Author: Adam Powell

Time management with Rachel Warner and Gerry Leonidas

In week 5 of Autumn term, we were joined online by our Department’s own, Gerry Leonidas and Rachel Warner. It is an annual talk, giving some helpful advice and highlighting the importance of organisation in our careers. As a student, it is reassuring to hear that our tutors feel the same pressures we do, with Rachel confessing to being a procrastinator and Gerry feeling guilty when getting distracted away from a task.

“Sometimes the avoidance of something can be much longer than actually doing the task, they can turn into something huge.” – Gerry

As people we need to work, study, socialize, exercise, and as Rachel puts it, “find time for the boring bits too”. It is an overwhelming task to try and find order in the volume of daily activities in our lives and the time it takes to do them. To counter this feeling Gerry shares his own tactic of time management, being to split every hour into a block. Keeping his workload to a strict limit of these blocks so that he still has time to exercise and relax to avoid counter productivity. For the first chunk of blocks the brain is active and working efficiently, the later hours into the day it teeters off, adding a feeling of pressure and causing a cramming of work at a lesser quality.

Start with the small things you do

Schedule work for when you know you work well, if something requires lots of concentration and you work better at night, save time to work at night. Assigning time for outcomes is important and Rachel will do this by breaking the day in two halves with less straining work in the afternoon as she understands her brain does not function so well at this time of day.

What they use

To help manage her expectation of a day, Rachel suggests colour coding, this way she knows when she has some downtime and helps with anxiety levels. This way, on her calendar; Green blocks are for when she is teaching or running workshops, blue is for meetings, purple for research and so on. Gerry has a similar method with a focus on personal time and family. This will be in red and is strictly scheduled as to allow for time to unwind and clear the head. Unfortunately for Gerry, it took some burnout in his mid-thirties to realise the importance of personal time to destress.

An example that Rachel shared demonstrating her use of colour coding on her calendar

Use techniques that work for you

Burnout is real and with no holiday or break on the horizon, the workload can seem endless and can be daunting. Valuing time with family and friends is equally important to the work to unload. When assigning time for work in your calendars its always wise to build time in for holidays and allow time for slacking with work. It may also help to work in a change of scenery to break free from your daily routine. When assigning time for work, Gerry suggests working backwards from the deadline to the present. “It is easier to predict what will happen in two weeks than it is in two months.” Approaching an estimation of a task duration from both ends can be useful.

“It’s okay to feel as though you don’t have enough time.”- Rachel

The time management talks are always a pleasant wake-up call for students, so much so that they are requested year after year. It especially helps beginners understand where to start as a first-year has commented, creating a sense of unity within the department through our experiences and for some, experiences yet to come.

Here are some of the University resources recommended by Rachel and Gerry from mental health research on time management.

Making weekly and termly plans

Managing your time:

Dealing with perfectionism

“I valued the idea that winding down and down time is very important and has to be scheduled”- Tristan Bevan, a Part 2 student

“Tips from the tutors and hearing their reality, and that time management is something they struggle with too was helpful”- a Part 2 student

Career journeys of Reading Alumni: Kelly Batchelor and Peter Wright

In the penultimate week of Spring term, we had the honour of being joined by two Reading alumni: product designers, Peter Wright and Kelly Batchelor. In this session, both guests shared insight into the ups and downs in their broad and successful careers in an engaging and inspiring talk, really displaying the number of possibilities lying ahead for Reading graduates.

Peter Wright

In 2001, Peter joined the University of Reading, attending six different courses in his stay, from Spanish to Maths before settling on the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication. Peter explains he is often motivated by new things and would form a pattern in his career from working in various different companies in a number of roles.

Initially working in advertising, Peter learned to code, and tell stories within client-facing agencies for clients such as Honda and Mercedes. Before it was commonplace, he worked on in-store touch screen experiences for, as well as creating 3d walkthroughs of cars for Audi.

A 3d walkthrough for an Audi

Peters’s next job was unlike any other, working for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The International Athletic federation wanted their creative platform redesigned for opening and closing ceremonies. This would include both physical handout memorial brochures and online services. Here, Peter would get to witness history, attending rehearsals and meeting athletes, as well as planning a photoshoot with the Olympic torch.

