Week 11 of Baseline shift welcomed Studio FourPlus, whose owners met through graffiti and created the company in 2009 in Sofia, Bulgaria. They specialise in branding and motion design. Ivaylo Nedkov, one of the owners, shared their 10 business principles with us in March. Studio FourPlus’s 2019 branding reel @studio_four_plus Studio FourPlus's Behance
1. Take chancesAs Ivaylo stated, ‘one simple act can lead to something big’. Studio FourPlus entered into the Sofia design week in 2011 and won the poster competition. From this exposure they got an exhibition the following year and further proposals down the line. In addition to this they went on to create the festival’s identity in 2012 which was the first complex design system the company worked on. This in turn shaped their path and wouldn’t have happened had they not taken the chance at the beginning and continued to do so along the way. [caption id="attachment_18386" align="alignnone" width="1110"] Sofia’s 2011 Poster Competition Winner[/caption]
2. Build relationshipsYou need to ‘become more than just the designer of the business’. Do your own research and ‘go beyond the data’. Think of what the client may need but didn’t mention, something they may not even realise or have thought about yet. Even if the ideas may sound weird at first, through it all you need to be questioning and be respectful simultaneously. [caption id="attachment_18387" align="alignnone" width="1920"] Bagri Restaurant‘s Business Cards[/caption] The Bagri Restaurant was the first farm to table restaurant in Bulgaria and Studio FourPlus designed their branding. They decided to go for organic branding; using watercolour, watercolour paper cards and a stamp. In order for this to function FourPlus designed around eleven watercolour templates on the business cards so Bagri could finish the design by stamping the cards with the logo, which was also illustrated by hand. The branding however didn’t stop there. Studio FourPlus went on to create a wall quote mural of the restaurant’s menu, tying it all together. They then continued to keep in touch and foster their relationship with Bagri after the completion of the project. As a result, Studio FourPlus helped redesign the logo when the Bagri fell on hard times in 2020 and converted into a farm. As a farm they needed to come up with packaging design for their products which the Studio handled, as shown with the Bagri Farm dairy product labels. [caption id="attachment_18388" align="alignnone" width="2499"] Bagri Farm dairy product label designs[/caption]
3. Make it personal[caption id="attachment_18390" align="alignnone" width="2545"] Make&Take’s customisable pizza boxes[/caption] Wherever possible Studio FourPlus incorporate personalisation into their designs, as you can see with the Make&Take Pizzeria. Designs always work better when you ‘bring people into the equation’. When the customer ‘makes’ their own pizzas by telling the chefs what they wish to have for toppings they are already engaged. FourPlus took this another step further and personalised the packaging. By placing the customer’s name on their pizza box, the pizzeria will gain a more loyal customer base as it is creating a more personal experience and the company will get free advertising when the customer takes the pizza home. Similarly, they designed the shop’s interior and staff uniforms to reflect this experience further.
4. Support meaningBy supporting causes and issues which are active you are not only advertising your beliefs, you are also helping to support the communities and causes which garners attention. FourPlus is very active in terms of supporting meaningful causes such as the Power Pops brand. The brand aims for social change, but its approach is different. It makes delicious and healthy ice creams that support causes and ideas. Made out of natural products and real fruits, the popsicles are limited and always linked to an idea. One can only find them at events signed by the brand. Power Pops’ social engagement strongly relies on supporting different causes. The first two brand missions FourPlus worked on were the establishment of a LGBT center in Sofia & gathering resources for a Bulgarian fund for women in arts and crafts. [caption id="attachment_18391" align="alignnone" width="1198"] Designs for mission 1 - LGBT center in Sofia[/caption] [caption id="attachment_18392" align="alignnone" width="1183"] Designs for mission 2 - Bulgarian fund for women in arts and crafts[/caption]
5. Share your values[caption id="attachment_18394" align="alignnone" width="1197"] Studio FourPlus’s value cards[/caption] As Ivaylo stated on behalf of Studio FourPlus, ‘It makes our work inspiring’. When sharing your values with others they are often inspired by you. Another way you can share these is through projects like creating your own Value Cards. For a ‘Brand and Stationary for print lovers’ event in Sofia, organised by Europaper and InkPassion, FourPlus created a series of four cards representing their main values. "Honesty Rules” stands for honest and fair communications, “People First” represents the team spirit and value of the individual. “Quality is King” reveals the striving-for-excellence nature of the Studio and “Never Settle” captures its unresting desire and aim for growth and bettering. All cards were printed on four different creative papers applying different printing techniques. Having a focus on motion branding, the Studio decided to add extra value to the print formats and used the Artivive app which allowed to bring to life the calligraphy and lettering in the cards.
