Category: Real Jobs

Ephemera Society Handbook

Background and initial briefing
The Ephemera Society is a non-profit body devoted to the collection, conservation, study and educational uses of handwritten and printed ephemera. A handbook is produced annually, including the list of current members, their interests and institutions, and is sent out to all the members of the society. My brief was to use the existing style of previous copies of the handbook to create the 2018 edition. The style and layout should remain the same, while the colour of the front cover was to be changed.

Expectations vs reality
From the brief, I assumed this would be a simple task of replicating the layout and stylesheets of the previous handbook, and inputting the new text into these. However, there were obstacles that meant that the process was more complicated than I first assumed, making the job more complex, but ultimately allowing me to gain more from this experience, in terms of altering briefs and reasoning with clients. In the future, therefore, I will be more willing to have my expectations confounded as I believe that can make the final outcome more valuable for myself and the client.

Font
The font previously used in the handbook was Apollo MT (TT). This became an issue after realising that this exact font was not available on Adobe Typekit or on the typography server. As well as this, its replacement, Apollo MT Expert, is not an Open Type font, and differed slightly from the original. With support and advice from my supervisor, I began searching for a similar typeface in terms of density and physical characteristics. After sending several options to my client, we decided on FreightText Pro for the body text throughout the entire document, a clear and legible typeface with a similar weight to Apollo, as well as slightly more interesting serifs and tails on each letter, adding visual interest to a spread of text.

A comparison of the original typeface for the handbook (first line), compared to FreightText Pro, the chosen typeface for the handbook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Type specimens of a replacement typeface used for body text. The client chose FreightText Pro out of the 4 options I sent to them.

Other improvements
Oldstyle numerals
With FreightText Pro the new body text for the book, there was a lot more choices that could be made in terms of how the text was differentiated. Unlike Apollo MT (TT), FreightText Pro has both lining and oldstyle figure options. This initiated the discussion with my supervisor on which figure style is deemed more appropriate for each scenario where numerals are used, and what rules should be put in place to ensure typographic consistency.

The use of numbers throughout the text:

  • House numbers
  • Postcodes
  • Phone numbers
  • Numbers within email addresses
  • Dates (years)

Oldstyle numerals are arguably better in continuous text, as they sit comfortably within lower case and draw less attention to themselves compared to lining numerals. This is why it was decided that phone numbers, as well as numbers within email addresses, should be set in oldstyle figures. Postcodes, despite not always occurring in continuous text, also suited the use of oldstyle figures, as this made it sit more quietly within the overall address. House numbers on the other hand, were set in lining numerals, as these are arguably one of the most important parts of the address, therefore need to stand out. This also suits typographic convention, as it is usual for house numbers to be lining. Dates (years) were something that was a little harder to decide on, however, as the dates existed mainly as markers for important events (The Pepys Medal and the Ephemera Society Award), I felt it was best to keep these lining to help them stand out. Also, as the dates were on top of each other in the form of a list, it was more successful this way rather than having descenders interfering with the line below.

Use of lining numerals for the dates of The Pepys Medal

A challenge within this decision making was deciding the treatment of foreign addresses. As they differed in format from English addresses, it was sometimes hard to tell which part was postcode equivalent, and some addresses had other numbers that English addresses do not have. In these cases, it was necessary to research into typographic conventions for different addresses in the world. Overall, all numbers except for house numbers were in oldstyle numerals.

In this case, the issue of the font not being available, and its replacement being outdated, allowed for a lot more thought to be put into the typographic detailing of the spread. This meant that specific pieces of information could be highlighted, improving readability and the ability to pick out specific information throughout the book.

Optical symmetry
As the member entries are quite short, and list-like in appearance, it created a strong sense of space on the right-hand side of each page. This made the spreads look uneven, so the margin on the right pages was increased from 13mm to 15.5mm to allow for more optically symmetrical design. This was a change from the previous handbook, which used the same sized margins across a two page spread.

The inner margin on the right hand page was increased by 2.5mm, to balance out the spacing on the right hand side of the left page.

Using InDesign effectively
It was vital to use tools within InDesign efficiently, to ensure accuracy and avoid errors throughout the document. As this was my first document with over 100 pages, for the first time I could appreciate the convenience and necessity of these tools, in creating a book free of errors.

Find/Change tool
Despite using this tool previously, it was fundamental in the completion of the handbook. My supervisor showed me the GREP function, which I was unaware of previously, only using Find/Change for searching for specific words within the document. This was a vital tool as the whole document was full of multiple tabs / double spaces, used in the clients original document to show differentiation between different parts of text. This was also used to replace some hyphens incorrectly used with en dashes.

GREP function: used to find unwanted white spaces, tabs and returns.

Column breaks
Before this project, I manually used returns as well as altering the text box to change the break of the column. This became problematic during feedback as the smallest change could alter where the column break needed to be, which had a knock-on effect throughout the whole document. Supervisor feedback advised the use of the column break character which made the rest of the project a lot more straight forward.

The column break tool made it easier to alter parts of the document without causing alterations to the whole document.

Personal review using feedback from supervisor and client
Overall, this project ran quite smoothly, especially at the start when restating the brief and agreeing the schedule with the client – “From our point of view you were good at communicating and keeping us abreast of the progress of the project which made us feel confident the handbook was in good hands”. For a while at the beginning of the project, I was running ahead of schedule, which gave me more time to focus on the small intricate details of the book.

A spread showing the intricate typographic differentiation of the handbook.

Throughout my project, my supervisor was confident in my abilities, pushing me to improve the handbook typographically and spatially from the previous edition. Despite this going against my instincts, as the client wanted the handbook to stay the same, the changes in margins, typeface and typographic differentiation have greatly improved the legibility and usability of the handbook from the previous version.

However, despite the main success points, there was a small miscommunication at the end of the project, where I found it hard to manage feedback from my client and supervisor. Whereas my client pointed out small mistakes where things were in the wrong style, my supervisor had bigger plans, including changing the margins for optical symmetry, and altering the spacing which would affect the whole document. This occurred very close to the already extended deadline, meaning I struggled to complete these changes in time. This resulted in me sending the client a “finished document”, which they approved, only to be given more changes by my supervisor. This concerned my client and caused me stress, as I felt I had let them down.

From this miscommunication, I have learnt not to be too hasty about submitting a final version of a document to the client, and instead, to take a little more time (if the deadline is flexible) to ensure the document is correct, and approved by my supervisor, before sending it through. Luckily, my client was very understanding, and despite their concern, were happy with the final printed handbook.

“The only hiccup was near the end when an out of date file was sent to us for review which caused some confusion and consternation, but this was quickly corrected. We were delighted with the outcome”.
Malcolm Warrington

Final outcome
Overall, both myself and my client were happy with the final print of the handbook. This project has taught me to consider a brief more openly, thinking around it and how to improve upon it, rather than see it as concrete initially. The setbacks and miscommunication errors that occurred in this project gave me a more realistic expectation of a project in industry, and prepared me for more challenges in future projects, as it is rare for a task to run smoothly from start to finish. Problems will always occur, but sometimes fixing these problems can make a finished project even better than expected.

