Baseline Shift: my experience


Baseline Shift is a real job that involves a group of students collaborating to organise weekly lectures given by professional designers during autumn and summer term. These talks enable students of the Typography and Graphic Communication department to gain insight into the design industry and potential career options after graduation. The team held multiple responsibilities such as hosting lectures, writing blogs, and creating weekly printed material and social media posts for students of the department to be reminded about the upcoming guest lectures.

Baseline Shift 2022/23

During the Summer holidays of first year, this Real Job was announced for students in my year group to become involved with the Baseline Shift team. From reading the description I was adamant on joining the team. Having the opportunity to network with designers in the industry and working alongside my cohort were the main reasons I wanted to join the team; hoping the experience would enhance my skills that would become applicable once I graduated. At the start, I was introduced to my team leaders comprising of Sara Nogueira Pérez and Adam Powell, and students in my cohort, Mia Bryan, and Habibah Begum.

The Baseline Shift team 2022/23 outside department with book cover designer, David Pearson

After becoming acquainted, we began organising everyone’s primary role as part of the team, which lead me to take responsibility for blog posts and copywriting. This role played to my strengths, hoping to show the team that I could keep quality in all written aspects of the job. During the summer holidays it was my responsibility to produce a new logo for Baseline shift. After Habibah’s choice of the typeface Montserrat, I created a design that reflects InDesign’s Baseline shift function icon, replacing it with the team’s name. This was our brand identity throughout my time as a member of the team.

The Baseline Shift logo I designed, used for all promotional material

This first year of baseline shift encouraged me to engage with my team and being responsible for the roles I performed weekly. Blog writing was the main responsibility I had throughout second and third year, ensuring that blogs could be posted weekly. However, this was not always the case, as coursework and deadlines would collide with my role on the team, resulting in some blogs being posted later than expected. Managing to allocate time to this real job was the largest struggle during this period, as second year work began taking priority of my time. On occasions, the team would help me to write the blog posts by providing notes that could be used later for the blog development. Performing mine and other’s distributed roles allowed me to experience range of tasks that are applicable to designing in the industry. Working every week on this real job was very rewarding, being able to see the fruits of my labour each week through successful lectures with professional designers.

The job allowed me to develop a range of skills that I would not normally say I was confident with. Designing the Baseline Shift logo and writing weekly blogs helped me to further develop my ability to take criticism and continuing to pursue the best results for my work. The hosting role was intimidating for me before engaging with it later in my experience, this was because public speaking in front of a lecture theatre was out of my comfort zone. However, with preparation and support from the team I was able to become more comfortable with public speaking for in-person and online lectures. Receiving feedback for how we performed and the quality of the lectures was always a supportive reminder that the team benefitted the learning of all students.

Baseline Shift 2023/24

Becoming one of the leaders of Baseline Shift was exciting for me, as it was now my opportunity to see whether I could efficiently lead a team. Becoming leaders in third year meant that two second years would join the team to aid in Baseline Shift consistently performing tasks each week without hinderances. Tilly Dobson and Amber Jones joined the team in the summer of 2023, helping us throughout our final year on the team.

One of the most valuable ideologies I learnt was that building a rapport with team members is a main component to whether the job runs smoothy each week, with members needing to communicate effectively to ensure the future lectures happen successfully. Because the team managed to bond quickly, working with deadlines became less stressful as communication was easy. But, on several occasions members would forget to remind the team of other commitments and issues that would affect job roles and planned events. To overcome this, the team would construct new schedules to adapt to these slight hinderances, which in the end enabled the team to remain stable whilst organising the weekly lectures.

I have many favourite guest speakers, but one of my personal favourite guests was Malcolm Garret during my first year of Baseline Shift. Being an icon for graphic design in the music industry, I was amazed to hear about Malcolm’s experiences and thinking behind his wide array of design work. After the talks I would frequently chat to the speakers about their careers, hearing the guests share similar interests and providing me with insight into the design industry. Having the opportunity to talk to professional designers is always a beneficial experience, especially when this opportunity happens every week with designers from different career paths and design jobs. In addition, this allowed me to gain connections on LinkedIn which has become valuable to me when searching for potential jobs after graduation.

