Category: Real Jobs (featured)

Will display on the screen in the Department

The Epilogue: RSA Degree Show 2023

Real Job: Lydia Hall designed the branding for the Reading School of Art Degree Show, which included an art catalogue and website.

The brief for this project was to design the branding for the Reading School of Art Degree Show, which included an art catalogue and website. This project was completed through the Real Job’s scheme at the Typography and Graphic Communication department.

Background:

Each year the Reading School of Art host a degree show to showcase the final year’s artwork; to go alongside this they asked for a publication and a website. This project was later extended to more of an event branding project and included a poster, postcard and email banner. A committee of art students oversaw the organising of the degree show, along with the assistance of the art tutors.

Deliverables:

Following the initial meeting with the student committee and art tutors, these were the deliverables that were decided upon

  • Publication: A large editorial catalogue that would showcase the artwork produced by the students
  • Website: A digital place where all the artists and their work are displayed
  • Promotional material: Posters and digital media to advertise the degree show itself

Audience

The brochure would be given to everyone attending the degree show. It may also be handed out at open events to prospective students. It is something that will likely be kept long-term by the students and could be used as part of their professional portfolios. The website will be geared to visitors of the event, these may be people who know the students personally or industry professionals who are looking for talent in the art community.

Responsibilities:

In our team we splitout the responsibilities, I was to design the publication, another team member was to design the website, and the other team member was to be the project manager. I had expressed an interest in designing the publication, since I have dreams of working as an editorial designer.

Brief and timeplan:

Following the initial meeting, we drafted the brief, including the time plan, which the client signed off. The time plan was especially helpful since it helped me to organise my time, and meant that the client was on the same page as me. I was especially glad that I built in plenty of time around sending the publication to print, since this took a lot longer than I had hoped it would.

Figure 1: The time plan for the project allowed the client to be on the same page as me

At this stage in the project the project manager unfortunately had to take a step down, due to an injury, as so I took on their responsibility as client liaison and project manager. From this point onward I began to attend the meeting which happened weekly with the student committee, and occasionally the tutors. These weekly meetings helped me to keep on top of the project, and to set weekly tasks.

Research:

Figure 2: Client’s mood board

The student committee had a range of ideas about this project. They had found an old photo album found in the department with images of the art students from the 1980s. They want this degree show to pay homage the department over the years, since the art building is being torn down this summer. Some key themes included, archival, retro, vintage and nostalgic.

At this stage they voiced some issues with previous publications from other degree shows. In one such catalogue ‘designerly elements’ which were overlapping with the art work, creating confusion about what was an image of a student’s art and what was decoration. The students expressed a desire for the images to really sing, and take entre stage with no distractions from the work itself.

I worked alongside a committee of art students to brainstorm their ideas around the branding of their degree show. The title ‘The Epilogue’ was decided to reflect the end of an era.

Figure 3: Initial ideas

Content:

The art students were to upload up to five images of their art work to a Padlet, along with the caption of their work. Due to the scale of the content, I set up a spreadsheet for the captions and a naming system for the art work, which made it easier to keep track of all the images.

Figure 4: Padlet where the students uploaded their work

Design:

The size of the art catalogue was to be the same as last year’s (an American narrow) so that there is some constancy across the catalogues.

 The students didn’t want each to have their own double-page spread, nor to be grouped by media (paintings, sculptures, or drawings) and so I have grouped by colour and mood. There were over 60 students, with other 170 pieces of art, so this was a huge undertaking!

Figure 5: Organising the pieces of art by colour
Figure 6: A spread for the publication, showing ‘blue’ pieces of art
Figure 7: A spread from the publication showing ‘pink’ pieces of art

The MA students chose to to have a dedicated double page spread for each student, and since there were only seven students they had their own section. They expressed a preference not to just be stuck on the end, and so I have created a middle section on black paper to differentiate from the BA students.

Figure 8: Spread from the MA section

Since the publication was to reflect on the student’s experience, the art students took a whole range of photos of themselves and the studios. The photo pages are placed throughout the publication, and are designed to look like photos spread out on a table.

Figure 9: Spread showing group photos

Captions:

The publication is mostly images, the main text challenge was the captions due to the levels of information. The artist’s full name in bold comes first, followed by the title (in italics) and the year of creation, the media follows this, and lastly the dimensions. The caption would either go below the art work, or adjacent to it, occasionally the captions for the page would come together in a block and arrows would be used to indicate which piece of art. This was a lot more user friendly than using phrases like going ‘clockwise from the top’ or ‘bottom left’.

Figure 10: How the captions are ordered

Grid:

The publication’s aim was to really showcase the art work and so each student’s first ranked piece had a full page (sometimes full bleed). The grid was spilt into two horizontally, and then into halves, thirds, and quarters. Since each piece of art had different dimensions (and art work should have the same ratio when printed) I made sure that each image hit at least one alignment point (e.g. taking up half the horizontal page).

Figure 11: Showing the underlying grid

Cover:

The art committee were keen to have an image of the art department on the cover, to pay homage the department over the years. I really enjoyed working with other creatives and brainstorming cover ideas. One student who was a keen photographer took servals angles of their studio roof which I then took into Photoshop and  played around with the two tone colour effect. From the initial ideas, Figure 3, the orange and pink were a favourite colour combination so I used them. I kept the same typeface of Letter Gothic for the front cover, to tie the inside pages and the cover together.

Figure 12: A photgraph of the art studio roof

Feedback:

Along with the weekly meetings with the committee and the Real Jobs team, towards the end of the project there was a large proof read. The student committee and art tutors read the entire publication and checked that all the captions matched, that everyone’s art work was included. This really helped in the final stages, and having serval more sets of eyes checking that all the information was correct.

Figure 13: Feedback notes from the student committee

Production:

After the client had approved the publication I created the press ready pdfs, which took a bit longer than than anticipated. Geoff, our in house print technician, was incredibly helpful in this. It was amazing to see the accumulation of months of hard work come together in the printed publication.

Figure 14: Boxes stacked up with the 500 publcaitions
Figure 15: Printed cover
Figure 16: A printed spread

Website:

The Epilogue Degree Show Website

Last minute, I was asked by the Real Jobs team to oversee the website design, which wasn’t making as much progress as it should have been. l oversaw the design of the website, which was created using WordPress, it was a lot easier than I anticipated and I quickly learnt how to use it. Rather than trying to do the whole website myself, I implemented a system for one art student and then showed the other team member how to do the other 50 pages.

Figure 17: Website displayed on a laptop
Figure 18: Website displayed on a mobile device

Promotion:

The student committee asked for a adaptions of the front cover to be used as promotional material. This included an Instagram post (Figure 14), a poster (Figure 15), a postcard and email signature. I was able to reuse elements to best suit that media and purpose.

Figure 19: Instagram post promoting the opening evening
Figure 20: Poster promoting the degree show

The degree show:

I was invited along to the degree show open evening, and it was amazing to see everything come together to create a coherent brand, such as the posters round the department, the publications being handed out, and even the the captions using Roboto Mono!

Figure 21: The degree show opening evening showing some of the art work displayed in the studios
Figure 22: I was delighted to see the captions using Roboto Mono!

Reflection:

I thoroughly enjoyed this project, not only was it amazing design experience, but I learnt about who I am as a designer and how to work alongside other people.

In this project I discovered that I enjoyed going to the weekly meeting with the client and the group of students. Having these regular meetings helped to keep the project going, and motivated me to prepare work to show each week. I developed my communication skills especially when collaborating with my client, I was able to empathise and understand things for a different perspective.

This by far has been the largest project I have worked on so far, in terms of page numbers (100) and copies that were produced (500). I create systems for myself that helped me to manage the scale of the project. This included a thorough image and file naming method, order for the captions, style sheets, and parent pages.

This experience has highlighted to me that book design is where my passions lie. While the process of creating a website is similar in some ways to creating a book; I much preferred the satisfaction of designing a physical object.

“Thank you so much for your hard work Lydia! You’re an absolute star, can’t thank you enough for all of your help with this”

– Maddy Chelmis, student committee

Figure 23: Close up of the printed publication

Floreat UK branding

Background

Floreat UK is a new workplace wellness consultancy, dedicated to promoting holistic health and well-being in workplaces and workforces. Floreat means ‘let it grow, blossom, bloom, thrive, flourish”. The business’s services encompass areas including nature, mindfulness, breathwork, and biophilia that aim to improve people’s wellness and performance. Our client, Lois Cliff, was the founder of BeeLoudWords, and a teacher of English, with decades of teaching experience, inspiring students in the best version of themselves, which led her to transform her previous experiences and passion into business in the wellness and fitness industry. The objectives of this project were to create a brand identity for Floreat UK that reflects its brand values in commitment to businesses and individuals, as well as emphasizes Lois’s personality and her high energy and engaging coaching style.

Restated brief

The client needs a logo design, tagline, and email footer, which will be adapted to her business websites and future promotions. Our first client meeting allowed me and my teammate to understand her vision and personality properly. After discussing the aspiration of goals, services, target audiences, and visual identity of the brand, we accomplished the restated brief immediately.

Major missions of the company:

  • Showcase Floreat UK’s commitment to helping businesses and individuals improve wellness through consultancy services.
  • Target all kinds of businesses, including small local businesses and anyone who wants to achieve better wellness in their workplace.
  • Help everybody and 10% of all earnings go towards helping women and girls have a better life.

Initial thoughts on the visual identity of Floreat UK:

  • Emphasis on the productive, sustainable, eco-friendly, and responsible aspects of the brand.
  • Create a strong visual identity that is recognizable and memorable, which represents the playful and high energy level characteristic.
  • Incorporate distinctive typography and could use color schemes of green, pink, and blue.
  • Reflect Floreat UK’s biophilic design that incorporates nature into the workspace, which could use natural elements such as flowers, leaves, and bees as graphic representations.

 

Researches and ideations

A crucial starting point was the research of target audiences and competitors. In the Floreat branding initial research, we identified the potential target audiences ranging from female individuals of all ages, HR managers, educational institutions such as schools and universities (both students and staff), business proprietors, social enterprises, non-profit organizations, sustainable businesses, to healthcare institutions.

As Floreat UK aspired to remain inclusive and welcome anyone who sought their services, this inclusivity provides the opportunity to develop a diverse audience that includes businesses, individuals, and organizations committed to enhancing wellbeing in the workplace and advocating for social and environmental changes.

User persona (Business Owner)
User persona (HR Manager)

The personas highlight the two essential audience categories of Floreat UK, business owners and HR managers. Analyzing their core objectives and motivations ensures that our logo design effectively caters to the needs and preferences of these target users. For example, the first persona showcases a business owner, David, who owns a sustainable clothing company and would like to promote employees with sustainable and positive environmental values. A promising and biophilic iconic representation would be suitable and attractive to him.