Penguin Student Design Award Covers

Background
Each year, Penguin opens their Student Design Award competition, which provides participants with an experience of dealing with real cover design briefs first-hand. From the three possible book categories I chose Children’s, the selected book being Wonder by R. J. Palacio.

Brief
The brief was to redesign the cover of Wonder, to bring the book to new readers as well as ensuring it remains a ‘must-read for every child’. It must ‘encourage children to pick the book up and buy it for themselves and should also engage adults to want to buy it for them’. Specific criteria for a winning design were outlined as follows.

The cover needs to:

  • have an imaginative concept
  • be an original interpretation of the brief
  • be competently executed with strong use of typography
  • appeal to the broadest possible audience for the book
  • have a good understanding of the marketplace
  • have a point of difference from other books that it will be competing against in the market
  • be able to sit on the shelves of a supermarket or ebook store as easily as it sits on those of more traditional bookshops

The book
Wonder is a book which follows the journey of August Pullman, a boy who was born with a facial deformity, who has been home schooled for his whole life so far. The book follows the different points of view of August, his sister, her boyfriend and his classmates, as August ventures into mainstream schooling for the first time. Themes of isolation, personal growth and friendship are explored as August slowly is understood by those around him and is seen as more than the boy with the deformed face.

The existing cover
Several versions of the cover already exist, due to the release of the film based on the book. The most famous cover, featured on the left, has a simple hand drawn feel, with hand lettering for the title and author name. The face on the cover is incomplete, showing only one eye, which perhaps hints at the facial deformity of the main character. However, the ominous face, which looks slightly to the left, creates a subtle feeling of unease. This causes the reader to fixate on the face, which highlights the staring that August faces on an everyday basis.

Three of the existing covers, with the most iconic being on the left.

As this cover is so iconic, I feel it is important to veer away from an overly simple design, as well as the face of August. However, depicting one of the main themes or ideas of the book, in a way that does not give away much of the plot, is important, to grab the attention of the reader.

Research and ideation
Before I started research, I attended a session with Fraser Muggeridge, which explored ways to help the ideation process. He explained the importance of sketching and experimenting with texture to create compelling covers. I first started by reading the book and watching the film, sketching and writing down ideas and quotes as I did so. I wanted to portray the main themes using metaphoric imagery or illustrate a cover based on a specific quote. The tagline from the cover ‘You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out’ is a key part of the plot, so it was important to consider this when brainstorming ideas. Other quotes that stood out to me as I read the book were as follows:

  • ‘The only reason I’m not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way’
  • ‘When I was younger I used to wear an astronaut helmet everywhere I went’
  • ‘All those eyes are like compasses, and I’m like the North Pole to them’
  • ‘The universe is a giant lottery’
  • ‘One in 4 million’
  • ‘The ocean sound that was always in my head had been getting louder’
  • ‘It was drowning out people’s voices like I was underwater’

Initial ideas
Based on the tagline, I considered the blending or contrast of colours, to represent the themes of fitting in and standing out. The ideas of crowds, ripped paper, shadows and silhouettes also instantly came to mind. After delving more into the book and the film, I then thought of metaphors and images that depict these themes, such as a weed which grows in the roughest conditions, or the idea of the ugly duckling. Some quotes directly led to ideas, such as compasses to represent the staring of people, or a lottery machine to indicate how rare the condition is. Based on these ideas, I created mood boards, before sketching out 6 different ideas inspired by imagery examples.

The mood boards explored texture and style, calligraphy, as well as images which linked directly to themes or quotes within the book.
Sketches of the six ideas. Images 3 and 4, based on the quotes ‘All those eyes are like compasses, and I’m like the North Pole to them’ and ‘The universe is a giant lottery’ were chosen to be developed further.

Design development
I then began the design process, translating my sketches into colourful and textured illustrated works. Illustrator was mainly used for creating the base illustrations, while Photoshop was used to add texture and depth through shadows and light. Finally, inDesign was used for the typographic detail and to create the overall composition.

Screenshots from the Illustrator file during the design process. Illustrations were then placed into Photoshop to add depth and texture.

During Real Job meetings, I was pushed to make the colours more vibrant, and to ensure that my covers were suitable for the target market. In particular, my compass design lost its vibrancy when printed, which highlighted the importance of multiple proofs of the design, even though the final deliverable was to be submitted as a PDF. Proofs were then printed to show at the following real jobs meetings.

Final stages
After attending several meetings and working on the vibrancy and detail in my illustrations, I decided to focus on the compass design for the competition itself, as the lottery machine is perhaps a little bit niche and may cause some confusion. James, my supervisor, was happy with the overall style and concept, which allowed me time to fully explore compositional elements, including the title and text position, to ensure they stand out when the cover is viewed at a smaller scale. Another point discussed by people in the meeting was the vignette around the cover, which seemed to be less favoured. I explored ways around this that still allowed for the text to be legible, including: adding a row of darker compasses on top of the existing layer, creating a black border in the shape of an astronaut helmet to make the viewer feel that they are in August’s shoes, and finally, creating more intensely shadowed compasses at the borders of the covers, which are dark enough to house the text. These designs allowed me to experiment with the placement, size and colour of the title, as well as the positioning of the tagline and authors name.

Development of concept 1. Initially, the design looked too dark yet the legibility of the tagline was not ideal. The final 4 images show composition variations.

Finally, I chose the design with the more asymmetric appearance, as this adds more flair and interest to the final cover. I then also explored the other cover design, to use as a portfolio piece, using a crop of the lottery machine to reduce the white space and symmetricity of the cover.

As I decided not to submit this design, there was less experimentation with composition and arrangement. However, the illustration was refined and it was decided that the slide should curve to the left as this creates more space for the authors name.

Final covers

Reflection
Overall, I am happy with the appearance of the cover designs and am proud of what I achieved in around a month, less time than I have had to complete other cover design projects. My supervisor also remarked on how my Illustrator skills have improved dramatically since the start of the course and felt that both of the covers would have been suitable to submit. Creating vectors with smooth and unbroken curves is a skill I have developed through this course, and I was happy that my improvement was noticed. I also feel that the covers suit the target audience but remain suitable for the subject matter of the book.

Looking back at the requirements of the brief, I feel that my concept is both imaginative and an original take on the brief, as it focuses in on a specific quote in the book that other entrants may not have read / thought about. The colour schemes fit the darker nature of the book, as well as looking gender neutral in palette, which is important when trying to market the book to a wide target audience.

In order to test the book against its competitors, to see if it has a clear point of difference, in addition to standing out on a book shelf as well as at thumbnail size, I mocked up the cover on Amazon, and also Waterstones website, to see if my design met these two criteria. On Amazon, I feel that the integrity of the design holds up even at small sizes, and when directly compared to the other books, I feel it stands out due to its subtler typography and composition. However, using dark tones and shades of blue is quite common in books for this market, which may either highlight the success of the colour scheme for the age group, or indicate that it may be too similar to other books around it. In order to explore this further, I feel that it would be necessary to physically mock up the book and place it on a shelf within a bookshop, to see whether it stands out or recedes backwards when compared to other covers.

