Author: Adam Powell

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

 

Conclusion

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 on Photoshop task – TY1SK

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; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FipliqS7GYU&list=PLEEgLOr8DxSPMjRanf-E4DaZYLVY9jWhQ&index=7

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; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IS6k9ax4joI&list=PLEEgLOr8DxSPMjRanf-E4DaZYLVY9jWhQ&index=9&t=21s

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; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxA-E9VtL0s

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; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_YJnor4XH4

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ty1sk

Design ideas and design process

1.For my first design I used my own photography to create the illusion of a podcaster holding a mic and a sheet of paper with a serifed T. This is mainly a photographic design with vibrant contrasts between red , black and white in order to catch eyes of the audience, this is in the vain of the classic Apple iPod ads . I used a splatter brush to create a diesel bed effect as if the designs were old and from that era close to 19 years ago. the central theme here is of the Podcaster more than the typography itself, an element I wished to revolve in my second design . To remove colour from the figure I selected half the image, and removed it using the lasso tool, the other half I copied to a new layer and fully painted it, then with the areas removed, the black background seeps through . To create the paper , I used a white square and warped it using the transform tool so it is not a static object . The letter T also had to be rasterised and turned into an object so that it could also be warped to match the flow of
the papers movement

2.In the second design, I wanted something vasty different from the previous photographic one. Therefore this one is almost entirely typographic with vibrant contrast for a background. The large serif , TGC stands for Typographic and Graphic Communication, and the theme of the podcast. It is underlined with a large , thick block, a characteristic known to be seen in modernist design that are seen in modernist designs that are keen on geometric shapes. The splatter patter I reused once again here to add texture to the cover that aesthetically looked a little basic for my aesthetic pleasure , despite the intention being that of a minimalist design. the T and G reflect each other as Type and Graphics are everywhere, yet one C as Communications is a singular concept built of components . Furthermore, if that was mirrored there could be a misconception that it is an O and not two C’s

 

 

 

 

3. In the final design, I wanted the theme of Type to be centre stage and have a more complex maturity to it . I used black and white as the 2 main tones compliment each other well and very different from the other 2 designs featuring vibrant colours. Once again I embraced the geometrical blocks in the centre of the Podcast cover. The upper and lower half of the design are also made out of rectangles for a modernist style, with the exception of the use of serifs. The text is white to contrast with the black rectangle and have a consistency with the white background. The G for Graphics is the main focus point of the design, the largest letter, evenly sowed between the T and C. This section of the black block expands out created by ad

ding a circle over the top of the rectangle in a matching colour, and merging the layers. The white back. At this stage the white background was looking a little bland, therefore , to add to the typographic style, I typed repeatedly , Typography and Graphic Design. The opacity was reduced to under 60 % in order to not distract from the sharp white tone. This adds texture to the image through multiple layers, such as the subject matter has. This is an almost entirely typographic design. The upper block of text was duplicated into the bottom one and is my favourite of the 3 designs.

Software tutorials

Fortunately due to my prior experiences , I am very familiar with photoshop and its tools so I did nit need to learn how to use it from scratch. However, by completing this task and watching the software tutorials it was a helpful refresher of skills and did teach me new things. One tutorial I watched was on how to decrease the opacity of an item,’How to change the opacity of an image in Photoshop CS6, so that it could be seen through(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW5z39Pxdmw). I used this on the background text for my final black and white design to add texture. The first tutorial I watched showed how to decrease opacity for a whole layer. Therefore, I duplicated the text to a new layer, transformed it into an image. This way all the text could be moved at one time in a block, and therefore, any changes ,Ade, such as adjusting the opacity , will affect all the text. Although the second tutorial I watched, ‘Transparent text effect'(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bG5r5TM5e2o), did not display exactly what I wanted in its instruction, the method could still be applied to my own work when adapted, which I did by editing text transparency .I also learnt from ‘Matthew Prices: how to design a podcast cover- the ultimate guide’. This taught me many important elements and factors that must be known upon designing a podcast cover including the dimensions. These being a minimum of 1400×1400 pixels and a maximum of 3000×3000 pixels which is 72 dpi in a PNG or JPEG format. It also provided useful information like to consider where the cover would be seen and therefore consider its style of cover. For example, if it is seen somewhere printed like a magazine and not digitally like Spotify , it may need to be obvious it is a podcast cover and include a mic or an element recognised with such.If it is removed from its original environment it must be still be obvious that its a podcast over out of context. I also viewed, ‘How Amy Elshamy created Round things’. However, it did not teach anything that I wished to include for didn’t already know, yet it was still an interesting watch.

Resources for research and inspiration 

In my initial design , a major inspiration were the original iPod classic adverts from 2001 (https://www.theverge.com/2016/4/1/11340526/ipod-commercial-throwback-songs-apple-anniversary). Although I changed many of the key elements of these posters, thy were very basic and effective. They use a bright and colourful neon background which would contrast with  a silhouetted figure dancing in the foreground. There were no textures to them but where clear in their goal and what they were selling .I Felt it was too basic and applied more texture by removing parts of shaded body. This is to create the effect that the podcast over was released at the same time as the iPod adverts nearly 20 years ago, it may decay on paper as its old. The apple iPod adverts also had an influence in the second design with its vibrant background. I experimented making it red and purple, finally settling on the former to further distance from the first design featuring many red elements. For further inspiration I simply browsed podcasts on Spotify, this time focussing on typographic designs , one of which caught my eye being the Anfield Wrap using just the first letters of every word, shortening it to TAW. This also has a distressed look. The simplistic withered look I wished to emulate in my design and is a highly effective, eye catching image. However, it doesn’t not reflect the subject matter very well, having little to do with Liverpool football club.A huge inspiration for my final design is the clothing brand Emporio Armani, the logo is always very geometric and always black and white. The logo is sometimes just typographic and features the spread of an eagle covering a large space. The geometric nature with sharp black and white themes , I recreated in my own design as a vastly different alternate to my former podcast covers

 

 

 

 

 

Challenging

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  .