Milly Longbottom and Will Trickey, alumni of our department who now work at IBM, came to talk to Part 1 students about UX design process and internship opportunities at Big Blue's cutting edge London office.
Part 2 students who opted to design book covers for Oxford University Press in their design practice module were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to visit OUP headquarters in Jericho, Oxford.
David Pearson began his talk to Typography students at the University of Reading citing three things that sum up what really interest him – the first and last having a direct impact on his work as a prolific, award-winning book cover designer. The second he admits, possibly less so…
Pearson recalled his time as a student – the intimidation he felt from who he described as the “gatekeepers” of typography and this impenetrable discipline he initially struggled to work within. Grasping the differing personalities of typefaces was what helped him to understand how they could be best used; the other details seemed to simply “fall away”. The essence and character of type forms is a core tenet of Pearson’s work and is a huge part of why he has been so successful in capturing just the right tone for hundreds of different classic book titles.
Pearson places emphasis on using type as the main image of a design, hence his company name Type as Image. To give an example, one design he enthusiastically cited was his cover for The Gentle Author’s, Cries of London. The ‘C’ is personified as if literally crying out, and the punctuation bursts through the decorative border, bringing a joyful exuberance to the composition.
Throughout his talk, it was clear David wanted to highlight the need to not shy away from collaboration in any facet of design. He described with fondness the “dignity” that the illustrations by Lucinda Rogers gave to Baddeley Brothers, highlighting how valuable the uniqueness of her style was. He then went on to speak about his long-standing partnership with Paul Barnes, a well-regarded type designer (and Reading alumnus) and co-founder of Commercial Type. David’s work often involves manipulating type in extravagant ways, and it was revealing that he often asks for Paul’s ‘permission’ for his more extreme morphing of letterforms.
As designers, there is a risk that we stop sharing our skills and become inwardly focused, quickly becoming disillusioned and frustrated with the work we are creating. By collaborating and sharing our knowledge and skills, we can avoid the common and insidious pitfalls of tropism that David himself confessed to sometimes succumbing to.
The best design, Pearson believes, often comes from an open and honest dialogue not just between designers but also with clients. It came as a surprise when David told us that many of the books he is commissioned to design covers for haven’t even been written yet, thus a dialogue with the author is crucial to understanding what message the book has. This healthy relationship Pearson has built with authors and type designers over the years has given him a greater artistic licence to “bastardise” many existing typefaces and to give them a more appropriate voice.
The biggest takeaway that students had was David’s naked enthusiasm and excitement about the work he is doing. It was extremely refreshing to hear someone talk with such glee about their practice. When you see David’s work and hear him speak about it, it is evident he is a perfect example of someone who is passionate about their career and loves the work they do.
Alison Black, Jeanne Louise Moys, Sue Walker, Gerry Leonidas and Eric Kindel showcased a range of research projects, past and present, to give Part 1 students an insight into the current state of design research.
In Typography at the University of Reading, a huge importance is placed on having a good academic writing ability. Week four and five of the Baseline Shift sessions therefore aimed to sharpen the writing skills of students, with talks on professional writing and referencing.
Week four kicked off with ‘Let’s eat Grandma!’, a talk from Kim Shahabudin from Study Advice. This session focussed on academic and professional writing, specifically the role and importance of clear communication.
Students were asked to choose one word to describe academic writing and a word cloud was produced. This incorporated the views of all students, with the bigger words representing a larger number of people who all responded with the same word.
From punctuation, spelling and grammar to writing styles and the impressions they give to others, the talk really covered a wide range of points. The importance of appropriate word choice and good paragraph structure was also emphasised.
‘I didn’t expect such basic things to be enforced so much’ – Joanne, Part 1
Typography student’s knowledge was put to the test with an interactive quiz to reinforce the information that had been given, with prizes on offer for the winners!
Following this, week five played host to a very important talk on referencing. The talk was led by Karen Drury, one of the Department of Typography’s two Liaison Librarians.
The talk included vital information for students of all years across the department, with as much as 20% of first year essay marks being dedicated to referencing. Even more so for Part 3 students, who are currently working hard on their dissertations.
The talk covered all bases of referencing including how, when and why referencing should be used as well as different styles of referencing, which involves guidelines as to how the information in the reference should be structured (the Harvard style being favoured within the department!)
