Tate. I even visited a special exhibition put on by one of my old college tutors a few years ago.

If you are in Leeds I’d definitely recommend visiting the gallery (which is free), there is always a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, its never to busy to stop and appreciate of sketch the work on display (see some of my sketches above) and you don’t feel like you have to be an expert to enjoy the work – there are even plenty of staff to answer any questions.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Logo Lounge – Online Logo Database

I was show this website by one of the designers at work as a really useful way of finding inspiration when coming up with a new logo. It is an online database of thousands of logos created by designers around the world and it allows you to search by several means such as name, designer, industry and most importantly type. If, for example, you wanted to make a logo look like it had been stitched in addition to the usual research you would do you can also use this site to search for existing stitched logos to get some ideas of the solutions other designers have had to a similar brief and find what does and doesn’t work so well.


New Nokia 6220 Adverts

This is an example of on of the series of new Nokia 6220 adverts that are currently on television. I am always a fan of campaigns that use hand drawn illustrations (the ones that use them well) because I think they stand out in a work where we are surrounded by highly photoshopped images and slick photography. They look friendlier and have personality, probably because they where created by humans and not machines. The adverts remind me of ‘Where’s Wally’ book, where you spot something new each time you look at it and I bet these adverts where great fun for the creative team and all the illustrators to work on.

Manchester Dogs’ Home Annual Review – The Chase & Progress Packaging

I recently received a brochure through at work promoting the specialist packaging company Progress Packaging who are based in Huddersfield. Progress have worked on some brilliant projects creating unique and unusual packaging solutions for big brands as diverse as Arsenal FC and Established & Sons furniture. The pieces that really stood out for me was the Annual Review that they had created for the Manchester Dogs’ Home (designed by The Chase). As you can see the annual review comes inside a tin can, which you open with a ring pull – just like a can of dog food.

Check out their website at

AEG Washing Machines – Noise Awareness Campaign

This is fantastic new campaign by BBH and online agency Perfect Fools which uses interactive billboards placed in five major European cities and an website to promote the fact that AEG washing machines are quieter than their rivals. The Billboards have built in noise sensors which display on the billboard just how load the area is in decibels at that moment in time. All this information feeds into the website and you can see how the different cities compare through a series of graphs and charts. According to BBH Creative Director Kevin Stark an interesting side affect of the campaign has been that they have had groups of people stood in front of the billboards shouting and making noise – trying to make the decibel metre go up. Instead of just walking past the billboards and ignoring them as they do the hundreds of other billboards they see on a daily basis people are actually paying attention to this one – BBH have created and advert that doesn’t look like an advert (see my Paul Bedford article).

Visit to see the site.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Recycle Now Adverts

These are two adverts from the Recycle Now campaign by Stephan Owen, a Graphic Design student at Stockport College. Recycling and green issues are hot topics at the moment which means that the adverts can some times look a bit ‘me to’ – using the same elements such as the colour green or a large statistic. Instead Owen has produced simple illustrations that communicate a fairly complex idea in clever and fast way (the light bulb with a bottle in says that recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to power a 60W light bulb for 500 hours and the zip says that recycling 25 plastic bottles will make one fleece).

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Cathedral Architecture – How to build a Cathedral with Jon Cannon

I watched a very interesting program last night entitled ‘How to build a Cathedral with Jon Cannon’. The program looked to give an insight into how these magnificent buildings where designed and built, in a time when most ordinary people still lived in wooded huts, basic hand held tools, ropes and pulleys where the only tools and they had no concept of modern building design concepts such as stress. The most interesting idea that took from the program was that most of the initial Cathedrals in the UK where built soon after 1066 by the conquering Lords as a way showing their power control over their people. I realised that it is a practice of using architecture as a symbol of your control is still carried out today, this time by international companies who build huge skyscrapers as a way off showing their economic power.

The program, which it still available on Channel 4’s ‘On demand’ service is well worth watching – giving an overview of the evolution of the different design styles, how the master builders used simple repeating patterns and scaling to create hugely complex designs and some of the ingenious ways in which they solved problems.

Our job is not to produce ads – Paul Bedford

I read the following comment by Art Director Paul Bedford in July’s issues of CR and I think it sums up the job of people working in the advertising industry, or more specifically those wanting to produce interesting and successful adverts, perfectly. He is quoted saying:

“Our job is not to produce ads. People dislike ads. They screen them out because, as we all know, the overwhelming majority of ads are so awful. Our real job is to dramatise the benefits of a product or service in a way that the target audience notices, likes and remembers. To do this we clearly need great strategies and ideas. But we also need great execution. The execution should involve doing something to make what we do not look like an ad.”

If you apply this idea to existing advertising campaigns you can see how it fits with some of the most successful ones such as the Cadburys Gorilla or the Sony Bouncy Balls.

Trekinetic Wheelchairs – Ambient Media

These are two pieces from a new ambient campaign to promote Trekinetic, a company that produces special all-terrain wheelchairs by the design agency Ogilvy London. Ogilvy where given an extremely limited budget and had a very small and precise niche market which meant that more traditional forms of advertising such as press and TV where ruled out. As a result them came up with a fantastic campaign that involved sticking off-road scene silhouettes over disabled toilet door signs (a place they knew that they where targeting their niche market) so that it looks like the wheelchair is going off road. This is then baked up with the Trekinetic name and website address. This shows that no matter how limited your budget with a creative imagination you can create a very effective solution.

The Pattern of _ m _ hr

This is a really interesting piece of art by Japanese artist Tota Hasegawa which is currently being displayed in the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo (I saw the piece in Aprils issue of CR). It is a large white canvas with 36 analogue clocks so that you can just see the black minute and hour hands. The clocks are arranged in a grid and idea is that as the time changes and hands move the pattern created also changes. I like the way that by simply arranging the clocks on a white canvas he has completely transformed the purpose of the clocks from a machine to tell the time to a graphic device.

New Tesco Adverts

I saw a new advert for Tescos on television today, the advert itself isn’t anything special – but what I did find interesting was the sports personalities that they had promoting the supermarket, Frank Lampard and Kelly Smith. I just realised that although we are used to seeing female runners, athletes, tennis players and sailors but this was the first time I had seen a female football player promoting something.

Tiger Shark Website – Watch the eye…

This is a website created by a web developer based in the same office as the design agency that I work for. He showed me the Tiger Shark website that he had worked on recently and pointed out a neat feature – if you watch carefully every 10 seconds or so the shark blinks its eye. He told me that is always worth the extra effort of putting extra details like this into a website as it show the client that you have really thought about a job and spent time on it – it also makes their site more interesting to browsers and the project more fun to work on.

New Coca-Cola TV Adverts

Coca-Cola have just launched an new campaign for the summer based on series of TV adverts highlighting how refreshing and ice-cold glass of the iconic beverage can be when its hot outside. The campaign is consists of a series of short (10second) beautiful shot clips of the stages of pouring a perfect glass of Coke, from putting a scoop of ice cubes into a Coke glass to opening the glass bottle and pouring the Coke over the ice. These clips are designed really glamorise the product and are very reminiscent of alcohol adverts such are Magners Irish Cider where Magners is poured over ice or the Guinness adverts with the close ups of Guinness being poured into a glass and the head forming. I very much like the adverts and I think they work very well, they have a grown up feel and aim to glamorise the product and focus on how refreshing it is which works well with the rest of the Coke brand – and makes them stand out from competitors who can sometimes look a bit childish (think the cartoon Fanta adverts). I think Coke have also been very lucky with the good weather we’re having at the moment – the ads wouldn’t have looked as good last summer for example when there where floods in many parts of the country.