6. Collaborate[caption id="attachment_18395" align="alignnone" width="1193"] Postcards from Take Away Sofia[/caption] ‘We grow through the work with other people’ Ivaylo pointed out to us. So in order to ‘build something bigger than yourself, your skill and your knowledge’ you have to collaborate with others. One project in which you can see FourPlus did this is ‘Take Away Sofia’, for which they collaborated with a multitude of artists, including a lettering artist who later on actually became part of the Studio PlusFour team. This booklet of postcards inspired by the capital of Bulgaria – Sofia, features different aspects which entice tourists to the beautiful and always surprising city – culture, architecture, art, food and beverages to name a couple.
7. Improve your surroundingsOne of Ivaylo’s many great tips was to always try and work to improve your surroundings. This being one of the key values of the Studio allowed them to work alongside a group of architects on numerous projects to improve the city and country they are based in. The first project he talked to us about was the Pirogov hospital in Sofia’s Children's ward. Hospitals usually tend to be dark and gloomy and most people try to avoid them. Such was the case with this one. However, since there always are patients that need medical help. The America For Bulgaria Foundation aimed to change that. They started a project aimed at transforming the Children’s Ward to make the patients’ stay more pleasant. FourPlus partnered in the project to create the navigation system and illustrations and turn the ward into a magical world for the little children. [caption id="attachment_18396" align="alignnone" width="1197"] The new navigation system & illustrations along the corridors of Pirogov Children’s Ward[/caption]
8. Go beyond expectationsWhen Studio FourPlus was invited to participate in the brand enhancement of Launchlabs – a business redesign studio, they were a bit overwhelmed by the big task. They started with an analysis of the current visual identity elements and the company’s performance, both digitally and physically. In a series of workshops with the Launchlabs team, FourPlus explored various approaches and scenarios for the brand’s future, until becoming in sync on the currently chosen path. As a result of these and numerous hours of research, they came up with an upgrade of Launchlabs’ logotype and symbol, colour palette, typography, iconography and illustration, layout, portfolio and print. They showed a lot of passion and know-how into both design work and presentation and this resulted in a great work environment and relationship with the company. The takeaway from this project, Ivaylo suggests, is to envision what might be when working with an important client and give it all you’ve got! [caption id="attachment_18397" align="alignnone" width="1209"] The new navigation system & illustrations along the corridors of Pirogov Children’s Ward[/caption]
9. It’s okay to failFailure helps you grow, not every project will be launched, not every proposal will be chosen and not every competition will be won. As Ivaylo reminded us this doesn’t stop you from building your relationships and contacts. He showed us numerous projects Studio FourPlus worked on which were either not finalised or even chosen, however this never stopped the team from looking for more work and clients. Sometimes collaborations don’t work and that’s okay, as long as you can take something positive from it it’s not waste, it’s a learning curve. ‘Every project is a great experience, focus on all the positives you can out of it’. [caption id="attachment_18398" align="alignnone" width="919"] A bunch of FourPlus’ ‘fuck-ups’[/caption]
10. Enjoy the rideLike everything, being a designer has its struggles so it’s really important you ‘don’t forget why you went into design’. Studio FourPlus does work they are passionate about; motion design and branding mostly, but it’s also the work they find interesting. For years they worked with a Snowboard company based in Berlin where they had full creative freedom over what they did and were very pleased with landing this project. Make sure you remind yourself why this is what you chose to do, yes it’s hard work but it’s fun so don’t forget to enjoy it as well. ‘Experiment, search, fail, but do not forget to have fun.’ [caption id="attachment_18399" align="alignnone" width="837"] Airtracks Snowboards collections 15/16 and 17/18 created by FourPlus[/caption]
ReflectionUpon hearing all these tips from Ivaylo Nedkov and Studio PlusFour it shows how important it is for you to take those chances, share yourself through your work, build those relationships, work with others and always look on the bright side.
