A team of third-year students took on the branding and promotion for this year's degree show.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
- Brand Identity Design
- 10 x Signage
- Garden Map
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
After joining the instagram team in our first year of University, we (Emily and Rio) began to co-lead the Instagram at the beginning of 2022. Our experience of being on the team previously gave us a good prior understanding and ideas of what to post and we already had a structure. Once the Instagram was officially handed over to us, we began to make our own decisions about how to lead the team, what content to post and set ourselves goals to improve our online presence.
As soon as we were handed full control of the instrgram, we felt we should focus all our efforts to making the account feel more like a welcoming community for current students, gradates, lecturers and friends of the department. We also felt it was crucial that we captured the department in a way that was appealing for prospective students, showcasing the vast range of projects, techniques and classes available on our course. To do this, we wanted to share a larger variety of posts, creating a more engaging feed. We also wanted to aim to post much more frequently than the previous years team, and engage more with other accounts.
Updating the Account
We immediately noticed that the account had a very unprofessional bio. It did not accurately portray our department as it had a chaotic and haphazard appearance. The first noticeable change to the account was updating this bio, making it feel much more considered and designed. Emily had the idea of adding a link tree to our bio, adding level of functionality as it would provide viewers easy access to the department website, UoR website, open day bookings, baseline shift talks and much more.
Planning and posting
In order to achieve our goal of posting more frequently, we implemented a new strategy for planning posts. We used an excel spreadsheet to plan our each month of posts, and allocated each post to a member of the team. The idea behind this was to get more organsied and allow each member to have a clearer idea of what to post, and when to post it.
Unfortunately, in practise this did not work as well as we had initially intended. Often, team members would forget to post on their allocated day, or other content would come up that wouldnt follow the structure and disturbed the plan. In practice, this strategy was too rigid and. Once we realised this wasn’t successful, we met with the team to discuss their thoughts on how well this was working. We all agreed that a more forgiving and less strict structure would work better for the nature of the content that we post. We also discussed with the team that frequent reminders on our group chat would be helpful to remind team members to post content.
Emily had the idea of using our account to better celebrate the typographic side to our departments course. To do this, we contacted Gerry, and requested links to typefaces designed by past MA Typeface Design Programme students. From here, Emily designed a carousel post template and began showcasing these typefaces regularly on the account. We felt having these posts helped us achieve a more considered and balanced feed, providing us with an element of consistency within our posts.
These posts did well in terms of engagement, and we were pleased to see type foundaries sharing us on their stories!
Inside the Department
As we have previously mentioned, we wanted to create a more welcoming and community feel to the account. One of the main ways we strived to achieve this, was by sharing both feed posts and reels, capturing the department itself, as well as classes such as feedback sessions.
We found these posts did really well, not only with the current students, but also past graduates, providing them with a sense of nostalgia! This was especially the case with the video content and the photography of the outside of the building.
Tips and Advice
Over the summer holidays, Rio thought that it would be a nice idea to welcome the new Part One’s with an advice post to help motivate them and inspire them at the start of this new term. IIn order to achieve this, we implemented carousel posts that shared wisdom from graduates of the department as well as current students. We found this post was welcomed warmly by our followers and would love this concept to be adopted by the new team and continue to share tips and advice!
Introduction of Guides
Guides are a feature on Instagram that allow you to collate posts into one space within your account. We felt this would be the perfect opportunity for us to help current students find the work of previous year groups, to take inspiration from examples of work and to get a better understanding of what will be expected from projects. With this being said, we made a guide for each ‘part’ as well as a guide of Real Job projects, MATD typeface posts, posts within the department, and baseline shift content.
Having implemented this into the departments account, we spoke to a few students who all agree that it was a ‘useful’ addition allowing easy access to content, especially when you are looking for a particular type of post.
Creating these guides have also been useful to help us grasp a better understanding of what we need to post more or less on the Instagram. For example, at one particular point in the year, Emily and I found ourselves posting a lot of Part 2 content, as it was the most accessible to us at the time. Therefore, we decided to recruit new students in the year below to hellpus out with posting, and got in touch with students in the year above to ask permission to post their work.
