Thursday, 5 May 2011


So my website went live today, take a look...

Theres still a few changes to make to it and once I print and photograph my work I will change the flat images to photos. Any feedback will be welcome.

New logo created by Pentagram

Have a watch of this video. Michael Bierut from Pentagram talks about the thought process behind creating the new logo for New World Symphony academy. It is really interesting to hear how real companies work from initial sketches to final images. I really like how they make the logo conceptual and abstract but if you look hard enough you can still read the initials NWS.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Tips for placements/internships

Concept Personnel

Click on the link above to have a look at local recruitment agency Concept Personnel's blog on "How to make your internship a success". This is a very helpful piece for whether you are applying for a placement, internship or even starting a new job. The top 3 tips I think from this blog are:

Show Enthusiasm - You should look like this is a job that you're interested in and want to learn about.

Be Proactive - Show that you are keen to do as much work as possible, don't sit around and play on the internet when you've finished your task. Ask for feedback or if there is another task you can start.

Ask Questions - Try to learn as much as possible while you are there, it will help you understand how businesses work and will help you in future jobs. Also ask about the work you are doing and for feedback, you won't improve if you don't.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Room 501 placement

So on Friday I finished my 2 week placement at Room 501 Publishing in Sunderland. Room 501 are predominantly a magazine publishers that have around 5 magazines (Business Quarter, Food Quarter, Luxe, NARC. and Hitched). All of the magazines focus on a different subject and each has a very different style of design so when working from one to another it keeps things fresh and it doesn't get tedious. They also work on book designs, web design and branding. There is only 4 designers that work there along with a larger sales team, this keeps it friendly and I found it a great environment to work in as not everyone was working on the same things.

On my first week there it was all about learning about the styles of each magazine so I spent some time putting arranging past articles to how I think they would best fit and once finished comparing them to how they were finally published. I also worked on a design for an annual report for a client that was sent along with another idea for the client to look at. During the second week I worked on some spreads for BQ Magazine (Business Quarter) for their Spring issue that will be printed within a few weeks so I will put some pics up once I get my copy.

I really enjoyed my two weeks there and they flew by so fast. I learnt alot about attention to detail and how each magazine has their own personality. It was great to work with some professional photography and live articles and to get some real experience in editorial. Before this placement I loved editorial design but wasn't sure if I would actually enjoy doing it as a job, and after being here I know it's something I really want to go into. They were really impressed with my work at Room 501 and said that if they had a job available they would offer me one, unfortunately they don't have any jobs available but i'll definitely keep in contact with them and you never know what will happen in the future.


Logorama from Marc Altshuler - Human Music on Vimeo.

This is a short animation that was directed by the French animation collective H5, Francois Alaux, Herve de Crecy and Ludovic Houplain. It was presented at the Cannes Film Festival 2009, it opened the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and won a 2010 academy award under the category of animated short.

How clever is this animation? I always knew Ronald McDonald was evil and who knew that so many recognisable logos could be combined together to create something like this? This must've taken forever just to think of what could be used for each element. I also think it says something about how modern culture revolves around branding and advertising. I wonder how many logos they actually used?

Theatre Royal

I love these typographic posters outside the Newcastle Theatre Royal, they have a vintage feel to them and the varying sizes in type works very well making certain words stand out more.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

NARC. magazine release

So remember a while ago when I said my work was going to be featured in Narc. Magazine, well it came out a week past Wednesday and here's some photos of the final magazine...

Stephen Ward from our class was the winner and designed the cover, cd and spreads inside
There's my design bang in the middle with various other shortlisted entries

London Trip (Part 2)

M&C Saatchi

After the Design Museum we headed over to advertising company M&C Saatchi. While we were there we got to look at a graduate graphic design portfolio of a recent employee. There was some good tips here on how best we should design our portfolio, there should be a strong grid structure and we should tackle it the same as we would a design project. You should have various example of work which will, in turn, boost your employability (it's a good selling point to be able to do both online and print design). It was very handy to see a portfolio of someone working in London at the stage it was when he graduated and landed the job as this is the stage we'll be at very soon!

Ziggurat Brands

Next stop was Ziggurat Brands, a packaging design studio. While we were here we got to see the process of developing a brand - Red Sky Crisps

How ideas are generated there wasn't so much different to how we work at college however it is at a much faster pace and more ideas are produced, which is something I need to work on. While we were there we got some helpful tips:
  • Don't obsess over one idea style, show variety as you can never tell what the client wants
  • Use references against rough ideas so the style of illustration/photography comes through more
  • Moodboards!!! Help to narrow down ideas and gives them themes
  • Normally present 6-10 ideas to a client, then refine them from the clients feedback and show how they can adapt to a range
  • Make sure the final design reflects the brands ethos
  • Don't forget about the consumer, find out what they want!

