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!”
Yesterday, Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work visited the University of Reading to find out more about our transformative Breaking down Barriers (BdB) project.
BdB focuses on embedding inclusive design in our curricula across the University. Typography have been highly involved in the project from its inception and were proud to present the ways in which we are engaging with inclusive design across a range of applications including digital, print and wayfinding design.
In particular, we were pleased to welcome Ryzard Akita, one of our 2016 graduates who is now working as a user experience designer, back to Reading. Ryzard presented his final year self-directed project – an innovative mobile app for visually-impaired users – to the Minister. Some of our recent MA and undergraduate dissertations on inclusive design were also on display for the event.
The Minister also engaged with some of the simulation tools we have been using in our courses to increase students’ awareness of the everyday challenges people face in terms of mobility, dexterity and visibility. She praised the project, saying: “Inclusivity and accessibility should be at the forefront of good design, and I’m delighted to see the University of Reading leading the way with their Breaking down Barriers scheme.”
The Department of Typography did not get the memo that July is supposed to be a quiet period. We kicked off the month by hosting the KSBDA International Invitational Exhibition, its first stop after Seoul, and on its way to Katowice, Poland. The exhibition, attended by members of the current Board of the KSBDA and several past presidents, was held with the kind collaboration of the Department of Art. The visitors had the opportunity to examine material from the Collections in Typography, and discuss their use in teaching.
The second week of July saw many staff, research students, and postgraduates fly off to Thessaloniki, to take part in the 6th ICTVC conference. The triennial event is spearheaded by alumnus Dr Klimis Mastoridis and aligns closely to the research strands of the Department. Several members delivered papers, and Emeritus Professor Michael Twyman delivered the opening keynote.
Back in Reading, we marked the tenth anniversary of the Monotype Studentship, a substantial initiative in funding support for our postgraduates. The Studentship is only one element of our deep collaboration with the company, which stretches from research support to technical training.
Over the two last weeks of July the Department was taken over by the annual TDi summer course. The international cohort (with participants from Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Dubai, India, Jordan, Korea, Malaysia, UAE, USA, as well as European countries and the UK) spent long days in sessions led by several members of the Department’s staff and student community, working in our studios, with material from the Department Collections, and personal staff collections. Through lectures and seminars, to hands-on sessions with archival material and letterpress equipment, the TDi provides a unique distillation of key areas of the Department’s narrative on typography and typeface design. Marek Jeziorek documented this year’s course in several albums, starting here.
Our Part 2 visiting student, Gabriela Lyrio Assreuy is spending her summer enjoying a stimulating, two-month placement at Soapbox. The London-based studio specialises in design that ‘helps leading policy, research and advocacy organisations to communicate their ideas’ and is the home to a number of Typography alumni from our BA and MA programmes (see pic).
Gabriela says: ‘At Soapbox I’m having the opportunity to watch closely how a successful design studio is run and how to deal with real demands, clients and timelines. Besides that, I have been able to work alongside other designers in different sorts of projects mostly permeating print design, such as publication design, infographics, branding. From typesetting to creative design processes, I am putting my abilities to practice and gaining new valuable skills and knowledge that will be essential to build a successful career.’
Soapbox designer and MAID alumnus, Žiga Kropivšek commented: ‘Introducing new colleagues to the work process is always a struggle, that is why working with Gabriela has been such a delight. She was very quick to learn all the tricks and, coming from Reading, we knew she would have a sharp eye for typographic detail. It has been very valuable for our company that we could entrust her with more complex jobs so quickly and her ambitiousness and creativity surprise us again and again.’
Gabriela is a visiting student from Brazil. She has spent this year at Reading as part of the Ciência sem Fronteiras (Science without Borders) scheme. Since 2013–4,Typography & Graphic Communication have hosted three visiting students as part of this scheme. It’s been great having Gabriela in our part 2 cohort and we wish her well as she returns to her studies in Brazil.
Emmeline’s minimalist design concept was inspired by the Swiss typographic design she studied in our history of graphic communication module. She says:
To appeal to prospective design students, I needed to create a consistent brand. I took inspiration from a design style that I have never experimented with before, but one that I absolutely adore – Swiss typography.
I wanted to represent the historical and educational aspects of the course, having been exposed to Swiss typography and its influential designers through lectures and seminars focusing on the history of graphic communication.
So, feeling inspired particularly by the likes of Josef Müller-Brockmann, I created a minimalist, primarily typographic design following a grid structure which is so commonly seen in Swiss typography.
We look forward to displaying Emmeline’s award-winning banner at our forthcoming open days.
We were very pleased to welcome alumni Craig Melvin to the Department during our recent Part 2 ‘Data Visualisation’ project.
The Part 2 brief was to create an awareness-raising poster and short animation about some aspect of either ‘Climate Change’ or ‘The Refugee Crisis’. Students presented found data using a combination of graphs, charts, diagrams, tables, maps and infographics. The challenge was to tell a story and find ways of engaging interest whilst being accurate, factual and informative.