As a little reminder, the Harvard referencing system is structured as follows:
Author (Last name followed by first initial), year published, title of work, place of publication, name of publisher, pages used
For sources such as journal articles, the publication information is replaced by the journal title, volume and issue numbers. Websites are also slightly different, the date the source was accessed must be included as well as the URL it can be found at.
Talking to some members of Part 1 after the talk, it became clear that, before university, referencing was not as strictly enforced as it is here.
‘I’ve done referencing in the past, but it was never this rigid and strict’ – Joanne, Part 1
Being from a department such as typography, the materials we are required to reference are often different to that in other fields. As well as the more common sources such as books, journal articles and websites, Karen really clarified how we should go about citing materials such as pictures and artworks. She emphasised the basic reference structure which involves four major pieces of information: author, date, title and publication details (such as the place of publication and the name of the publisher although this varies depending on the item being referenced).
Through interactive quizzes, handouts and a variety of examples, Karen really simplified the referencing process, giving students a greater understanding of what is involved in citing correctly.
‘Learning about the specific reference structure to use was really helpful, and the quiz really helped consolidate all of the information given in the talk’ – Ruth, Part 1
Karen also recommended some different tools which are available to assist in referencing such as reference managers (Endnote online, Mendeley and many others). There are also some library guides available as www.libguides.reading.ac.uk which can help in managing and citing referencing.
‘The different tools Karen spoke about will be really helpful, I didn’t know about all of the library resources which are available’ – Caitlin, Part 1
Overall the past two weeks have offered some very key information which is applicable in all areas of study. From Part 1 and 2 essays and reports all the way up to Part 3 dissertations, Typography students at the University of Reading now have a much more solid understanding of how best to structure and communicate written information.
Our second Baseline Shift session was run by Camara Dick, Seniz Husseyin, Malaika Johnson and Martha Macri, members of a group of students who have been working collaboratively over the past year to promote new perspectives on diversity in creative disciplines. Former students of the Department, Ziana Azariah, Fay Biggs and Lily Brown were also part of the team. The “I am, we are” team have been helping reshape some of our teaching, including building an entirely new module for Part 3 students. They’ve also captured a snapshot of key diversity topics in creative industries through the writing, design, and publication of a zine.
The team all share different experiences and opinions of diversity within design, motivating them to come together with the hope of creating changes they can be proud of. They’re challenging the dominant western canon within our discipline, seeking to counterbalance this tradition by broadening our curriculum and introducing new perspectives. As well as opening up new career opportunities, another motivation is to evolve a stronger sense of community within the department and hopefully encourage students to both find their individual voice and move beyond our ‘cultural comfort zones.’
Building a module
The new Part 3 module, Design for Change, was co-designed between the team and academic staff in order to promote the critical engagement of social issues and the exploration of these through a practical self-selected design brief. This module encourages students to engage with a range of current debates and perspectives on diversity, inclusion and global perspectives in design. Students studying on the module produce a practical project that aims to inspire change by engaging users in a cause.
Engaging students of the future
In order to create awareness and share ideas, the team ran an activity on undergraduate applicant days in which prospective students would share their interests within design. These were then displayed on a series of polaroid-style designs in order to show the vast range of design opinions and passions within the group of applicants. The idea was to start building a community among applicants even before they are offered a place to study here, but also to stress that we welcome people who might define ‘design’ in a range of different ways. In the future, the team plan to use this polaroid scheme with all students, in order to create a discussion about respective cultures and different inspirations.
Beyond Typography undergraduates
Whilst the team are all students within the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication, they have worked with a variety of groups and individuals in order to achieve their outcomes. They interviewed staff and students from all three departments in the School of Arts & Communication Design, as well as graduates and other professionals with links to the University. The insights gained form the basis of their ‘I am, we are …’ zine.
Future goals include:
- encouraging students across the School to embrace their diversity and explore different perspectives within their own creative practices
- diversifying the range of jobs available within the department’s real jobs scheme, with one aim being to reach out to Reading’s refugee community to provide design services with direct benefits to individuals, such as CV formatting.
