The Department recently collaborated with Oxford University Press on an exciting digital publishing project. OUP’s brief gave final year students an opportunity to explore the challenges and possibilities of user-centred design for evolving digital platforms.
Our collaboration with DHBW Ravensburg saw 40 German students join us for a day of presentations centred on the D&AD New Blood awards. The exchange also saw five Part 3 students, along with Erasmus-supported Teaching Fellow Sara Chapman, make the trip in the other direction.
Milly Longbottom and Will Trickey, alumni of our department who now work at IBM, came to talk to Part 1 students about UX design process and internship opportunities at Big Blue's cutting edge London office.
Part 2 students who opted to design book covers for Oxford University Press in their design practice module were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to visit OUP headquarters in Jericho, Oxford.
The inaugural symposium of the Creative Chinese Character Industry took place at the Beijing Convention Center on 3 and 4 November. The symposium brought together speakers from different areas of research and professional practice relating to the Chinese script: linguistics, Sinology, typeface design, publishing, and calligraphy. The symposium concluded with the preparatory work for the founding of the Chinese Character League, an interdisciplinary body bringing together organisations and agencies, including the Chinese Character Museum in Anyang.
In addition to speaking at the Symposium and being invited to act as guide for the CCL, Gerry Leonidas had the opportunity to update plans for a project, supported by the University of Reading and ATypI, of publishing key typography texts in Chinese. The first title in the series, Jan Middendorp’s Shaping Text, is nearly out of print already; below, Gerry holds the proof edition of the second title, How to create typefaces by Cristobal Henestrosa, Laura Meseguer, and José Scaglione. The series extends to twelve titles, with a schedule of publishing two titles per year.
Our first Baseline shift Wednesday morning session kicked off this week and Typography students were lucky enough to receive a visit from two members of the design department at Dorling Kindersley’s Knowledge team. Kit Lane, who is alumna of our department, and Karen Self, art director at DK, gave a very interesting talk covering many different aspects of the company, as well as promoting the varied internships they offer to students.
‘It was very useful to have industry professionals come and talk to us so early in the course. It was good to know about internships I could apply for sometime in the future’ – Ruth Bartley, Part 1
The DK difference
DK offered students an insight into the exciting world of publishing, from their own unique perspective as market leaders across a range of areas. They covered their practical design process as well as the design thinking that goes along with everything they do, emphasising the importance of considering the consumer (not just the reader) at every stage. The lasting impression was that DK operates very differently to many other competitor publishing companies. This was exemplified by the fact that the majority of design is done in-house, with comparatively huge amounts of time (often four or five months) are spent designing each book, spread by spread, as opposed to flowing text into a prebuilt specification.
Students were given the opportunity to take part in a workshop led by Kit and Karen in the afternoon. This involved generating ideas for a new book named ‘Urban Detective’. Students worked through a design process starting with some initial research into the theme before sketching out rough ideas for book covers and inside spread layouts.
These ideas were then refined through peer discussion and input from Kit, resulting in a handful of clear concepts. A group crit let everyone to receive feedback on their work. Throughout the process, students kept in mind the audience and aim of the book, in true DK style.
‘I enjoyed the workshop, as it made me consider more about book design, than I might have otherwise considered on my current project’ – Alex Ganczarski, Part 1
‘I really enjoyed the workshop and am taking away a greater understanding of how to plan my ideas and concepts, as well as how the 2nd and 3rd-year students plan and execute their work. It’ll help me a lot over the next 3 years of the course’ – Rory Tellam, Part 1
Portfolio reviews and interviews
Some students also took the opportunity of having a mock interview and portfolio review with Karen. This gave a feel of what an interview is like in a professional context, preparing them for heading out into the world of design beyond university.
‘Karen made the experience calm and professional, offering great feedback on how to improve my portfolio’ – Laura Marshall, Part 3
‘It helped me to understand the process and content of a professional interview in a relaxed and casual context’ – Fay Rayner, Part 3
‘I am so glad I took on this opportunity. It has made me feel much more confident and prepared for future interviews’ – Jacob Hawkins, Part 3
Overall, our visit from DK was a big success. Around 65 Typography students were offered an insight into what life is like in the graphic design and publishing industry, which will be very useful when considering career paths later on – and much sooner for our students in Part Three!
Hi, I am Jason from BA Graphic Communication Part 3. Welcome to my exchange journey to Monash University in Melbourne, Australia!