Engagement & Following
One of the main goals of posting on social media is to promote our department to new students, as well as create an online community of students, staff and alumni. Therefore, engagement and following is important to consider when posting. We have realised that certain posts ie: pictures of the department, or posts that follow trends increase engagement, and often, we have aimed to focus our content based on which
Looking at out insights on our professional dashboard, we can see that in the past 90 days of running the instagram account, we have reached 61% more accounts compared to 1 Jun–29 Aug, engagement has increased by 29% and our follower count has increased by 3.4%.
Looking back on our posts since we have lead the team, there are certain posts that have stood out to us as being more successful than others, and these are backed up by interactions and reach. To measure the success of a post, we take into account the number of interactions with the post such as likes, comments and shares, as well as how many accounts the post has reached. Using our professional dashboard insights, we can see what our following found the most engaging, as well as features of posts which drew in non-followers.
Little miss post
With 203 interactions with this post, the little miss post that we illustrated and designed ourselves was our most successful post. This post was designed in response to a popular trend on social media based on the well-known Mr Men book series.
Joby Caters Workshop
With 199 interactions, our post about our recent visit to Joby Carters sign writing workshop has been another hit amongst our followers. Photos of lettering and typography are something that would be enjoyed by the majority of our following, so it is no wonder that this post did well. Posts such as these are important to keep other members of the department up to date on what everyone gets up to.
Photographs and reels of the department
Our posts showing photographs of the outside and inside of the department, frequently received comments such as ‘love that place!’, ‘missing the yellow doors’ and ‘brings back memories’. We found that sharing these photos have been particularly successful amongst alumni, bringing back memories for former staff and students reminiscing their time at the department. These kind of posts are also useful or prospective students to grasp a vision of what life in our department looks like.
Preparing the New Team
During the autumn term, we decided to speak to the years below us, and gather new members to join our team. Having run the instagram as just a pair for several months, we felt it was key that we grew our team both for our benefit, to take the pressure as we were now part three students, but to also set up the new team to take over from us. We planned to take a step back from running the instagram towards the end of the autumn term, and did our best to guide our new team members towards new leadership and help make them comfortable posting and sharing content. We held several meetings throughout the term to share the idea we had for new content, as well as encouraging the new members to share any thoughts they had. We hoped to ease the new team into taking over the account rather than what we experienced, and leaving them to fend for themselves without prior warning!
We are delighted to say that we were able to recruit four new members to our team and we hope we have provided all the support and encouragement they need to allow the instagram to continue to grow not only as a social media account, but also as a community for students, staff and friends of the department.
As soon as we were handed the account at the start of 2022, we came up with a huge range of ideas. Unfortunately we were unable to design all these posts and implement them into our feed, however we definitely feel we have made a hugely positive impact on the Instagram, improving the content, engagement levels and community feel to the account.
We believe we have successfully maintained a consistent posting schedule, posting throughout the week. Previously, when we were under the leadership of the year above, we found that we lacked content especially at the start of each term, with the majority of posts being shared after from end of term submissions. We also found the content was mainly final mockups of work. We feel we have used our prior experience regarding this, and made a series of changes to improve not only the feed’s variety, but also the engagement with our content.
It was an absolute pleasure running the Instagram and we both feel we have gained valuable experience throughout the process. We feel our success lies with our ability to work collaboratively to run the account, gaining key skills in team leadership and time management. On top of this, we were able to harness our creativity to bring new and engaging content to the account in a variety of ways.
On top of this, we hope we have successfully prepared the next team, helping ready them for the creation of new content as well as maintaining new ideas that we have implemented ourselves.
RJ00455: Student-lead Department Instagram 2022
Emily Collard & Rio Ware
Joby Carter is a signwriter and fairground artist who owns Carter’s steam fair and he set up a competition whereby as the contestants we had to each present a brand that we had reimagined in a fairground font using signwriting techniques and show the idea as a square PNG file, 2000 x2000px. The format / medium could be whatever we chose. The aim of the project was to move away from typographic uniformity and create our own letterforms in eccentric fairground styles.