Furthermore, the brand mainly focuses on female individuals in workplaces including HR managers shown in the second persona. In this case, an energetic and playful logo could fit Sophia’s needs in maintaining a productive and engaging atmosphere in the workplace.

Competitor’s logos in the wellness and fitness industry

Moving to the competitive landscape, we find businesses operating within the holistic wellness sector prevalent in using visual elements including organic shapes, earthy color palettes, peoples, and nature-inspired motifs to represent their values of wellbeing. These design choices evoke a harmonious connection with nature and people, while also communicating a commitment to sustainability and growth. These competitors’ logos have embraced contemporary and vector design styles, which promote a recognizable and distinctive brand identity, aligned with the modern branding strategies adopted by companies such as Apple, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Adidas. Our client also preferred a recognizable and modernist logo, that is distinct and simple and aligned with the contemporary logo trend.

Client choices from the Floreat Inspiration Board

We then created a Floreat Logo inspiration mood board, which gathered logo designs with several potential ideations and styles that resonate with Floreat’s core values. It included ideations such as line art, illustrative designs, typeface logos, elements featuring animals and leaves, therapy and growth, and people logos. After presenting to our client the rationale behind each logo concept, we boosted our insight into the client’s preferences for logo style and ideation. Typeface design that exuded a vibrant personality, as well as logos that featured leaves and people, particularly stimulate our client and effectively communicate Floreat UK’s dedication to fostering people’s growth and well-being. The logos in style of a combination of two ideas, including leaves and people logos, as well as bees and flowers logos, created a distinctive and unmistakable visual identity.

Additionally, the visual representation of bees was especially significant to the client, not only because it has been her previous company’s logo, BeeLoudWords, but also due to its profound representation in harmony with Floreat’s biophilic values. Our client also conveyed her preference for a specific shade of green, providing our team with useful guidance to begin with the design.

Design development 

Logo design

With the client’s preferences now clearly defined and armed with a profound understanding of Floreat UK’s identity and a shared vision with the client, our design team eagerly began the next phase. Our goal was to create a recognizable and unique logo that captured Floreat UK’s core values and characteristics.

Initial logo sketches (combining bees, leaves, and the initial letter F of Floreat UK)

The initial sketches intricately blended various design elements to craft a compelling logo. We have chosen bees to symbolize Floreat’s strong commitment to environmental awareness. Additionally, we combined leaves as powerful symbols of growth and well-being. The incorporation of the initial letter ‘F’ of Floreat also added a signature to the brand. However, our supervisor provided critical opinions on our initial logo sketches and pointed out that some of the concepts, especially the bees ones contained too many ideas into one logo. These could be overwhelming to our client or viewer to understand the message. This prompted us to rethink our approaches to be less intricate and keep it strong and simple.

Logo sketch for client feedback

By further developing and redesigning ideations and variations among the logos, which were thoughtfully organized and categorized based on their underlying themes and ideas, it ensured our communication remained straightforward and concise for the client to review.

Our client prefers logos that blend the elements of a bee and a flower, which captures the essence of growth, sustainability, and environmental consciousness that Floreat UK stands for. Furthermore, our client is also delighted with the leaves and growth logo. These logos appealed to her as they symbolized the growth and well-being aspects of the brand and also conveyed a sense of groundedness and harmony with nature. While the client had not made a decision on the logo at that stage, and ultimately made their choice after we combined these options conducted with typography experiments.

Typeface experiment

In terms of typography, we initially presented three distinct typeface options to our client: script typefaces that promote playfulness and vivid movement, friendly typefaces that exuded approachability, and decorative typefaces that added an ornate touch to the brand’s identity. As the client would like to emphasize movement and playfulness within the typography, we have attempted to incorporate the handwritten style of the word ‘Floreat’ from the client. It seems to be a potential approach to emphasize movement with designated calligraphy typefaces incorporating wavy lines and a flourishing style.

Typography choices
Experiment with logos, typefaces, and colours

It became clear among the options after our supervisor raised a critical point of consideration regarding the script typefaces. It could be inappropriate to convey a brand image that is heavily towards playfulness, which undermines the impression of reliability and professionalism that Floreat UK sought to establish. After experimenting with colors and typefaces combined with logos, we found that a better way to communicate the brand was the use of solid color, clean lines, and friendly typefaces, which established both the promising and welcoming attitude of the brand’s identity.

Revised logos combined with typefaces (for client feedback)

After renewing our typography choices with friendly typefaces and combining them with logos, our client immediately decided on the font, Gelica, which maintains a balance between the playfulness and seriousness of the brand. For the logo, the client has chosen undecided between No.4 and No.11. However, we found that No.11 could be less resonant for the audience. Our client ultimately selected the logo design that featured a delicate balance between a flower and a bee-like iconic representation. This choice resonated deeply, as it carried profound symbolic meanings while also remaining remarkably easy to remember. This design perfectly promoted Floreat UK’s mission of nurturing growth and well-being, as well as emphasizing the importance of sustainability and environmental consciousness. With the taglines, we all agreed to keep it simple by placing it under the brand name.

‘We both really like the bee flower. He’s done some playing with it, and it sizes down really well, and looks much more like a bee, which is cool.’

– Lois Cliff, Floreat UK

 

Final delivered logo design for the client

 

Final logo of Floreat UK (modified by the client)

Nevertheless, the decision on the color palette brought about an interesting twist. During the color selection phase, the client expressed a preference for both the gradient and solid green color options. While both options had their unique appeal, we have decided on a solid darker green color to maintain brand consistency and ensure a unified brand image.

Upon the final logo’s delivery, however, the client made a subtle yet impactful adjustment to the color. Fortunately, our final deliverables provided flexibility and adaptable iteration to the client.  This shift in color transitioned to a lighter shade of green that exuded a more vivid, vibrant, and natural feeling, which allowed the logo to breathe a renewed sense of energy and freshness into the logo, aligning even more closely with Floreat UK’s identity and values.

‘I really like the one you gave me originally but I’m the end I felt a lighter shade was a bit more nature-y! 🌿’

– Lois Cliff, Floreat UK

 

Email footer
Floreat email footer options (for client feedback)

Although contemporary email footers typically added the plain text of contact details and links to the end of an email, our client desired a more visually engaging and customized email footer for the brand. While experimenting with five compositions with various placement and layout of the email footer, a key consideration was the interactive function of contact details which would be prominently displayed with clickable links. This required attention to layout with accessibility and ensuring that the information was readable and easily clicked.

Final email footer for Floreat UK

We lastly settled on a simple yet effective design choice for the email footer and incorporated a clean divider to separate the contact details from the brand logo, enhancing visual clarity. Additionally, we enlarged the contact icons to make them more accessible and user-friendly. After settling on the design, the final stage was to ensure that the email footer was not only visually appealing but also fully functional with clickable links. Although we realized that our client’s partner could handle the technical assets, we further pushed our team to create the clickable template for the email footer. We explored several tools and methods to create the clickable email footer, including signature generator tools like Wise Stamp and HubSpot, and by building the design in Google Documents.

As one particular challenge we faced was adapting our design to fit within the confines of email signature settings and these settings often constraints in capacity and formatting, we finally decided to turn the Photoshop design into HTML coding and build it further with Bracket, which was built into a template webpage and shows how the client could copy and paste to the email signature in the email setting.

Brand guidelines
Floreat brand guidelines

In the Floreat Brand Guidelines, we govern the design rules of composition, visual elements, style, typography, and color treatment of the logo design and email footer. These guidelines ensure the consistency of brand identity across all communication channels and allow stakeholder to effortlessly adapt our email footer to their communications.

Reflection

Overall, the design meets all of the brand’s values and the client’s vision. We successfully navigated through each stage of the process within the tight two-month timeline and received positive feedback from our client on the final result. Critical feedback received from our supervisor and peers from real job meetings has given us invaluable help toward the final design. Throughout this project, I found the experience of working as a team to be particularly enjoyable and productive. By strategically allocating tasks based on our individual strengths with logo ideation and email footer design focused by me, and typography focused by my teammate. Our team effectively reduced workload and ultimately delivered results that satisfied our clients. I also gained versatile skills as a designer, including project management and communication skills in both written and online meetings. In the technical aspects, it provided practical experience in designing logos professionally by paying careful attention to details and striking the best result. For example, using grids to maintain accurate proportions and ratios. Also, pushing boundaries by creating email footers with HTML coding, to provide a mock-up solution for the client.

To reflect on the aspects to improve during the project, there are areas where we could have done better. One aspect was our communication and discussion during client meetings, being more confident in asking questions and defending our design choices would have facilitated more efficient and constructive discussions. These are beneficial in helping the client make decisions and ensuring the solutions are precisely tailored to their needs, especially regarding color choices of the logo that are revised after our final delivery.

This project has been a meaningful learning experience and equipped me with a valuable skill set for future endeavors in the field of design and branding. I have increased my confidence in managing branding projects. My initial reservations about branding design were dispelled once delved into researching and analyzing the market trends, as well as deeply understanding Floreat UK’s brand values. I realized that branding design is not just about aesthetics but also about telling a compelling story and effectively communicating a brand’s essence. I also learned that simplicity in ideation can be more impactful and communicate effectively than complexity.

‘The logo she and her colleague designed for me had real flair and creativity; I was quickly able to make my selection from their first range of suggested images, and then the detailed, focused tweaking of that image began, so that we could all be proud of the result. The font this team found for my branding was a perfect fit for me, with just the tiniest bit of ‘non-standard’ going on, which very much fits the brief. I enjoyed working with Natalie and am really happy with my new logo and email footer!’

– Lois Cliff, Floreat UK


RJ00603 | Floreat Logo and branding
Natalie Tang

Nuroosa – The Gathering Place

Context

Nuroosa is a new small business based in Derbyshire, aiming to open in the summer of 2025. Nuroosa will be a venue hiring business, with one building which shall accommodate weddings, wakes, corporate get aways, and well being visits. The building is currently under construction; however, it will be modern design, and have multiple rooms including a kitchen and a main hall. Surrounding the building is lots of green space, with flowers, trees and grass.

Nuroosa also aims to be as sustainable as possible, with the use of composting toilets, and other measures. In the future Nuroosa hopes to hold wedding ceremonies on site, which would take place under a tree. They also hope to build accommodation on site to allow visitors to stay overnight.

Modern building
A building which inspired Nuroosa’s venue design. Nuroosa’s venue will be a similar shape.