Hawaii is a design company that specialises in various areas of design including brand identity, art direction, interior design, exhibition design and illustration. Paul McAnelly (the face behind Hawaii) is very down to earth and like all of our visits gave us some great advice. Paul took an unusual route into graphic design by studying for a HND in Advertising and worked in that area for a bit before he decided to take his own route and set up Hawaii. 
  • His main advice for us was to get as many disciplines under your belt as possible, this was advice we heard alot throughout the trip and know your programs back to front! 
  • Do at least 2 directions before presenting to the client
  • You get a better contrast when using 2 pantone swatches rather then black and white
  • When designing logos it helps to have one element that can be used differently (animated etc.)
  • Smaller paying jobs tend to drag on a bit more and be more of a pain, but it pays
  • Small companies like Hawaii get jobs by word of mouth so all the little smaller paying jobs might lead to something better
  • Think of how a logo will work on screen before print as this is the way things will eventually go
  • Make sure your portfolio is presented well and use good stock, with a short description
  • Don't be too negative about your own work, although this can be hard as no-one is the biggest fan of their own work
  • Think out of the box and BE REMEMBERED!

Popular was our last visit of the week and has quite a similar set up to Hawaii as Peter Chadwick runs Popular single handedly. Peter's first point when talking to us was that you don't have to come to London to work in design, as other cities are establishing themselves in design, ie. Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow. I think this point is very valid as alot of people think that you have to go to London to make a name for yourself and that isn't the case anymore with emails and the internet it is alot easier to keep in contact with clients no matter where you are. Peter mainly works within the music industry as an art director for record covers, however he has recently branched out a bit and has worked on some editorial design which this is something he would like to do alot more of. Peter previously built up a studio called Zip Design to a team of 10 however he walked away and set up Popular as he felt he wasn't designing anymore. He works with alot of freelancers to create his artwork as this is more cost effective then hiring a team of staff that can work in various areas. He made a point of telling us that it is very important that you love where you work and what you do! And it is important to keep doing personal work, he is now working on a book called "Music to my eyes" which he is hoping to get published, so keep an eye out for it in the near future. Although Peter loves his own space he told us that it would be ideal to work as a pair, that way you can bounce ideas off each other and sometimes you can go a whole day on your own without seeing anyone so having someone else wouldn't make it as isolated. He also told us that although it is great doing work for your friends, don't be afraid to approach money and charge as once you start doing work for free or cheaper, where do you stop and you have to make a living out of what you do. You need to be confident using a Mac and all the programs you need (illustrator, indesign, photoshop etc.) When presenting say what your inspiration was and give details of your idea. Clients want to see a final piece before you have been given a job. Make yourself familiar with the grid system! And clients always like it if there is something behind the idea such as an art movement, and always plan for a series, even if they only ask for one.

Well that was our trip to London. All the advice we were given was very helpful and I will be taking all of it on board when creating my portfolio and applying for jobs.

Monday, 4 April 2011

London Trip! (Part 1)

I spent most of last week in London with 4 others from my class and our tutor. It was so inspiring being in a different place and seeing how design companies work in the big city. All the advice we were given was very helpful and it is true what they say about portfolios being subjective as we were also given some very different advice aswell. So lets start with Monday...

Cosmopolitan is an international magazine and probably the most well known in Britain. I was really looking forward to this visit as I am very interested in Editorial Design (as you have probably guessed from previous posts) and hope to have a career at a magazine one day. One of the main problems with Editorial Design, as we found out at this visit, is that alot of magazine now are online or you can download as an app for you ipad/mac. However hopefully this shouldnt effect established magazines such as Cosmo too much. So here are the tips they gave us on creating a portfolio and getting that first job...

  • Tell a story with your editorial layouts
  • BE CONFIDENT! ( but not arrogant )
  • Email asking for placements and if you don't get a reply follow up with a phone call, make sure you know the name of who you're contacting and don't spell it wrong!
  • Apply for magazines you want to work for, there's no use working somewhere you don't want to be as you won't enjoy it
  • While on placement make yourself indispensable, ie. make cups of tea, do what you're asked, don't be too over-the-top/annoying
  • Push yourself - if asked to do a layout do several versions
  • Sometimes it's about being in the right place at the right time
  • Stick to any guidelines you have been given and ask before making any changes
  • Apply to as many placements as possible
  • Exaggerate a little on knowledge - you need to know InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop
  • Keep the covering letter short and simple, with a one page cv attached and several examples of work
  • Only put work on your cv that you are proud of and confident talking about. Make sure your personality comes through at an interview
  • Take a sketchbook to interviews to show the thought process
  • Know what to finish the interview, is the interviewer getting bored?
  • Don't go into detail when talking through work, just the brief, your basic idea and about the final is all that is needed
  • Take advice! - Don't take it to heart, it'll help you through your next interview  
At the end of our talk at Cosmopolitan I asked if it would be alright to give them a disc with my portfolio on and to my surprise the next day I got an email from them asking if I can come for a 4 week placement in September, so London here I come!!! Watch this space! :)