‘Branding design is really something to be admired because you really have to have a certain *flair* – and Ivaylo definitely has that! The decisions he talked about in his work really show an attention to detail and it is so fascinating to hear. Really awesome work, especially loved the pizza one.’ – Robin, Part 3
‘Seeing amazing work from the perspective of a different country was very interesting!’ – Part 2 student
‘The tips and examples shown by Ivaylo were very useful.’ – MA student
In week 10 Baseline Shift welcomed back some graduates from the department who talked to us about their journey after graduation and current positions. Lined up we had book designer and art director Nikki Ellis, award-winning designer Anne Brady and 3D and 2D motion designer – Ed Hendry.
'It was fascinating and challenging, the books I worked on were varied.' – Nikki EllisNikki Ellis graduated in 2007 from a four year undergraduate master MDes course which was then offered by the department. When she graduated Nikki also managed to get a job as a result of the degree show at the end of her fourth year. ! The company was called Quadrille and it was a small publishing company which worked on books on food and drinks. She worked in Quadrille as a senior designer for 13 years. Nikki started as a design assistant, learning the ropes of book design in style sheets and layout. She designed cookbooks which she says were remarkably 'challenging' but interesting in their specific typography and text hierarchy. Nikki shared with us a few fantastic examples. [caption id="attachment_18134" align="alignnone" width="1068"] Chinese cooking book menu by Jeremy Pan, designed by Nikki.[/caption] This is a Chinese cooking book menu by Jeremy Pank; he wanted to make Chinese cooking accessible for everybody. There were lots of bullet points used in this book and icons, as the example above shows. [caption id="attachment_18135" align="alignnone" width="1078"] Another example of Nikki’s design of a cook book that included little art designs.[/caption] Another example was a book called ‘Porridge’, which allowed Nikki to experience being part of the photo shoot and also help out with it, which in her words was 'amazing!' Annie, the author of the book, wanted to have her book include her ‘art’, in the form of the porridge bowls she created like the one shown in the example above. Niki's experience in designing cookbooks made her better at typography, layout and page formatting, and the examples she brought in show her ambition in these aspects of design. Nikki encourages designers not to force themselves to work within a set of rules and constraints but to have their creativity and ambitions go beyond limits and discover what their work without regulations and restrictions could be. An example of a principle Nikki uses within her work in designing books is making use of the colour black for fonts. Nikki also discussed another example: the line length in the text, which she tries to limit to no more than 13 words across, to suit comfortable reading. Some other things she looks out for are running feet, folios, subheadings, etc. [caption id="attachment_18136" align="alignnone" width="1091"] A Cook Book designed by Nikki.[/caption] However, Nikki has to comply with some rules, as the cookbooks are almost always distributed internationally, so there is a need to design in a way that is suitable for translation, and thus for different text extents. Nikki's main challenge when designing cookbooks is how to arrange content (images, recipe, commentary, notes) to create balance on the page to make it a user friendly reading experience. [caption id="attachment_18137" align="alignnone" width="1031"] One of Nikki’s examples of tight text, due to the big amount of bullet points or ingredients in text.[/caption] Space can be used to both separate and connect elements in a design, Nikki explained. Wider spaces separate elements from each other and narrower spaces connect elements to reveal relationships between them. The meaning of space is more critical than some consistent lining up for the sake of rigidity. Nikki has a stage for starting points, as in headings and subtitles but does not like to have a sense of constraint in her work. Therefore this is why she makes her own set of rules when designing a master page layout. [caption id="attachment_18139" align="alignnone" width="593"] Cover of a cookbook (debossed title) – designed by Nikki.[/caption]
‘Textured materiality.’ – Nikki ElissCover design is also part of Nikki's work. The example below shows a textured book cover with a background of a debossed grey rusty grain that Nikki designed, creating a debossed finish in the title. These are some of the examples she showed in the session …
