30/01/2009

Can you recommend any font editing software?


can you help please?

for ages i've been looking for a programme that will allow me to create fonts. i really need your help, if you can recommend any please let me know.

obviously i can break type and play with it in illustrator, but if i want to create a working typeface what should i be using? any type pros out there? anyone?

i'll offer bribes and treats for any help. thanks.

29/01/2009

McFaul Blog


My SCDF inmates have a lovely new blog going. go have a read.

http://blog.mcfaul.net/

You can see previews of the forthcoming rebrand and hopefully soon there will info on the studio's new book.

27/01/2009

Coke Ad designs by Gwen Yip

Two tasty Coke treats i found today. First up is the ever talented Miss Gwen Yip and her design/illustration work through WK Amsterdam. Loving the richly detailed, monotone work on these. I shall be pinching the 'real coke taste, zero sugar' strapline for some of my work soon.

Second is this packaging work from Turner Duckworth. These beautifully simple (simply beautiful) bottles show the Coke's new stripped back approach to packaging taken to the next level. I haven't seen any of these in the wild, but i don't imagine it will be too long before they reach our shops. Read more on the designs over at The Die Line.

I'm going to win this competition


The Royal Mint are running a competition to design a new 50 pence piece for the London 2012 Olympics and I'm going to enter and i'm going to win. Sorry if you've entered, but i'm going to win. I will post my winning designs on here after the deadline closes.

Fact.

26/01/2009

My Coke project™ - Circular

adapted from a series of prints i made back in 07. i tried a number of background colours with this one. i opted for the grey as it gave the whole thing a girly, diet coke palette.

When a brand can't be saved


Nick sent me this article recently about Microsoft's brand deficit and it reminded me of the work on Channel 4's Big chef takes on little chef show, in which attempts are made to turn around a little chef, including updating the design and branding of it's 'restaurant'. It also reminds me of McDonald's attempts to save its dying brand with updated design work on its interiors and packaging.

When i think of these attempts to revive brands like Microsoft, Little Chef and McDonalds i can't help but wonder. Are some brands beyond saving?

Will we ever feel content with eating at McDonalds? Will we ever be impressed with something Microsoft does? It's a sad thought, but perhaps some of these brands have simply run there course. Perhaps they no longer have a place in our society and should be laid to rest.

23/01/2009

lowcostholidays launch

www.lowcostholidays.com

the travel client we were working with at the end of last year, is launching their site this month. we put in some seriously long hours to design the site and although the kinks are being ironed out, it's still great to see it live.



There will be all kinds of press activities over the coming months including this news report.

I must say I find it strangely appealing seeing the logo and colours out in the public.

Branding. Where Next? - Johnson Banks Blog


Ok this is what i call a 'bastard moment'. I was thumbing through an old copy of design week and i came across this article on branding by JohnsonBanks. I read the article and just said to myself 'bastard'.

Michael Johnson
has managed to capture just about everything i've been trying to say about the creative industry for the past two years, except his version is significantly more concise and eloquent. It's such a good article that i really can't recommend it enough.

"You don’t see many internet discussions on the quality of a brochure, or tweaked pack design do you? Better to be debated than ignored, as Oscar Wilde might have said, were he to be re-incarnated as a brand consultant (now there’s an odd thought)"

"it’s not unusual for clients to turn to us 18 months into a project and ask if we can help them find an ad agency – a galling turnaround for the traditional 30-second-TV-spot-driven ad agencies, but the smart ones have re-invented as multi-channel ‘ideas agents’ anyway. This is good time to be a brander"


"The next generation of clients need flexible identities and flexible advice: as more and more design comes in house, their consultants will have to prove their worth as navigators and mentors for successful roll-out..."


bastard.