The deadline for this project was 6th December, when Joby would work with our tutors to decide on winners, so this gave me only a few weeks to complete the project from the beginning. I decided to use the first week to research and then to come up with a more developed design each week until the deadline, before which I would create my final design by hand.
I researched into lots of different logos that I thought were uninteresting and boring, and eventually came across the Odeon cinema logo. Cinemas are supposed to be exciting places to go with friends and family for entertainment purposes, much like fairgrounds and circuses, the main purpose is entertainment and fun. Cinema logos should persuade someone to go and watch a film and evoke the kind of fun that fairground typography gives off, however the Odeon logo doesn’t really do this. It uses a sans serif typeface with rigid angles, creating quite a serious look for the brand that doesn’t scream fun for anyone.
I wanted to rebrand Odeon using fairground inspired typography due to its purpose for advertising a sector of the entertainment industry which should theoretically be the most fun and expressive with its logo typography. With this project, my aim was to bring back the fun and excitement into Odeon’s logo.
After deciding on Odeon, I did a bit of background research into the logo. Odeon was founded in 1930 by Oscar Deutsch. The first logo they used was designed by Deutsch himself around this time. Cinemas during this time period were given a commonplace art deco red and gold design on the inside, which was designed by architect Harry Weedon.
Wolff Olins created a new look for Odeon in August 1997. Camden Parkway was the first cinema to receive the new look. Instead of a red and gold livery, the cinemas were repainted blue, black and silver. By 2002, all cinemas had been given the new look.
I felt that this new logo didn’t give Odeon the exciting connotations that it deserves as a cinema, and the blue certainly didn’t feel appropriate, I felt like I could make it much more exciting.
I also looked at a lot of examples of fairground art and signwriting so that I could adopt the correct style for my own rebrand. Here are some of the examples I found for inspiration. Some things I noticed were the common colours of red and yellow, the extra swirls and flourishes on letter forms, 3D effects, often heavy weighted letters, and that they used all capital letters.
Visit to Joby Carter’s workshop
As part of the contest, we got the opportunity to go and visit Joby’s workshop and he showed us round while we were able to look at lots of pieces of his work which I found really inspiring.
Joby even did some demonstrations of sketching out letterforms for us, and he also picked out one name to do a quick painted sign for, and he picked mine! He painted my name is swift, smooth motions onto dibond material which I had never seen been used before. I liked how he painted my name on a slight curve and the scroll beneath the letters gave it a lot more personality.
My design process consisted of weekly sketches and paintings which eventually developed into my final sign lettering.
I sketched out three ways to present Odeon in fairground inspired fonts using different angles and curves to create different effects. I liked having a 3D shadow on the letterforms as it really made the word pop out more.
I did another two sketches and turned one of them into a painting. The first sketch I based off the Tuscan alphabet as I liked the fishtail flourishes. The second sketch I chose to draw on a perspective line with a vanishing point so that the letters appear to be getting further away. I liked the yellow on red as it really contrasted and made the letters stand out quite well. For this one I used the Playbill alphabet as inspiration which I thought was very appropriate due to its historic use in the 19th century for advertising theatrical shows on printed posters. This links very well to the concept of a cinema, so I chose to use this style going forward. I also tested a small painted sketch of an O using blue for the background and a Tuscan O, but this didn’t feel the right vibe for a cinema.
This week I painted a developed version of the previous style, trying to refine the letterforms more, and I tried adding a scroll which was inspired by the scroll that Joby added to his painting of my name, however I concluded that this style of scroll didn’t fit the same energy of the letters. I also painted an E with fancy flourishes and tails, but didn’t feel like the colours and style gave as much impact as my previous style, although I wanted shadows on the letters to be thicker so they overlapped more.