The Baseline Shift 2023/2024 team with Sky Creative designer Aanand Tank, our final in-person Baseline Shift session

Another perk of joining the team was organising events in the department for when speakers would arrive for their scheduled talk. For example, with the arrival of the famous video game typographer Toshi Omagari, several typeface-making workshops had to be organised. Arranging rooms for the event was satisfying once completed as students engaged in the activities the team produced. A fond memory of mine was helping to setup an evening event that included arcade games and party games. Playing Mortal Kombat in the department was definitely a highlight for me!

Two of my course mates and I playing games at the Toshi Omagari Pixel Party

Final thoughts

Being part of the Baseline Shift team was one of the best decisions I had made for my future whilst studying the Typography and Graphic Communication course. This real job is one of the most rewarding amongst the selection that is offered to students on the course. The range of roles that members undertake, along with the amazing designers you are able to contact and network with are only some of the benefits to being part of the Baseline Shift team. If I was asked whether partaking in this real job would be worth it, it would be a definite yes. Any student willing to give their time to help run Baseline Shift will find it useful to their future career. I would recommend this job to any student looking to develop their skills towards professional practice and other applicable knowledge gained from two years of experience on the team.


James Hunter: Insight into magazine design

In week 3 of Autumn term, we were joined by editorial designer and co-founder of Senet magazine, James Hunter. In this session, James talked about his editorial design industry experience as well as his decision to co-found the magazine, based on his passion for boardgames.

Graduation and early career

After graduating from Falmouth University in 2010 with a degree in Graphic Design, James was adamant about not wanting to work for a traditional branding agency. Instead, he began working at the Guardian newspaper where he loved the “buzz of the newsroom”. Later in his career, James worked as an editorial designer for the Times newspaper, where the majority of his work revolved around designing early prototypes of the newspaper’s app, editorial design  work for print, and their magazine. During his time at there, he found the daily deadlines of work exciting, reminding him of his time at university, and motivating him to work consistently – a work ethic that all students could use! This work for daily newspapers inspired him to create his own magazine based on his passion for boardgames. James brought SENET magazine to life, after collaborating with many other like-minded people together to conceptualise the magazine.

‘Make a magazine about something you love, treat it like a magazine, not a business’ – James Hunter

 40 thoughts


The highlight of James’s lecture was his 40 thoughts behind making a magazine. There were many important points that students took with them to apply to their current projects; especially for the third year students who were working on a magazine design project. Point 21 advised students that the design of a magazine should be a response to the content that is being presented for audiences. This directly linked to point 22 which encouraged reading the the copy many times. This is because as an editorial designer the visuals and overall design needs to suit what has been written, therefore reading the copy is integral in helping make content and visuals compliment each other. Another point he emphasised was to ‘approach your magazine with a beginner’s mind, to keep it fresh’, telling students to design with an open mind when making an issue of a magazine as it would create new avenues to explore when designing instead of creating new concepts based on previous work.

SENET is a collaborative project made by James and his other colleagues who help to produce, design and sell the magazine. It is focused on boardgames and the fantasy genre, the aim of the magazine is to appeal to those who already have a passion for boardgames, while also inviting a new audience by producing appealing magazine designs.

SENET has enjoyed a growing circulation.

‘I’ve always loved magazines and always read them’ – James Hunter


Students were given valued advice from James’ talk for developing their projects further as the term progresses. Third year students especially benefitted hearing the 40 thoughts of designing a magazine, providing guidance to improve  their current magazine designs, as well as being able to apply James’ principles to their own work.

‘I really enjoyed how James established his work and career and then transitioned into how that informed Senet magazine. I also liked the level of detail he went into about the magazine that has to do not just with the design but all the logistical, financial, and business sides of self publishing.’ – MA student

‘It was inspiring to hear James’ insight into magazine design,  his talk has been really helpful for the upcoming magazine project.’ – Part 3 student

Toshi Omagari: Videogame typography

In week 2 of Autumn term, we were joined by typeface designer, Toshi Omagari. In this session, Toshi presented a wide range of enthralling videogame typefaces showing how they function to immerse users, along with providing students guidance on how to expertly produce typography for different projects. Followed by an 8×8 pixel type workshop and a fun retro arcade style party!