On our second day in London we went with the Advertising students to visit...


Oglivy is a worldwide advertising company with offices all over the world. The role of a graphic designer in an advertising company is more like an artworker as the copywriters tend to come up with the ideas and pass them onto the graphic designers to make them up. It was interesting to look round a huge company and how they work but I from my point of view it was too big and isn't particularly the sort of environment I would like to work in. However on a plus point we had a tour around their digital labs and it was amazing to see how advanced the ideas and technology is that they are working with...

This is an image of an augmented reality program they have where if for example you hold up a flat photo of a car it creates a 3D model of it on screen, pretty nifty!

On the Wednesday morning we went to the Design Museum to see the Wim Crouwel: A Graphic Odyssey exhibition. Wim Crouwel is a Dutch designer considered one of the leading designers of the 20th Century. He produced typographic designs that captured the essence of the emerging computer and space age of the early 60's and his designs are still timeless today. 

What I think is so amazing about Crouwel's work is that it looks very futuristic...even today. It has a quality that makes it timeless and is very inspirational. After looking at the exhibition I was full of all sorts of ideas to try throughout the summer.
While we were at the Design museum there was also an exhibition of the Brit Insurance Designers of the Year. There's some photos below of the pieces I found most interesting. ( I apologise for my photography skills )

Group Presentation

Last Thursday we had to do a group presentation at college, looking into various companies and designers. My group looked at regional companies:

Navy Blue

Navy Blue is a brand communications agency with offices based in Edinburgh, London, Muscat and Johannesburg. I quite like the clean, structured look to Navy Blue's website, however it is a bit hard to navigate and doesn't show their portfolio of work very clearly. Their logo is nice and simple which  means the images stand out more and are the main focal point. They seem to take on various sized clients and don't stick to one particular style which works well as their client base is so varied.

The Chase

The Chase is a Manchester based studio set up in 1986, the now have an office in London and just recently opened a satellite office in Preston. They are a medium sized studio with 46 staff in total and offer a full range of services. They have worked for alot of big clients for example, Marks and Spencer, BBC, Yellow Pages, Fujitsu, Fox's Biscuits and Selfridges. The Chase have a very modern feel to their work but still keep it corporate enough that it can be successful. Their website is very clean and white, with a simple layout, making it very easy to navigate. Their work has a very contemporary look using alot of photography and illustration to keep it interesting to look at.


Elmwood is and international design business that started in 1977. They work across many disciplines with several areas of specialist knowledge and expertise. Elmwood has many big name clients including ASDA, BBC, Comic Relief, Durex, The FA and Royal Mail. Their website is very green! With all the objects you can see in the image below animated. For me this is far to busy and distracting and also can take a little while to load a new page. However despite the distractions the website is very simple to navigate, the work is very professional and you'll find it hard to find something on here that you haven't already seen in your daily life.


Dedass was set up in 1991 making a creative agency that uses alot of illustration in its design. Their work has been seen in many magazines including, Wallpaper, Design Week, Computer Arts, Eye and Icon. Dedass' portfolio is very contemporary with unusual illustrations and a unique style. The website continues this contemporary feel however I initially find it distracting as theres so much to look at on one page, but you quickly get used to it, and despite this it is very easy to nagvigate. Alot of their work is print based pieces, mainly posters or exhibition work.

True North

True North was founded in 2001 in Manchester as an agency 'that creates design that is as effective as it is beautiful.' Alot of their clients are museums but they have also produced work for Adidas, bmi, Durham University and Royal Mail. Their work seems very corporate but with a twist to make it interesting and unique. The website is simple with drop down menus and full screen images. I think the full screen images are very effective as when you are looking through their portfolio it creates drama and impact.

