Author: YaaAgyapong

Black Members of Parliament Book

Labiba and Yaa took the opportunity to design the book Black British Members of Parliament in the House of Commons: 22 Stories of Passion, Achievement and Success for author and client Shirley Anstis.


We accepted the real job while the book was in the writing process and met with the client to obtain further information. From our meeting, we found the book was a compilation of 22 mini-biographies of Black parliament members. The aims were to inspire and educate readers on potential career paths and role models. The target audience were secondary school students, and the secondary audience was schools and parents. The three deliverables included: a book cover, eBook, and files for a printed book. We established objectives to produce an inspiring, attractive and appropriate book and book cover for the target audience.


As our target audience were teenagers, we looked at different biographies aimed at our target market; to understand the style and get inspiration. Almost all of the books we looked at had a figure on the front cover, indicating the role model of the biography. Additionally, most of these covers were illustrative, so we concluded illustration would be the most appropriate design to attract the target audience. We further researched different illustration styles and layouts we could adopt to create a more engaging book.

Moodboard of biographies aimed at our target audience


The client presented an initial book cover design. We found it not appropriate for the target audience as it was too mature. Therefore, we tried to adapt the design and work with the illustration provided but noticed it reduced the overall appeal of the cover. After discussing this with the client, she was open to new concepts but adamant about using the Houses of Parliament. We eventually realised that having the Houses of Parliament on the cover would not work despite our illustration attempts because it lacked interest. We had to take a different approach to make it more enticing. After creating some sketches and developing a couple of ideas, we eventually opted for illustrative portraits of the MPs on the cover. 

Original cover design (left), the first iteration using the illustration provided by the client (middle) and our illustrated version of the building (right).
Sketches of new cover design concepts
Developing iterations of the front cover (background experimentation)

We needed to be cautious about our designs and illustration styles to avoid being racially insensitive. For example, one of the first iterations we created had vibrant colours and a large image. We wanted to add some flair to the cover by adding texture, so we implemented a ripped paper effect. However, class feedback highlighted this effect was messy and unprofessional, thus emphasising racist connotations by reflecting the MPs poorly. We also took into consideration the racist undertones of adopting certain illustration styles. Black people have a long-standing history of experiencing racism due to their facial features. We avoided a caricature style as the exaggerated features within this technique perpetuates racist stereotypes. 

We selected the typeface Brother 1816 Printed for the title as the printed texture in combination with the illustration style making the cover appropriate and appealing to the target audience. The solid typeface made the book title bold and complimented the thick lines of the illustration portraits. Initially, we selected different typefaces for the subtitle but received feedback to use the same typeface for the entire cover. 

Final book front cover


Once we had received the manuscript, it was essential to clean the copy of hidden characters and correct any mistakes first. Despite our attempts at cleaning the manuscript before designing, we found ourselves making changes throughout the design process. Then we flagged the inconsistent use of names, incorrect labelling of nationality with ethnicity, broken/missing source links, and missing information in the table. Then relayed these to the client for correction. 


As this was the first time either of us had designed an eBook, we educated and guided ourselves through LinkedIn Learning courses. We discovered there were different types of eBooks. As our client intended to upload to the Kindle bookstore, a reflowable EPUB format was most appropriate because it would adjust to fit the readers’ device. 

Generally, eBook design is crude, designing for functionality rather than aesthetics. It was essential to assign the correct paragraph, character and object styles to all the content. These controlled and affected the function and outcomes of the eBook preview. Initially, we noticed that exporting the design from InDesign to EPUB produced entirely different appearances in size, spacing, positioning and images. Hence we needed to install a Kindle previewer to check and test each iteration of the EPUB.

We considered typography in terms of on screen readable type, headings and lists. However, the line-length, hyphenation, widows and orphans and headers and footers were irrelevant as these changed by the device and the user’s personal settings. Images appeared in black and white for some devices but in colour for others. They also had to be manually anchored to prevent shifting to incorrect locations.