For my developments this week I bought some gold paint to replace the yellow that I had been using, because I noticed that gold featured a lot in fairground art and I thought this could be quite impactful, I loved the shine that it gave to the letters under the light. After having feedback last week, I changed the shadows around so that the letters were sitting flat, and you could see the top and the sides instead of the bottom of the letters. I also added some small circles to each letter after seeing this in lots of sign writing. I tested a different style of scroll that I thought contrasted but fit much better with the letterforms, and a dark purple red that I used for the darkest shadows of the letters. Finally, I tested a black outline on the O but didn’t like this as much.
My final submission for the competition was based off my last practice but with more accuracy and refinery. I used more accurate vanishing points to make the letters more coherent in their 3D states, and created my own scroll, which was based off one of Joby’s examples, but with some extra flourishes. I used some dibond which James helped me source from the department because when painting on paper, it often created ripples in the painting. This was a material I had never painted on before, and as I was using acrylic paint I had to do many layers of paint each time but it created a shiny finish and I was really pleased with the finished sign.
Overall, I think I did a good job of rebranding the Odeon logo using fairground typography to make a more impactful and exciting logo that actually represents the company a lot better. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to go back to physical drawing and painting instead of working digitally and found the art of signwriting challenging yet enjoyable. It has made me really appreciate fairground art much more, having previously been unaware that it was all done by hand. I wanted to stay away from doing anything digitally throughout this project so as to stay true to the art of hand-lettering, as I felt like doing anything on my laptop would feel like cheating when people like Joby Carter do absolutely everything by hand themselves. Due to doing everything on physical paper, I realise my design may not be the most crisp and have a perfect finish, but when I visited Joby’s workshop I admired the small mistakes and discrepancies that you could sometimes notice when looking closely because they reveal the work of the artists hand and show just how difficult it really is and I felt like these inconsistencies had a certain beauty to them. I learnt that hand-lettering is not about trying to make every letter the same, what makes it special is that every letter is different and you don’t have to stick to any rules of typography, it creates a unique opportunity to be experimental and expressive with letters.
Jamal Harewood is an activist who sets out to share his vision of race and identity through workshops around England. He is currently undergoing a freedom workshop that seeks to redefine the term ‘freedom’ by discussing each individual in the workshop—participants brought in different perspectives and Fresh insight onto specific topics free from any judgement and authenticity.
On the 27th of January, Jamal Harewood led an audience-based workshop, ‘Project Freedom’, in Minghella Studios theatre Reading university. It comprises a diverse number of students that seek to redefine freedom on their terms. The workshop was a playful experience where participants were encouraged to discuss and share their views and opposition to different themes and activities. Each individual created a new definition of freedom and a pledge to follow through. Overall, the workshop brought a collective of ideas together.
The premise of this real job is to document the workshop and create deliverables that would suit Jamal’s brand and idea. He wanted to write about the unique experience of this temporary community and show the discussions and interpretations of each individual.
After we document our client’s workshop ‘Project freedom’ and his interactions with the audience, we are tasked to create a booklet and UX blog post that include the wide range of diverse experiences and definitions of freedom from the participants. The audience is the focal point of the workshop, so it is important to make the deliverables as personal as possible, not only showing their ideas but their performances and behaviour.
Our Brief main goal is to offer attendees an opportunity to revisit their experiences in Jamal’s workshop. They would be able to look through the deliverables and find quotes and thought that they said at the workshop. Although we would only be able to document one workshop, Jamal would like to carry out this project in other workshops, thereby using this deliverable as a template for future workshops and making a profit from the booklet independently.
- Booklet template. Amendable Canva template for client’s upcoming workshops
- Blog post prototype.
Research and ideation
One of the primary branding guidelines Jamal gave us was to involve the colour black. Initially, he wanted the book page to be black but having an all-black book would not be legible with some research and inspiration, we were able to find what works for Jamals.
For inspiration, Jannah and I started looking at different design idea platforms such as Pinterest and Behance. We looked at different layouts and formats of presenting texts and theme pages. We found some booklets that integrated box shapes into the body text while acting as a filler; This helped because the body text of the booklet isn’t heavy, so it was important to find a way to show the text without the book looking empty.