I found this task very helpful and insightful especially as one of the groups had London companies and we went on a college trip to London the week after. We are also currently designing our own portfolio websites so this task was useful to be inspired by professional companies and designer's websites and see what works and what doesn't.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Last day at Studio Precept

Well yesterday was my last day at Studio Precept. The past 5 weeks have just flown by, it feels like I only just started there. I mainly worked on the brand management side of the company which included writing and sending press releases, updating clients social media platforms and writing monthly updates. I also did a bit of design work (mainly logos), thinking of taglines and working on brand launches. I think it was good working in a different area of a company rather then just design and opened my eyes to what other opportunities are out there. Everyone that works at Studio Precept are past pupils from my course and are all very easy to get on with, so it had a very relaxed atmosphere. I have been told that I am welcome to come back after my next placement if I don't have too much work for college, so watch this space....

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Why You?

So this morning at 9am Dave McDonald from local agency Infinite came in to talk to our class about how to get your first job and what life as a designer is like.

Dave left the college in 1996 and went straight to work in London at 2 leading agencies, but hated it, and to be honest I don't particularly want to work in London either so it was a relief to hear that it's not all it's made up to be. He left and went home where he was unemployed for a year and got a lucky break when he started a 9 year stint at Infinite. He left Infinite but because he loved it so much he ended up going back as Design Director. He's worked on big projects including Dance City, Metro, One North East and The Futureheads however he always makes sure he still does alot of personal work to keep the creativity flowing as sometimes it can influence his professional work and vice versa.

The most important tip he gave us about interviews is BE YOURSELF! if you try and be someone else it'll be seen right through. You don't have to have the most amazing portfolio but show that you are passionate and have potential to be a influential designer. The pointers he gave us fell under three headings:

  • Personality - Be relaxed, professional and honest! Always be punctual!
  • Portfolio - Be genuine, confident and receptive
  • Passion - Be brave, committed and positive
Make sure that you take any criticism on board, but also be confident in what you have in your portfolio. Show your personality and make sure you are completely honest about what part you had in creating the work you are showing, you will get found out if you lie!

All in all I really enjoyed Dave's presentation and it was refreshing to talk to such a positive person who highlighted all the good parts of working in the industry rather then talking about how hard it will be to get a job in this recession.

3rd Year Interviews

So I had both of my interviews for 3rd year this week, Sunderland on Tuesday and Newcastle College yesterday. Before going to Sunderland I had all intentions just to continue at the college as there is alot of placement opportunities there, however as soon as we were shown around Sunderland Uni I changed my mind straight away. I've been at the college for 4 years now and I think going to Sunderland will give me a fresh perspective and will be a nice change, aswell as it having really good print facilities and seeming a more creative course rather then the college which seems more essay based. I think both interviews went well and were relaxed and I got alot of good feedback about my portfolio. However around 50 students applied for the top-up year at Sunderland and there is less then 20 places available so the competition is high, but fingers crossed!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Negotiated Project

So we handed in our negotiated projects a couple of weeks ago, but I've only just got round to uploaded the finals on here with being so busy at placement. I created my own brief for this module, which was to name and brand a business class airline then design the front cover, a double page spread and follow on page and a single page article for the inflight magazine. My finals are just below...

Front Cover of Inflight magazine
Double page spread
Follow on page and letterhead design
Business card and compliments slip, single page article

I really enjoyed this module as it gave me the freedom to choose a brief I was interested in. I'm very happy with my final outcomes although I would have liked to design a few more of the spreads for the magazine.

Friday, 4 March 2011

4 Companies I would love to work for

I would love to work in editorial design therefore most the companies I would love to work for are magazines rather then graphic studios.

Elle UK

Elle is a worldwide women's magazine that focuses on fashion, beauty, health and entertainment. It is the world's largest fashion magazine and was founded by Pierre Lazareff and his wife Helene Gordon in 1945. The UK edition of Elle has won many awards including Art Director of the year (2010, 2008), Yellow pencil in magazine and newspaper design and best designed front cover (2008).

I would love to work for the UK edition of Elle because I think theiir design is sophisticated without being boring, especially in the bi-annual Elle Collection issues as this is where the Art Directors creativity is really expressed. They always use artistic photographers in their spreads and I would grab the chance to even go on a placement their so I could learn from their experience.

Contact: Elle Features - Natalie Evans-Harding, Elle Art - Lisa Rahman


NARC. is a tabloid sized free monthly music magazine, that is available across the North East. It focuses primarily on the music scene in the region, featuring international to local level bands, artists and DJ's. NARC. also provides reviews on the wider arts including film and literature, featuring original writing and photography throughout. It also offers a stamp of originality and credibility to any brand associated with the magazine.