Following receiving funding from the University’s Partnerships in Learning and Teaching scheme, the team decided to publish a zine in order to spread awareness of diversity and inclusion in the creative sector. To showcase a broad range of practices, they decided to include content from members across the School as well as graduates. After interviewing students and practitioners about their work, the team began to put together and design the zine. With budget and time restrictions in mind, the team then began to make decisions including the grid system, format and paper stock. They chose an A5 format as their aim was to print a lot of copies, and this allowed that to be possible whilst sticking within their budget. As there were multiple people working on the zine, it was important to design a grid system with this in mind so that the final pages were consistent and cohesive. In terms of paper stock, they chose a matte finish as they wanted it to stand out against a ‘typical brochure.’
The team said they felt incredibly satisfied and proud with the final outcome, receiving lots of feedback about how inspirational they, and the zine, were. In the future, they aim to create a bigger and better zine, by including more content and space for them to be able to finesse their typography. They also hope to develop a theme for the next zine and extend its publication across print and digital channels so that they can engage a wider audience with diversity in design.
After their Baseline Shift presentation, the team gained a lot of interest from new and current students looking to get involved. Growing the team will allow for the project to continue and evolve.
This talk opened up the discussion of diversity within the department and allowed attendees to gain insight and become involved with how we can shape and develop this project for future students.
“As someone who never really second guessed the lack of diversity in the department teaching and the discipline of Graphic Design as a whole, the talk gave an interesting viewpoint on to this, shining light on the issue. The Zine itself was a great publication, and I hope it continues to be produced, getting better and better each year. I’d also like for the department to showcase speakers from different backgrounds to bring this idea of diversity forward into all aspects of our learning, as I think we have a lot to learn from each other!” – Laura Marshall, Part 3
As a student currently taking the new ‘Design for Change’ module I found it incredibly interesting to hear their thoughts and aims for the module, and have been really enjoying the discussion, debates and different perspectives within the seminars. After the talk, I spoke to other students who had attended and discovered they found it equally fascinating and hope to get involved in future projects.
Our first Baseline shift Wednesday morning session kicked off this week and Typography students were lucky enough to receive a visit from two members of the design department at Dorling Kindersley’s Knowledge team. Kit Lane, who is alumna of our department, and Karen Self, art director at DK, gave a very interesting talk covering many different aspects of the company, as well as promoting the varied internships they offer to students.
‘It was very useful to have industry professionals come and talk to us so early in the course. It was good to know about internships I could apply for sometime in the future’ – Ruth Bartley, Part 1
The DK difference
DK offered students an insight into the exciting world of publishing, from their own unique perspective as market leaders across a range of areas. They covered their practical design process as well as the design thinking that goes along with everything they do, emphasising the importance of considering the consumer (not just the reader) at every stage. The lasting impression was that DK operates very differently to many other competitor publishing companies. This was exemplified by the fact that the majority of design is done in-house, with comparatively huge amounts of time (often four or five months) are spent designing each book, spread by spread, as opposed to flowing text into a prebuilt specification.
Students were given the opportunity to take part in a workshop led by Kit and Karen in the afternoon. This involved generating ideas for a new book named ‘Urban Detective’. Students worked through a design process starting with some initial research into the theme before sketching out rough ideas for book covers and inside spread layouts.
These ideas were then refined through peer discussion and input from Kit, resulting in a handful of clear concepts. A group crit let everyone to receive feedback on their work. Throughout the process, students kept in mind the audience and aim of the book, in true DK style.
‘I enjoyed the workshop, as it made me consider more about book design, than I might have otherwise considered on my current project’ – Alex Ganczarski, Part 1
‘I really enjoyed the workshop and am taking away a greater understanding of how to plan my ideas and concepts, as well as how the 2nd and 3rd-year students plan and execute their work. It’ll help me a lot over the next 3 years of the course’ – Rory Tellam, Part 1
Portfolio reviews and interviews
Some students also took the opportunity of having a mock interview and portfolio review with Karen. This gave a feel of what an interview is like in a professional context, preparing them for heading out into the world of design beyond university.
‘Karen made the experience calm and professional, offering great feedback on how to improve my portfolio’ – Laura Marshall, Part 3
‘It helped me to understand the process and content of a professional interview in a relaxed and casual context’ – Fay Rayner, Part 3
‘I am so glad I took on this opportunity. It has made me feel much more confident and prepared for future interviews’ – Jacob Hawkins, Part 3
Overall, our visit from DK was a big success. Around 65 Typography students were offered an insight into what life is like in the graphic design and publishing industry, which will be very useful when considering career paths later on – and much sooner for our students in Part Three!