Brief

Ahead of their opening in the summer of 2025, Nuroosa would like to start promoting themselves, as well as take bookings months in advance. In order to achieve this Nuroosa needed a coherent brand which reflects their values, as well as business cards. They also thought a sign outside the property could help promote the opening of their business to locals, and in the future, would be used to clearly mark what is quite a hidden entrance to the property.

Logo Design

Research

After both parties agreeing we should work together on this project I visited the sight in Derbyshire, which allowed me to best visualise the space, and what the business will look like once opened. To help the later ideation process I ensured to conduct thorough research, building on top of the research already done by the client.

The client helpfully provided me with:

  • Context to the business
  • Images documenting the progress of Nuroosa so far
  • A list of words describing Nuroosa
  • A list of words that don’t describe Nuroosa
  • Images representative of the vision they have for Nuroosa
  • Colours they like
  • Businesses they like

With the supplied material, I:

  • Sorted the images into mood boards
  • Identified some of the shared elements to the supplied images
  • Created an initial colour palette
  • Identified and analysed the visual identity of competitors
  • identified and analysed the visual identity of other companies which had branding which reflected the brand values of Nuroosa
  • Created a condensed list of brand values
  • Word mapped this condensed list of brand values, beginning to work out how to reflect these visually

Initial Logo Concept

Based on my initial research I sketched many concepts, all aiming to reflect Nuroosa’s services, values, or both. I presented my three most successful ideas to the client, of which they picked the following:

Initial Concept Sketch

The idea behind this concept was an abstract representation of the venue shape, made in the negative space of flowing lines which aimed to reflect community, togetherness, and caring.

Logo Concept Development

Following the client approval of the initial concept sketch, I began to digitally develop the logo.

Set of 11 initial digital logo developments
Nuroosa Initial logo development

My supervisor suggested that I should consider other methods of adding typography to the logo, pointing out the slightly awkward effects that stem from curving text around a circle.

After presenting this initial development to the clients, I received feedback that it all felt far too perfect, and had massively changed from the original design; they had liked the imperfection in the original sketch, particularly how the bounding shape wasn’t completely circular. Through discussion it was also suggested that incorporating vertical lines into the design could reflect trees.

dozens of sketches depicting a logo with vertical and horizontal lines creating the abstract shape of a building
Development sketches incorporating vertical lines aiming to reflect trees.

 

Lino cut of logo with digital version of print
Lino cut logo experiment with digital version of print

In an attempt to make the design feel more natural, I explored creating a lino cut of the design. This resulted in inspiring a whole new visual direction for the brand.

 

Digital development of design inspired by lino print

My supervisor was pleased with the visual style of this logo, feeling that it was very unique, and that the vertical lines were successfully reflecting trees. It was also advised that I should try to get the representation of the building closer to the true shape of the building.

Digital Developments exploring how typography could be paired with the design

With this logo development the clients felt that the heavy shapes, while unique, were not reflecting them nor Nuroosa’s brand values. They also felt that the lines on top of the building looked like they should spell something out, particularly as it starts with what looks like an ‘N’ then a ‘U’ – (NUroosa). They still felt that the original sketch was a much more successful direction.

Development sketches exploring how to create an ‘imperfect’ design while maintaining a professional and effective visual style

After having received feedback two meetings in a row that the logo should return to the visual style of the original sketch, I decided that the best way of recreating this visual style was to through a more refined sketch. I also explored with the use of oil pastels to create a rough effect which would reflect sustainability, and the idea of a bespoke service. Upon reflection I was too hesitant to explore creating the logo directly from a sketch; listening to the clients wishes earlier would’ve saved time for both parties.

Agreed final logo artwork

 

Typographic layout exploration

 

Typeface and colour exploration

 

Final presented font and colour choices

Final Assets

Branding

 

Final primary logo design

 

Final secondary logo design

 

Final logo mark design

Business Cards

Business card design and suggested finish. Mockup from Pixeden.com

Street Sign

Proposed street sign design for Nuroosa

The solution to the street sign was very simple, this was due to two main reasons:

  • It would be located on the side of a 60mph country road, meaning it would have a very short view time
  • The purpose of the sign is mark the hidden entrance to the property for guests

Because of these two reasons, I suggested that the sign should only contain the primary logo, and that the inclusion of a website, or description of the business would likely be illegible, and only lead to visual confusion.

Conclusion

This project was a great success. The clients were very happy with the results, and so am I. We both feel the branding reflects Nuroosa’s values, but also reflect them – which is important with such a personal business.

While I’m very happy with the result of the branding, business cards, and proposed sign design, there were areas for improvement throughout the design process. After getting the approval of the initial sketch, I immediately stretched the possibilities of that concept, ultimately drifting away from the initial style and feel. While I think it was a good thing to explore different visual styles, I should’ve also supplied the client what they had suggested they wanted as well, which would’ve led to fairer comparisons of the different options, and saved time for both parties.

The main takeaway from this project is a better understanding and developed skills relating to client communication. At the start of the project I had underestimated the importance of client communication, but I know realise that without the clients own input, the branding could’ve never truly reflected themselves, nor their vision for Nuroosa. By the end of this project I gained confident in our meetings, and feel I’ve learnt how to better effectively steer the clients towards certain decisions, and away from others.

Looking to the future, I hope to maintain a relationship with Nuroosa, and support them with other required material.

I’ve also discovered my enjoyment in branding projects, and hope to explore this pathway within graphic design further.

‘Pieces’ film poster design

Background

This brief for this job was to create posters for a series of short films created by Film, Theatre and Television students of the University .

The short film ‘Pieces’ focusses on a young woman, Carmen, who moves away from her family and old life to pursue artistic endeavours. Her friend, later revealed to be a figment of imagination, coaches her to achieving her dreams and letting go of her past. Cinematic influences of the writer included Thelma and Louise and The Virgin Suicides.

Logline: ‘Carmen leaves her small-town life behind for the vast city to find a sense of identity. In doing this, she tackles the good, bad, and ugly areas of womanhood, femininity, and family expectations.’

The student crew team highlighted the importance of femininity and isolation within the film, as well as transition into adulthood from a troubled youth. In our first meeting, the team had a pitch-pack prepared, with colour stories and multiple mood boards showing ideas for characters and sets. Their primary film aesthetic inspirations were the 1990s and 2000s, with a focus on clutter and muted colours.

Restated brief

This? brief was to design the promotional poster for the short film Pieces. The brief we received from the FTT member of staff also included animated title sequences for the students, however upon meeting with the student group this was not necessary, and they decided against this. The final deadlines also differed: one in the final week of the Spring Term and one in the first week of summer time.

Research and ideation

High-budget films

High budget films and franchises frequently use photography to display the characters, who are often recognisable actors and actresses. This is a sensible decision when the success and box office sales can be driven by familiar faces, however in the context of independent student films this is not necessary. Hierarchy in typography similarly reflects the drive to sell tickets in recognition of directors, production companies and stars. The freedom from these factors allows for a different approach to typography because of the difference in motives; the goal for this poster is to capture and communicate the essence and themes of the film, rather than names of personnel. Illustration is less commonly used across this genre in comparison with other styles of film.

Short films

Short film posters rely less on the notoriety of the people involved but take a similar approach to typographic styles. Images tend to appear more intimate than those of high-budget films: closer cropping on faces and focus on a single person are the key takings when looking at a large number of posters. The imagery must work harder to attract viewers than high-budget/feature-length films with their large promotional campaigns. In turn, image is typically the focal point of short films.

Short Eyes (1977)

What is different here from high budget/ famous posters is the hierarchy and primary focus on elements. The posters for FTT do not require promotion based on meeting box office targets or encouraging awards. Instead, the focus here is far more intimate and looks at representing the work of the students as best as possible.

Conceptual sketches

Discussions with the clients of their wishes and ideas led to initial sketches representing the chaotic nature of the protagonist. The clients wanted a style which reflected the artistic themes. This considered, we agreed that illustration rather than photographic / typographic approaches would be most appropriate. These following illustrations represent initial conceptual ideas.

The provided pitch pack referenced ‘outdated’ media and cultural references (Furbies, CDs and LPs…), captured in the sketch of the table. Using reference location shoot images, the student group enjoyed the chaotic line textures and representation of clutter in the protagonist’s life.

Conceptual sketch of table from the shooting location

This sketch aimed to emulate the artistic nature of the main character, as though it be a page taken out of her sketch book. The student group liked the idea of a busy photo collage, however ultimately, they did not have enough visual material to create this. The group also noted this as a concept to move forward with, introducing colour and more detail.

Conceptual sketch showing motifs from within the film

The idea of this sketch was to display a comfortable, but lonely corner of living space as featured in the film. The students were interested in this idea and asked for the introduction of the protagonist and motifs to be included. Another aspect some of the group liked was the ‘sketchy’ nature of the lines, however this divided opinions.

Sofa sketch, representing prominent location in the film

Design development.

The first developed sketch from the initial sketches (and the agreed route by students) focussed on representing the protagonist in a lonely, solemn manner and adding surrounding detail as a nod to the ‘chaos’ the students wanted to portray.

Supervisor feedback

  • Illustrations have to work harder.
  • Continue developing the illustrations, so they have much more weight, depth and contrast.
  • Bring drama in with a tighter crop or through the environment.

My supervisor provided some stylistic guidance and suggestions to help create drama and depth to the illustration. The use of black and textured materials create a depth, and facial features are far more exaggerated.

Supervisor feedback

  • consistent line-weight
  • frame the whole image and set the billing text outside of this
  • The amount of detail in the image is great

Client feedback

  • More colour

Changes were made to reflect the received feedback from Real Jobs meetings, client, and supervisor feedback. Adding back in small details of paint on the character’s thighs and ying-yang necklaces brought life back into the illustration. The colours were selected with consideration to the client pitch-pack, and palettes within the film. The students asked for all the crew to be names on the poster, which pushed the poster in a more text-heavy way than I had originally planned for within the illustration. The suggestions to frame the illustration later helped to resolve this issue.

Developed colour additions and background detail

Final stages

The supervisor suggestion was that framing the illustration would ‘give the overall poster a premium feel to it – like something in a gallery – and help everything feel more intentional’. The crew and actors were differentiated through the use of caps as well as their relationship to the illustration. The client also asked for a warmer skin tone to be used.

Final approved artwork

 

Reflection

This has been my first experience working on a highly personal project. The clients were deeply involved with their project, and their involved relationship with the film posed a challenging dynamic. Working with pre-conceived notions and ideas could be difficult – translating some client hopes and ideas into a reality would not always provide them with the best output from the project. Not only was it a challenge to be working with such an involved and equally creatively inspired group, but it was also their first time working with a graphic designer. This required some steering and assistance into approaching briefs, feedback and understanding the film industry from a different perspective. Respectively, the clients aided the process with their insights into film making, their underlying knowledge and understanding of subtleties was useful for pulling out motifs and appropriate styles.