Arcade typography

Toshi presented many retro arcade typefaces, explaining the evolution of how type was designed since the start of videogames, emphasising the importance of type’s legibility and its interactive elements. His passion for arcade game typography came from Toshi being surrounded by arcade games in Japan whilst growing up. The wide variety of gaming’s colourful and animated type strongly influenced Toshi’s existing interest for fonts fonts and the characteristics of typefaces. This love for typography and videogames inspired him to research and write his book on Arcade Game Typography. The book contains a plethora of arcade game typefaces that Toshi researched to show how type in videogames interact digitally and how type is designed to present messages to audiences on screen.

Arcade Game Typography by Toshi Omagari.

Students were interested in how type has developed over time with the evolution from black and white to a wide array of colours and the introduction of drop-shadows, gradients and the progression of multi-lingual type. Toshi explained that ‘these fonts have been with us the whole time, but there was no comprehensive effort to document them. Maybe because it was not considered a serious subject by professional typographers, or maybe too technically demanding.’ But as he had shown students, there is no subject too broad or niche to explore when researching graphic design, which is comforting information for the part three students writing their dissertations. 

Toshi Omagari analysing pixel typography and how type interacts with the videogame on screen.

Pixel workshop & pixel party


Students were engaged in various pixel typography exercises.

The department held workshops lead by tutors after Toshi’s lecture. Students practiced colourful Lego letter-pressing pixel styled letters, as well as creating fonts using post-it notes where students won some great prizes!

After the typeface workshops, the dance-mats and arcade games came out for a fun night of music, food and drink in the department. From games like Pac-man, Streetfighter and Mortal Kombat, students had an array of games to play while socialising with their course-mates. To conclude, all students and lecturers had an exciting day learning about retro typography and having the opportunity to play some classic arcade games.

Students loved playing all the retro-arcade games!


From arcade game typography to the pixel party, students adored this week’s Baseline shift. Students gained a lot of insight into producing typography along with the fun of playing against their classmates in retro arcade games.

‘His presentation was so intriguing and the passion behind Toshi’s work was incredible! ’ – Part 1 student

‘This Baseline shift was very interesting! I loved it.’ – Part 3 student

Naomi Games: Abram Games’ legacy

In week 8 of Spring term, we were joined by Naomi Games, the daughter of Abram Games, who was one of Britain’s most famous designers. Naomi told students about Abram’s life as a graphic designer during World War Two, along with memories of her father during his career, and his wish to become the most successful designer in Britain.

Developing skills

Naomi explained how her father was taught airbrushing and photography by his father. He became highly skilled and began to build a portfolio of posters. After his time at St Martins School of Art, Games taught himself to draw, which he often practiced whilst staying with his father. Expanding knowledge and skills with different tools and building a professional portfolio was his focus, which is still relevant to how students dev elope and show off their abilities today. Games was told he would never achieve his dream of becoming the greatest poster designer in Britain by his headmaster; but he pursued his talents and work with pride, as all students should.

Naomi said that the ‘Your talk may kill your comrades’ was Games’ favourite poster design because of its message and visceral concept.

‘Curiosity courage and concentration’ – Naomi Games

Inspired by the likes of Mckinght Kauffer, Games continued to produce posters, winning various competitions. When war broke out, he was commissioned to design posters to encourage more men to enlist. During the talk, students learned about Games’ effort to communicate simple messages with intense emotions through the combination of photography, typography and the use of his airbrush. Learning to combine a multitude of useful techniques opens many pathways for students when trying to produce unique solutions.

One of Abram Games’ most famous posters, Naomi revealed that her mother’s name is hidden in the knitting in the poster.

‘His posters were visceral and realist, making his work hard to look at but more noticeable’ – Naomi Games


Naomi bringing her father’s work to life was inspiring for students. Games’ work showed us ways of harnessing current technology to create emotion and impact in design work.  This talk taught students to pursue their passions along with developing new skills to create more (and more innovative) solutions to design problems. Listening to Naomi speak about her father’s work, one of the greatest poster designers in Britain’s history, was motivating for students working on their own projects.