Hi, I am Jason from BA Graphic Communication Part 3. Welcome to my exchange journey to Monash University in Melbourne, Australia!
Even though it is not my first time studying aboard, as I am originally from Hong Kong, it was my first time going to an unfamiliar place on my own. It was quite challenging, but exciting as well.
Monash has a really good academic reputation, and I’ve always wanted to visit Australia. The University is in Melbourne, which is full of galleries and other places of interest to creative minds. During my stay here I’ve chosen two units. One is a Communication Design Studio with UX workshops, and the other one is Illustration to Animation. The main reason to choose both units is to get more exposure to the digital aspects of design. Anyway, let’s see what have I done at Monash University for almost 17 weeks.
Week 1 (12–18 Feb)
The first week in Australia can be described as the most tiring week, physically and mentally. I have to set up my new room, completed lots of documents and forms, and attended all different kinds of orientation events. However, I felt so blessed to meet my first batch of friends from my exchange journey. We met in all different kinds of events that were made for exchange students, and so we are really globalised – Thai, Canadian, Malaysian, Chinese, Hungarian, Korean and Danish.
On the night of Saturday, we have been visiting the White Night in Melbourne CBD, which is an event to showcase interactive art pieces around the city centre. It was a new kind of experience for me, as I have never imagined an art show can be held throughout the whole city.
Week 2 (19–25 Feb)
The second week was the orientation week for all students. Not only there were events from each subject department, but the accommodation halls also held events, including carnival and talent night. In the meantime, I have walked around Clayton, where the main campus of Monash is located. Even though it is quite far away from the CBD, buildings around are very unique as well. This shows Melbourne is really a creative place.
Week 3 (26 Feb–4 Mar)
This was the first week of class, which was one of the exciting parts of the journey. From my past education experiences in the UK, Hong Kong and South Korea, design classes have been taught differently in different places and cultures. Design classes in the UK tend to follow the traditional methods of creating designs, Hong Kong loves merging different places’ designs together, and South Korea likes to combine futuristic designs with traditional art.
The size of class is also different comparing Reading and Monash. In Reading, we have around 40 students per year, and there are around 150 students per year in Monash. One of the most memorable class activities that I did this week would probably be the paper cutout animation. It was my first time doing it and making a character-based animation.
Besides having my first week of class in Monash, I have been to my first beach in Australia, the St. Kilda Beach. As I visited the beach on a weekday, there were extremely few people on the beach, which allowed me to take some good landscape photos.
Week 4 (5–11 Mar)
In the second week of class, I have already got used to the long hours per session. Each session takes 4 hours at Monash, However lessons in Reading are usually around 1–2 hours each.
The moment when you finished lessons, there is always a challenge waiting for you – the rush for the bus. Students have to take a 20 minutes bus ride to the dormitories. A bus waiting game will start right after 6 pm, when most classes end, and many students will run to the bus stop and wait for it.
The first assignment to hand in was a UX diary recording for the fitness app that I have to enhance. Basically, I have to write down the UX structure of the app, rate them and determine which functions are more useful and which are less.
To relax, I watched my first movie in Australia, which is the Black Panther. As our campus is quite far away from the CBD, me and my friends went to Dandenong instead, which can be described as the little India in Melbourne.
Week 5 (12–18 Mar)
Week 5 can be described as the most artistic week. Firstly, I have visited the National Gallery of Victoria. Triennial was exhibiting during that time, which is famous for the Flower Obsession piece by Yayoi Kusama. On the same week, Melbourne city was hosting the Melbourne Design Week, where many design agencies, galleries and studios were giving talks, guided tours, as well as Design Week exclusive activities. Therefore, I have attended a VR related talk that was held by Academy Xi, a company that provides design training, as well as taking part in some other exclusive activities.
Week 6 (19–25 Mar)
My first Communication Design Studio brief to hand in is called Museum Identity. Students have to brand a fictional museum, which I have chosen to brand the Museum of Nintendo. In Reading, students will usually print their projects within the department building. However, in Monash we print our project in the printing store. As it was kind of a new task for myself, I did struggle a bit at first. Since I have to prepare my own paper stock as well as a ready-to-press file and take around an hour transportation to the city centre for the print, it took me a whole afternoon to get my final product printed.
