Category: events

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

James Hunter: Boardgames are beautiful

James Hunter


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 Senet magazine, based off of his passion for boardgames and fantasy games.

Graduation and Early Career

After graduating from Falmouth University in 2010 with a degree in Graphic Design James was adamant on not wanting to work for a traditional branding agency. James worked at the Guardian newspaper where he loved the “buzz of the newsroom”, which led to his work as an editorial designer for the Times newspaper, where the majority of James’ work revolved around early prototypes of the Times app, editorial design of the daily newspaper and their magazine. The daily deadlines of work to be completed was exciting for James, as it reminded him of university with the deadlines set for him as a student, a work ethic that all University of Reading students could use!

James guided students through more of his career, ranging from the Sunday Times to Frettabladid (Iceland’s most popular newspaper). However, James felt much more drawn to designing magazines and decided to become a freelance designer. Learning about the potential flexibility you have as a designer to pursue a freelance career from originally working as a corporate designer was an enlightening detail to learn about for students.

‘I was kind of being defined as a newspaper designer but I really wanted to design magazines’ – James Hunter

SENET Magazine

The highlight of James’ lecture were his 40 thoughts behind making a magazine and the genre of SENET revolving around his passion for boardgames. There were many important points within the selection, but there were a few that stood out for students. Point 20 emphasised reading the copy, as an editorial designer we are serving the reader so by reading the copy constantly will help designers in linking their work to the copy. Point 31 stated that “you are only as good as your last issue”, which taught students that as soon as one piece of work has been completed, it’s more important to focus on the next big project.

Issue 1 of SENET magazine


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.


Issue 5 of SENET magazine 


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


The key points James regarded as essential for editorial/magazine design aided students in understanding what is important about designing for a specific audience, as well as how to be a successful freelance designer. James showed students that one’s passions can be pursued in their future careers and how working with a team of designers helps strive towards achieving tasks for deadlines.

‘James’ insight into the world of magazine design and detailed, linear description gave an engaging look into his experiences starting up a successful, regular document in printed media.’ – Part 2 student

‘Was very informative and particularly relevant for the TY3DP3 which we’re doing at the minute. Also super insightful about how to go about setting up a magazine.’ – Part 3 student

Malcolm Garrett: Anatomy of album covers

In week 2 of Autumn term, we were joined by Creative Director of Images&Co and well-known album cover designer Malcolm Garrett. In this session, Malcolm provided insight from his successful design career and shared valuable knowledge from his experiences to inspire Reading graduates in what could lie ahead for their future careers.

Student and early years

Enthusiastically explaining his late teenage years, Malcolm elaborated on how his year at Reading’s Department of Typography & Graphic Communication shaped him as a designer and the valuable lessons he was taught. Malcolm spent a year in the Department before transferring to Manchester in 1975, where he reconnected with friends from his A level years whom he was able to work again throughout the rest of his career, especially in the music industry. Malcolm’s interest in design originated from his love for music and pop culture. The specific culture behind his favourite bands inspired him to pursue graphic design as a path. With a particular adoration for the cover of Hawkwind’s second album, In Search of Space, Malcolm spoke about how bands such as Hawkwind, The Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees drove his passion for wanting to express the visual aspect of music.

The album cover for Hawkwind’s “In search of space” that inspired Malcolm greatly


The counter-culture surrounding the music genre of punk and post punk music influenced Malcolm, as he was obsessed with the overall power of the influence that the music culture had. Furthermore, Malcolm expressed his view of the role of the graphic designer was to act as a “middle-man” to communicate and present people’s thoughts to an audience and bring people together to understand. Students were engaged with Malcolm’s passion towards wanting to design for the public and the punk genre.

‘Album covers should be a vehicle of an esoteric image’ – Malcolm Garrett

The music industry

One of the highlights of Malcolm’s career were his massive contributions towards the Buzzcocks, ranging from the band’s logo to all the promotional material. Malcolm’s reasoning behind why he believes his Buzzcocks design work was as relevant and effective as it was, was because he was the target audience for the band. The music industry needed to tailor its promotional material to the correct audience, so Malcolm designed everything that would suit the punk culture of the Buzzcocks. As a student, it is valuable knowledge that all work should be tailored for users and be created to satisfy the needs of the audience, which Malcolm emphasised throughout.

The album cover for the Buzzcock’s Orgasm Addict


‘I was the target audience for the Buzzcocks’ – Malcolm Garrett


Malcolm has also made iconic and pivotal contributions to Duran Duran’s album covers, especially his most iconic cover for Rio. A theme constantly referenced throughout was the culture and trends surrounding the content is just as important as the design itself. As well as design not having to be limited to digital or only design by hand, which is very insightful for the students as it is helpful to communicate to young designers that there are no limits to constructing design.











The album cover for Duran Duran’s Rio




Malcolm describing his life as a designer helped students recognise that having to internalise the thoughts and personalities of audiences for design should be considered for all design work, to help tailor the experience to the correct users. Furthermore, Malcolm’s inspiration from pop culture and music was a very relevant and relatable context behind someone’s inspiration, that the undergraduates could relate to.

‘A really high calibre designer with really inspiring work. We got to see some really fun work with historical and cultural value.’ – Part 3 student

‘I valued Malcom’s clear experience and engaging presentation, showing an array of his own life and his design career. Garrett’s passion for his work and clear skill was inspiring to hear about and learn from his expansive career in the industry.’ – Part 2 student 

MagCulture Trip 2022

During the Autumn term, the Department organised and paid for a trip for the Part 3s to go to London and visit the MagCulture. Not only were we immersed in inspiration for our own magazine designs and concepts, but we also enjoyed a talk from Jeremy Leslie about the current state of the independent magazine scene. After the talk and trip were done, the year went out together as a Department social in London. With train tickets provided by the department through the Typography Student Fund we were able to get out of the building and experience magazine world in its fullest form.

During Jeremy’s talk, he showed us a range of current trends and creative ideas… to to the extremes of a single plank of wood being sold as a magazine! He opened up his shop to us, which covered every genre in the magazine world, where we were allowed to browse, take pictures and experience the materiality of these objects firsthand. Take a look at their instagram for inspiration:

From all of us in Part 3, I would like to thank Sara and Rob for organising this trip. We’d also like to thank all the clients from Real Jobs who have donated to the Typography Student Fund, making an educational event fun.


Cover Inspo

Inside pages Inspo


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