‘Her experiences through seeing her father’s success was heart-warming to hear.’ – Part 2 student 

‘She let us look at the examples of work and the airbrushes. It was amazing. Really loved this session. Glad it was in person.’ – Part 2 student

Sol Kawage: Design perspectives

In week 3 of Spring term, we were joined by information designer and Reading graduate, Sol Kawage. Her love of typography and passion towards informing students about the beauty of designing for a purpose was inspiring for students.

Sol Kawage’s design for a postcard and social media graphic for Tennesee Blend, advertising a theatre production

‘I liked the incorporations of her own struggles with ADHD and how it has taken her on this journey’ – Part 2 student

Being an information designer, Sol said she loves investing her humanity into her work. Earlier in her career she believed her biggest weakness was her ADHD, but she learned over time that because of this she has an advantage by having a different perspective than most designers. By viewing weaknesses as advantages, students were taught that there is nothing holding students back when designing for their projects. Sol reminded students how lucky they were to be studying at the university and how students should make the most out of the course, as it will bring many beneficial opportunities for their future careers.

Sol made students aware that every student is exactly where they’re supposed to be by studying at Reading.

‘The plan will not be right when the time comes to execute it. It is the activity of planning that prepares us for whatever transpires.’ – Sol Kawage

Collaborative information design including work by Sol and Josefina


Sol showed students that even if one doesn’t feel confident in their abilities or skills to execute something towards a project, any problem can be overcome and be seen as positive. Her inspiring words were very relevant for all students to hear as they progress with their work for modules.

‘I liked hearing how you use real life problems when designing, for example using the ski goggles will affect how the colours come across. It’s not something you would think to consider normally.’ – Part 2 student

‘The presenter’s honesty and the personal tone of the talk. So much fun!’ – Staff

Meggan Van Harten: Beauty of inclusivity

In the first week of Baseline shift Spring term, we were joined by Co-founder of Design De Plume, Meggan Van Harten. In this session, Meggan explained her focus on inclusive design and presenting indigenous culture using design as a voice to educate society.

To support Native American schools, John Hopkins University produced a COVID-19 safety toolkit. Design De Plume designed for the toolkit that included infographics and other information, like how to use a self-testing kit.

Representation through design

Design De Plume is invested in authentic indigenous artwork and the culture surrounding it. Working with indigenous audiences and informing people on more than 600 First Nations who speak 50 languages are Design De Plume’s main intentions when designing. The company strives to ensure inclusion, accessibility, diversity and equity in all design projects, and they are proud of being different with their design intentions. From illustrations to web design, the company honours the indigenous groups of Canada and their voices through consultation and how they can present their culture. Inclusive design can help students in approaching a new spectrum of ideas for existing projects. Meggan believes it is necessary to consider all audiences because ‘good design goes beyond what you can see.’

‘Good design is accessible.’ – Meggan Van Harten

Design De Plume use four lenses that show the four main focuses when collaborating with their clients

‘When you design with inclusivity in mind, the results can be beautiful.’ – Meggan Van Harten


Meggan’s perspective into the importance of diversity and how designing for such unique audiences takes an approach that is usually overlooked was inspiring. This presentation taught students how to develop their work into being more inclusive with all audiences in mind.

‘Nice to hear from designers who aren’t British, hearing about different cultural perspectives on design.’ – Part 2 student 

‘Considering inclusivity throughout her presentation and design thinking for her work is an interesting perspective when it comes to designing for clients.’ – Part 2 student   

‘I valued her idea of inclusivity, the way she introduced herself in an inclusive way to help potentially non sighted people understand her appearance.’ – Part 1 student 

Marie Boulanger: My life through letters

In the final week of Autumn term, we were joined by Monotype’s Marie Boulanger. In this session, Marie described her experiences in type design and how her life has helped to inspire her personal journey through designing typefaces.