'I took a slightly different approach from Nikki.' – Anne BradyAnne graduated from the department in 1994, describing her experience at Reading as invaluable. Throughout her career, there have been a lot of changes in the design world and she says she has been trying to blend and merge her work into the digital world and has become much more interested in the dynamics of what digital delivery allows. Still, she says it was a great privilege to come from the printing background of the letterpress studios in Reading and understanding how typography (and technology) have developed over the last thousand years gave her a great headstart in her career. Hired at the degree show by a studio called Jeffrey Design which only employed graduates of Typography and Graphic Communication, she considered herself 'very lucky’ . She also said she learned and experienced the outside world of graphics through the Real Jobs she completed while at the department. Therefore, Anne suggested it is essential for us all to put ourselves into opportunities and collaborate in real work experiences while overcoming the challenges that will stop us achieving. Through the studio she worked on a job at Cambridge University, with her boss back then – Sally. They designed the press sheet for ‘Cyclopedia Cambridge’. ‘It's hard to imagine’, as Anne explained, ‘it was a 4000-page book which was separated into a series of editions.’ ‘It was an excellent piece of typographic design.’ After working with Sally for a few years, Anne was moved on to a job at the Museum of London, designing all of the marketing material including all of their publications and sometimes even organizing exhibitions. Her main task was to create exhibition designs and promote them. Anne enjoyed this experience and learnt a lot from the challenges.
'As designers, we all have different skills.' – Anne BradyAnne returned to Dublin around 1998 and began working in a very corporate company – a design agency which worked on short films and TV shows. Anne was happy working there for about a year managing a team of 12 people. After that she decided to go solo and created her own design studio, called Vermillion, which is her focus to this day. It was hard at first when starting out but through the years she and her team started finding more and more clients and gaining their trust. Twenty-two years later, Anne's team is still going strong, currently working on a chair exhibition for the National Museum of Ireland, working with the Department of foreign affairs and trade–designing lots of materials in 17 languages for 80 embassies around the world, which is fascinating. They are now also working on a book for the National Gallery of Ireland, which showcases all the paintings and artworks acquired by the Gallery over the last 15 years. [caption id="attachment_18145" align="alignnone" width="1368"] Photo of Anne’s team.[/caption] Anne shared this image (shown above) with us and with great pleasure and respect explained each person's role in the team. Anne and her colleagues have worked as a team for ten years, creating a good collaboration, which is a very important aspect in the field of graphic communication. They are all different in terms of skills and abilities but working together makes a great team. Anne’s ability was to always bring typography within a project but she also has some essential skills working with multimedia. The National Library was one of their more significant clients as they have an incredible collection (National Library of Wales) Anne described the museum as one of the world's leading museums of Islamic, Western and Eastern manuscripts. Anne also talked about her experience in exhibition design. She shared with us that it is quite difficult to work with a living artist and design a cover for their exhibition. She and her team had an interesting experience when they put type on one of the artworks to create a poster for the exhibition and they had to design around 80 different variants of the poster before they got approved and published because a lot of Anne's team’s designs were intruding too heavily with the artwork. As we all know, prototyping is always the key to success before launching. The National Gallery of Ireland was essential and one of the main clients they operated with, which made them have a good relationship with the studio. [caption id="attachment_18146" align="alignnone" width="1545"] The exhibition of the museum.[/caption] Anne's team also worked on designing Dublin's zoo map, as you can see in the image shown below. It was an exciting project the team worked on because most of the design decision were sensible, so they had to design the map and fix some of the icon errors. These are examples of Anne's team's incredible work! [caption id="attachment_18147" align="alignnone" width="1226"] Dublin’s zoo map created by Anne and her team.[/caption]
‘I have designed over 85 books for national and international publishing houses.’ – Anne Brady.