We understood that for this deliverable to be genuinely successful, we needed to have colours that would resonate with Jamal and his brand. When researching, the colour yellow with black caught our eyes the most. The cheerful and eye-catching hues of yellows are balanced by the more sober and sophisticated shades of black. Black and yellow branding worked well as these two colours were balanced and contrasted.
We set out to not only look for design inspirations but a colour scheme for Jamal to use across the different workshops. The colours you use in your branding and design are more than just a matter of aesthetics. Is your brand exclusive, accessible, friendly, cheerful, or mysterious? Your choice of colours reflects what your brand stands for and what customers associate with it. Understanding Jamal and the type of brand he wants to represent was one of the primary key points noted when choosing inspirations online.
Due to the nature of this project, we had to find a way for Jamal to distinguish his booklets across different workshops. We thought of the idea of using colours to differentiate but keeping the layout and the design of the booklet the same would be helpful for Jamal to design his booklet without the need for designers. So when users see the different branding colours, they would be able to associate the colour with the various workshops.
Jamal Harewood gave us complete creative control however, he wanted the primary colour for his deliverables to be black. This was because his brand identity is black with a maze and fist logo showing his connection to the BLM movement. He wanted his brand identity to be applied to his printed booklet and blog post for a consistent brand identity. We explored different colour palettes that will complement the key colours (black and white) the client has requested to be used throughout each deliverable.
This was my first draft for the book cover. The layout was nice and exciting, but it had a stern look and did not fit Jamal’s brand. However, the design had a sophisticated look similar to a journal, which contrasted Jamal’sbrand for the booklet is meant to be playful and inviting. The structures are shown in different colours to give Jamal an idea of how we would represent his various workshops. The coloured box represents a door revealing the theme; it helps viewers know what to expect when coming to the workshop.
For the second book cover design, I played around with making the cover as friendly and as inviting as possible. However, it was typographically right. The title of the book, being vertical, was not legible, and there were too many different text formats that did not complement each other. This resulted in a lack of proper hierarchy in the text and could confuse users.
Jannah’sdesigns were interesting as they also played around with the vertical and diagonal layout for the text, but the background felt like something was missing. Jannah’ssecond draft also had the issue of being sophisticated and not fitting Jamal’spersonality or the playfulness of the workshop.
To move further, we decided to combine the best elements of our designs into one to create Jamal’s book cover. However, nothing on the book cover represented Jamal or his brand apart from his name. I suggested using the maze design and adding it to the book cover’s background, which worked well to show Jamal’s brand. I explored different layouts and formats for the maze design.
As we move further into the book cover development, Jamal told us he preferred the white background with the black maze line. we agreed with him because it was neater and more visually appealing when combined with the other book cover element
We took out the theme title from the front page because we did not want to give much away to viewers when looking at the cover. The final book page works because there is a clear visual hierarchy. Jamal likes the book cover format because it is clear and playful while complementing his brand.
Jamal did not want to include photos of the participants, so we had to find a way to represent the theme or show the activities in the workshop. This part of the project was split into two, with Jannah designing the booklet’s illustrations and Theme page and I handling the Book text layout and photomontage. This idea was because we wanted each design element to have a consistent design style.
The illustrations represent the themes; they have a youthful look as the target audience is young adults. They have the same line length as the maze design because we wanted to follow through with consistency. Adding this illustration gives the book more volume and makes the book pages more attractive. The illustration has a symbolic meaning as it represents the different activities in the workshop.
When designing the theme page, we added time and text however, this element did not work because it made the theme page complicated and was not necessary. Separating each piece on the theme page made the book bulky and showed each element on its own.
We used the image above as the final design because of the apparent visual hierarchy. The use of yellow and white shows visual hierarchy and highlights the critical word in the text. The illustration represents the theme and is connected to the next page with a yellow box. We found the connecting shape helpful in linking the two pages together.
The photo montage gave the book a personal touch and helped viewers understand what happened in the workshop. Participants can see their writing and help push further the idea that this workshop was audience led.
The body text wasn’t heavy, so it was essential not to make each body text page look empty or isolated. With this idea, each booklet element is highlighted, and the text stands out on its own, with the text box adding vibrance and giving the book format a consistent look to the theme and number page.