22/01/2009

Designs of the Year

At the end of last year the shortlist was announced for the 'Designs of the Year' awards. Formally the 'designer of the year' this selection shows how broad the design museum's remit has become. it will be open for votes soon, although to be honest i'm not that fussed about voting as i don't feel very strongly about any of the shortlisted designs.

according to the site the shortlist was compiled by "design experts, curators, critics, practitioners, enthusiasts". Is that weird to anyone else? Enthusiasts? I'm enthusiastic about music, but i don't think i'm in a position to decide who has produced the best music. Who defines themselves as a 'design enthusiast'? Surely only design 'experts' are suitable.

18/01/2009

Norwich Union name change campaign



The country's biggest insurance company Norwich Union has changed its name. To promote the new name it has launched a series of tv ads with famous people asking if they would have become famous if they had not changed their names.

'would i still have been famous if my name was richard starkey' asks ringo starr. well i don't know ringo, perhaps we should ask those people who wrote all the beatles music. if only i could remember their plain old names!

The ads finish with a line about the name change that goes 'sometimes it's a chance to show the world who you've always wanted to be'. So from that can we deduce Norwich Union has always wanted to be consumed by an international insurance plc?

So far just the name has changed and the remainder of the identity is still in place, but I would guess it won't be too long before the colours and logo leave behind the NU for good.

15/01/2009

10 things no one told me - freelancing

Photo courtesy of edouard

A year or so ago i was asked to give a talk to students on the realities of working as a professional designer. I put together a presentation called '10 things no one told me'. What follows is a version of that presentation which has been
edited to aim it directly at freelancers...

If you've been through the rigours of your design course and your now out in the world learning your craft then the last thing you need is another jaded old hack like me telling you how to design, so I'll save my advice for some of the more practical aspects of working in this industry. The things no one told me at Uni, the things I've learnt (largely by getting it wrong) are based on how to be ready for work and how to successfully and quickly integrate yourself in to various studio cultures.

So here we have a selection of things, in no particular order, that I've learnt along my way. They are here for you to learn from if you wish. Documented in the hope i can prevent others from messing up were I did.

1. Tea is key
I hate tea. I don't drink tea, but I've made myself learn to make it, because making drinks for everyone is a cunningly good way to start conversations and reminding everyone that your there. Believe me there is nothing worse than doing your initial freelance stint and leaving with nobody knowing your name or what you were doing.

2. Get contacts, keep contacts
Despite what you think it's OK to contact people you've worked with in the past just to remind them your still out there. As long as your not spamming your contacts within an inch of their lives, it's nice to hear what people are up to. You need to stay on people's radar, so that when they have a juicy chunk of work they think of you first.

3. You've got the worst desk
Your temporary, so don't expect to be given the best equipment and the best desk. In fact you'll probably be given the worst of both. The key is to find the best way of working with what you've got, so don't refuse to sit down until everything is perfectly orchestrated for your needs.

4. Know all the tools
There are a number of industry standard tools, however there will always be differences in how studios work with software, so you need to able and willing to adapt. If you arrive six weeks in to a project that has been all be compiled in Indesign, don't expect to crack open Quark because you prefer it. You'll need to be ready to jump in to any set up. Refusing to do so can cost you further work.

5. It's good to talk
Whatever your going through in your work/career you can guarantee there is a least a hundred other freelancers in the same position. So talk to as many other freelancers as you can and share your experiences. Around the South East there is a growing number of groups, associations and drinking clubs you can join. So get out there and get talking.

6. Listen to Dr Scholl
"Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise"
It's a good piece of advice because it doesn't matter how good you are, if nobody else knows your on the market then your name won't be brought up when jobs and briefs are being handed out. Think of yourself as a business in this respect. You need to raise and maintain a profile, so get creative with promoting your skills.

7. Avoid the politics
It's rare to find any work environment, beyond a certain size, that doesn't have some kind of internal gossip, power struggle or maneuverings. To ensure you get used as a freelancer for as long as possible, i have found that a neutral stance on all of these matters is best. If you win the trust of your temporary workmates they will let you in on their gripes, but never be tempted to join in or even take sides. You run the risk of being caught up or even associated with staff who may not be there for very much longer.