As EPUB removes multiple-spacing, all spacing occurs within the styles. When designing the contents page, we struggled with creating adequate space between the page number and the section title as the EPUB minimised the space. After a few iterations and feedback back-and-forth with our supervisor, we realised that the page numbers were redundant as they change for different devices. We resolved it by removing the page numbers and ensuring the hyperlinks in the interactive contents linked to the correct section. 

The reflowable format created an issue with implementing the table. It would cut the table across pages rather than presenting it as a unit. Our supervisor requested we indicate that the table continues from the previous page. However, as the table broke by rows, it would be impossible to ensure it appears in the correct place for different devices. Instead, we converted the table into an image so it would always appear as one unit. 

Before (left) and after (right) of the table

After spending hours trying to rectify a simple error, causing all the images to misalign, we learnt that saving new versions of the file for each iteration was crucial. It was hard to identify the cause of new issues being unable to see the previous EPUB iteration for reference. A lot of trial and error was needed to reach the final deliverable. 

eBook layout


The design process for the hardcopy was more straightforward. We developed three sample layouts demonstrating a long and short mini-biography, and the chosen layout was the client’s preference. Flowing the text and images into the document was simple. Most effort and time went into refining the typography, ensuring consistency and removing errors throughout the copy. 

Chosen sample layout

Unlike the eBook, printing needed considering. Initially, the hardcopy was supposed to be in colour due to the use of photography. However, due to cost, the client also requested a black and white version of the inside pages. 

We also found out orange was a troublesome colour to print and needed to figure out how to print the cover. As few copies were going to print, it ruled out the use of spot colours. Instead, we used a Pantone Bridge swatch, providing a close copy of spot colour in CMYK. We also contacted Geoff, who suggested implementing a silk coated paper stock for the cover. Ultimately the client picked a glossy paper stock as she self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon.

Digital spread from the physical book


One of the main issues was the tight deadline provided by the client. Towards the end of September, after sending us the manuscript, the client stated that she wanted the eBook completed for Black History Month in October. We were concerned that we would be unable to design the eBook to a high standard within the time frame presented. After planning out the tasks we could do within the timeframe provided, we updated the restated brief and sent it to the client. As designing an eBook was a new experience for us, the process of learning how to do it slowed us down. We also came across many issues that the videos did not cover or were covered briefly.

The photographs in the book and the references for the illustrations on the cover used were the MPs’ official portraits on the Government website. It raised a copyright concern as the client did not own the images. We emailed the copyright compliance office at the university to verify whether using the images for illustrative purposes on the cover and within the book would be allowed. They confirmed that using them for our specific project was permitted if we acknowledged the photographers. They also provided a structure for crediting the photographer to assist us.

One of Yaa’s main concerns was illustrating the braids of the female MPs as it is a hairstyle she struggled to draw. In addition, making the braids visible on a smaller scale was also a significant issue. Eventually, Yaa figured out a technique that worked. Most MPs wearing braids in their official portrait are wearing braids in the illustration on the front cover. However, Kate Osamor’s hairstyle was difficult to illustrate in a way that did her appearance justice. Yaa repeatedly tried to replicate the braiding style shown in her official portrait, but each attempt was unsuccessful. Therefore, she began considering alternative solutions. Black women tend to wear different braiding hairstyles, so she researched different protective hairstyles previously worn by Kate. Kate has frequently worn her straight based on recent Google Images. Ideally, we would have liked to display Kate’s African heritage through her braided hairstyle because it is a significant part of black culture. However, we decided to change Kate’s hair to match one of her recent hairstyles to convey her appearance without being offensive. 

Before (middle) and after (right) of Kate Osamor’s illustration


It was challenging to take on a project having no experience in eBook design. Still, the opportunity allowed us to learn and expand our design skills, and working intensely on typography has renewed our attention to detail. Yaa also uncovered and developed her digital illustration abilities. The skills and lessons we have learnt from the project have taught us how to handle pressure and tight deadlines, maturing us as designers in the process. Overall, we are happy with the outcomes, but there is room for improvement. If we had more time, we could further refine the designs for all the deliverables. Furthermore, having the books printed through the department instead of Amazon would have produced a more professional appearance.