What is Freedom?
Jamal Harewood is an activist and supports the BLM. This idealogy was implemented in the Freedom posters designed on the last page of the booklet. The freedom poster is designed similarly to the BLM ‘I can’t breathe’ poster by Eric Garner. This would help viewers identify Jamal’s support and appreciation for design in BLM.
During our first meeting with Jamal, he stated he wanted to develop a brand mark from the client’s logo and translate this onto the opening and closing pages of the booklet. The maze design is a collage of Jamal logo design; there are two different maze designs, one that is used on the front cover and the other that is used on the inside pages. The front cover maze design lets the viewer know that this booklet is under Jamal’s brand.
The maze collage acts as a filler, for the booklet introduction and ending. it also helps us go further in the branding technique than just the front book cover. it is presented diagonally with five logo designs in a row. Jamal liked this layout because the logo design was not big and the layout was much more dynamic compared to the other maze designs.
Participants who are not able to visit the workshop would be able to look at the blog post. The blog post is designed in cohesion with a booklet layout for clients to implement onto their website. It was designed on Adobe XD with Jannah overseeing the design. The blog post design has the same design elements as the booklet, so few developments or changes were made. We did look at the consistency of spacing and how viewers would navigate through the blog post.
One of my favourite design elements on the blog is the maze background with the black box. it follows the format and layout of the front cover, which is helpful in consistent branding.
The main goal of this project was for Jamal to be able to print and redesign this booklet on his own. We informed him about printing in the department and the process of printing at home. Informing him of the cons and Pros, Jamal decided to print at home after much analysis as it is more cost-effective and personal.
Since we were designing on canvas, we learned how to create and show bleed and crop marks on the canvas. Though it was slightly more straightforward, it was not as customizable as doing it on InDesign.
The printing aspect of this project allowed us to look at flaws that we overlooked while designing on canvas, such as alignment issues, spacing issues, etc. however, such cases were few. The printing of the project was successful because the booklet looked relatively similar on the screen to the print, with the colours complementing each other, the font size being readable, and the illustrations looking presentable.
As this project progressed, I understood how vital group work is when both partners play through their strengths. As time went on, it became clear to me that working with a partner who has a different design style yet similar mindset as you is helpful. We explored different styles and illustrations while barely having conflicts because we communicated effectively and ensured that everyone’s opinions were valid as we went through the project.
Overall, the design process of this booklet was enjoyable as we made sure to include Jamal at every step after our supervisor had approved it. Each design element was explained to Jamal and why such detail works with his booklet, and if he wanted any changes, it was noted and implemented immediately. However, such changes were few because he trusted our designs and believed we understood him as a person and knew what kind of designs he wanted.
Real Job: Bethan Williams designed a journal highlighting Reading's focus on racial justice.
Real Job: Emily Collard entered a design contest to brand a new research centre at the University.
Real Job: Alex Gwynne led a team creating a new website and brand for the Georgina Rivers Academy
This Real Job required us to design a publication for the PLACEing objects exhibition that ran in March 2020. The exhibition was part of Julie Brixey-Williams PhD requirements and showcased a selection of multidisciplinary artists. The client wanted a publication to showcase the both the work displayed at the exhibition and the workshops that occurred on the “Day of Dialogue”.
There was a selection of deliverables for this Real Job that adjusted slightly throughout the timeline. The main deliverable was a 48 page printed publication. The key unique aspect the client was interested in was that all pages in the publication must have equal importance. This meant we had to come up with a way to ensure the binding didn’t force a linear format, and that the users could rearrange each page.
The secondary deliverable was a logo that client would send off to be cast into a concrete block. The block was a structural part of the publication, giving the printed publication a stand.
Alongside these primary deliverables, we also designed an invitation, an acetate ingot – replicating the glass one used in the exhibition – and a pocket page to hold both of these.
User personas and interviews
The initial stage of research was looking through the early content and images of the exhibition shown to us by Julie. We wanted to get a thorough understanding of what the meaning of the exhibition was and what it was showcasing before starting any design work.