With more time, I would love to physically make these two covers, as well as exploring print finishes that could give these designs an extra pop. I think that adding a spot varnish to areas of the compass design, on the compass points for example, would help the staring ‘eyes’ stand out more. On the other design, I feel that spot gloss or white foiling on the astronaut helmet would help this stand out more from the other yellow. After submitting my chosen design, I still have doubts surrounding whether I chose the right variation or concept to submit, as I liked several variations as well as the lottery machine concept. However, I feel that both concepts tackle the brief differently, which will form a useful addition to my portfolio going forward, especially as my dream is to work in the publishing industry specialising in design for children.

Mock ups  

Reading Assembly – Movement (Tate Exchange)

Background

This is a project to design for the Reading Assembly. The Tate Exchange includes responses, workshops, talks and events, where you can join the conversation and collaborate in art making. This year the theme of the exchange will be ‘Movement’. The Reading Assembly is going to hosts some activities during the period 1 March to 3 March. The Reading Assembly was looking to create a printed programme for these events and activities.

The design aims to promote the activities held by the Reading Assembly and inform the audience on what activities are happening on the day. These programmes will be distributed and placed around the Blavatnik building during the three days events are happening. The Reading Assembly asked for the visual design of the leaflet to be consistent with that from last year in order to build a more consistent branding across time.

Design process

After some sketches, I created a few initial designs that have similar structures and visual design to the leaflet made for last year’s events but with a different way of organising information. The designs’ physical structure is a tri-folded A4 sheet. One side of the leaflet consists of essential information about the event and a brief description while the other side shows the detailed programme of the three-day event. After further consideration regarding the user scenario, I think the design was not suitable since the folded format may hinder the chance of visitors’ engagement as not much content was shown on the cover.

We decided to look into a more direct physical structure that would allow visitors to have a brief idea of the program through a first glance. The information is organised the same way where there is a side for promotional purposes with essential information and a brief description and another side for the detailed program. However, since the programme will not be folded, visitors can clearly see ‘Movement’, ‘Reading Assembly’ and, ‘Tate Exchange’.

Initial design (front)
Initial design (back)

The Reading Assembly is happy with the overall visual design of the leaflet. However, it was noted that the hierarchy of information was not quite right. They reflected that ‘Movement’ was taking too much attention and that it should associate more closely with ‘Reading Assembly’. My supervisor also flagged the importance of designing according to the genre of information so visitors can know what kind of information they can get from looking at the visual design.

With these feedbacks, I reconsidered the hierarchy and genre of the information and created a new design with a more functional purpose that communicates information effectively without unneeded elements that may distract or overpower the aim of the document.

 

 

In this final version of the design, the programme across three days are displayed in the form of a time table at the centre of the leaflet. This allows visitors to understand that this document shows the timetable of a particular event at first glance. Further information on the organisers and sponsor are also clearly displayed at the top and bottom of the leaflet. The final layout of the design only takes up one side of the sheet, which helped reduced cost and a higher quantity than expected can be produced with the original budget.

Overall, the design changed a lot based on the focus of the leaflet. In the earlier versions of the design, more emphasis was put to the promotional purpose of the leaflet. It aimed to be more eye-catching to attract visitors’ attention. However, after receiving feedback from the client and my supervisor, the focus of the design shifted to being more functional and transparent. The final design is definitely a more suitable and effective solution to the aim of this leaflet. Here are some images taken from the event that shows the design in the real scenario.

Reflection

Reflecting on the experience, there is definitely some room for improvement. The design of the leaflet shifted from trying to attract visitor’s information to being more functional. I believe that with more time, I could have done a better job at getting a balance between the two. More exploration should be done to find a solution that can create a higher visual impact to attract visitor’s attention without sacrificing the effectiveness and clarity or information communication.

This is a very valuable experience for me as a design student. Not only did I gain a chance of practising design thinking and skills. I also learnt a lot in terms of client facing and communication, print and production and project management. It is exciting to see the design go into the print and production stage. I learnt about how to prepare files for print and things to keep in mind during the process. Through this real job, I had a better understanding of the role of a designer. There is so much more to the process than the actual design. For example, copy editing played an essential role as the design developed into later stages. Under the guidance of my supervisor and the permission of my client, we made changes to some text in order to create a better information structure and flow.

Project management and client communication are some of the biggest challenges I faced in this job. This job was completed in one week from our first meeting to print. During this week, most of the communication with the client was through e-mails since she was not available to meet in person. We frequently communicated in the week so that the design can progress at a quicker pace to meet the deadline we set. This situation proofed that communication and planning is the key to making sure a job can run smoothly and effectively.

In the end, we are delighted to see that the leaflet worked effectively as a lot of visitors came into the venue with the leaflet in hand. The design created a positive impact, bringing more visitors to the event venue to participate in the activities.

ASSETS 2018: Conference Branding

Background

The annual ASSETS conference explores the use of computing and information technology to benefit older adults and those with disabilities, such as visual impairments, hard of hearing and other sensory impairments. ASSETS 2018 was chaired by Dr. Faustina Hwang, a professor of Biomedical Sciences and Engineering, with a specialist interest in designing technologies for older people and people with disabilities, at the University of Reading. The main purpose of the conference is to provide a place for professionals in the industry to share their current research. The conference is organised by SIGACCESS, a special interest group focusing on accessible computing. The conference location differs internationally each year, and therefore the branding changes each year making it specific to each location.

Restated brief

The brief was to brand the ASSETS 2018 conference held in Galway, Ireland, in October. The visual identity produced will reflect the location of the event and intends to integrate both the subject of the conference and its location. This branding will be used throughout the ASSETS 2018 website and a range of printed materials. The client has a focus bringing ease of use and accessibility to computers, and it is therefore important that users can interact with the logo and flyer with similar ease. To allow for easy interaction for those with visual impairments, it would be appropriate to explore textures and Braille for use on printed flyers. Furthermore, colours and levels of contrast need to be taken into account.

Deliverables

  • Logo and brand guidelines
  • Web banner
  • Poster

Secondary deliverables

Although these deliverables were not originally outlined by the client, the adaptability of the branding has been displayed by this merchandise which was later added to the brief.

  • Tote bag
  • Movie tickets
  • Drinks tokens

Research and ideation

Initially, we began meeting with Faustina, as her broad knowledge of the field gave us an insight into designing with a high consideration for the needs of those who are less able. Due to the nature of the conference, a large proportion of the audience are those who experience accessibility impediments, and therefore the main focus of research before designing was to explore potential techniques and other considerations for inclusive design. The client promoted large areas of contrasting colour, bold outlines and minimal intricate details for those who struggle with visual impairments, such as colour blindness or otherwise. Faustina introduced us to swell paper and its benefits to visually impaired individuals. Swell paper is a material which, once heated, creates an embossed surface area allowing those with visual difficulties to interact with the printed design using their sense of touch. An example of this printing technique in use is shown in the figure below. In addition to this, seminars run by our supervisor were also very beneficial in making us aware of the consideration that we needed to have in designing for a demographic that has specific requirements. She showed us glasses that mimicked the effects of different visual impairments as well as more physical impairments such as arthritis, which was particularly helpful in demonstrating what design decisions would work and not work in regards to more diverse design.