Chapter three in Peter’s career took him close to his users, something he really enjoyed experiencing. This was whilst leading design for an internal innovation hub at M&S. He spent time with the most senior people in the company and the Head of Research, discovering what problems they had in order to compose a digital or physical solution. This resulted in having vending machines for hosiery and providing a recipe app for users.

His next posts was at a mental health start up app called Utter, where millions were raised to help build a platform that would allow people to better communicate with people suffering mental health conditions. Peter connected well with this project, as he himself had to have a year out of university in 2002 due to mental health issues. Unfortunately a suitable product market couldn’t be found and the project was eventually with money returned, however, Peter does not rule out revisiting the project in the future.

The ‘Utter’ app display

The challenges wouldn’t stop there for Peter, who’s next projects were at Google, helping small–medium businesses grow on Google Maps. Working for Google brought many career benefits yet proved be a difficult political challenge and, after a year, he joined a different team to work on wearables, specifically the smartwatch system, ‘Wear OS’.  The fundamentals of the operating system and third–party applications for mental health and fitness were already in place. However, working on such a small screen (30mmx30mm) with limited memory brought many limitations.

‘Your never bored as long as you’re learning’–Peter Wright

Peter was not prepared to stop learning, and moved on once again, this time to Spotify, the massively popular music streaming application. Most music apps have very similar products and functions to offer, as well as maintaining a similar interface. Peter’s job here was to help differentiate Spotify from the competition. One of the product launches was ‘car thing’, a screen for older cars that do not have Apple or Google car tech built-in. Another was a small physical hardware device that plays music via Spotify.

Maintaining Peter’s trend of working with big companies, he would advance further in his career, his next stop, Facebook. The choice to join Facebook (now Meta), was a conflicting one for Peter regarding design ethics and whether Facebook does more harm than good in the world. However, he joined the team due to the Oversight board team. This team consists of global human rights experts that control content moderation justification over Facebook, reporting content based upon the set policies. Peter describes this team as a kind of Supreme Court for online free speech within Facebook – they would have ethical debates within their team to ensure respect for free expression through independent judgement.  As well as spending time on the public facing website, Peter also worked with the Tooling team, helping them be more efficient, and here he would work much closer with the user base, something Peter enjoys. Further duties included data transparency. Peter, believing heavily in ethical design, also believes that all company data should be made publicly available. He would therefore, work across the company to give journalists better access to information regarding how Facebook works. It holds Facebook to account and separates journalism into fact and fiction.

Currently, Peter is redefining and diversifying one of the world’s biggest sites, the de facto for breaking news, Twitter. Meanwhile, Peter also has a sustainable toy company which he founded with his brothers, Playpress. This is a cardboard pop-out construction toy and even has some licensing, for example The Gruffalo.

A display of the kind of toys that Playpress has to offer

Kelly Batchelor

After graduating in 2014, Kelly had small panic about life, with no solid career plan in place after graduation. Despite that, like Peter, Kelly has had an exciting and varied career that would teach her priceless life lessons and design skills. She had no wealth of technological background, but formed her own career journey, a path outlined in her motivating talk for the department.

For 18 months, Kelly worked for a Junior Designer at the University of Reading’s Design & Print Studio, putting into practice the work she had learnt during her time here. However, she had her heart set on a job in London, and would send out applications for agency jobs, consequently landing a job for Hot Pickle as Junior Designer. This company focuses on food and drink clients, with lots of brands and marketing campaigns, with Kelly working with Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. She learned new and unusual printing techniques, creating sandwich holders and cut-out signs, and learnt how to wrap a camper van with a Ben and Jerry design. Besides experience, skills and a pay check, the job also provided the benefit of free ice cream.

Some of the work Kelly produced for Ben & Jerry’s whilst working at Hot Pickle

Whilst working for Hot Pickle, Kelly also worked for Magnum ice cream and lots of print-based designs, yet after 2 years of work, Kelly had no digital work to show on a portfolio besides a few digital banners. She began to get itchy feet, and when she saw the BBC training scheme advertising for people who have little to no UX experience, it was exactly what she was after. As a UX trainee, Kelly learned the fundamentals of UX design and tested with real users and prototypes. The training scheme was a success, working for nine months on BBC Radio, news, weather and music, refining skills, testing users and gaining new experiences as well as working in a great atmosphere seeing lots of celebrities.