This project has allowed me to improve my abilities in Illustrator, and understand how illustrative style is important to use properly. I found details in this process especially challenging as well as working with multiple conflicting opinions amongst the client group.

Student Community Champions branding

Background

Student Community Champions is a newly managed team at the University of Reading that aim to communicate and build stronger relationships with the local communities while representing the university in local events in person and around Reading. Since the team is a newly managed team, it does not have any branding yet, which usually consists of a logo, branding guidelines, merchandise, socials, etc. This in turn develops the clients into being more recognisable at local events and provoking them to foster relationships through the idea of accountability.

Restated Brief

As the newly formed organisation wants the ability for a wide range of people to collaborate amongst each other to build a stronger community, their outputs have to appeal to people from different walks of life. Regardless of age, gender, race, or sexual orientation the outputs created need to be inclusive and represent diversity to align with their vast target audience. Our goal is to produce an array of deliverables that reflect SCC organisation morals as well as creating a sense of community in its design. The clients wanted the concept of the design to focus on collaborating with the local community as well as being be eye-catching and vibrant, with bright and vibrant colours to give a playful and fun style.

Deliverables

  1. Logo and branding guideline

A logo design delievered in a bundle of different assests for them to use across multiple platforms. For example, on promotional items such as leaflets and flyers and digital formats such as a website. This will be accompanied with a branding guideline showing colour and type choices. The logo does not need to directly follow university branding however it may adopt a similar design to the university logo or branding, as the client is representing the university to the community.

  1. T-shirt and hoodie/half-zip

A design for clothing that can be worn by people of the organisation. This should include the logo alongside an illustration based design that has a colourful and playful style. It should also contain the UOR Reading map.

  1. Business card designs

It should include the contact information of the Student Community Champions organisation, such as phone numbers or emails.

  1. Lanyard designs

This will be a template based design for the organisation to fill in relevant information for the staff. It should also contain the branding and logo of Student Community Champion.

 

Research and Ideation

Figure 1. Moodboard sent from client.

As part of the briefing document, the clients disclosed some images in which they liked the style of which acted as the main source of our inspiration moving into the initial sketching stage. Alongside this additional help from the client, we as a group looked into various different charitable organisations that had ties in working with surrounding communities to see what we could produce as a team to differentiate SCC from competitors and make them stand out even more. We found from looking at other organisations in this field had conventions of similar symbolisms around hands and icons depicting geographical locations. Additionally, these organisations favoured neutral colours as opposed to vibrant colours creating an aesthetic commonly seen in medical organisations.

Sketches

We all started off by doing our own sketches then coming together to see which ideas stood out and which ones to take forward. Figures 2. to 5. show some of our original ideas.

 

Figure 2. Sketches exploring the idea of links/chains.

 

Figure 3. Sketches exploring organic and differentiated shapes that are characterised.

 

Figure 4. Sketches exploring the concept of speech bubbles.

 

Figure 5. Digital sketches exploring the concept of puzzle pieces as well as the logo being characterised.

 

We felt as though the idea of using fun shaped characters brought in the playful and colourful style that our client originally liked the idea of. We also discussed the fact that using different shaped ‘blobs’ could also represent the idea of different people in the community.

 

Development

Phase One

In the first stage of development we each took our own approach on how these ‘blob’ characters could be represented, we then showed these to the client who really like the puzzle idea of Concept 4 as well as the handwritten, almost graffiti style of the typography in Concept two.

 

Figure 6 & 7. Our first initial designs sent to the client.

 

 

Phase two

To develop this idea one of us took on the challenge of bringing the puzzle character to life. Through sketches (shown in Figure 8.) we can see how the character developed to what we showed the client. Alongside this someone was working on the typography that was previously highlighted in the first round of concepts, we wanted to show many different ways type can be used as a logo, and how this might be used on things such as the t-shirt design.

 

Figure 8. Concepts exploring a vibrant character and type.

 

Feedback from this phase was not as positive as we would have hoped for. Firstly the clients mentioned how the puzzle character design was not a viable option because an organisation that previously worked with the university used a similar approach and it was not a concept they wanted to continue with. Furthermore after a few discussions as a group and with our supervisor, we felt as though there was a disconnect with our working in the sense that we were all completing separate tasks instead of doing them collaboratively. Finally, the clients felt like the concepts so far lacked something that could be used as a specific and static logo. At this point it felt like we had hit a bit of a brick wall as we didnt know where else to go from here but we did not want to be disheartened with the feedback as we knew this was part of the design process. Instead we met as a group and came up with an action plan on how we were going to move forward, not only in terms of the design but also how we would work more collaboratively.

Firstly we went back to the research stage and looked further into the types of logos from companies in a similar field to see if it was something they were looking for. We referenced back to our sketches and found there were some concepts we could develop together that might have been too quickly discarded the first time round. This is when the idea of links, trophies and speech bubbles started to emerge. Which then moved us on to phase three.

 

 

Phase three

Whilst there was new concepts we worked on, we also did not want to let the previous ideas go to waste. So we spent time working on how they could be changed to be usable which brought us to Figure 10. From this stage the feedback brought us 3 final concepts for us to finalise.

Concept 1- Character Diversity. They liked the playful use of colours here in this concept. Some scalability issues were raised in question to the faces used on the shapes, as well as the shapes needing work themselves to become more organic.

Figure 10. Concept depicting organic characterised shapes.

 

Figure 11. Concept depicting characterised speech bubbles.

 

Concept 2- Style Lettered C. From client feedback, they wanted to see an option leaning towards more of a corporate approach where the logo is simplified and easier to recognise. This lead to a design that highlighted the letter ‘C’ for ‘champions’ being accompanied by type used within the University of Reading’s brand identity. This was an important factor brought up in conversations with the client as their logo will be positioned in close proximity with the university’s logo.

 

Figure 12. Concept showing a more corporate approach to the styled letter ‘C’.

 

Figure 13. Concept combining both the corporate approach with a fun character.

 

Concept 3 – Link and chain. They loved both of the ideas in this concept of using the letters ‘C’ to create a hidden ‘S’ for the abbreviation of Student Community Champions. Furthermore the idea of having the imagery of a ‘link’ which would signify them connecting to the community really stood out to them.

 

Figure 14. Concept combining the corporate approach, linking chain and a subtle abbreviation.

 

 

Figure 15. Concept showing links and subtle lettering for ‘SCC’.

 

 

Phase four

Using their feedback we fixed the different designs as well as include mockups of how each logo could be used. It was important for them to see how the scalability of each logo would work so they wanted to see mockups from the size of a pen to as large as a billboard. Overall the feedback was really positive, they felt as though we had done exactly what they were trying to achieve and they were happy to sign off with concept number two, the coloured shapes forming a circle.

Figure 16. Refined concept of the links and subtle letters.

 

Figure 17. Logo applied to suitable mockups.

 

Figure 18. Concept depicting organic shapes that create a bigger image.

 

Figure 19. Logo applied to suitable mockups.

 

Figure 20. More inviting approach to the linking ‘C’s concept.

 

Figure 21. Logo applied to suitable mockups.

 

 

Final Logo Choice

After showing the client our concepts in phase four, concept 2 stood out to them as they felt it suited with what their organisation is trying to achieve. The different organic shapes represented the idea of diversity which is emphasised in the change of colours. These shapes also come together to form a singular circle shape which represents the idea of a diverse community coming together.

Figure 22. Final logo choice.

Reflection and Improvement

Due to time limitations we had, with the project coming close to the last submission date, Jack and myself both decided we would step back from this project and pass it onto Matthew. Since the final logo design had been picked, it was just the creation of the brand guidelines and T-shirt design left to complete.

FAB Lab Branding

The Typography and Graphic Communication department is introducing a FAB Lab (Fabrication lab), dedicating a designated area in the T3 studio to different machines to aid students in design projects; the FAB Lab currently consists of a Cricut maker, laser cutter and toner foiler, although is open to adding more machines in the future. By placing these machines together in an accessible and organised area, the goal is to encourage and increase the use of these machines through promotion in the department building and its Instagram, as well as direct and easy access to vital information and instructions regarding the use of said machines through QR codes. The instructions for the machines are written through a collaboration of both students and staff of the department to ensure level understanding of all users and optimum accuracy.

 

Brief

We were tasked with creating a brand for our department’s making kit to encourage and educate students and staff to use the machines safely and to their full potential. The original brief included introduction panels, user guides, and promotion within the department. However, we expanded this to include a promotional leaflet, Instagram templates and QR code stickers  as additional deliverables as we felt these would play a vital part in educating and ultimately pushing this equipment as a brand. We were provided with copy, images and videos but our client gave us full freedom when it came to the branding.

 

Deliverables

  • 3 informative posters about how to use each piece of equipment
  • 1 promotional poster for FAB lab
  • 3 multi-page online documents using diagrams to explain how to use each piece of equipment
  • Launch Instagram post
  • Hand-out including brief explanation and QR codes
  • Campaign plan to promote the equipment on Instagram
  • 3 stickers of QR codes made using the machine they relate to

This report discusses the first five deliverables as the campaign plan and QR code stickers are still under development.

 

Branding

Our clients did not have specific requests for the branding of the design deliverables, they just asked for the branding to be consistent and impactful enough for each machine poster in terms of poster layout, colours and typography so that can be it can be translated across the handouts and promotional materials too. Initially, our branding consisted of only using pastel colours assigned to each machine, illustrations of the actual machines and background patterns (Figure 1). However, after developing our trifold handout with Memphis shapes, we decided it would make our branding stronger if the shapes were used on all deliverables (Figure 2). This branding reflects the creativity and fun the machines allow you to have.


Figure 1: example of original branding

 


Figure 2: example of final branding

 

Audience

We identified our audience as students of the Typography and Graphic Communication department, both undergraduate and postgraduate. This was advantageous to us in our design process as we are undergraduate students working with a postgraduate student, allowing us to immerse ourselves in an audience perspective and easily gain feedback from other students, a vital part in the process of editing our copy. We ensured our information was easy to understand from a non-designer perspective for students without previous experience, as well as users from other departments that may have an interest in the FAB Lab.

 

Research and ideation

When approaching this project, we decided it would be beneficial to research posters, instructional materials, and online document design. Regarding posters, we identified that distinct separated sections seemed most efficient to display information clearly, colourful colour palettes and varying shapes gather interest, and clear visual hierarchy between text and illustration are vital (Figure 3). The main thing we found out about online documents that we wanted to take forward was large numbers that indicate the step readers are on allow for enhanced user navigation and engagement (Figure 4). After researching instructional materials, it became clear that complementary images for most, if not all instructions would be useful for users who are unfamiliar with the machines. Additionally, overviews and summaries are effective as instructions can be long, as these FAB Lab instructions are (Figure 5).