The image features the ASSETS 2018 logo printed on swell paper.

Further research was carried out through analysing previous ASSETS conference branding through exploring the relationship between the event and the conference location. As a response to this, it was important that the branding reflected an iconic landmark in Galway, Ireland. Through looking at previous conference branding, it became clear that many of the conferences have been held in America, meaning that we were keen to ensure that the contents of the brand were unique to Ireland as much of the audience were likely to be unfamiliar with the area.

Design development

Logo

We started with the logo design, as this would inform our design decisions on all the other deliverables. This took into consideration all the suggestions from our client regarding both the location and the specific accessibility requirements. As well as our own research into illustration styles and typeface decisions. The initial logo development shows our exploration of the iconic features that are unique to Galway. These include the Galway Hooker, the Long Walk at Galway peninsula and the Claddagh Ring.

The initial logo designs

When reflecting on our initial designs, it became evident that intricate designs, such as the Galway Hooker, had scalability issues, meaning that it was unclear at small sizes, as well as being inaccessible to audience members with visual impairments. From this, we decided that the housing along the Long Walk was iconic of Galway. Its simplicity and lack of intricate details meant we were able to implement contrasting colours and bold outlines to adhere to the special requirements of the conference demographic. As seen in the figures below, small adaptations were made to the logo in line with directions from the client. We provided the logo in both colour and black and white, to allow for flexibility of use by the client.

Web Banner

The web banner is intended to be an extension of the logo design, utilising the row of houses as a motif that stretches across the width of the desktop. The repetitive nature of the banner also adapts to the responsive nature of the website. The banner is also where the computing element of the conference is integrated with the location of Galway. As the water is made up with the same pattern as found on a circuit board.

The web banner as it is featured at the top of the website

Poster

The client requested that we produce a poster which provided the key dates for submission deadlines for the call for papers as part of the conference. The poster will be seen at associated conferences, work offices and presented online. In order for the poster to be fully accessible by all conference attendees, we were required to adapt the digital version of the poster to allow blind individuals to have full access to the information that was presented. This came as a challenge as our supervisor had not encountered this process before and therefore could only give us minimal advice. After much research, it was found that the poster required tagging using Adobe Acrobat, which enabled blind users to have the contents of the poster read aloud by their device.

The final poster design

Tote Bag

Due to the client’s satisfaction with the originally briefed work, we were asked to produce additional merchandise which was used to help with the promotion of ASSETS conferences in the future. We supplied the client with four initial design for the bag. The client favoured the full-colour logo, however, after consulting with other chair members, it was found that funding limitations meant that the client required the design to use black only in order to reduce printing costs.

The tote bag design featuring all the sponsors of the conference

Movie ticket and drinks token

Similar to the tote bag, these were requested due to the clients satisfaction with the branding, these were made up of elements that had been previously established on the other deliverables. For example, the banner features along the bottom of the movie ticket and the drinks token makes use of the logo. As well as all the text being set with the same typographic styling.

Reflection

Although there were some challenges over the course of the job, which was inevitable since this was the first real job for all three of us. However, this process has definitely informed how all three of us went on to approach future jobs and projects.

The most notable challenge faced was communication between us and the client, especially when one of our members went on study abroad to Australia, due to the difference in time zone. However, upon explaining the situation to our client, she was very understanding and accommodating, which on reflection is a testament to how important the maintenance of communication between designer and the client is when undertaking a job. In this situation we also benefited from intervention from our supervisor who helped us remain on track, reminding us when we needed to make certain communications with the client.

However, overall our design for the logo and other deliverables was met with praise from the chair of the conference for that year, which was a very rewarding outcome to the project.

‘I just wanted to say how much I love this year’s ASSETS logo. It’s beautiful, cheerful, simple, clear and evocative of Galway, as is the whole website theme. I think it’s the best one we’ve ever had. Really well done. Thank you!’

– Shari Trewin, SIGASSESS Chair

Since it meant that we were successful in our aim in creating an inviting and accessible brand for the event. The branding being further complimented by the logo being featured on a cake.

 

by Emma Chard, Charles Parish and Jessica Downie

Coln Constituency and Loddon Ecology branding

Background:

Introduction:

The project was initiated in the first semester of 2017 by two groups of second year geography students who required a brand identity, presentation design  and logo for their water management companies as part of their module project. This brand identity was to be translated to their presentation template design and throughout the presentation itself. This job was taken on so as to improve my skills within the world of brand identity and logo design as well as a first step into the world of work and the designer-client-audience relationship.

 

Briefs:

Group 1 were researching into, and set to propose to an external company, the use of herbal leys as a means of flood prevention. Therefore, they asked that the general branding was to be based around greenland areas and water and the logo was also to contain similar imagery. They also asked for a presentation template design that was to contain more realistic imagery like rivers and houses. The logo and presentation design needed a professional and clean feel whilst still putting across the area of focus and research of the group.

Group 2 desired a brand identity that focused solely on water and protection of animal and human life. Again, the imagery presented to me was fairly realistic and didn’t fit the general consensus for a corporate brand identity and logo.

 

Response to briefs:

Whilst the imagery proposed by group 1 & 2 was useful in providing further ideation for the overall branding, both the imagery and desire for professionalism and clean design conflicted. A compromise was then met whereby the areas of research were put across within the logo and branding, but within a simpler design style so as to maintain professionalism.

 

Design:

Logos:

After researching into the external company for more information on audience and gathering all of the mood boards, I began designing initial concepts for both logos. After presenting the logo for group 1 to my project supervisor, I was advised to stick to solid colour rather than gradients due to the gradients being somewhat outdated for corporate identity. Although my clients took a liking to this design, they agreed that maximising professionalism for the external company was of upmost importance. therefore, solid colour was taken forward for their brand identity.

 

Figure 1: Initial logo designs for the Coln Catchment Consultancy.

 

 

My clients also really liked the abstract design as it put across ideas of land use and flooding through the more abstract, clean design approach that we discussed earlier on in the project.

Initial concepts for group 2 presented little in terms of protection of animal/human life. After consulting my supervisor, a suggestion was made to incorporate aquatic life into the logo. My clients also felt that the logo was missing a key aspect of their research and welcomed the addition of aquatic life.

 

Figure 2: Loddon Ecology initial logo concepts.

 

Presentation templates:

 

Figure 3: First slide from the Coln Catchment Consultancy company presentation.

 

Figure 4: Another slide from the Coln Catchment Consultancy company presentation.

 

An issue that I ran into when incorporating the presentation template into the presentation itself was general placement and interaction with the images and text that my clients had already added. I presented figure 4 to group 1 and agreed that the addition of the template shown in figure 3 would be lost and also obstruct the text. Therefore, a decision was made to remove the template from pages with larger images and text that ran into the area of the template. However, overall group 1 were pleased with the simplicity of the design as well as its clear connection to the logo.

 

Figure 5: First Slide from the Loddon Ecology company presentation.

 

Figure 6: Another Slide from the Loddon Ecology company presentation.