Craig graduated from our BA course in 2014 and went to work for TDL London, a design agency founded in 2005 by MA Information Design alumni, Oliver Tomlinson. TDL London specialise in using diagrams and design methods to transform information. They use a combination of Process Charts, Explanatory Diagrams, User Journeys, Illustrated Storyboards, Maps & Locations, Data Visualisation and Interactive Diagrams. Craig spent the day giving insightful feedback to small groups of students. He also showed some of his recent work for a refugee charity (pictured below), and told students about his experience of moving on from the Department into the world of work.
This workshop, based around the printing press collection in Typography, attracted postgraduate students, academic staff, museum and library professionals, and members of the public interested in the materiality of text, books and ephemeral documents.
Participants used the presses under craft supervision, and had a go at casting metal type.
They printed a page from the Gutenberg bible on a reconstructed one-pull wooden press that Gutenberg would have used, as well as 19th century woodblocks on another.
Alan May demonstrated printing of a Fust and Schoeffer 2-colour initial.
The workshop culminated in a fascinating talk by Dr Elizabeth Savage (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Material Texts & Research Fellow, History of Art,Cambridge University) ‘Deciphering the First Colour-Printed Images in England: The Book of St Albans, 1486’
Five talented design graduates, five talks, and five very different approaches. Last week, our Graphic Communication BAs got an incredible insight into the range of career paths that might await them when they graduate.
As part of #UoREnhancementWeek, we asked some of our alums to come back to the Department and give 20 minute talks about their experiences since graduation. With such an open brief we knew we’d see a range responses, but the diversity of what the students experienced couldn’t have been more marked. Our speakers covered such a range of visual approaches, client bases, budgets and presentational styles that it was hard to keep up. It was a great reminder that personal expression is at the core of what a designer has to offer, even if most their work is constrained (perhaps quite rightly) by client needs and practical realities.
I found the alumni talks really useful. It was great to see what people are doing now and how they got to where they are.
Sarah Carrington. Part 3 BA Graphic Communication
In offering advice and encouragement to the next generation of designers, the themes that emerged from the day were:
Hard work and persistence pay off
Play up a your genuine specialism in typography, it’s not that common in the industry.
Make the most of the Real Jobs scheme, it’s your USP at interviews
Think about what kind of specialism, sector, scale and working environment will really bring satisfaction at work (and at home).
Will Hicks spoke about his transition from practising designer (at Penguin, DK and, later, his own firm, Graphicks) to sales director. He’s still passionate about design, but hasn’t touched Adobe software for year. By embracing delegation, playing to the strength of his team and taking on a stream of recent Reading grads, he’s found a balance that keeps his staff satisfied and his clients coming back for more.
Hannah Smith felt like a designer in full swing, relishing the constant revolution in technology that changes both what we design and how we design it. With no meme left untouched, she raced through an introduction to cutting edge UX design overloaded with practical tips (get feedback all the time, ditch Photoshop for Sketch, usepanda.com, mobile first!) and really focussed examples that explored the minutiae and impact of good design (look out for the new checkout at asos.com soon, UI design with an exceptionally clear goal). It felt like a distillation of a whole years’ thinking in one 30 minute chunk. Amazing.
Rob Coomber managed to land his dream job as a wayfinder at Applied immediately after graduating, and he’s stayed there ever since. Rather than showing breadth in terms of graphic style or different kinds of design problem, Rob’s presentation demonstrated the breadth of experiences and scales that a wayfinding designer can enjoy. He’s pounded the rainy streets of the West End for the Legible London project, and sweltered in the heat of Dubai in the summer. In all instances, he’s looking at genuine user-focussed scenarios to identify and solve pinch points for tourists and locals alike. Rob is also an exemplar of the kind of calm, methodical, slightly droll approach that is often needed for success in this field.
Rebecca Kirby works in house as a senior designer for Scott Brownrigg, a large firm of architects. She painted a vivid picture of the kind of challenges that exist in convincing colleagues in a large organisation of the value of good design. By building great relationships and sticking to her guns on typographic detailing, she’s been able to ramp up the value that the firm places on graphic design. Taking on external commissions gives her the variety to counteract the brand consistency that flows through her standard project work (mainly proposals) and reaching out into environmental graphics has helped strengthen a connection with the studio’s architects.
Our final speaker, Tom Derrett , co-founder of daughter.is, stunned the group with a practical demonstration of the notion that a leader is defined by whether or not anyone actually follows them. He tore around the department with students in train, captivating the group with a real heart-on-sleeve tale of what it means to run your own studio, and which sacrifices are actually worth it in the long run (short answer, not your integrity). Tom’s visceral way of presenting ideas is something we remembered from his student days and it was a brilliant lesson in how to command an audience, without hiding behind a PowerPoint. Our course has a real focus on presentation skills these days, but Tom brought something that can’t really be taught. It just needs to be experienced.
Although we happen to be graphic communicators, we are, first and foremost, just communicators. Hearing this group of designers discuss how they found their feet in the industry was inspiring as much for the stories they told as for the work they shared.