Ed HenryEd' presentation was interesting since he has taken a very different, and more digital, career path. He now lives in Berlin and works as a senior motion designer at Delivery Hero. His work at the company mainly centres around creating motion designs and other types of promotion videos. However, what keeps Ed going is his obsession with music and 3D motion design. He has worked a lot with games and other animation projects for friends and colleagues who also work in the music industry. Ed shared his experiences and passion for his work and his motivations, which were astonishing to hear. The majority of Ed’s work in and out of his workplace is focused on 3D and motion design, including animations. Here is are examples of Ed’s 3D motion work: Ed Hendry - Motion Designer
‘I found out that I could push myself to go into different directions.’ – Ed HendryEd started his presentation explaining his experiences and flashbacks when he was at Reading University, which gave our students good ideas on how to use their time while studying. Ed had the chance to go out and discover what drives his creativity and what pushes him out of his limits. One of his interests he discovered was motion design, which has a connection to 3D design. Motion design combines animation and motion typography and other types of fascinating video styles. After graduating, Ed managed to get an idea of what he likes and dislikes, which helped him get into the platform he is in. [caption id="attachment_18149" align="alignnone" width="1594"] Example of Ed’s work for a department project using 3D design.[/caption] Living in Berlin, Ed now works for an international company called Delivery Hero – one of the leading global online food delivery marketplaces. You can find more about them here: Delivery hero Ed also had the opportunity to promote the company and design a new identity , using his skills and inspiration in 3D design and motion design. [caption id="attachment_18150" align="alignnone" width="1913"] Delivery Hero logo[/caption]
‘This was a huge project that took me three months!’ Ed HendryEd also worked on a very interesting personalised animation project which he spent months on! Ed Hendry - Motion Design Reel 2020 As we all know, every project goes into our portfolio. This builds our recognition and progression from project to project. However, unfortunately, it was not published by the his company due to technical problems. Still, Ed is very proud of his success in creating this type of motion design. The students learned a lot from his presentation including to even put work in their portfolios that did not get to be published. Certainly, this is for the sake of building your portfolio to show success ambition. Ed is currently pushing his 3D work in slightly new directions, revisiting lettering, focusing on music and planning to get into VR sculpting! These are some of Ed’s examples of 3D sculpting design.
ReflectionNikki, Anne and Ed all inspire us to continue working and exploring what fascinates us – this will guide our way forwards! They suggested we all focus on building our social networks throughout our course, and seek internships and work experience wherever we can. We can also gain advantages by completing Real Jobs and getting a true insight into the industry of Graphic design, and especially client relationships.These things can empower us to develop a solid portfolio and be ready for full-time jobs. Sometimes, students may not specifically know what interests them or what they want to do when they graduate, and that's normal! If you have a dominant interest, you might aim to prototype your work project towards them during your experience on the course But it's not expected that everyone recognises their destiny within the field. Research and explore, talk with our amazing tutors about your interests. By doing so, you will truly find your way.
‘Was really interesting to hear about different options for careers and the things past graduates have achieved!’ – Part 3 student ‘So many facets of design were covered, and it was so interesting to hear both the highs and lows of their projects. Just a nice reminder that even the big professionals have things go wrong sometimes!’ – Robin, Part 3 student ‘I really enjoyed learning about the guest speakers work and some of it was really inspiring.’ – Adam Powell, part 1 student
Week 8 of Baseline shift this term presented graphic designers and co-owners of the studio Design Print Bind, Flaminia Rossi and Samantha Whetton. They talked to us about freelancing experience, design communities they are a part of, as well as some of their personal projects.