Typeface design, exploring lettering and their purpose was always Marie’s passion

Type & expression

Working for Monotype, Marie’s role as an Art director for campaigns and making a narrative story for audiences was her dream career path. She explained how her love for type design stemmed from her childhood. Being born in Paris, from a young age she was exposed to expressive French lettering and signage. Marie pursued her interests by designing custom lettering for branding while freelancing, and taking part in the 36 days of type challenge, which encourages designers around the world to make a glyph once a day.

Marie felt that designing type was very personal and fulfilling for her, describing how type should be seen as a material and our hands are a tool to express ourselves. This helped to encourage students to find enjoyment in exploring many forms of design that are of interest to them, while being willing to be open to alternative opportunities, especially related to a career in design.

‘Type is a material, and the tools used are our hands’ – Marie Boulanger










The imagery and layout of stamps was always a great interest to Marie, they were one of her original inspirations towards design

‘Get involved in projects that help heal and feel good’ – Marie Boulanger


Marie’s insight into the creation of typefaces and her experience shows us that the journey to becoming a successful designer is through a student’s desire to observe our environment and strive towards designing to make ourselves satisfied. 

‘Very personal talk, which made it very inspiring, my favourite baseline shift so far’ – part 2 student

‘Honestly so many words come to mind, inspiring, encouraging, exciting. The baseline shift sessions always make me feel so inspired to go and make something cool and creative but this one in particular I loved’ – part 2 student

Alumni talks: The beauty of letters and digital design

In week 10 of Autumn term, we were joined by three alumni of the Department: Font engineer Norbert Krausz; Sky Creative Designer, Aanand Tank; and Director at ArabicType, Nadine Chahine. In this session, we were delighted to hear about our alumni’s lives after graduation and what our students can expect later in their careers.

Engineering fonts

Norbert expressed his love for the beauty of letters and their shape and how they drew him into his profession of engineering fonts. It was fascinating hearing about Norbert’s view of the huge variety of script that mankind invented and how it has been evolved through time. He described working in this specialised field as ‘narrow but deep, working with type means you are purely working on the shape of our language’, creating sets of glyphs was rewarding for him and he felt that it was no different to problem solving and finding solutions. Whilst working for Monotype, it helped Norbert discover many technical components behind type design; he described his work as very rewarding towards the development of the human language.

‘Font engineering as a field is narrow but deep. Working with type means you are purely working on the shape of our language’ – Norbert Krausz

Sky Creative

Aanand, became a Digital Designer for Sky. His UX and UI work in Reading and in Germany helped him understand alternative audiences and consider all users. Designing showcases for Sky Cinema, one of Aanand’s roles is to help ‘push out specific shows and movies’ based on genres. His work revolves around layouts on different platforms, like on mobile devices and televisions. Emphasising networking, Aanand encouraged students to explore their options for a future career and to start connecting with designers in the industry, strongly advising us to use Linkedin. Students found listening to a younger designer who recently graduated from Reading to be inspiring, as it showed students what they could achieve in the oncoming years.

Designing showcases for Sky involves tailoring to the specific genre of film or TV series

‘Network and you’ll go far’ – Aanand Tank

ArabicType Ltd.

Nadine described the politics of Arabic type and how there have not been many variations for the Arabic language. Her passion for type design was similar to Norbert’s, where she wanted to help visualise communication in different languages. Neue Helvetica Arabic is one of many typefaces designed by Nadine. It enables the setting of pan-European languages, in addition to Arabic, Armenian, Cyrillic, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Thai and Vietnamese. This typeface has been used in various media, most notably in airports in the middle-east to aid the population by having higher legibility for navigation.


Neue Helvetica typeface

‘Design can preserve memories’ – Nadine Chahine


To conclude, having the privilege to hear from our alumni about their careers helped to inspire students and provide insight into what they could achieve.

‘The wide variety of speakers in today’s session was really valuable. Hearing from graduates about their careers immediately after university showed me a huge amount of options and avenues to look into.’ – part 2 student

‘Hearing from an array of alumni was really interesting to hear about their lives after university and what I may experience after graduating.’ – part 2 student




Feedback jam: Real jobs and typeface design

In week 9 of Autumn term, a Feedback jam was held to help students gain additional feedback from tutors on their current projects. Gaining feedback from tutors aids students in directing them towards the next steps of developing their designs. In this post, we’ll focus on two of the unique projects that students brought for review.