 

Figure 7: Table slide for the Loddon Ecology presentation. Notice the removal of the template design at the bottom.

 

Similar to group 1, the presentation template design was removed from slides that contained large images that extended to the bottom of the page. Both groups also suggested that the template be removed form slides with diagrams and tables. In doing so, there would be less of a distraction from the information itself.

 

Figure 8: Slide containing company branding without company name and logo in template.

 

A suggestion was initially made by some individuals within group 1 to add the company logo and name in the corner of each slide, acting as the presentation template design itself. This caused somewhat of a friction between the group members who could not come to an agreement on the matter. This experience brought out an opportunity to improve my communication skills. A decision was made to keep the logo and name to the first slide as constant re-enforcement would become tiresome for the external clients and somewhat obnoxious (figure 8).

Final steps:

In order to provide a complete, smooth experience for my clients, the Microsoft powerpoint fils were tested on multiple projectors, as well as the projector in the room that they were presenting in. A tip that has been promoted greatly by my supervisor was to make sure any files being shared to my clients were accessible and fully functioning so as to prevent any problems from occurring.

 

Reflection:

My first encounter with real clients and a real job environment was insightful and extremely helpful. One learning point to take away is that preparation and organisation is key when working with a larger group of clients. To assume that your opinions and ideas will somehow be translated to each clients minds in the same way is foolish. Perhaps one client member cannot make the feedback session? If so, how will you be on top of that? Simply put, when working in the world of work, you’re not simply a graphic designer, you’re a manager, co-ordinator, communicator, translator etc. Your job does not stop after you exit your adobe software on a Friday night. I managed to deal with this issue by contacting each individual group member separately, a well as a group and working through the feedback sessions so that everyone was on board with the current situation. This worked well on occasions where the next goal was clear and obvious. However, it felt short when the specifics and intricacies of each feedback session needed to be expressed. For this to occur, it was important that I had the entire group with me. It was also apparent to me that the amount of time spent working through the typographic capabilities of other software packages (powerpoint) was minimal. The simpler the software, the more complicated the design of the typography and sense of hierarchy became. This did mean that a little extra time in Microsoft powerpoint was needed to understand its capabilities. 

 

Typography Publicity Student Team

The brief

Publicity was a real job within our department and consisted of myself, Laura Marshall, Elliot Ellis, Jess Downie and Jason Yung. As a team our task throughout the year was to increase awareness and attendance of events happening in the department. Our roles were to achieve this through promotional posters placed around the department, and depending on the scale of the event even some areas of campus. Events such as guest speakers and past alumni talks were held and scheduled to link with our current projects and give career advice for the future. Blog posts of each event included photography, friendly, positive articles of the event and speaker interviews. The blogs were a reflection of the event from a student’s perspective and aimed to be as accessible as possible to those interested in what happened. Knowledge on promotion and social media was a useful tool throughout the job on order to engage with the audience on a closer level and make each event as well known as possible.

Re-design

One of the first major talks was given by Fraser Muggeridge and is where I initially attempted a redesign to the poster layouts. Sketches of possible layouts were drawn to highlight the speaker and their work. A new design was attempted to refresh the aesthetic of the publicity promotions, which would in the following year become ‘Baseline Shift’. An alternate version was also proposed to accommodate space for multiple speakers for an event. A low-poly style was trialed to bring a contemporary feeling top the designers and their work. For the posters to be a success, each one had to be recognisable as an upcoming event within the department from the design alone, and using the theoretical knowledge on how to create a series of similar designs helped portray that. This was a main goal for the project and benefitted the users greatly. We explored lots of possibilities so that we could come to an informed decision on which design would be the most appropriate.The proposal was unsuccessful however, as the feedback suggested that even though each speaker should feel unique the posters should be focused on reproducibility, with each poster needing a fast turnaround in order to generate maximum awareness for the event. This meant that a simpler layout in the long term would be more successful for the goals of the project.

Publicity - Poster Sketches
Sketches of layout approaches for the re-designed posters, with annotation from Client feedback for any further changes
Poster re-design proposal
Layout re-design proposed for the client for feedback

Learning and Experience

Bruno Monguzzi gave an inspiring talk about his career and life as a Swiss Designer during our time on the project. As a team we brainstormed and discussed that the poster should be a tribute to his design work and reflect his style neatly. This was a challenge as we did not want to negatively imitate his style of design or replicate it too closely. Also our goal was to not stray too far from the original poster layout to maintain a level of consistency, even for a special event. Several concepts were produced from different areas of the team and reviewed by our client and supervisor. They agreed that the use of 3 languages to reflect the style of Swiss design further was an appropriate approach. Also, the considered margins and limited colour palette furthered this theme. The positives from each poster were then taken forward and displayed around campus.

Poster Concepts for Bruno Monguzzi's Talk
Our initial concepts for Bruno Monguzzi’s Talk

We also had the privilege of seeing him for an after talk interview where he discussed semiotics and his philosophies on design in depth. He explained the different processes of him receiving a brief and the technical terms behind each stage. This was something I valued greatly as we all got to see how international clients worked as well as see the level of complexity some briefs can have.

Notes on Semiotics
Notes on Semiotics from Bruno’s after-event interview

Will Stahl-Timmins from the British Medical Journal (BMJ) also visited the department for an event and led an interesting discussion on the Information designs he creates and its actual use within the NHS. This sparked some interest in the field for me personally and I was fortunate enough to turn his visit into an internship working alongside him. It was a great example of how guest speakers can inspire students into areas of design they may not have even originally considered.

Organisation and Teamwork

Staying organised within the project was crucial to keep on top of upcoming events and making sure enough time was given to advertise each one. A message group helped us stay in contact and quickly respond to each other regarding new information or deadlines. We divided our tasks initially and planned to rotate occasionally, so each person in the team would be responsible for some part of the event at each time. The template created consisted of the department’s traditional red circle displaying the information, with a featured image taking up the majority of the poster. Once a template for the main event posters had been agreed, they were distributed amongst us so that any member could quickly produce one at a moments notice. Throughout the process we also kept in contact with our main client, and due to the nature of the project, communicated with several other clients and supervisors in charge of organising each event. This project was made easier due to our freedom with how we wanted to pitch each event publicly, but conversely this meant we had little time to experiment with each event, as they were often so close to each other.

David Pearson - Event Poster
The printed poster placed around the department for David Pearson’s talk

Reflection

Overall, whilst this project mainly consisted of testing and experimentation in terms of poster design, role allocation and how the department handled guest speakers, it provided the foundation for future publicity teams to enable them to know what elements of the procedure where successful and which others that needed streamlining. Hearing notable speakers that you would not normally get the chance to was a fascinating experience to learn from, allowing us all to understand design in the industry from different perspectives and cultures. I am pleased that I spent my time working in a group to achieve goals that aren’t normally a focus within straightforward graphic design, and over the process I had discovered that good communication with the client is essential to producing the best possible outcome, and the best ideas can formulate from mass conversation and brainstorming to meet a better solution. 