After completing the trainee scheme, Kelly became a junior UX designer at BBC Sounds before becoming a middleweight UX designer and returning to the University of Reading to teach what she had learnt to undergraduates for a term. Working at BBC Sounds offered the opportunity to work from scratch, discussing with users about what they would like in the app to help improve it. Some feedback explained that circular images are often linked to live media, thank to things like live Instagram stories. This information would shape the live radio section of the app, highlighting the importance of having communication with the users of what you’re creating. Kelly loved collaborating with other people on a project, but after three years wanted to venture into start–ups, and so became a product designer at Culture Trip.

A screenshot of the BBC sounds desktop, displaying circular thumbnails, indicating a live feature

Culture Trip is a travel app Kelly helped design the app for mobile devices. However, as it was about to launch, the Covid 19 pandemic hit the world. Luckily the app is still standing today despite this and is still successful. But Kelly was already looking for new opportunities, seeing as people could not travel during the pandemic. Whilst searching for new jobs, Kelly came across Gousto, a company that makes recipe kits and sends them to your door as a meal box subscription service.

Kelly became Product Designer at Gousto with the vision to be the nation’s favourite way to eat dinner. Its main focus is to give customers tasty recipes and a seamless experience in every part of the journey. The user journey design team is split into 6 sectors called tribes. Within these tribes are squads. This is to get a very granular and focused, detailing on specific areas of the user journeys – and Kelly dabbled in all of them. Kelly has a rule where she will never allow herself to be bored in a job, if that occurs it’s time to move along.

‘Don’t get too comfy, you’ll become stagnant’–Kelly Batchelor

A breakdown of the 6 tribes of Gousto



A mutual lesson from these talks was – say ‘Yes!’. Many new opportunities reveal themselves along a career path, and no-one has to stay in one job forever when there is so much to learn in new settings. Both Peter and Kelly showed this perfectly throughout their career journeys from graduate to esteemed and experienced designers in so many fields. Some jobs are more fun than others, but at the end of the day, the lessons learnt throughout and the relationships forged are priceless.

‘Hearing from both designers about their careers and their advice on how to tackle a career in design was very insightful for me.’ – Part 1 student

‘Interesting telling of their stories, felt very engaging.’ – Part 1 student

Creative Images in Photoshop

Design ideas and design process:

All photoshop designs here included my own photography, the first 2 being of my dogs. In the first one, I isolated him from the background and used a series of brushes to create an ink splatter effect to show off his colours well. Using the eyedropper tool, I could select the same colour as his fur and would create brush strokes behind him. To get rid of any solid outlines I then applied a layer over the top of him, less intense so that all his details could still be seen, yet he is absorbed into all the ink. This made use of his natural colour tones and exaggerated them as much as I could. Alternately for my second design, and other dog, I went for a more cartoony feel, with a pop art aesthetic, steering away from the more complicated aesthetic from the former and favouring bright vibrancy. It feels blockier and more fun, yet I favoured the image resembling more of the original photo, the first design. Therefore, for the final design, I took what worked best in the former two and applied it to my photo of people this time. Using ink splatter to exaggerate the colours of hair, skin and clothes, with a pop art overlay. I feel the transition between realism worked more seamlessly here than in the second design as it blends with colour more effectively due to how intense the presence of the ink is. The focus on the people aids this greatly as the colour and ink flow around the image in a natural way for the audience to follow with their eyes.


 Designs 1-3


The first image shows the underlying layers of ink brushes and the second shows how awkward the image looked awkward when there was no overlaying ink , as to why i added this later on.


The first image shows the early design process when i realised that the pop art effect didn’t work so well on its ownand the second is where I attempted to add no detail to add to a comic tone but decided against it.

The first image shows all the underlying ink layers without the figures with the second showing the figures with just the smoke which  inspired me to consume them in it as it flowed well.


Software tutorials

The main assets I used here on Photoshop are the brush and eyedropper tool. This allowed me to colour pick the exact colours of elements of the photos so when painted on top of or behind there is a seamless transition. This also worked for colouring the brush the same colour as the background so there were no harsh lines or clear transitions, it all blends into one. This worked for both the first and final designs to great success. This was especially amplified by increasing the vibrancy of the images so that the colours really popped out and became the main features of the original photos;

This is the tutorial I watched by Hass Hasib as the main tutorial in my design, showing how he used brushes in creative ways, something I then wanted to emulate in my own work with my own images.  In the second and third design I also made the images look cartoony by altering layer styles, filters and colour to my advantage as well as learning about colour halftone on Photoshop with Blue Lightning TV Photoshops tutorial;

These 2 major stylistic choices are not usually presented simultaneously, therefore, that Is more of a reason why I wanted to combine the two, taking what worked and abusing it to extreme effects with very harsh outlines and thick strokes as well as vibrant and loud colour brush effects that amplify and flood the image. These skills I had never dabbled in before and by revisiting both of them in the final design worked as a kind of test to me to see how to apply what I had learnt in the tutorials without external assistance the second time around, to, what I think, was a success.