Carter’s Steam Fair Real Job

When it comes to Real Jobs, focusing on the audience that we are designing for is key. A part 2 student wanted feedback on their re-designing of a logo for a competition brief set by Joby Carter, who is a highly skilled sign-painter and typographer, and owner of Carter’s steam fair. The brief involved creating a fairground-style logo for a stereotypically conservative brand. This student wanted feedback to guide them towards finalising their logo to create a fairground font for Legal & General.

Rob Banham and Sara Chapman gave pointers on areas to improve; such as considering making the logo more bespoke by adding more variation to each letterform, creating more excitement and fun, while also implying work done by hand – like at a fairground.









Part 2 student’s Real job Legal and General logo redesign

Typeface development

We run an optional Typeforms module in Part 3 of our course, where students create their own typeface. One student during the session asked for feedback on their current iteration. This student took a character in Helvetica and drew points using a grid system. Several versions of this typeface were made using a 6×6 grid system to ensure consistency for their letterforms. Using a pathfinding algorithm, the student connected each point to make an outline of each letter, with this the letters were re-drawn over the connected dots to increase legibility and produce the body.

Claudia Rifaterra proposed that the student could overlay a dotted version over a standard Helvetica character to form a new character. Revising past concepts and combinations of designs teaches students that recognising the significance of making multiple versions of work is important to look back on when making future design decisions.





The dotted version that aided in creating the body of each character

Tracing over the connected dots and lines made in Python, each character was drawn using the dots as guides.


As students we should always consider what needs to be improved with our work and gaining feedback from tutors and other students is always helpful in enhancing our current projects.

‘The personal feedback was incredibly valuable and useful for my Real Job. The opportunity to get additional help for my work by outside designers gives amazing extra support from experienced designers and professionals.’ – Part 2 student

‘It’s always very helpful getting feedback from tutors’ – Part 2 student

Rob Waller: Information, and why it’s designed


In week 4 of Autumn term, we were joined by the President of The International Institute for Information Design, Rob Waller. In this session, Rob supplied students with an insight into the theory of information design and research into documentation legibility.

Anatomy of Information

‘Roughly half the population struggles with reading document literacy’ and information published by sources (like the government), was a focal point of Rob’s lecture. Emphasising the importance of aiding the population with legibility, typography, and layout as a quality of written language playing a key role in people’s understanding of writing. Students learnt that multidisciplinary research of cognitive and educational psychologists, technologists, reading researchers and designers contribute to the comprehension of information and how it is structured to help the public.

‘You have to integrate what you say with why you’re saying it’ – Rob Waller

Rob explained his fascination with page layout and how structuring content is fundamental to readability, saying that designers such as Ken Garland who experimented with type and layout influenced him greatly. Furthermore, Rob talked about how his career has combined academic research from the University of Reading and the Open University with his own commercial agency – the Information Design Unit – and then with Enterprise IG. Working with numerous brands including Barclays, Vodafone, BT, T-Mobile and many more, students were given insight into the importance of research and theory in information design, and how it correlates with helping the population understand complex documents.

‘Ken Garland was a massive inspiration for me’ – Rob Waller

Design work by Ken Garland such as this cover for Railways: A Special Issue, was a great inspiration for Rob as a young designer. 



Hearing Rob’s passion for information design and allowing documents to be understood by all was inspiring. Emphasising the importance of document legibility, using elements of typography and layout, was relevant for students in understanding what they could use in their upcoming projects. Rob’s work is underpinned by a desire to use research to help people read – and actually understand – some of life’s more demanding texts.

‘Very interesting insight into a huge industry, would never have considered this as a significant industry for design.’ – Matt Perks

‘Listening to the content of an experienced typographer is very informative and interesting for me, as he showed the business side of typography, which will be very beneficial for me after I graduate from the university.’ – Part  1 student