On the other hand, I have created a looping animation for the Illustration to Animation course. For my animation, I have made a frog that throws a paper plane and it returns from the back. The whole animation is made in Photoshop, which was also new to me, as I have only tried creating animations with After Effects.
Week 7 (26 Mar–1 Apr)
I have visited MUMA (Monash University Museum of Art), an Art gallery that operates by Monash University. It not only showcases students’ works but also opens to public artists. I really like the gallery concept of letting students visit the gallery after classes or during their free time.
Week 8 (2–8 Apr)
Week 6 in Reading is a reading week. However, the equivalent week in Monash is a mid-semester break, which is a week off. There is no activity specifically for the week, but students might have deadlines after.
During this week, I went to Sydney for a few days to visit my high school friends, who are currently studying over there. During the stay in Sydney, I have visited a few art galleries, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of NSW, Art Space, as well as the Power House Museum. And of course, I have watched an opera since Sydney is famous for it. However the opera was held on the harbour, but not in the Opera House. After this short trip to Sydney, I felt not only Melbourne, but Sydney is also a really artistic place, where you can feel the creative atmosphere throughout the city.
Week 9-10 (9-22 Apr)
After the whole week of mid-term break, I have quite a few deadlines. Around this period of time, resubmissions deadlines for Reading are also coming. Therefore, I mostly work on them in these two weeks.
I have submitted the second brief for the Communication Design Studio, which I have produced an online archive with Squarespace, with nine images for three categories of Hong Kong cuisine. Moreover, I have done a few Adobe Animate and After Effects tutorials. These helped to equip me with the basic knowledge of animation, especially Adobe Animate, which was new to me.
I also handed in two tasks for the UX workshop. The first one was a pre-production report that includes persona, scenario, user flow diagram for the fitness app that I have to enhance. The second task was creating a paper prototype, which we will test it in front of the class with the lecturers. I have done both tasks in a similar way back in Reading, and so I am quite familiar with the format and the aims of doing these.
Week 11 (23–29 Apr)
After the resubmission for Reading and my third Illustration to Animation brief, which is to create a storyboard, visual concepts and animatic for a fictional animation, I have treated myself a pop concert that held in the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Even though I have watched the performance in Hong Kong before, the atmosphere is totally different here in Australia. It might due to the people here are more energetic and higher in spirit.
Week 12 (30 Apr–6 May)
In this week, I have submitted the third Communication Design Studio brief, which I have designed a big and a small component for the Melbourne International Film Festival. The aims are to think creatively across both large and small items and explore the potential of the big item as a powerful contribution to our contemporary visual landscape. After the submission, I have decided to join the Adobe Design Achievement Awards with this piece.
(Update: This piece is a semi-finalist for the Commercial—Print/Graphic/Illustration category.)
Week 13–16 (7 May–3 Jun)
It is nearly the end of the semester, which means deadlines are coming. I have to work on a few deadlines, including 2 briefs for the UX workshop, the last studio brief for Communication Design Studio and a final full narrative animation project for the Illustration for Animation course.
On week 13, I have submitted my app wireframe for the UX workshop. The wireframes were made with Axure RP. This is different from my previous experience of creating wireframes, as students in Reading will usually use Sketch and InVision.
Week 16 was my last week of class. The classes were mostly consulting on our final briefs, with lecturers giving feedback to students one by one. To help me remember this experience in Monash, I have taken photographs with the lecturers and said a big goodbye.
Week 17 and so on… (4 Jun and so on…)
Although I do not have lessons this week, I have three deadlines in total. The first one is a full narrative animation with our own concept and idea. The other one is exploring typefaces with sound and music, and I have designed an EP sleeve, CD cover and Spotify thumbnail for the album ‘Mix & Match’ by LOONA. The last assignment is designing the UI for the fitness app, along with the A/B testing. Therefore, I have designed two app prototypes, equipped with fully designed UI.
Even though the lessons here are over, it is actually the start of further exploring Australia, and beyond. I met up with my family and we went to places including Brisbane, Cairns, Gold Coast and even Auckland in New Zealand.