Figure 3: Poster research

 


figure 4: Online document research

 


figure 5: Instructional Material Research

 

Creative direction

Based on our research, we decided to take an illustrative and visual approach, incorporating drawings of the machines themselves to enhance their recognition by students and staff. Additionally, we needed to establish a clear typographic hierarchy and structure for each deliverable to ensure that the department could access the information with ease.

 

Design development

Informative machine posters

We initially decided to create these posters at banner paper scale (Figure 6). However, this changed as we decided that not all copy on it was relevant for the poster and could be more useful on the instructions. After evaluating the designated wall space, we changed our poster scale to A3.


figure 6 – Cricut Maker poster v1

 

We decided early on that we wanted an illustration of each machine to be the focal point of the informative posters; this would add visual interest whilst creating a clear link between poster and machine without using a photograph, repeating what the user is seeing.

To further give each poster its own identity, we implemented geometric backgrounds to reflect each machine; a square grid to mirror the Cricut’s grid mat and a hexagonal grid to mimic the laser cutter’s honeycomb grid. There was no significant shape from the toner foiler and so we chose a dotted pattern for its poster background. These patterns were added in an off-white colour to ensure visibility without sacrificing legibility of text. As well as ensuring the shapes did not affect readability, we also had to make sure that the shapes were of similar size to each other to establish consistency in visual appearance across all posters. This became especially apparent in the creation of the poster for the Toner Foiler. Its background dots were too big and prominent in comparison to the other posters’ background shapes (Figure 7), especially apparent when printed, and therefore were sized down accordingly (Figure 8).


Figure 7 – Toner foiler poster with larger dot pattern
figure 8 – toner foiler poster with smaller dot pattern

 

We also gave each machine a designated colour for clear differentiation between the three machines, which allowed us to establish consistency in our colour palette for other deliverables. The Cricut machine’s colour was taken from the Cricut logo, the laser cutter was taken from its brand’s logo (Glowforge) and we allocated the toner foiler with a suitable pink shade, as its brand had no specific colour we could replicate. These colours were used at different tints for typographic hierarchy and other design elements throughout our different design outputs as well, where we had to ensure the same tint was used correctly throughout our outputs.

We chose the typeface ‘Effra’, as it is commonly used by the University, enabling familiarity and comfort in reading and ensuring clear legibility through its effective letterform design.

For each poster’s title, we initially decided to create them as products of the machines themselves e.g. cutting out the letters using the Cricut Maker, however realised this could be a problem in maintenance, in the case they get damaged. We later decided to take this idea forward for the branding of the designated FAB Lab wall itself and instead chose bold, black letters, initially grey as placeholders, for the poster titles to ensure clarity (Figure 9 and 10).

Figure 9 – Toner foiler poster title v1
Figure 10 – toner foiler poster title v2

 

The final design component of these posters was the addition of Memphis shapes created in the hand-out leaflet to establish a connection between all design outputs, effectively creating a FAB Lab branding style. Adding to this branding, we placed a ‘FAB Lab’ label at the top of each poster to further establish identity, allowing consistency in the case of future machine and poster additions.

 

Promotional poster

The promotional poster was designed to be at banner paper scale to adhere to our copy size and hold high visual value on the walls of the department. This allows for FAB Lab to be effectively advertised, especially considering other features that may also be on the walls. Using the already established colour palette and existing components, the promotional poster was created effectively with ease, being visually engaging whilst maintaining the brand’s design identity.


figure 11 – promotional poster that will be placed around department

 

Online documents

This deliverable brought some challenges as there was a lot of copy to handle. We tested the original copy provided to us by the client and made edits accordingly, including creating diagrams on how to use the laser cutter software in a similar style to the Cricut instructions for consistency. Another round of testing was completed and further edits were made. At this point, we were advised to add another section, that was not included in the original copy, to the foiler instructions to guide students who wanted to foil on top of a coloured background or image. This required us to spend time with Geoff learning about this process, taking our own photographs, and writing the instructions in the same language and manner as the ones written by the client. This was challenging as due to the technicality of this process, the instructions had to be detailed which therefore did not directly reflect the writing style of the client.

Initially, the documents were designed on InDesign (Figure 12, 13 and 14). These designs obviously reflect the FAB Lab branding due to colour and patterns, and are easy to follow due to the large numbers. A negative about these are the format as it is not suitable for online use on phones as it would not scroll well. It was then later discussed that it would be beneficial if these online instructions were hosted on typography.network as a blog post. This platform limited the creativity of the design, however, these three featured images were created to ensure the branding was apparent within these instructions (Figure 15, 16 and 17). We made use of the different set paragraph styles in WordPress as they are long documents so require a tool to help users with navigation.


Figure 12 – Cricut Maker online document v1
figure 13 – Laser Cutter online document v1
figure 14 – toner foiler online document v1

 


Figure 15 – featured image for Cricut Maker online document
figure 16 – featured image for Laser Cutter online document
figure 17 – featured imaged for toner foiler online document

 

Hand-out leaflet

The purpose of the hand-out leaflets was to convey information about the department’s machines in a quick and concise way to encourage staff and students to use them more. We researched various formats of leaflet such as two and three-page leaflets, square trifold formats, and booklet formats. After careful consideration, we decided to use the square trifold format as it offered ample space to showcase all the essential components of the leaflet. Although we attempted to sketch out some designs, none of them were suitable or approved by the group (Figure 18). Therefore, we took the time to explore different art styles that would help us come up with a new design solution.


Figure 18: Sketch of Handout leaflet

 

It is here where we found Memphis shapes and decided to use it on our handouts. Memphis design is a post-modern movement and aesthetic that uses vibrant colours, geometric shapes and bold patterns based on art-deco. So, we took the style of Memphis and implemented it into our work, the shapes and lines were drawn in a way that echoed the equipment’s characteristics (e.g. grid for Cricut maker, hexagon for Laser Cutter etc) while also maintaining the aesthetics of Memphis. To keep it consistent we used the same colour palette and also kept similar components such as the QR codes, typographic hierarchy, and layout. We showed it to our client for feedback – they liked the direction that the handout was moving towards but requested some adjustments to the structure of the inside pages, and the body copy. We took these into consideration and worked together to make appropriate changes for the leaflet.


Figure 19: Handout leaflet v1

 


Figure 20: Handout leaflet v2

 

Instagram post

The social media launch post was created to promote FAB Lab through the department’s Instagram. The decision was made to maintain similar content as the handouts with some variations to ensure they were suitable for promotional purposes on social media.

We made the “why, what, where” of FAB Lab more detailed as those learning about FAB Lab through Instagram, as opposed to in department, would not be able to go straight to T3 to see what it is about. Similar to other deliverables, we also added machine illustrations, a summary of their functions, and key facts to remember when operating them. The post had similar typographic hierarchy, Memphis shapes, colours, patterns, and background as the leaflet, but with minor differences in placement. We made some final changes to the shapes, colours, illustrations, textbox placement, and body copy before finalising the post.


Figure 21 – explanation  Social Media Template v1
figure 22 – explanation social media template v2

 

 
Figure 23 – machine Social Media template v1
Figure 24 – machine social media template v2

 

Proposed exhibition space

Although this part of the project is yet to be finished, I made a sketch for a proposed exhibition space (Figure 25). It outlines where the informative machine posters would sit in relation to the machines, as well as how the wall could be branded so that area was evidentially the ‘FAB Lab’. The intention behind the ‘FAB LAB’ lettering in the sketch is that each letter would be made using one of the machines and the shapes on the wall would be vinyl stickers.


figure 25 – sketch of exhibition space

 

QR code stickers

We came up with the idea of this deliverable when we first were brainstorming about the project as a group. Having had conversations with the client, we discovered the idea of creating stickers for each machine using the relevant machine was feasible. So, each sticker would have a QR code on that would lead users to the online instructions. The laser cutter sticker would be made out of acrylic, and the QR code would be shaded in so it was scannable. The toner foiler sticker would have a foiled QR code, and the Cricut Maker sticker would be made out of vinyl.

 

Final deliverables

Informative posters

 

Promotional poster

 

Online instructions

Link to online instructions for Cricut Maker

Link to online instructions for Laser Cutter

Link to online instructions for Toner Foiler

 

Hand-out leaflet

 

Social media post

 

Personal reflection

I have learnt and improved on lots of skills throughout this project which I will be able to take forward and build on in future projects. I was given the role of project manager which brought challenges whereby I was working with designers who had not done a real job before so I had the opportunity to guide them through it. Additionally, I led meetings both with designers and clients, as well as taking minutes and adding them to an ongoing document. We learnt to collaborate effectively by identifying each other’s strengths and using them to our advantage to efficiently create these deliverables. This job brought about my first experience dealing with clients within our department, but it was a very positive one as we worked well with them due to frequent contact and honesty from both clients and designers. Another skill I have had the opportunity to improve is how to present work in a professional manner to the clients. As we were working for clients in department, we were able to show our work in person every time and verbally go through the reasonings behind design decisions, meaning the client could understand the justification and edits we made. Additionally, regarding file management, we had a shared folder that contained everything we created and needed for the project which ensured for a coherent experience when designing collaboratively. Due to the nature of this project, I gained a deeper understanding of all of the equipment, mainly through having to test and edit the step-by-step instructions myself. This in turn has led me to being able to enhance the finishes on my personal projects. It helped that we as designers were often communicating with one another as well. One thing we could have improved on was time management as we did not stick to the schedule in the end.

Life on the Line: a photo book

BACKGROUND

For this project, the Real Jobs team were approached by Brian O’Callaghan, an MA Photography student at Falmouth University, and former lecturer and staff tutor within the History of Art & Architecture department at the University of Reading. The focus of this project was to create a photo book and corresponding digital files that supported Brian’s Final Major Project for his MA Photography course.

Based on a series of maps released by the East Suffolk council in their 2007 strategic flood risk assessment (SFRA), Brian wanted to highlight the costal erosion and inevitable risk of flooding to the Southwold area due to climate change. The maps modelled various scenarios, including the area of Southwold that would be flooded with continued climate change and a one-in-200-year flooding event. Brian’s project, ‘Life on the line: exploring edgelands in a shifting landscape,’ uses photography to capture life along the edge of the projected flood area. The photo book would contain a selection of these photographs, and support a corresponding exhibition.