The next stage was considering the types of users within the audience that would be consuming the publication. We created a set of interview questions to get an insight into what potential audiences may expect to see in an exhibition publication. We set up 3 key user personas and conducted interviews on real life people that fit those categories.
Initial research required both me and Amina going away and looking at examples of existing publications. We made 4 mood boards,. We then explore different approaches to this, including an abstract approach to the publication design, a clean cut approach and an approach where text or images commonly overlapped. Finally, we looked into existing editorial design for artists and exhibitions, examples of publications that could be considered a direct competitor. We sent these mood boards to the client to get an overview of the style she liked and allow us to begin some sketching.
Deciding on formats
The client had used an iPad mini as part of the exhibition and wanted the publication designed with these dimensions, even down to the rounded edges.
The client also wanted a way to hold the publication together without it being physically bound. While this was initially intended on being a belly band we eventually designed for a screw to be drilled into the top. A screw was used in the exhibition and the client felt this was another way to integrate the physicality of the exhibition into the publication.
Designing the pages for the publication was the main part of this project. We trialed different layouts and sent them to the client so she had options to choose from and discuss what she liked and what she felt didn’t work. Once we knew what the client wanted we created a grid and paragraph styles that all pages would utilise. This required a lot of testing as the content for each page was vastly different, yet it was important to keep a clear consistency throughout.
Concrete block and integrating a logo
The client came up with the concept of a sculptural way to hold the publication rather than a band to hold it together. Julie wanted to have the publication sit in between 2 concrete blocks working as bookends that she would get cast by a professional at a later date. We were tasked with the responsibility of finding a way to anchor the title and branding within the design of said concrete block.
At this stage of the project a logo was one of the deliverables. The client did not have a specific use for the logo at this time and therefore we discussed using this on the concrete block make the entire project more cohesive. The logo used on the block would showcase the name of the exhibition while also adding an element of design to the block. We tested various versions to see how different layouts could work but eventually settled on a logo where the title would be split in 2, ensuring the audience would know the block was one of two.
While we initially considered applying a vinyl sticker with the logo design on it to the concrete block, we eventually decided that getting the actual logo cast into the block would be a more subtle way to showcase the logo and create the sense of it being ingrained within the whole publication concept.
This was a unique request and required some specific conditions such the files would have to be sent in. However, after close conversations with Jon, the caster, we were able to get the logo cast into the block exactly how the client wished.
Meeting regularly with the client was key to the success of this publication. We would ensure that we were sending updated iterations of the project and having meetings in order to confer and review decisions about each page. We made a lot of alternations but this lead to a strong design that conveyed each artist honourably, in the way the client wanted.
A large part of this project was the physical feel of the publication. We had a lot of conversations with the client about the shade and thickness of the paper. We printed out pages on a variety of different paper stocks to allow her to choose the one she felt represented her exhibition best. This was especially important as the main publication was printed on different stock to the invitation and the ingot. It was key to get the stock right so that they all worked together.
The publication was a short run, but due to the variety of complex printing elements such as the acetate insert and pocket page we decided the Design Print Studio in the department was the most appropriate printer. It made the communication regarding all printing easier as we could talk directly to DPS and had Geoff to advise about complex parts of the publication.
This Real Job was the first one I picked up. This meant it was a lot of new experiences for me, from working with my first client to sending my first job to print.
This project was incredibly large and intensive with lots of contributors. It took a lot longer than initially intended as we had to wait for different pieces of content alongside working to create a highly physical piece of work over multiple lockdowns. Additionally, much of the content can in different formats so it took a lot of time to work to standardise all copy and images.
Working in a group also had a lot of added complications. We couldn’t meet in person so everything had to be done over zoom which occasionally meant their was communication issues. Additionally, we could not work on a file at the same time and would have to ensure the latest file was uploaded to OneDrive at all times. Reflecting on this project, I think there could have been more appropriate ways to divide up workload to be more efficient, however this experience has helped guide future Real Jobs and other group projects.
Overall this has been an incredibly educational experience, providing me with invaluable opportunities and a printed publication that I am very proud to have collaborated on.