After the whole exchange journey, I feel like students at Monash have more freedom to decide what to design. They really push students’ creativity to the maximum and apply many artistic decisions into their design pieces. However, students in Reading is more like being taught to survive in the market. It provides training and knowledge for students to become an outstanding graphic designer in the future.
I really enjoyed the whole exchange journey and did not regret at any moment. I really encourage fellow students from the future years to join the study aboard program and choose somewhere you have not yet been to. Even though you might struggle a bit at first, you will experience things that you would not expect. Good luck with your journey!
Jason (Yung Tsz Hin)
Mockup Credits (Week 12):
- Postcard Mockup—https://www.freepik.com/free-psd/realistic-postcard-on-desktop-mock-up_1188830.htm (Designed by Freepik)
- Poster Outdoor Mockup—https://sellfy.com/p/qKab/
Staff have asked a team of Part 2 students to publish reflections on the work they produced for taught project over the past 12 months. This is the first in a series aiming to showcase our work.
In 2017 a substantially reworked Editorial Design module was re-introduced into the part 2 syllabus. We completed this module at the end of part 1, while everyone on other courses was finished and celebrating the end of their exams. At the time this was a little bit infuriating to say the least, but looking back at it now, I think my peers would agree that it was great to get 20/120 credits of the year out of the way before we started part 2!
What was this project about?
This project was the first time the majority of our year had handled a large amount of continuous text, as well as fully exploring the editorial features on InDesign. After completing a small editorial task in part 1, we had the basis to fully immerse ourselves in this larger and more life-like brief. It was also about using InDesign effectively – we had to imagine we were typesetting the whole book, and how to use tools to make this task more efficient. Master pages and stylesheets were crucial to success in this project.
As well as receiving weekly feedback sessions which were vital to our success and development, the supporting readings for this course were essential in applying theory to practice, and understanding why certain typographic conventions exist. These included books such ‘Elements of Typographic Style’ by Robert Bringhurst, and ‘Designing books, practice and theory’ by Jost Hochuli.
We were provided with text from the book “Charles Dickens: a literary life”, as well as the specified book format of 170 x 245mm. From there, we had freedom in the typesetting of the document, paper stock, as well as a cover design. Some of my peers took it a step further, adding dust jackets and patterned endpapers to their book.
We also were taught how to perfect bind our books. This is where a block of single pages is glued down the spine to hold the book together. Book binding was another new skill to learn, as previously we had only worked with a few spreads. Some of my peers experimented with different binding techniques, using visible stitching to bind their pages, or showing the binding on the outside of the book. This included Fay Rayner, who used a more traditional technique for her book: “I really wanted to reflect on Charles Dickens and his history, therefore I did not use perfect binding but the more traditional technique of section sewn binding, as I believed it better reflected Dickens and the era in which he lived. In addition, I used a symmetrical layout with large margins and added marbled endpapers, which were typically used in Victorian books”.
Maciej Bykowski: Visible binding on the spine with a grey-board cover
Fay Rayner: Decorative endpapers and hand sewn binding
How did I find the project?
Personally, I found this project to be my favourite so far. I fully enjoyed having the freedom of typeface choice, as well as deciding a typographic hierarchy system for the book. It was a big leap from the first typesetting project we did in part 1, but I feel that it has helped prepare me for future editorial design projects. It has also potentially decided my career path: editorial design, as I enjoyed this project so much.
Overall, my peers seemed to agree that this project was a huge help in getting to grips with the InDesign software, as well as learning binding techniques. Jacob Hawkins commented: “Although at first I thought this project would be less interesting, it turned out to be very rewarding and has taught me the importance of typography, such as how the smallest detail can have a huge impact on your design. I have thoroughly enjoyed this project and it has sparked my interest in book design. I’m excited about upcoming editorial and typographic projects next year.”
Examples of student work
Detailed typography on chapter 1 and cover design by Charles Parish.
An elegant spread alongside decorate endpapers by Jacob Hawkins.
Laura Marshall’s yellow dust jacket alongside her chapter opener.
This week, Part 2 Graphic Communication students completed the inclusive design component of their integrated design modules. Building on the series of workshops (see BdB blog) we did earlier in the term and relevant readings, on Monday, students presented seminar papers to their peers on particular aspects of inclusive design.