Brand refresh for the British American Security Information Council

Background

The British American Security Information Council (BASIC) is an independent think-tank and charity that truly believes that nuclear disarmament is possible. Their work is aimed at developing international dialogue to help states reduce dependency on the ‘doctrine of nuclear deterrence’. This dependency adversely causes nuclear proliferation and hinders nuclear disarmament. BASIC helps to encourage conversation and mutual understanding across different nations and does this by being ‘non-partisan’ and ‘non-judgmental’.

I began involvement with this project at a unique stage of their brand refresh. I was informed that BASIC had already engaged a firm, AesopStu.dio, to revamp and relaunch their website. This firm had formulated a colour palette to be used for all the touchpoints of the brand. A consistent photographic and imagery style was also established, and this can be seen on the new website, currently live. This ‘Brand Book’ would be consulted by BASIC for future branding purposes.

The BASIC website

BASIC was seeking to refine and refocus their messaging and core mission to be able to attract more funding opportunities. A refined visual style encompassing typographic sensitivity and use of colour and imagery will help to communicate BASIC’s message and mission more clearly to potential stakeholders.

  Restating the brief

The Brand Book from AesopStud.io was at an early stage of development when it was shown to me in early 2018. After discussions during Real Job and supervisor meetings, it was decided that while I am unable to decide the overall graphic style of the eventual branding and identity BASIC would adopt, I have the knowledge to be able to contribute in the areas of the branding and identity where typographic styling is concerned. Essentially, I would help BASIC create a house style of sorts for any brand application that included written language.

In restating the brief, I split the project into three main phases:

    • ‘prep’ phase – for quick completion of small deliverables,
    • phase 1 – for deliverables with high priority,
    • phase 2 – for deliverables with low priority.

This structure allowed both myself and the client to be more flexible in deciding as the project moves along what deliverables could be completed first. BASIC did not map out a clear list of items they required nor did they have a clear timeline to place these items against, and this structure allowed us to work together and evolve the work to be done in future meetings. My supervisor Gerry suggested the inclusion of the prep phase to start with so that I could work to formulate designs for and deliver minor variables crucial to the day-to-day operations of BASIC, like a letterhead, business cards and a donation form.

  Design process

What was very clear from the start was that BASIC wanted me to design business cards for them to use for upcoming conferences and events where the cards would help facilitate networking. A natural companion to the business cards was the letterhead that BASIC would use for both internal and external circulation. Before I could begin work on the business cards and letterhead, we had to confirm typeface choices and the logo. 

Original logo
updated logo with the BASIC wordmark in Roboto Sans, small caps

The existing logo for BASIC was functional and appropriate. The use of red communicated the urgency of nuclear disarmament, and commanded attention. BASIC chose to retain red as their brand colour. The ‘BASIC’ word mark in the existing logo seemed to be in Akzidenz Grotesk, set in uppercase and with poor spacing. I suggested that we change the typeface to one that was free to use and available from Google Fonts. This would facilitate typographic consistency throughout all of BASIC’s internally and externally circulated materials as the office was working with the Google Docs suite of applications, and incorporating a typeface from Google Fonts into existing documents was seamless. In addition to this new sans serif, I chose a serif typeface to pair with the sans serif typeface. After discussion, we chose Capitolium 2 and Roboto Sans. The new logo was created with ‘BASIC’ set in small caps in the Roboto Sans typeface, and the word mark is now centred in the bounding red square to make up the new logo.

early iterations of the business card with explorations in composition

 

the final business card design

 

the back of the business card was kept simple and understated

After a few iterations, we finalised the design of the letterhead and business cards. Because the team’s work was integrated in the Google Docs suite, I created graphics for the top and bottom margins of the letterhead, and placed them into a Google Doc for the team to use freely as a letterhead template. This meant that they did not have to bulk-print stationery to use, and also facilitated consistency with digital communication. Early iterations of the business cards showed more varied use of colour, but the final design we arrived at was much simpler and clean in feel, helped by the 2-colour palette of red and grey.

the letterhead template usable in Google Docs

Beyond these early deliverables, I worked on some postcards for BASIC. These postcards were to be used at events and conferences where BASIC would share the research and work they are doing. The work up to this point constitutes the prep phase. 

postcard designs and the reverse (bottom right)

BASIC asked for a donation form to be designed for them to use at events to explore potential funding opportunities and receive donations from people signing up to become ‘Friends of BASIC’. Most of the work I did for BASIC after the prep phase was centred around the creation and fine-tuning of this donation form to a usable standard. I sought to create a form that was user-friendly. This meant the reduction of rules and lines where they would add visual clutter. I made use of a light tint of grey as the background to make fields in the form easier to distinguish. I employed a baseline grid to segment fields into groups of fields to make it clearer to the user of this form the information they needed to provide. I suppressed the division between fields belonging to the same subgroup of information, and this allowed the form to be less visually cluttered.

an early version of the form
the form in progress
a final version of the form, where I have provided for a white border to allow for BASIC to print these in their office ad hoc

  Learning points

One issue with working with BASIC was that because the exact scope of the job was not decided on from the point we agreed on the restated brief, the scope changed as the job progressed. This suited the client well, and the client was also appreciative of the fact that I had other work to focus on and was happy to work around my schedule as we progressed. I was comfortable with this, but this resulted in a few deliverables ending up not being worked on. As we reached the end of 2018, it was decided that we would conclude this phase of the project with the above deliverables, with a leaflet being the only deliverable to be worked on after. This leaflet is still being worked on now.

Lapses in communication on my part resulted in the work of this leaflet being dragged on longer than it should have. This helped me realise that even though I am comfortable as a designer with a loose timeline, this might not suit the way different types of clients operate. In the long run, it is also detrimental to the designer, as you have no clear idea of exactly when a job will be concluded. A definite timeline will be crucial to my day-to-day operations if I should take on freelance work in the future.

BASIC was pleased with my decisions surrounding the typographic style of their brand refresh, and the work I did to refresh their logo has gone down well with the whole team. BASIC was also grateful that I was available to make numerous small changes to wording and positioning of elements in the form. This would not have been possible if we stuck to a strict timeline and delivery method. We both recognise that communication through email became patchy in the summer of 2018, which led to the work on the leaflet being dragged on. I should have managed this better on my end.

I enjoyed the opportunity to have meetings with BASIC in their office at Whitehall in London before they moved to Oval. The first meeting with them in early 2018 gave me a better understanding of the organisation, and helped in my formulation of designs for them. This taught me the value of meeting clients face-to-face, and I learnt a lot from being able to go for these meetings. BASIC was a unique client to work with, and I am grateful that I was given this opportunity to contribute in some small way to BASIC’s tireless work in making this world a little bit safer for everyone.

Let’s interface the Music and Dance

The context

Our client is a working artist and art lecturer at the University of Reading, Christine Ellison had a continuing interest in exploring the relationship between the digital and the traditional, taking digital symbols out of their context and how they can enable new experiences or interpretation of the same symbols. This continued exploration has lead to her previously collaborated with dancers and musicians in performance art pieces, and wanted to move on to explore how the same brief would be interpreted by a graphic designer.