I have already been offered a two week placement at NARC. which starts on the 4th April. I'm looking forward to combining two of my passions, music and design, at this placement. The layout for NARC. is quite contemporary with alot of white space and arty photographs. I will hopefully learn alot in my two weeks and can't wait to start!



Wallpaper is a monthly magazine focusing on travel, design, entertainment, fashion and media. It was launched in 1996 in London. Apart from publishing a monthly magazine, Wallpaper also publishes travel guide books with over 80 different cities currently available. This magazine always has striking covers that burst out from it's competition. The page layouts are very modern and quite experimental but kept sophisticated and readable.

I would love to work at Wallpaper as I always find it a pleasure to read and I think it works well how it has a contemporary look without being too creative and over the top. I can imagine it being a very creative environment and a pleasure to work at.

Contact: contact@wallpaper


Cosmopolitan is an international magazine for women. It was first published in 1886 in the United States as a family magazine and eventually became a women's magazine in the late 1960's. It's current content includes articles on relationships, health, careers, self-improvement, celebrities, aswell as fashion and beauty. It now has 58 international editions in 34 languages and is distributed in more then 100 countries. Although Cosmopolitan has a very commercial layout I think it works well for it's target audience and it makes it more lively and fun to read, rather then just being a straight forward boring layout.

I have previously applied for placements at Cosmopolitan but unfortunately these get booked up about a year in advance and I was unsuccessful, however I would like to try again once I have graduated and improved my portfolio. I think Cosmopolitan would be a very fun atmosphere to work in although stressful at times and I could learn alot from working at an international magazine.


Thursday, 3 March 2011

Good News :)

I'm currently on my placement at Studio Precept which is going great at the minute, I'm doing alot of the brand management work but it's giving me an insight into how a company looks after it's clients.
Also I found out today that although my NARC. cover didn't win it was shortlisted so there will be a thumbnail of it, along with several others, inside the magazine. So make sure you all go out and grab one in April. I had an interview with NARC. for a placement a while ago and I start at in April for 2 weeks, it's going to be a busy few months!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Portfolio Tips

For our last PPD session we looked at tips on how to make your portfolio amazing, we were asked to look at 2 websites and choose 5 tips that we thought would be the most helpful and relevant to our own portfolios. So here are my top 5 tips I found useful...

1. Be ruthless of your portfolio and choose around 10 of your best projects. When ordering your pages start with your second best project and end with the best!

2. Treat the layout of your folder like a book or magazine and work within a grid, now you can adjust your layout easily.

3. Consider buying a quality folder, try to stay away from the zip and clip portfolios, try and get a box or more of a book.

4. Tailor fit it! Theres no use approaching a packaging company with a portfolio full of books and prints, it helps to be relevant but still show variety.

5. Treat it like an ongoing design project that is never finished. Constantly update it and redesign it, take pride in it!

So now all I need to do is consider these points while I am developing my own portfolio.

Good news all round

Well today we finally handed in our negotiated project after 6 weeks working on it, I think i'm pretty happy with my final outcomes and will post them on here at a later date.

We had someone come from NARC. a couple of weeks ago to look at out final designs and mine was shortlisted along with 7 others, we still havn't heard back with who's was chosen but fingers crossed!

Also I attended an interview at Precept Studios last Thursday and found out on Tuesday that along with 2 others from my class we have a placement for 4-6 weeks starting on Monday, wish me luck!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

NARC brief

Last week we got a live brief from NARC magazine to create the cover and cd booklet for their 5th birthday issue. The brief was very open, they wanted something creative and not mainly photography. My initial inspirations were, Si Scott, Johanna Basford and Rob Ryan, below is my idea I will present on Tuesday, if it is chosen I will need to work on the type layout and imagery on the inside of the booklet and the back.

Monday, 3 January 2011

It's been a while

Happy new year! I gave myself a nice little break over the christmas period to eat, drink and be very merry!

However back to work it is, after much confusion and thought I have decided for my negotiated project to brand a new airline and design their inflight magazine as I really wanted to create an editorial piece. While researching magazines on the internet I found these amazing covers by David Carson.

I particularly like The Black Swan cover as the illustration and type work really well and I find the type at the bottom of the Huck a bit hard to read and although it's David Carson's style I feel that it's been overdone a bit.
I also found these wine bottle designs used to celebrate the rescue of the 33 Chilean Miners. Design company Unreal have created a limited edition of 33 bottles of Chilean wine where the bottles have been distributed to clients and industry figures as an alternative to a Christmas card during the festive period.

I really like the typeface used here and how the two "i"s join to form the long drop of how far the miners were.

I start my placement at Neil Wilson Design on friday so wish me luck and lets hope this is the start to an amazing year.