'We love to help people publish their work.'Not only do Samantha and Flaminia work with collaborations like ‘United Voices of the World’ and ‘Designers + Cultural Workers’ to improve the lives of those suffering from discrimination and workplace injustice, they also predominantly help people who would not be able to publish books if it weren’t for them. More often than not these remarkable women help their clients create content along the way, getting involved as early as possible to help guide and challenge them as a project evolves. Design Print Bind offers client consultations, thereby 'minimising the back and forth between client and printer'. One way in which Design Print Bind manages to cater to clients with a lower budget is through the use of facilities at the London Centre for Book Arts, of which they are both members. This communal space allows them to produce intricate designs, such as the DPB book of poems they brought along to show us. [caption id="attachment_17331" align="alignnone" width="1494"] DPB project for a book of poems[/caption]
The experience of working in DPBBeing part of such a community allows Samantha and Flaminia to learn as they go when working on design projects – from boxing posters to website branding and instructional booklets to name a few, but to also attend and teach workshops at the facility. Both have shown great enthusiasm for learning more from their students at the University of Kingston, each other and other members at the London Centre for Book Arts whether artists, writers or fellow designers. So, it comes as no surprise that Design Print Bind experiments a lot with their materials while being conscious of the client’s limitations. [caption id="attachment_17332" align="alignnone" width="269"] Boxing poster Samantha Whetton created for a boxing club[/caption] [caption id="attachment_17333" align="alignnone" width="750"] An instructional booklet on book binding Flaminia created for the students of Kingston School of Art[/caption] [caption id="attachment_17334" align="alignnone" width="750"] A florist’s website Samantha Whetton and Flaminia Rossi rebranded based on printed experiments[/caption] [caption id="attachment_17336" align="alignnone" width="228"] A children’s workshop on letterpress[/caption] While they work on a variety of projects, a lot of Samantha’s work is centred around A6 books such as the Reading Room project. If you are interested in creating your own book, Samanatha and Flaminia have suggested reading ‘Making books: A Guide to Creating Hand-crafted Books’ by Simon Goode and Ira Yonemura, sold by the London Centre for Book Arts. They also reminded us all to 'put in more time than you need, especially with print', so don’t expect perfection on the first try and keep on trying. From personal experience, they said they always experience setbacks when printing a project, just like many of the people Samantha and Flaminia deem experts at the London Centre for Book Arts. [caption id="attachment_17338" align="alignnone" width="1596"] The Reading Room project, a series of 5 A5 booklets[/caption] Samantha and Flaminia truly value the communities they are a part of, the opportunities to grow and get feedback from other professionals and gather further insight for the future from their many collaborations. They attribute a lot of their success as freelancers to the networks they have grown over the years through their many projects, experiences and collaborations. While both Samantha and Flaminia don’t hide the struggle which comes from being a freelancing graphic designer, they shared some tips with us to improve the chances for success. They also suggested taking on some volunteering work to grow your experience and network. It can open new doors as it has done for Flaminia in the past, and they both suggest you should combine volunteering with causes you believe in so that even if it doesn’t evolve past that stage, you won’t feel as though it was for nothing. Growing a network doesn’t happen overnight as, while word of mouth does spread and bring in some jobs for Design Print Bind, Flaminia and Samantha recommended nudging potential clients ahead of time; using a simple email means that when they need someone, they’re likely to think back to you and get in touch. Moreover, you should start building your network now, don’t wait – as a university student you come across many designers, so take advantage and start building your connections.
ReflectionLearning about the experiences and the process of Flaminia and Samantha at DPB was inspiring. As they explained some of the physical methods of designing and binding, it even made us excited to get back in the Department and test more! The workshops DPB outlined in the session allowed us to digest more about their goals and methods in designing, printing and binding; a skill every designer needs to have a background in! Here are links to Deign Print Bind's email and Instagram, which Samantha and Flaminia suggested you contact if you have any questions or want to get in touch. email@example.com @designprintbind As well as some useful links about printing & binding:
‘I really liked the presentation of their experimentation, introduction to the community freelancers use and their experiences.’ – Part 1 student ‘One of the things that drew me to the Department was its interest in printing and physical methods. So, having a guest that reminds me of that thing that sets Reading apart was really lovely. Some awesome work shown!’ – Robin Smith, Part 3
In week 5 of the Spring term, Baseline Shift welcomed Typography & Graphic Communication graduate Seniz Husseyin who talked to the students about her experience within the Department and how it shaped her into wanting to work for social change in the third sector. In June of last year Seniz started working with a charity in Reading called Launchpad and she also shared some of her experiences from there.