8. Never, ever, ever steal

This is a two parter...
Part One: I used a freelancer in the past who's time in the studio always coincided with a notable amount of design books and equipment going missing. Needless to say we were less than tempted to use her again.
Part Two: As a freelancer you will be expected to step in and quickly start coming up with great ideas. This kind of pressure can be tough but never be tempted to fall back on someone else's ideas. Stolen ideas will always come back to bite you - no matter how obscure the website or magazine you've referenced, if you pinch somebody else's work it will find it's way back to you and your creative director. Don't do it, you'll only look stupid.

9. Present solutions, not problems
A few years back someone very clever gave me the best piece of advice I've ever had in my career. She said 'You need to present solutions, not problems. The ones who fix things are the ones who go the furthest'. Over the years this has become a bit of a personal mantra. If you run in to problems with your work, find a possible solution (or two) and then tell people about it. Don't fold your arms and wait for someone else to sort it out.

10. Take care
I realise I'm at the risk of sounding like your mum here, but when the call comes in for work it's very hard to turn it down. In a bid to keep your clients happy it can be easy to say 'yes' to everything, but your in danger of burning yourself out if you follow this for too long. So take care of yourself and remember to have a life away from the screen.

14/01/2009

Coke cuts back Euro ad roster

Interesting little article in Campaign about Coke cutting back it's European above the line advertisting roster. It seems that Mother has done a good job in not only hanging on to Coke, but establishing itself as a perenial supplier of strategic, creative services.

Reading more about Coke has sparked lot's more ideas for my coke project. I have made some notes and sketches recently, so i'll try and get them up here soon.

13/01/2009

In the (Work) Club


A while back i started following the blog of start up agency Work Club. It was a great insight in to an agency pulling itself together and getting it's first clients and staff. It was really inspiring to track their progress, as well as learn about creating a creative team from scratch.

The original blog seems to have died, but they have since launched a chunky new site.

The work is very in the portfolio, but the thing that i love most about this site is the 'about us' section. "a creative agency with a digital spine" is how they describe themselves, which is a lovely message, that i'm very envious of. Also the diagrams and illustrations of what they do are just perfect. A relatively complex subject that has not only been made simple, but enjoyable to read. Great job.

I also really like the 'beta cheetah'. Bit odd, but funny.

09/01/2009

Creating the Obama Logo

VSA Partners have nabbed the designer behind the now iconic Obama campaign logo. Here he gives a nice behind the project view, including some of the rejected options.

part one


part two


There are a lot of great things about the Obama campaign, but the proliferation of the icon and how it was used as a way of engaging voters was fantastic. You can play with customisation options at the LogObama website. Many fantastic things have come out of Obama's election campaign, but the fact that design and branding was taken as a core consideration has to be one of the best for me. This presentation of the process is not most inspiring, but the work and being so close to the campaign seems very exciting to me.

Photo round up

I've been seeing some incredible photography portfolios recently. Too many to show or remember but some of my favourites include

Greg Williams
If you have never seen Greg's work you need to check him out. His portraits are stunning. Beautiful compositions and fantastic lighting throughout, particularly on his action shots. Although the website is a bit stinky. Greg - give me a call, your work deserves better presentation.

Nadav Kander
Nadav's style is not like others i've seen recently. He has a very detached approached to his subjects that is both revealing and clinical. Stunning colouring throughout too.

Jacob Langvad
This shot from Jacob shows the work at its best in my opinion. A perfect example of skewed perspectives and unexpected takes on the subject matter.

Spiros Politis
Spiros has some real gems in Portraits and Advertising sections. This shot is not a typical one, but it stood out to me and i just couldn't resist it.

JeanYves Lemoigne
Perfect sense of humour that really makes these photos. Perfectly shot as well. Perfect.

07/01/2009

What are you?