Hardcopy of Black British Members of Parliament Book. Printed via Amazon

Charles Mozley Trust Website


Charles Mozley was an English artist whose paintings, illustrations and lithography was influenced by the style of French post-impressionism. After his death in 1991, his children and researchers have been dedicated to continuing his legacy through the Charles Mozley trust. 

Painting (left) and lithography (right) by Charles Mozley


The founders of the Charles Mozley Trust required a website. It was clear that the design of the website would have a significant influence on the design of the Trust’s branding identity, which is yet to be established. The website would be an online presentation that displays the work of Charles Mozley and further information about the artist. It will be targeted towards people with an interest in British art between 1945–1990, gallery owners and academics. After a complete understanding of the client’s expectations, an objective of creating an online presence for the artist and initiating an online identity for the trust was formed. 


I looked into the style and work of Charles Mozley, and the client provided some resources to initiate a deeper understanding of the artist and his work. As an artist that works with different mediums, I wanted to place an emphasis on showcasing work that ranges from paintings, lithography and illustrations. 

As my target market was individuals with an interest in British art between 1945–1990, I took a look at the website of different artists that were popular during that time period, such as Paul Guston. I admired how Paul Guston’s website was visual, containing a video that displayed images of the artist’s work. Although not relevant to the Charles Mozley style or time period, I also looked at some artists that I believed had an interesting website design such as Damien Hirst. Looking at the website of other artist’s initiated different approaches I could take to display the work of Charles Mozley on his website. 

Screenshots of Paul Guston’s website
Screenshots of Damien Hirst website


Before starting the design process, I meet with the clients to discuss their expectations and the general layout of the website. This information was useful when it came to visualising the navigation and format of the website. Based on the points provided by the client and my own judgement, I created a sitemap to display the different web pages and the navigation through the website. After creating a sitemap, a couple of sketches of different website layouts were selected. The wireframes show the different design concepts I had envisioned for the web pages. The clients stated that they preferred wireframe 2 and the design of the website proceeded to the next stage, creating the prototype. Initially, due to covid, the transfer of files that contained content for the website was delayed. I took it upon myself to use images available online of the low fidelity prototype, using the design concept from wireframe 2. The low fidelity prototype was sent to the clients, which they provided feedback and further suggestions on. The feedback and suggestions provided were carried forward into the next iteration of the website prototype. The client eventually managed to transfer a file of contents for the website, which was used to create the next iteration of the website prototype. Although they were overall satisfied with the initial prototype, the clients provided feedback and suggestions to develop the website further. They suggested a new layout for the “Artwork” webpage, where the images of the pieces of art would be arranged in one grid, regardless of medium unlike the initial concept where the pieces were showcased depending on the medium used to create them. To work with the material provided by the client, I sometimes had to break away from initial designs for certain web pages. For example, the initial design of the exhibition page contained images of the exhibition with some information, however, as the material provided was mainly text, the layout of the webpage had to be adapted. 


Sitemap of website with potential webpages
Wireframe design concepts. Wireframe 1 on the left, wireframe 2 on the right
Low fidelity prototype



The lockdown as a response to the COVID 19 pandemic had a significant impact on the progression of this real job. This real job was assigned to me a couple of days before the second lockdown had been announced. During that time period, I was able to create the sitemap and wireframes. However, the lockdowns that occurred between October—April meant that the client could not provide a majority of the material needed for the website as they were stored in the Typography Department or The University of Reading Museum. The material needed for the website was transferred to me towards the end of March and I have since been able to make some progress on the design of the website. 

Current website prototype iteration


Working on this real job continues to be a pleasure. The despite current circumstances, the client’s involvement and suggestions have been useful in producing new concepts to experiment with, deepening my knowledge of web design. 

It is unfortunate that the lockdowns as a result of COVID 19 have prohibited the progression of the website, impacting the initial deadline of the website. The change in lockdown restrictions and current access to a majority of the material needed for the website will hopefully result in a smoother advancement of the website at a quicker rate. Although I am graduating this year, the client and I will continue to work together to complete this real job. I am excited to witness the final outcome of the website and the design skills that have thrived as a result of this real job.