Even though it is not my first time studying aboard, as I am originally from Hong Kong, it was my first time going to an unfamiliar place on my own. It was quite challenging, but exciting as well.
Monash has a really good academic reputation, and I’ve always wanted to visit Australia. The University is in Melbourne, which is full of galleries and other places of interest to creative minds. During my stay here I’ve chosen two units. One is a Communication Design Studio with UX workshops, and the other one is Illustration to Animation. The main reason to choose both units is to get more exposure to the digital aspects of design. Anyway, let’s see what have I done at Monash University for almost 17 weeks.
Week 1 (12–18 Feb)
The first week in Australia can be described as the most tiring week, physically and mentally. I have to set up my new room, completed lots of documents and forms, and attended all different kinds of orientation events. However, I felt so blessed to meet my first batch of friends from my exchange journey. We met in all different kinds of events that were made for exchange students, and so we are really globalised – Thai, Canadian, Malaysian, Chinese, Hungarian, Korean and Danish.
On the night of Saturday, we have been visiting the White Night in Melbourne CBD, which is an event to showcase interactive art pieces around the city centre. It was a new kind of experience for me, as I have never imagined an art show can be held throughout the whole city.
Week 2 (19–25 Feb)
The second week was the orientation week for all students. Not only there were events from each subject department, but the accommodation halls also held events, including carnival and talent night. In the meantime, I have walked around Clayton, where the main campus of Monash is located. Even though it is quite far away from the CBD, buildings around are very unique as well. This shows Melbourne is really a creative place.
Week 3 (26 Feb–4 Mar)
This was the first week of class, which was one of the exciting parts of the journey. From my past education experiences in the UK, Hong Kong and South Korea, design classes have been taught differently in different places and cultures. Design classes in the UK tend to follow the traditional methods of creating designs, Hong Kong loves merging different places’ designs together, and South Korea likes to combine futuristic designs with traditional art.
The size of class is also different comparing Reading and Monash. In Reading, we have around 40 students per year, and there are around 150 students per year in Monash. One of the most memorable class activities that I did this week would probably be the paper cutout animation. It was my first time doing it and making a character-based animation.
Besides having my first week of class in Monash, I have been to my first beach in Australia, the St. Kilda Beach. As I visited the beach on a weekday, there were extremely few people on the beach, which allowed me to take some good landscape photos.
Week 4 (5–11 Mar)
In the second week of class, I have already got used to the long hours per session. Each session takes 4 hours at Monash, However lessons in Reading are usually around 1–2 hours each.
The moment when you finished lessons, there is always a challenge waiting for you – the rush for the bus. Students have to take a 20 minutes bus ride to the dormitories. A bus waiting game will start right after 6 pm, when most classes end, and many students will run to the bus stop and wait for it.
The first assignment to hand in was a UX diary recording for the fitness app that I have to enhance. Basically, I have to write down the UX structure of the app, rate them and determine which functions are more useful and which are less.
To relax, I watched my first movie in Australia, which is the Black Panther. As our campus is quite far away from the CBD, me and my friends went to Dandenong instead, which can be described as the little India in Melbourne.
Week 5 (12–18 Mar)
Week 5 can be described as the most artistic week. Firstly, I have visited the National Gallery of Victoria. Triennial was exhibiting during that time, which is famous for the Flower Obsession piece by Yayoi Kusama. On the same week, Melbourne city was hosting the Melbourne Design Week, where many design agencies, galleries and studios were giving talks, guided tours, as well as Design Week exclusive activities. Therefore, I have attended a VR related talk that was held by Academy Xi, a company that provides design training, as well as taking part in some other exclusive activities.
Week 6 (19–25 Mar)
My first Communication Design Studio brief to hand in is called Museum Identity. Students have to brand a fictional museum, which I have chosen to brand the Museum of Nintendo. In Reading, students will usually print their projects within the department building. However, in Monash we print our project in the printing store. As it was kind of a new task for myself, I did struggle a bit at first. Since I have to prepare my own paper stock as well as a ready-to-press file and take around an hour transportation to the city centre for the print, it took me a whole afternoon to get my final product printed.
On the other hand, I have created a looping animation for the Illustration to Animation course. For my animation, I have made a frog that throws a paper plane and it returns from the back. The whole animation is made in Photoshop, which was also new to me, as I have only tried creating animations with After Effects.
Week 7 (26 Mar–1 Apr)
I have visited MUMA (Monash University Museum of Art), an Art gallery that operates by Monash University. It not only showcases students’ works but also opens to public artists. I really like the gallery concept of letting students visit the gallery after classes or during their free time.