Resources for research and inspiration

After seeing the first tutorial mentioned above by Hass Hasib, I searched for similar looking final designs using the splash dispersion ink effect such as this one;

Although I did not watch the technical elements of this video, I liked how the final image uses colour so violently, in the audience’s face, bringing so much character and excitement. This is a photo where the figure Is moving so it inspired to see if I could bring so much diversity to a stationary image of my dog who has very neutral colours, brown, blacks and whites as opposed to the red and blues present here to see what works well and do the opposite despite the fact to see if I could achieve just as effective results. It became more inspiring when designing the 3rd creative image as here there was much more colour on show I could exploit, make sharper and channel this concept more thoroughly in a playful way as opposed to the more mature and reserved approach I took with the first dog design. For the second design, although not looking very similar, one of my main influences after watching the tutorial was the loading screens for the video game Grand Theft Auto V which present the main characters in a comic pop art version of themselves, still realistic but with more pronunciation on strokes. This Is an approach I took with my second dog, to keep the details but reduce the image to a comic from with bold pronunciation;

I decided to stray away from the more realistic GTA V aesthetic, applying colour halftone pixels with 6 pixel radius creating marks as if the image is printed on old printers like classic comics and 80s pop art.











reading film theatre flyer v3 pdf

In an A5 format, the Reading film festival flyer had to demonstrate the relevant information in a small space, which I found particularly challenging using this space efficiently to a positive aesthetical outcome. I used a dark blue colour background so that the black text could still be seen and understood. The age censor of the movies I wanted to be the most obvious to the audience and seen before anything else, this way, the audience know which movies they are allowed to watch i.e. If they are children they can watch; U, PG, or in some cases 12 if they are accompanied by an adult. The serif font , minion pro,(a mature font)shows information more orientated towards older people such as the director of the film , actors and where it is showing, the sort of info a child would arguably not be too concerned about past the title which is in serif , Acumin Variable Concept. Overall this flyer does the job it needs to do displaying the information in a format readable. However, I do believe it looks a bit squashed together and would benefit from more space by maybe using a smaller font and general layout the sheet. It also is fairly bland, aside from the 2 colour restriction, including black , I would like to have included more texture to create a more interesting looking design .

Kung Fu Panda

ty1int- panda PDF1

In addition to recreating the penguin book design from scratch, we would put our own spin on the classic design with more modern fiction. I did mine on the 2008 movie Kung Fu Panda from DreamWorks.  In order to reflect the main characters loving persona, a warm colour that can appeal to kids, the target audience of the movie. I switched out the classic orange for a warm purple colour. Further alterations are that of Po the Panda in the place of the famous Penguin and where the writer of the books name would usually be, the name of the voice actor Jack Black is there. I chose to use him as it is a recognisable name and arguably more recognisable than the writer of the movie. Penguin books also always have a tagline, I used one from a poster for the movie, ‘Prepare for awesomeness. Summertime is Panda time. He’s not a big fat panda… he’s THE big fat panda! ‘a humorous quote to help depicts the comedic tone of the movie. If I were to make any alterations, I would like to make more changed to make the Penguin book design less recognisable, maybe to do so I would have to pull from a more complex source such as a different movie or book.

Light at the end of the tunnel

My chosen theme was labyrinth , in order to emulate that theme, i drove to make my book appear as if it has travelled through a vortex, a journey that can be seen throughout the layers of the book itself. To create texture i shaved down the sides of the  pages and carved a whole all the way through to the other side . Furthermore, i singed and burned pages to represent the journey the characters of the book go through . It is distressed with a sense of hope , as there is light at the end of the tunnel i created with a torch , this is able to shine through the book as a whole as creates an interesting aesthetic . I would like to make some altercations such as removing the text of the book from the front cover to create more ambiguity  .