The brief

The brief was to produce a series of booklets that would act as scores, which could be interpreted by choreographers for dancers and musicians. The client’s previous work was inspired by the mechanisms of digital interfaces, for instance, how things move digitally, the language of digital commands and how they translate when they are out of their context without digital tools. The idea came to her from looking at structures instead of graphical screen interfaces, and through observing the different physical qualities of objects on and off screen, for example, how on screen there is no gravity and things can scroll almost infinitely. Christine wants to produce a designer’s response to her work, applying concepts of digital mechanisms to traditional formats of print and paperwork.

Aims

  • Create a performative graphic score in response to the client’s previous work, offering a designer’s view and therefore a different perspective to the client’s chosen subject matter; digital movement translated through print and paper finishes.
  • Create dynamic printed booklets that explore concepts of digital movement through paper folding and print.
  • Show how taking digital symbols out of their context can enable new experiences or interpretation of the same symbols
  • Create a series of booklets that can be interpreted by musicians and dancers.

Proposed outcome

Our final proposed outcome was a series of 5 booklets, each one depicting a different action found on a digital interface:

  1. Loading
  2. Drop Down
  3. Scroll
  4. Mute and Unmute
  5. Maximise and Minimise

All booklets fit to an A5 format when folded and held together with a belly band. It was required that each booklet exploring the way paper folding and cutting can mirror the titular actions.

Research and ideation

The brief went through many iterations before we settled on the final design and format of the score. Both of us had never been involved in a project that was so experimental before and so it was both a challenge as well as very interesting having to adapt our normal way of working through a brief, to fit with the way our client would work through projects as an artist. As an experience, this benefited us greatly, as it encouraged us to explore a new way of working as designers, developing our practice.

In our first meeting with the client we discussed her influences and inspirations for the project, in order to gain a clearer grasp on the outcome she was striving for. A key influence for the project being avant-garde scores, examples of which were created by artists such as:

  • George Maciunas
  • Allan Kaprow
  • Cornelius Cardew
  • Pauline Oliveros,
  • Post-digital Print, a publication by Alessandro Ludovico
  • Traumgedanken: A physical hyperlink book by Maria Fischer.
Examples of the work we saw in our first meeting with the client, these were experimentations with the symbol shapes and desktop backgrounds

In this initial meeting with Christine, she showed us her cut out digital symbols, and how she was using them to create layers and backgrounds. At the beginning it was a bit difficult to understand her way of thinking and how we will be able to use these symbols to create an outstanding deliverable. Therefore we found it very beneficial to research the work she had undertaken as part of the project before, thus we watched her previous performances and she talked us through them in order to help us understand how she was currently experimenting with the subject matter. With a project that was so vague we found that frequent communication and meetings with the client and our supervisor were incredibly valuable in ensuring that everything was progressing and travelling in the right direction.

Design process

Due to the nature of Christine’s practice as an artist, this real job did not follow the usual structure, since her interest was to produce a collaborative project between artist and designer. Therefore a majority of the process for this brief was experimenting backwards and forwards between us in order to establish what worked and what did not.

In the preliminary stages of the project, the idea was to include all processes within one product. Each sheet of paper representing a different element; symbols, grids, desktops and colours. The colours to be RGB (red, green and blue), as the symbols are digital and we thought it would be the most appropriate to include digital colour versions.

This however would have needed to be printed on A1 sheets of paper, due to the scale of each mechanism within the paper. Printing to this scale proved to be way beyond the client’s budget. As well as the interaction and movement of the paper at this side being very clunky and overwhelming, this was agreed upon by both our supervisor and client. It was through realising this, that we gained an understanding for the compromise that is often necessary in design, balancing the budget with producing interesting printing details and production.

An earlier iteration of the outcome, as you can see each attached panel is representing a different digital command

Due to how overwhelming the digital processes were when they were all combined into one format. We developed the format into a series of booklets, separating out all the different movements.

Loading

The target with this booklet was to use the assembly of cuts and folds to mimic the turning and spinning of the loading symbols. This is also an example of how we utilised transparent paper in order to creating a more dynamic and interesting visual, creating more depth to the design.

 

Drop Down

The drop down booklet uses the same spinning mechanism as ‘Loading’, however, we used the arrow split in half as a prompt to complete the action.

Unmute

The Unmute booklet works to mimic the changes between sound and mute as it appears on a computer when changed. The user is encouraged to jumble the different shapes to create new and interesting iterations of the shapes that make up the mute and unmute symbols.

 

Maximise/Minimise

This booklet simply increases in size as you see the maximise symbols and then decreases as you see the orange and red minimise and close signs. This is supposed to be a direct translation of the way these buttons work on screen. The simple folds into quarters means that this is interpreted very simply yet it still creates an impact.

 

Scroll

Again the folds are used to detract and increase the size of the canvas in order to mimic the actions the booklet is portraying. In this case; ‘scroll’ and ‘snap to grid’. Both sides showing images that grow or shorten depending on how it is folded.

 

Each booklet featured one command, which would also be the only word(s) featured. All other directions and instructions would be guided by arrows or left to interpretation by a user. We established a consistent graphic style through the collection through the use of Helvetica (a default typeface associated with digital interface), at only two sizes, as well as consistent use of the same symbols and illustration styles across all booklets. Overall, we tried to strike a good balance between the digital and the traditional, the texture in the paper and handmade symbols, representing the traditional, whilst the clean and clear typesetting and styling integrated a more formal digital element.

When it came to finding a way to still connect all the booklets, we settled on a belly band featuring the name of the project, it acted as a binding agent for all the booklets as well as a cover for the collection, giving suggestion for its intentions and use.

Overall reflection

We worked well from the beginning to build a good relationship and communication with the client. Through this project we tested our time management skills, and we managed to stayed on top of it as we worked regularly and met weekly with the client, with new ideas and corrections each time, and she was able to give us feedback. Throughout this project a huge help was our supervisor, as this was no regular project with well structured steps. He was helpful in reminding us to push for progress and gave us suggestions and tips to help navigate a brief that was so different and new to anything we had explored before.

As has been suggested before, the main challenge was continuing to push the project forward, since the brief was quite open, the client was keen to explore as many avenues as possible, however, the overall time frame did not allow for so much time spent experimenting with ideas.

Due to the continuous nature of the project, the client did not have a set deadline for this project, to create a clear and structured schedule we set a deadline to finish the design process at the end of March. Unfortunately, this was not met as we felt it had more potential and we decided to extend it for May.

Chrystalla Panayiotou & Jessica Downie

Loddon Catchment Consultancy 2017

Background

I will be working with two different teams in this project. This project is to help the clients create a professional image for their formal investigation. The investigation is about exploring multiple benefit delivery within the Emm Brook river corridor for an environmental agency and Loddon Valley residents. Through their research, they aim to discover the advantages of the ecosystem services around the Emm Brook river corridor. The clients will be creating a report and formal presentation for their findings.