I noticed that local agency Designate has updated it's site. My feelings about the new site aside, the thing that jumped out at me was the descriptor 'an independent agency'. It looks as though it's now been adapted as their line and seems to have found it's way on to their logo too. Its hard to see how being independent holds much value for clients and i can't imagine a brand or marketing director saying "hmm these guys are independent, let's go with them". On the other hand i do see that being independent might make some agencies faster and trimmer, therefore offering clients more flexibility and more value.

(Note - This is not a rant at Designate. I have respect for those guys and i'm pleased they are out there representing Brighton. So don't start emailing rants at me please.)

All this has set me off thinking about how agencies describe themselves. We spend so long finding new ways of selling the same old products for our clients, that we tend to get a little lost when it comes to finding our own unique selling points. Over the years we've all heard the comedy stories of agencies reaching in to the depths to come up with the most random descriptions you could imagine - 'a holistic ideas generating collective' - springs to mind (from an ad agency).

Ultimately it comes down to what difference we can make for our clients. I recently hired a builder to sort some stuff on my house. When i hire a builder i expect them to be efficient, i expect them to be on schedule and i expect to not get fleeced in the cost. All of those things should be expected as a minimum, but the builder i went with came with the recommendation "he is very, very tidy and good at working around kids", bloody perfect, that makes all the difference to me.

We all get a great deal of work through recommendations, so i wonder how we would all be described by the people who recommend us?

05/01/2009

Agency League Tables

At this time of year everyone gets in to review the year and doing top tens and all that stuff. I was reading the agency league tables in campaign recently and it got me thinking about the raft of agencies in this area. We don't have any kind of progress or performance charts, so it's hard to review competitors on anything but heresay.

However the distinct lack of facts is not enough to stop me spouting off...

Vgroup
Vgroup have had a major year. The shift from Vision to Vgroup seemed like an unusual tactic, but it clearly marked a new direction for the new team. With a shiny new creative team in place and some key appointments to bolster their digital offering they have landed some killer, huge contracts. If there was a league table Vgroup would be romping it at top this year.

O&G
After making the move in to Brighton, getting a new CD and rebranding, O&G started off the year by making some waves, however news from inside has tailed off in the later half of the year. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the new work from this awesome team in 2009.

Mosaic
Mosaic has been uncharacteristically quiet this year. After a rocky year which saw most of the creative team move to Killer, the new team seems to be growing again. Aside from some brand work, there has been no news of new work or accounts. no doubt there is a lot more to come from them in the new year.

48Fitzroy
The lewes based team has been slow coming forward with new work this year. This is more than likely a reflection of losing their creative lead to Mosaic.

Designate
The big boys of brighton Designate lost their CD this year, but a new one has been found and the effects of the new creative director are starting to show in the new website. Good news for the team as they managed to secure a place on the BBC's roster, one of the only agencies outside of London to do so. Still giving a strong showing in the industry press and still leading the pack in terms of size.

Killer Creative
Killer started off with a bang, press releases and new account wins seemed to be flowing freely. However things have gone very, very quiet this year.

Red
The team at Red have been carrying on with business as usual. Still the number one agency for young designers to watch, still chalking up the album sleeves, still at the cutting edge of fashion. The most notably move from Red has to be there continued development in to motion work, largely for PSP.

Wild Dog
These guys are the dark horse (of my imaginary league). Wild Dog have been hitting the headlines recently and impressing all round. A new site with a raft of new clients was unveiled earlier in the year and would clearly move them up the rankings. Ones to watch.

Of course there are other good agencies around and lot's of good work happening, but these are the ones who stand out in my mind.

2008 - What Happened(?)

In the last few weeks of last year I wrote a bunch of draft blog posts, but just before the Xmas break I got smacked sideways with the flu. I've never had proper flu before and i have to be honest i'm not a big fan. I've pulled my shit together just in time to get back to work today and now i'm sorting myself out for the new year and dealing with my busy week.

I've got lot's of things to post (new books, new sites, new projects, new rants) but i just need a few days to get myself together. I'll drop some goodies soon.

Happy new year.