 

RESTATED BRIEF

Initially, the brief was fairly vague due to there being flexibility on the format of the photo book (e.g., a newspaper, zine, traditional book, etc were all possible if appropriate). As the project developed, details such as the exact format were finalised through the ideation and development stages. However, other preferences for the photo book’s content and production were specified in the restated brief, including for the product to incorporate:

CONTENT

  • References to the flooded area shown in the East Suffolk council maps
  • An emphasis on the duality of Southwold, as both an area of picturesque tourist areas, and a more ordinary, familiar place to locals, e.g., residential housing, farmland, junk yards, etc.
  • An explanatory Artist’s Statement at the end of the photobook

PRODUCTION

  • An element of sustainability, due to the subject matter of climate change, e.g., using recycled stock
  • A physical or tactile element, such as die-cuts, foldouts, or different paper stocks for relevant sections
  • A physical print at the end of the photo book

 

IDEATION

To explore existing approaches to photo book designs, constructions, and formats, I referred to a range of sources. This included reading Martin Parr & Gerry Badger’s The Photobook: A History, volumes i–iii, reviewing finalists of the Paris Photo Aperture Book Awards, and visiting the Books on Photography (BOP23) photo book festival with the client.

 

Photograph from BOP23, held by the Martin Parr Foundation & The Royal Photographic Society in Paintworks, Bristol

 

These materials covered a diverse range of topics, yet it was noticeable how few books used exclusively square photographs. As all of the images within this project were taken on square film, this was a key component of the design. Hence, other works such as Illuminance and Utatane by Rinko Kawauchi and The Shipping Forecast by David Chandler & Mark Power were also consulted for their use of square images.

For explorations into photo books with contrasting stocks and map elements, the works of Awoiska van der Molen (The Living Mountain) and Matt Writtle (The River Meadow at the Pile of Stones) were particularly insightful. Their combinations of image and typography added complexity to each narrative, whilst the use of map elements provided context to the subject matter.

This research collectively guided my initial experiments with formats, and provided inspiration for the development of the design.

 

Examples of works researched, including (from left) ‘Illuminance’ by Rinko Kawauchi, and  ‘The Shipping Forecast’ by David Chandler & Matt Power

 

DEVELOPMENT

In the development and refinement of the photo book, the following design decisions were made:

PAGE FORMAT

Every photograph within this project was taken by a Hasselblad 501c film camera, on 60 by 60mm black and white film. Due to the unconventional nature of using exclusively square photographs, I found that through testing different formats and page sizes, a square page of 210 by 210mm would be most suitable. This allowed for pages of full-bleed photographs without any negative space, and spreads containing maps and larger images.

PHOTOGRAPHS

All photographs were converted to a grayscale colour profile to avoid colour tints when printed, and at a minimum resolution of 300DPI. The sequencing of the photographs initially remained unchanged, and the sizes were consistent in the first drafts. However, these were updated following feedback from my supervisor, who suggested creating hierarchy to shape the narrative. Adapting the sequence allowed for grouping of relevant sections, and highlighted key images in full-bleed pages and spreads. This rhythm also emphasised the contrast between the tourist and local areas of Southwold.

 

Sample spread showing full-bleed and standard image sizes

 

Sample spread showing groupings of images

 

MAP

Recreating the map of Southwold was a key component of the photo book, to avoid the low resolution in the existing version, and any potential copyright issues. The original map equally felt very disjointed from the photographs, so the final shape of the flood zone was redrawn in Illustrator.

Although the map originally depicted flood depth, the majority of the area was equal in depth and thus appeared as a solid shape. By tracing this shape and creating a clearer boundary around the area of flooding, it reinforced the titular concept of ‘life along the line.’ In addition, the map was substituted for an OS map of Suffolk from 1956, which complemented the photographs more organically in colour and style. Furthermore, this connected the past, present, and future of Southwold through the vintage map, present photographs, and future flood zone.

The photographs are contained between two of the OS maps, (the latter of which incorporates the area of flooding). This guides the viewer through the narrative of images before reaching the explanatory Artist’s Statement.
I wanted to create further connections between the maps and images, so incorporated transparent Xerox sheets with close-ups of the flood area.
These layered with the text and images underneath, hinting at the final map and emphasising the future destruction of the floods.

 

Sample spread of the combined OS map and flood area

 

Sample spread with Xerox sheet containing of a close-up of the flood area and OS map

 

TYPOGRAPHY

Through experimenting with type specimens, Miller Text was selected as the typeface for this project. It matched the OS map typography and organic nature of the photographs well, in addition to offering a range of small capitals and non-ranging numerals for typographic differentiation.

During various iterations, the text pages evolved from single- to double-columns to improve line lengths and avoid unnecessary negative space.
The width and symmetry of the columns additionally emphasised the square theme throughout.

Within Real Jobs meetings, I suggested including page furniture and text to complement the images, which my supervisor supported. Hence, the photo book evolved to experiment with page numbers and map coordinates, before settling on grid references for each photograph that correspond with the OS maps included. Manicules were incorporated too as a subtle detail for further clarity or to indicate images overleaf, and thus avoid layering text over images.

Various quotes related to edgelands and flooding in literature were added, including The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare, and Edgelands by Marion Shoard. These were adjusted to a smaller type size and charcoal shade to avoid detracting from the images. Moreover, the photo book was adapted to include a foreword from Professor Alastair Driver (Director of Rewilding Britain and former Head of Conservation for the Environment Agency).

 

Sample spread with double-column text

 

Sample spread with quotation

 

COVER

The cover for ‘life on the line’ explored many alternatives before reaching the final version. The chosen cover embraces the importance of the map, as the foundation of the project. The blue of the sea, however, has been removed to give prominence to the title and accented spinal tape. This is reiterated through the contrasting bold, smoky blue that floods the endpapers. Silver foiling was applied to the title and spinal tape to emphasise the area, and align with the monochromatic theme of the book.

 

Sample cover designs

 

Final cover design

 

BINDING

Using saddle-stitch binding was confirmed early in the project, as it allowed the book to lay flat for users to admire the content. As the photo book progressed, incorporating this binding with a hardback cover became increasingly appropriate to address the formality of the subject and showcase the quality of the photography. This was supported by feedback from Brian’s tutor, who stressed the importance of creating a powerful visual and tactile experience for the reader.

The final product was sent to a local specialist printer and binder to achieve a section-sewn, hardback finish. This included the use of spinal tape, silver foiling, and (excluding the Xerox sheets), fully recycled paper stock to minimise the environmental impact of the process.

 

Close-up showing book signatures and spinal tape

 

Close-up showing section-sewn binding

 

REFLECTION

Overall, the feedback on this project has been very positive from Brian, his tutor, and my supervisor. The design process has significantly benefited from feedback within Real Jobs meetings, from my supervisor, Brain, his tutor, portfolio reviews, and an independent publisher with 30 years of industry experience.

With further time, it may have been useful to explore a secondary sans serif typeface in the book for the grid references, as mentioned by the publisher. I believe that the current design does meet the initial restated brief, but this feedback equally offers an area for exploration in future projects.

I’m very grateful to have been fortunate enough to work on this photo book as it has been invaluable in terms of experience. Focusing on such a pressing issue has been particularly rewarding, and the importance of this project is perhaps best highlighted by gov.uk issuing of flood warnings to the Southwold area during the later stages of this project (November 2023).

Brian has been an exemplary client, and I hope that both this photo book and his future exhibition encourage further conversations about the future flooding within Southwold and the impact of climate change.

 

Final photo book

 

Final photo book

 

Sample spread with Xerox sheet

 

Sample spread with full-spread image

 

Physical print included with photo book

Carter’s Fairground contest: Legal & General

Overview

This Real Job comes in the form of a contest, something fairly unusual for these briefs. Following a recent social trip to Carter’s Steam fair, a traditional English travelling funfair, members of the department began talking with attraction owner, event organiser and sign-painter Joby Carter. After learning more about his incredible talent and passion for hand painting stunning fairground signs, this competition was developed, giving students an opportunity to experiment with this highly niche style. To me, this seemed like an amazing way of trying a new typographic style, experimenting, and playing with this fun concept.

An image of Joby Carter hand-painting lettering for a sign. Found on https://www.jobycarter.com/

 

Brief

The brief of this work was very straightforward ­– to pick a brand and recreate its logo in the fairground style. While specifications of the deliverables were given, being digital or physical and being a 2000px square, the choice was left to us. Joby stated in the brief that he personally enjoys poking fun of serious topics and making the most of the jovial, light-hearted nature of fairground lettering.

 

Concept

Immediately having read the brief, I began thinking about the most serious business that I could put a spin on with this decorative, over-the-top lettering style. My mind raced to topics like finance, law and banking which quickly led to Legal & General, a financial services provider that’s been in operation since 1836. The history of this company was really engaging, reminding me of old legal documents, such as those seen below. The typeface used are highly decorative and ornamental, being somewhat like the fairground typefaces linked to the fair, allowing this to marry well, being a suitable and engaging brand to remake in this unique style.

Example of legal documents use of decorative lettering, on a stock certificate from the 1980s. Found at glabarre.com/item/Dunleith_and_Dubuque_Bridge_Co_Stock_Certificate/18001

 

Initial Ideation

Beginning this work, I started sketching different letterforms and concepts for a Legal & General logo, having looked through Joby’s work online for inspiration. I was immediately faced with a challenge ­– my lack of artistic ability. I typically refrain from sketching and drawing, knowing I am stronger creating things digitally. While eager to move onto Photoshop and Illustrator, I knew the importance of these fast-paced, initial sketches. While many pagers were created, below shows the strongest concepts.

Key pages from my initial sketches

 

Digitising

Before meeting with Joby, I wanted to refine the better concepts digitally, giving myself a clearer direction going into the imminent feedback session. With my sketches being very rough, this would give a much more blatant presentation of my idea and how it may be executed. I quickly generated these designs, using the umbrella element which I thought was the strongest from this ideation. While the lettering itself was just a standard font, this would be changed later following the feedback.

Some of the digitised experiments based on these first sketches

 

This is the first ‘final’ design, featuring the umbrella corner ornamentation and a typeface, only the ampersand being created by hand

 

Meeting Joby Carter

We then had the opportunity to meet Joby Carter, visiting his expansive workshop in Maidenhead. Hearing Joby talk about his work, his process and even watching him hand-paint some lettering was hugely informative for this project and style. The difference between typography and lettering was a really interesting idea mentioned by Joby, with his discussing how different they are treated and how lettering is a largely different skill. While getting masses of inspiration from Joby’s work and enthusiasm, it was clear this was not a skill that could be mastered quickly. I came to the conclusion that, while the hand-made, slightly imperfect appearance is key to the authenticity of this style, I would need to utilise some digital effects and techniques to get close to replicating the skill of professional lettering painters.