Brief

In order to achieve the desired image of their team, different deliverables were set for each team. After our discussion, we concluded that a logo and presentation template will be created for both teams. Team C would also benefit from having a report template as they want to achieve a higher consistency in branding. The aim of the designs varies according to the deliverable. Since they are student teams, it was decided that the designs will be tailored to the content of their project instead of the team themselves. The logos aim to create a sense of identity and to give a brief idea of the project. The presentation and report templates aim to show consistency between their project’s output, presenting a more professional image. They should also support the content of the project outputs while adding a decorative touch. The clients have also asked to include the logo in the presentation and report to further enforce the project identity.
The project outputs should look like a series visually instead of separated items.

Design Process

In order to create the right image for each team, we discussed what feeling they would want to give the environmental agency through this investigation. After some discussion with the help of mood boards, We came to the conclusion that Team C would like to create a professional image through a minimalistic approach while Team P would like to create a more sleek and modern image.

logo

Since the logo will be representing the investigation as a whole, it should reflect the theme and results of their investigation. For Team C, the logo should reflect the close relationship between the Emm Brook river corridor and the local community. I created some sketches with houses and water motions to symbolise the two. After the first sketches, I then continued to explore different ways to capture the form of the river. To match the desire minimal visual style, we decided that the waved lines version would be the most suitable.

initial sketches for Team C logo
Team C finalised Logo

 

For Team P, their project focuses more on the natural ecosystem near the Emm Brook river corridor and how they have underlying effects on each other. The client also requested that the logo include a shield to represent the protection element they covered in their investigation. Since the main focus of the logo remains to be the relationship between the river and the ecosystem, I incorporated the shield element more subtly through using it as the shape of the logo. To highlight the natural elements, the design was created in a style that imitates woodcut. A richer colour palette is used to create a more sleek and professional image.

Initial sketches for Team P logo
Team P finalised logo

Powerpoint template

The design of the presentation template should be visually consistent with the logo. Since a large number of images and data will be presented, the layout options should also be suitable for presenting large use of pictures while the report template should be suitable for both pictures and
statistics. Therefore, I created a table style for consistent data presentation. Layout options with images as the main focus are also designed to aid better presentation.

 

Team C presentation slides

For Team C, the design kept the animalistic approach of the logo using the same colour palette as the logo. Grey colour is also used to help hold information on the page visually while the two shades of blue from the logo acts as the accent colour.
Here are some layout options created for Team C:

For Team P, the design used the pattern of the river from the logo as the header to maintain a higher consistency throughout the different outputs. The layout option for the slides is the same as that of Team C as their presentations consist of a similar genre of information.

Team P presentation slides

Report template

A report template is created only for Team C. Since there will be complex data and a high level of information hierarchy, I created a template with minimal decorations to ensure the content of the report is clearly delivered. The visual design remains consistent through using the same colour palette and fonts from the logo and the presentation slides.

Team C report template

Reflection

Looking back on the experience with both teams, many stages of the process was different for each team even though the project content is highly similar. There was a concern before I start the design process that Ithe designs I create for the teams will be very similar since the main content is the same. However, after meeting with both clients and understanding more about their needs and the content of their work, I learnt that the design and the development process depends on the needs of the clients. Therefore, the design solution and the results will never be the same.

This real job also gave me valuable experience in project and time management. Since there are two clients on the same project, it is essential to keep all records, communication, and the design process organised. There was one time where I made a mistake and sent a file from another team to the client. I understand that it is a severe mistake in a real workplace. I am delighted that this experience trained me to organise all related materials in a better system which became very helpful in the following years of my studies.

Apart from the points mentioned above, I believe that if there is one take away from this experience, it would be the importance of having a friendly and professional relationship with the client. Being able to understand the client’s situation and vision really helps to better the communication with the designer, which brings positive results in terms of the design process.

Wedding Playbill

Background

I decided to take on this project despite the quick turnaround because the subject matter was something I particularly was interested in. My client was Cathy Haill, who approached the department with a brief to design and produce a printed keepsake for her daughter’s wedding. The client works at the V&A and has knowledge of 19th century printed paraphernalia, and wanted me to create a playbill for her daughter’s wedding happening in Chianti, Tuscany. The playbill would be a pastiche of 19th century theatre playbills, and content (supplied by the client) would list the entire guest list of the wedding.

Restating the brief

Because of the nature of the project my supervisor, Rob, and I agreed that we would begin the design work as we formulate and confirm the restated brief. This project was straightforward, with a single deliverable, and the client knew what she wanted. These conditions were appropriate for me to begin research on 19th century commercial types and begin drafting the playbill’s design ahead of finalising the restated brief. I maintained constant communication with the client and provided drafts of the design for her to check and make changes to. Another element that made it challenging to formulate a restated brief was that the client was working to finalise the guest list as we worked on the design.

Design process

The design process began with some research on theatre playbills and the type designs popular during the time they were produced. Having the technical knowledge from Rob was also key in shaping the final design. Rob helped me make adjustments to the typographic treatment of different elements on the playbill so that they would be sympathetic to the way these playbills were produced in the 19th century. While we were fully aware that this playbill would reflect the present technology it was created with, we felt it was still important that it honoured typographic tradition it was inspired by and based on.

An early iteration of the playbill had type in too many sizes. Letterpress printers then would not have the same display face in many sizes, and my playbill design had to reflect this constraint. Furthermore, the early design had too much variation in the types of rules used. The spaced ellipses separating content on the same line was also unusual for the time. Both these elements were pared back in the final design. Rob also suggested I adjust the kerning settings to make the spacing between letters look ‘wrong’. This would reflect the way letterpress printing created slightly more irregular spacing between letters as they would not have been kerned the same way they are in desktop publishing softwares.

an early iteration of the playbill

When the design was more or less finalised, I suggested to the client to consider having the playbill letterpress printed. In order to achieve this, I explained to the client that we would have to order the plate for printing from Lyme Bay Press early to allow a few days for delivery and for me to produce the playbills in the print workshop. This change in production method spurred the client and myself to work towards agreeing on the final design and make all content changes necessary quite in advance.

the letterpress printing block ordered from Lyme Bay Press; etched photopolymer plate delivered with backing to raise it to type height ready for use

The final design of the playbill was letterpress printed from a single block specially made by Lyme Bay Press for this project. The photopolymer etched plate we ordered was delivered to us at type height, ready too print with, and was able to capture the tones of the small image at the top of the playbill. A few tries and adjustments with ink application and quantities was needed to create a print that was richly black but still showing slight imperfections unique to the letterpress process. 

Learning points

Through working closely with the client on this project, I was able to appreciate the level of detail and motivation the client was working with. Cathy was very enthusiastic and complementary in her communications with me, but was still very firm and clear in her instructions and wishes. In a way, working to such a tight deadline and so closely with the client really pushed me to want so much more out of this project than I initially expected. By throwing myself fully into this project, I became fully invested in achieving the best possible outcome I felt was realistic for the timeline, and I did not want to let down the client in any way.

I was given the freedom to invest all my attention into the design from when I was assigned this job instead of finalising the restated brief before beginning work. I understand that not all jobs should be approached this way, but both Rob and I felt it was appropriate to move on with the design work early on.

My largest takeaways from this project were the knowledge I’ve gained from supervisory advice and feedback from Rob regarding 19th century commercial printing types, and the close working relationship I had with the client that drove the design process and made the project enjoyable.