Week 8 (2–8 Apr)
Week 6 in Reading is a reading week. However, the equivalent week in Monash is a mid-semester break, which is a week off. There is no activity specifically for the week, but students might have deadlines after.
During this week, I went to Sydney for a few days to visit my high school friends, who are currently studying over there. During the stay in Sydney, I have visited a few art galleries, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of NSW, Art Space, as well as the Power House Museum. And of course, I have watched an opera since Sydney is famous for it. However the opera was held on the harbour, but not in the Opera House. After this short trip to Sydney, I felt not only Melbourne, but Sydney is also a really artistic place, where you can feel the creative atmosphere throughout the city.
Week 9-10 (9-22 Apr)
After the whole week of mid-term break, I have quite a few deadlines. Around this period of time, resubmissions deadlines for Reading are also coming. Therefore, I mostly work on them in these two weeks.
I have submitted the second brief for the Communication Design Studio, which I have produced an online archive with Squarespace, with nine images for three categories of Hong Kong cuisine. Moreover, I have done a few Adobe Animate and After Effects tutorials. These helped to equip me with the basic knowledge of animation, especially Adobe Animate, which was new to me.
I also handed in two tasks for the UX workshop. The first one was a pre-production report that includes persona, scenario, user flow diagram for the fitness app that I have to enhance. The second task was creating a paper prototype, which we will test it in front of the class with the lecturers. I have done both tasks in a similar way back in Reading, and so I am quite familiar with the format and the aims of doing these.
Week 11 (23–29 Apr)
After the resubmission for Reading and my third Illustration to Animation brief, which is to create a storyboard, visual concepts and animatic for a fictional animation, I have treated myself a pop concert that held in the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Even though I have watched the performance in Hong Kong before, the atmosphere is totally different here in Australia. It might due to the people here are more energetic and higher in spirit.
Week 12 (30 Apr–6 May)
In this week, I have submitted the third Communication Design Studio brief, which I have designed a big and a small component for the Melbourne International Film Festival. The aims are to think creatively across both large and small items and explore the potential of the big item as a powerful contribution to our contemporary visual landscape. After the submission, I have decided to join the Adobe Design Achievement Awards with this piece.
(Update: This piece is a semi-finalist for the Commercial—Print/Graphic/Illustration category.)
Week 13–16 (7 May–3 Jun)
It is nearly the end of the semester, which means deadlines are coming. I have to work on a few deadlines, including 2 briefs for the UX workshop, the last studio brief for Communication Design Studio and a final full narrative animation project for the Illustration for Animation course.
On week 13, I have submitted my app wireframe for the UX workshop. The wireframes were made with Axure RP. This is different from my previous experience of creating wireframes, as students in Reading will usually use Sketch and InVision.
Week 16 was my last week of class. The classes were mostly consulting on our final briefs, with lecturers giving feedback to students one by one. To help me remember this experience in Monash, I have taken photographs with the lecturers and said a big goodbye.
Week 17 and so on… (4 Jun and so on…)
Although I do not have lessons this week, I have three deadlines in total. The first one is a full narrative animation with our own concept and idea. The other one is exploring typefaces with sound and music, and I have designed an EP sleeve, CD cover and Spotify thumbnail for the album ‘Mix & Match’ by LOONA. The last assignment is designing the UI for the fitness app, along with the A/B testing. Therefore, I have designed two app prototypes, equipped with fully designed UI.
Even though the lessons here are over, it is actually the start of further exploring Australia, and beyond. I met up with my family and we went to places including Brisbane, Cairns, Gold Coast and even Auckland in New Zealand.
After the whole exchange journey, I feel like students at Monash have more freedom to decide what to design. They really push students’ creativity to the maximum and apply many artistic decisions into their design pieces. However, students in Reading is more like being taught to survive in the market. It provides training and knowledge for students to become an outstanding graphic designer in the future.
I really enjoyed the whole exchange journey and did not regret at any moment. I really encourage fellow students from the future years to join the study aboard program and choose somewhere you have not yet been to. Even though you might struggle a bit at first, you will experience things that you would not expect. Good luck with your journey!
Jason (Yung Tsz Hin)
Mockup Credits (Week 12):
- Postcard Mockup—https://www.freepik.com/free-psd/realistic-postcard-on-desktop-mock-up_1188830.htm (Designed by Freepik)
- Poster Outdoor Mockup—https://sellfy.com/p/qKab/
Erasmus-supported Teaching Fellow, Sara Chapman and nine of our Part 3s spent Week 6 in Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg (DHBW) in the mediaeval town of Ravensburg, Germany.