Images of Joby’s hand-painted signs from his workshop

 

Following this event and the following feedback session, I decided to largely restart the concept. Knowing much more about lettering and sign-painting after meeting Joby, I decided to return to ideating, wanting a new concept that was more in line with how hand-painted lettering is constructed and designed.

 

Secondary Ideation

Going back to square one, I went back to sketching, now having more focus on this style of lettering. These sketches were much closer to what I’d learned about sign writing, providing much more engaging ideas focussed on the letterforms themselves, knowing the rest could come after. Placing the focus on constructing the letters allowed the outcomes of these sketches to being much better foundations for the final outcomes.

Secondary sketches more in-line with the style of lettering in Joby’s work

 

Secondary Digitising 

For this process, there was much more switching between hand-drawing and digitally creating. Knowing that the imperfect style could only be achieved effectively by hand, I persevered with sketches alongside designing digitally. This allowed me to bring across the more rustic, authentic style of lettering without oversimplifying the designs digitally, using Adobe Illustrator to make things mathematically perfect. This also let me test designs digitally, deciding if the sketches adapt well into a digital space or not. While more time consuming, this meant that the idea I concluded was the best would undoubtably work. After some back and forth, I selected a sketch that was suitable, drawing out the key letters for the brands logo before digitising them. By creating the letterforms by hand, I knew that the end result would have the rich authenticity of hand formed text, but would likely be more challenging and time consuming to create.

 

The refined sketches of the lettering style, featuring all the relevant letters to construct the full brand name

 

The digitised version of these sketches, with the other letters being roughly drawn to fit the style

 

I was already much happier with this concept than the previous design – this put much more focus on the lettering, adhering to both the brief and what I learned from Joby, with the careful crafting of the basic letterforms being the key to an effective, successful outcome.

Over this time, there was extensive tweaking and refinement to the characters, with countless iterations being used to mark milestones and save a history of the process to compare changes. The image below illustrates part of this.

Here is part of the letterings evolution process. While professional painters would achieve this balance of perfect imperfection, it took me a much longer time to tweak and alter this typography to get somewhere close to this, relying heavily on the softwares tool to help

 

Feedback from Baseline Shift

Baseline Shift provided another outlet for feedback on this design. The weekly session happened to be centred around getting advice and tips from various designers in and out of the department, allowing us to get helpful guidance from people new to the project. Wanting to take any opportunity for advice, I presented my current digitised lettering.

The main feedback I got from this was that it wasn’t fun enough. While this was partly down to the colouring, which hadn’t been considered yet, the overall composition was very linear and straight. The various typographers and calligraphers present all agreed that a more dynamic, free flowing structure would benefit this style much more, giving a more organic and fun sense to the letterforms and the overall branding.

I was also advised to use less strict lettering, ensuring duplicates of the same letter aren’t identical. This would allow the type to work better as a full flowing text, the letters adapting to work alongside those before and after. It also provides a much stronger sense of authenticity and a hand-crafted appearance, with each character seeming visually distinctive and individual.

This is the updated lettering shown during the Baseline Shift meeting, an unfinished example of the lettering without considering colour.

Making Changes and Feedback

Wanting to inject some ‘fun’ into this lettering, I experimented with different layouts, using Joby’s work and other sign-painters works as examples for structuring text. After some quick trials, moving the two lines of text around, I settled on offsetting this and using exaggerated, large first letters. This more stylised appearance is more in-keeping with conventional letter painting conventions, immediately making it more fun and visually inviting. Adding vibrant colours and an offset drop shadow, common features of this genre, also helps quickly make this design feel more in line with the brief’s requirements.

 

Despite being a quick derivative of the previous design, adapting the text to be more visually exciting, this version is much more successful

 

Below are some variations of this concept, simply experimenting with colour combinations and for the main text, drop shadow and background. While still trying alternate background colours, Joby’s use of slightly off-white tiles for his lettering along with its function as a logo encourages me to use a plain white background. From here onwards, I would stick to a solid white background, feeling this had a stronger connection to Joby’s painted lettering.

 

Here is some of the various colour combinations tried at this stage, looking for something in keeping with the genre of sign painting, using Joby’s work and choices as inspiration for my own

 

At the feedback session, where I showed both my original and updated concepts, there was a resounding lean towards the newer concept. The more dynamic, varying design was much more visually interested and had the sign painting-esque appearance. I was given incredibly useful advice on the typographic balancing, and different parts of the letterforms to tweak to give more visual balance. However, I was told again to make the design more fun and inviting, potentially using perspective, distortion or warping to add further excitement.

While the added ampersand completed the logo, finishing the brands name with the simple & symbol, it was suggested that this could match the ornamentation below, adding more consistency to the overall design and making it feel more harmonious and unifying. With this knowledge, I will start making these changes, wanting to try adding a wave or warp stylisation to give the text even more dynamism.

One key takeaway from this stage was the colours ­– this designs dark green and murky pink complimented each other and the golden yellow ornaments well. I quickly concluded that this colour combination could be the basis for my final outcome, being highly suitable and similar to the wacky but visually pleasing choices of Joby Carter.

While this design needs more work, this is definitely close to the final design. The warp effect needs to be smoothed out and improved, but the colours are something I definitely intend to keep

 

Refining the Letterforms and Warping

With this feedback in mind, I began to move forwards with the design. Despite my eagerness to play with the waving and distortion of this lettering, I knew I would have to correct the letterforms themselves before taking it further.

These corrections to the letterforms were very time consuming to alter – having created these letters by hand, these imbalances were much more prominent than having used an existing typeface by a more experienced typographer. But, as emphasised by Joby, a typographer and letter painter are very different professions, and building this type from hand ensures some imperfections and authenticity remains in the final outcome. The quantity of these changes is illustrated in the below images, where the key iterations are shown.

 

More of the development, trialling the distortion tools in Illustrator and tweaking the character balance further.

 

 

For example, the two ‘A’s are of particular interest. I altered the way the crossbar works on each one, the first having the curved stroke going inside the letter and the second going out. This tweak to the second instance allows much better balance, filling in the negative space and creating more visual engagement between the letters.

 

This illustrates how the lettering has been adapted for the context of it’s use, with the second A fitting the letters before and after much better, balancing the design

 

After a brief trial of warping the text in Illustrator, I concluded it would be simpler in Photoshop, applying a single wave effect to the whole design before reading the ampersand and ornamentation. Having quickly completing this, I created the drop shadow and a white stroke to separate the main text from this shadow. While beginning by offsetting a pink version of the letterforms beneath the main design, I then connected the two with hand, adding the outline in after. This subtly change made the design feel less artificial and impersonal, with the minor inconsistencies in perspective making the result seem much more personal and in-keeping with this disciple.

 

While a minor difference, connecting the drop shadow to the text in front gives a much better sense of place and dimensionally to the effect

 

While not mentioned much, the ornamentation was something that subtly evolved throughout the design process. From its initial creation, this has been altered and tweaked, both in shape and style. I was advised to make this element have varying widths, looking less uniform and have a more hand-created style similar to the letters themselves.

While this began as a symmetrical component with the ‘EST. 1836’ text in the centre, I began experimenting with an asymmetric structure, creating more visual engagement and helping to account for the lettering’s visual balance. This structural change causes the umbrella to be removed from this element, but I knew it was a feature I wanted to include in the final design. Trialling different strokes and decorative flares (shown below), I found a solution which worked effectively, feeling balanced below the focal lettering.

 

The most recent adaptation of the ornament element and some key changes in its development

 

Final Amendments

During the final feedback session, there were much less tweaks to change (a reassuring sign). The main thing to note was the balance of the hanging ornament. It was said that fitting this ornament into the negative space below the wavey text, the whole concept would feel much more balanced and the two would marry together better. A straight bottom was also advised, helping to ground the flowing text to a horizontal line. This worked well, achieving both and giving a nice sense of visual balance.

 

This shows the change to the ornamentation, now fitting into the gap between the big ‘G’ and wavey remainder of the word, making this element fit better alongside the lettering

 

I re-added the umbrella element, adjusting its stroke width to better fit the other similarly styled elements. Placing this below the enlarged ‘L’ and alongside the large ‘G’ helped to further balance this concept. It’s place here allowed it to be a relevant visual for the brand without over-complicating or crowding the design. The use of colour also helps keep the lettering distinguished from the ornamentation.

 

Adding the umbrella element in this section links this branding much more towards the original organisation, making this more of a stylised adaption of the original. Placing it here allows for a much better balanced overall design, having 3 elements in this style and keeping it visually pleasing and engaging

 

To add a final bit of depth and hand-made authenticity, I added a subtly gradient to the offset drop shadow by hand, allowing for some subtle imperfections. With this desire for a slight rustic feel being key to my design process and choices, I felt it important to continue it in every element.

 

Final Outcome and Self-Reflection

 

The final design outcome, achieving the brief and rebranding Legal & General in a fairground lettering style

 

Looking back at the final deliverable and my process, this has been undoubtably challenging but very rewarding to participate in. This style of design, particularly the hand-made nature, is out of my comfort zone as both a designer and typographer. Particularly when developing initial ideas, I found this Real Job tough. Meeting with Joby Carter was the first step in the right direction, with his knowledge on the subject really helping in each aspect of the following design phases. The continual feedback throughout this work also helped immensely, allowing me to show different ideas and get alternative opinions on work.

While I by no means compare my work to that of talented, trained professionals like Joby, I am happy with my outcome. I believe it achieves the brief well, fitting the style of fairground lettering and appearing hand-made and authentic despite being a digital asset. While this is not what I expected to be doing on a Graphic Communication course, this project has given me an immense appreciation for this disciple and the incredible talent and craftsmanship that goes into making such effortlessly stunning hand-painted lettering.

Harris Garden interpretation boards

Brief

Summary
The Harris Garden is a botanical garden, located on the University of Reading’s Whiteknights campus. It was established in 1972 and has since been enjoyed by students, staff and the public.

The aim of this project was to create a range of deliverables that sit cohesively together within the garden. Our client initially requested a leaflet, map and signage, but after a discussion, we were able to settle on the following deliverables, which we felt would allow us to more successfully achieve both function and aesthetics:

  1. Brand Identity Design
  2. 10 x Signage
  3. Garden Map

Team Roles
As we were working as a fairly large team of four students, we decided that we would share responsibility for each deliverable, working collaboratively and ensuring we each were all held accountable throughout the project process.