Students from both Reading and Ravensburg were working on the same ‘New Blood’ briefs from the D&AD 2017 competition.
Everyone enjoyed a very creative, inspiring and positive week away, during which both students and teachers were able to share skills and approaches.
After an intensive week working together in the shared studio space — sometimes up to ten hours a day — each student made a short presentation to the group about their project.
Students from Reading found that the Ravensburg emphasis on idea generation and conceptual thinking generated some unusual responses. Solutions tended to include a wider variety of multi-media outputs such sculpture, installation, and film making, as well as graphics. In comparison, the Reading approach was more pragmatic and decisive; we have a tendency to identify problems quickly, and use quite tight processes to solve them.
Whilst the Department has enjoyed an individual student exchange relationship with Ravensburg for some years, this was a new development in that a greater number of students could experience a short time in Germany, that complimented their degree studies. We hope to invite German students on a return trip, and also to repeat the collaboration in Spring 2018.
We are grateful for the support from the Ernest Hoch fund for covering the students’ competition entry fees and IMAGINE for covering the students’ travel costs.
Typography is very pleased to announce an exciting new Goodwill Partnership between the Centre for Ephemera Studies (one of our research centres) and the John Johnson Collection at the Bodleian Library (University of Oxford). Commenting on this new initiative, Julie Anne Lambert, Librarian of the John Johnson Collection said:
The John Johnson Collection is delighted to partner the Centre for Ephemera Studies at the University of Reading. Our joint aim is to further the academic and popular potential of ephemera to cast light on the everyday lives of our forebears through the documents they themselves saw and handled. We are particularly excited to work with the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication in exploring the materiality of ephemera in their (often innovative) design and printing.
The Partnership will include working together on exhibitions, symposia, funding applications, projects with postgraduate and undergraduate students, and sharing of expertise on cataloguing, conservation, and print identification and conservation. It will reinforce the potential of ephemera to engage academics from a wide range of disciplines as well as the public.
Professor Roberta Gilchrist, Research Dean for Heritage and Creativity at Reading supports the collaboration:
The University of Reading warmly welcomes the new partnership between the Centre for Ephemera Studies and the Bodleian Library, John Johnson Collection. The collaboration will highlight the rich potential of ephemera to illuminate the history of everyday life and to inspire new approaches to printing and design.
The examples below are from the Rickards Collection and the John Johnson Collection.
Part 3 students Louise Lee and Sophie Rahier completed an exciting placement at Design Portfolio’s Canary Wharf office during the summer vacation. Louise, Sophie and Anna Scully were the gold, silver and bronze winners of the 2016 Vince Ma Prize, which is awarded to the best performing students in Part 2, and includes a placement for gold and silver winners.
Louise and Sophie said the experience was “a real insight and great lesson on how projects are managed within a design agency”. They agreed it was an “enriching” experience for student designers.
During their placements, Louise and Sophie jobs undertook a range of design tasks, ranging from simple photo editing to website redesigns. The projects they worked on included branding, designing icons, and working with a range of material and deliverables. They also had an opportunity to apply their production knowledge since they were able to oversee a full design project being sent to print.
Louise and Sophie said: “The Design Portfolio team were very keen to have us involved, asking for our opinions as well as giving us the opportunity to attend client meetings. At these we presented our own work and had the chance to explain the rationale behind it. We were also given permission to share the work we were involved in and present them in our portfolios, as well as finishing off other briefs that we did not get to see through to the end.”
“Communicating with the rest of the Design Portfolio team (not just the designers) was highly important and added a new dimension to the design work. Whether it was with clients, marketing, or production, it was great to collaborate while still maintaining a certain freedom as designer, which is something that can’t easily be experienced through coursework.”
“Overall, working at Design Portfolio was invaluable experience, and taught us a lot. We’ve realised that even within a corporate design agency, the diversity in their jobs and clients provides an abundance of new and interesting challenges to a designer, which definitely builds versatility. Although we did not imagine a placement to be so enriching, we can now see why they are encouraged since the end of first year, and would in turn definitely recommend applying for one even if you are not 100% sure of what area of design you would like to pursue.”
They added: “It was also great to learn new life-saving keyboard shortcuts in which we cannot wait to share with our fellow coursemates!”