Schedule
Our client made it clear that this project was flexible, however we felt it would be better for us to decide on an end-date. Having received this project over the summer holidays, we felt early April was a sensible deadline to keep to. Unfortunately, due to several delays, we had to push our deadline back. As a team, we decided to aim to finalise all the deliverables by the start of the following September, but due to lack of communication with our client, our deadline was once again delayed.

Our Vision
With this project we wanted to provide the Harris Garden with an all-new, refreshed signage system to make the gardens more inviting for a broad, but predominantly family orientated, target audience. We wanted our designs to encapsulate both the life of the garden itself and the history of its friends and regular visitors. A key aim for us was to make the garden more accessible and encourage educational learning in an engaging manner. Staying environmentally friendly was important for us to promote sustainability whilst still being durable. 

 

Research & Ideation

Personas
In our client briefing session multiple types of target users began to emerge. The client made it clear that the aim of the project was to attract more young families with children, but he was keen that the signage and map also be accessible for their existing audience. In response to these conversations, we identified four main user types. We developed these into user personas and confirmed in a subsequent meeting with the client that they align with both current and desired garden audiences. The client was satisfied with our personas and so we were able to refer to them throughout the project when making design decisions and considerations.

Materiality
As the location of the signage and maps is to be in a garden that celebrates nature, we discussed with the client environmentally friendly and sustainable options for materials and production. Concerns about vandalism and ongoing garden updates as well as natural weathering meant we had to be mindful of expense as well as the robustness of the materials.

The client wanted materials that would be easy to clean but that stood up to harsh outdoor conditions. In addition, the materials needed to be sturdy and unlikely to break, but easy to remove and replace should the garden layout change or the damage be too extreme. With this in mind we researched existing signage in a range of environments such as gardens and tourist locations as well as those around campus. We researched more traditional approaches to signage as well as unique sustainable responses.

Having Creative Print Services (CPS) located in the same building as the department enabled us to meet members of the team throughout the project in the department and on site in the garden. These conversations around materiality and function guided our design decisions as we considered colour scheme, layout, scale, and typographic treatment. 

Design Styles
When considering the direction for the unifying style of the deliverables we drew upon findings from our research that we considered to be successful, and continued to keep in mind the target audience. We knew that the design had to be accessible and attractive to children and young families, whilst also respecting the academic and mature audience. The design style also needed to reflect the natural environment of the garden. As such, we developed ideas with natural colour palettes and organic illustrations. We focused on implementing a consistent layout with clear hierarchy for the signage and considered ways in which we could make clear the link between the map and the signs so that the overall design throughout the garden was cohesive.     

 

Design & Process

Branding Design
Branding was not a deliverable our client initially requested, however we felt the creation of an identity would allow us to tie the signage and map together resulting in a cohesive set of designs.


We began by gathering inspiration of existing garden logos which had a focus on icon-like elements. We decided to go down the route of a visual but fairly minimal icon design which we felt could easily be applied to different formats and would scale easily. Using our inspiration as a foundation, we began sketching out some ideas. One of the concepts that immediately stood out to us, was the incorporation of the leaf-like shapes with the initials of the garden. We also were drawn to our sketches of interlocking leaf shapes, and so we started to take these ideas into Adobe Illustrator, exploring typefaces and logo layouts to sit alongside this icon.

 

Unfortunately this logo did not stand out to our client, and so we went back to the drawing board, to explore some new ideas, while still keeping to the leaf-shape theme. As a team, we felt the typography from the initial concept was successful, and so we kept this fairly consistent through the next rounds of designs. We were pleased to hear that our client really liked the 3rd brand identity seen in the image below, and so this is the route that we took for the garden’s brand identity. 


In terms of colour palette, we wanted to take inspiration from the plants seen within the Harris Garden, while avoiding the ‘expected’ route of an all green scheme. We developed four options, before settling on the bottom left palette. We knew this combination of colours would be taken across onto the map illustration and so we decided to keep the branding palette fairly limited while adding in more variety for the map.

 

We were really pleased that our client immediately fell in love with our chosen palette, and so we implemented this into our logo variations, testing the different combinations of colour. We found some worked better than others, but overall felt our palette was successful.

Map Design
Due to the map being at the forefront of the garden and the first thing visitors would see, we undertook extensive research into appropriate styles of maps designed for use in Garden contexts. We decided on an approach which was colourful and appealing to children and families which had a slightly 3D perspective, enhancing the shape, orientation and location of the garden in relation to the surroundings. 

After gathering inspiration for the style of illustration we would use, a colour palette was developed based on the colours selected for the brand identity. We made sure these shades were representative of the four seasons that worked well together as a set. This palette was tweaked and changed slightly as the project went on to create a coherent and appealing appearance with enough contrast to work effectively.

 

To begin the designing process, we developed the base of the map in illustrator, mapping out the different paths and sections of the garden given to us by the client. Next, we designed a variety of different tree icons that could easily be placed around the map in appropriate places in order to represent denser areas of woodland, or more prominent trees and plants. 


We added the icons and illustrations that represented the plants and trees within the Garden to the base of the map and added additional information such as the entrance gate and a key around the map. We tried many different variations and made many changes along the way to perfect the positioning of tree icons and ensuring the paths were visible for navigation purposes. 


  

We felt that the pure-white background would look too prominent and out of place in a Garden setting so opted for an off-white colour which would also prevent dirt showing up as easily. The beige background felt much more subtle and suitable for the context we were designing for, and our client also said he felt that some users would find it more difficult to read black text on a bright white background. 

We created two different versions of the near finished design which both use a more 3D effect at the edge of the map which we agreed on with the client at the beginning of the project. Differences in these versions include how specific areas of the Harris Garden are labelled, either within the illustrations of the map or around the outside. The road was omitted from the design in the end due to the decision that it was too distracting from the garden and somewhat irrelevant. In addition, the client wanted to detract any attention from the walled garden in the right hand corner as this was a section not maintained by the university, hence why we left the design of this alone. 


Although we felt we could develop our map design further, this was the stage that we got to when our client unfortunately decided to remove the map from the project’s deliverables. We decided it would be best for us to move our focus to the signage, and further refine them, rather than working on the map any further. If things had gone differently we would have developed the map further, testing different shades of an off-white background to maximise legibility as well as finding the most appropriate solution to include the garden labels around the map. 

Signage Design
In advance of designing the interpretation panels, we did some visual research and analysis on existing signs used in similar settings and contexts. This research ensured that we were considering the physicality and context of the interpretation panels throughout the entire design process, which has been beneficial for our final outcomes. 

Before taking our ideas to the computer, we sketched out some simple layouts on paper to start thinking about how we could use our format as a canvas and how to present the different kinds of information on the interpretation boards.

Once we had developed some concepts with mock illustrations and copy, we showed these to our supervisor and client to gather feedback. At this stage, the feedback that we received from our supervisor was that the interpretation boards that we had developed were too ‘book’ like, and weren’t visually appealing enough. Our supervisor also critiqued the illustration style we had chosen, and suggested we might want to experiment with a style that was more appropriate for the target audience, and perhaps something that looked a bit more abstract.

At this point  in the project, we focused on how we could transform the signs into something that looked more like information design, or a poster, rather than a page in a book. We categorised the different types of information that was present on the signs and thought about how we could differentiate between the hierarchy of information, and visually represent the content to a reader looking from afar, or only looking for a few seconds. We used colour, type size, icons and shading to achieve this. We also created new versions of the illustrative elements, choosing a style that had less detail than the first, and is more appropriate than the ones we initially presented. 

 

After exploring a more visual approach to the signage, we felt the overall layout had too much white space and did not work successfully. We decided to experiment with alternative sizes to see whether these worked better. We were all drawn to the square format as we felt this worked best for our content and was the most space efficient.

 

After discussing with our client, we decided to change the background colour to a shade of off white, to make the typography more accessible. This change will be particularly beneficial  for people with dyslexia or other needs that make reading more difficult. After a few final copy editing changes, the signs were signed off by our client. 

 

Project Conclusion

Schedule
One of the challenges we faced throughout our project, was sticking to our initial timeline. When designing the signs we had to wait for the content from our client, who struggled to gather the stories from regular visitors.  As the client was struggling to collect enough of these stories in the timeframe of our schedule, we offered him multiple extensions and moved our schedule around to accommodate this. So as not to waste time whilst waiting we decided to pause working on the signage until we had real content to work with and started working on the map. The client was happy with this compromise and it enabled the project to keep moving forward despite the delays. 

Implementation
Throughout the duration of the project, we faced some barriers that we had to overcome. Tackling these challenges as a team have taught us valuable client facing and time management skills that have not only made us better designers, but better communicators and team members. 

Our project deadline of April 2022 was initially extended due to delays in receiving the copy for the interpretation boards from our client, and we struggled to stick to a schedule throughout the project due to delays in client communication. This has taught us that in future, we should set out clearer expectations between ourselves and the client in the initial stages of a project to avoid similar challenges. 

Toward the final weeks of our project, we were informed by our client that he needed to use the University branding and that the branding we designed would not be taken forwards in the deliverables. At this point we were advised by our supervisor to let the client handle this directly with the University branding team, as this is something beyond our remit. In addition to this, the client decided to take an alternative approach in regards to the map as it would continue to develop in the coming months. While these changes to the brief were frustrating at the time, we still see the project as a success and are proud to present a full set of deliverables as outlined in our initial brief. Although they might not be implemented in the Harris Garden itself, we are happy with the solutions we arrived at. 

 

Project Summary
Overall, this was a successful and enjoyable project. We set out as a team to create a brand identity, a set of signage and a map that worked cohesively together, and this we achieved. Each member of the team brought different strengths that we were able to identify early in the project. This enabled us to harness each other’s strengths and support one another in areas where we wanted to grow and learn. As challenges arose, such as client communication, scheduling delays, or software issues we were able to create and implement effective solutions that kept us motivated and the client updated. 

We attended Real Jobs sessions regularly and benefitted from the feedback, allowing us to push the development of our ideas. Having a logical and clear structure to our process (1:branding, 2 signage, 3: map) made it easy for those providing feedback to follow our process and decisions. Towards the end of the project we acknowledged that more supervisor meetings would have been beneficial, but we were able to make the most of the meetings that we did have, especially as our supervisor was changed half-way through our project. 

Lessons on physicality were reinforced as we were reminded of the importance of printing out to-scale drafts of our designs when working on deliverables that will be physical and printed. Each of us developed our communication skills, both with the client and within our design team. Assigning and embracing individual areas of responsibility really helped with this. 

Whilst we were disappointed that the client chose to move forward in a different direction, as a team and as individual designers this was still a very beneficial project that taught us many important lessons about the reality of designing for live projects and we are pleased with what we achieved.

By: Emily Collard, Hannah Smith, Megan Hancox, Rio Ware