University and beyondSeniz started her degree in 2017 and graduated in 2020. In the beginning she was nervous and doubting her capabilities, however she decided to ignore that and not let it get in the way. Trying to get the best out of her university experience, Seniz joined the Department’s diversity team in her first year when it was first proposed and each year, along with the increasing opportunities from the team, her confidence and passion to continue working for good social causes grew. That really changed her perspective as a designer and shaped her future career choices. It was no surprise for her when she found out that the designer industry is mostly populated by white males and a lot of the history that is taught reflects the same. Learning about the cultures and ideas within design outside of the western canon was an opportunity she couldn’t miss. For the years she was part of the diversity team, the team was able to help change the curriculum by incorporating more opportunities for diversity and inclusion to be taught such as the Design for Change module. The diversity team has since given presentations at the RUSU Partnership in Teaching and Learning Showcase and Baseline Shift. Being part of the team also allowed Seniz to meet people from all year groups and other departments, conduct two workshops at Tate Modern and create an annual diversity zine. [caption id="attachment_18369" align="alignnone" width="960"] The diversity team at Tate Modern lead by Seniz (middle)[/caption] Seniz believes that these major parts of her university experience have shaped her into the designer she is today and built up her desire to work on projects for good causes or that will help bring change. ‘I am now more conscious of the companies I want to work for or who I apply for.’
Launchpad Reading[caption id="attachment_18370" align="alignnone" width="973"] Launchpad Reading’s office in central Reading[/caption] The inclusive experience Seniz had at university and her newly formed mindset towards work led her to apply for a marketing internship for the homeless charity at Launchpad Reading. Seniz describes Launchpad as Reading’s leading homeless prevention charity. She said they provide information and support for individuals, couples and families who don’t have a stable place to live or are at risk of losing their home. They also provide temporary and permanent homes and rebuild lives through activities, supportive education, training and employment. Seniz was also pleased to find out that it was actually founded as a soup kitchen in 1979 by students at the University of Reading. Wanting to be involved working for a charity, she thought that having new marketing experience would be really beneficial for her design work. Seniz found the internship through the Reading Internship Scheme, which she highly recommends for finding internships or even voluntary work since experience is extremely beneficial and can set one apart, especially at a time when employers are looking for staff with experience. In the beginning of her career at Launchpad, she also completed a digital marketing and advertising online course because she wanted to make sure she had basic training while working with the Marketing Team.
LaunchpadSeniz initially started at Launchpad as a marketing intern through the Reading Internship Scheme but after three months of working with them she was offered a Marketing Assistant role. Even though it was marketing, she was hired because of her design background which provided a huge overlap between both industries. Being able to get this marketing experience really helped Seniz improve as a designer too. Seniz was the first designer employed at the small charity and working with them she helped with their website, fundraising campaigns, social media, email newsletters, video editing and other tasks. Even though her title was Marketing Assistant, she did feel more like an in-house designer. If you are a designer, looking to become more business savvy, Seniz suggests learning some marketing knowledge. ‘Design and Marketing are two sides of the same coin, and what binds them together is the primary focus of understanding and appreciating the user or target consumer.’ Design So Journ, ‘The relationship between design and marketing‘ in designsojourn.com, 2010.
Big Sleep OutThe Big Sleep Out is Launchpad’s annual fundraising event and one of the major projects Seniz has worked on within the charity. [caption id="attachment_18372" align="alignnone" width="454"] Photo from the 2019 event[/caption] The event takes place on world homeless day – 7 October and 2020 was the fifteenth year the charity was running the event. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the event was made virtual but this was a daunting new challenge for everyone in the team to adapt to a virtual event. [caption id="attachment_18373" align="alignnone" width="711"] Photo from the 2020 event[/caption] However, because of that, Seniz felt that she was learning and contributing as much as everyone else on the team and created new digital materials that were specific to what people could use in their homes and plan new strategies. The 2020 event saw a big turnout of people from Berkshire which raised a total of over £50,000 that would go towards preventing homelessness in Reading. The sum was actually double their initial target. When creating the items for the event, Seniz worked with a logo created by an external designer to create all other materials for the event. Part of the promotion for the event was getting the word out to the public, so Seniz had to create large scale work with a visible call to action. [caption id="attachment_18374" align="alignnone" width="960"] Some of Seniz’s large scale promotional work at Reading Station[/caption] Other materials she designed include the event programme booklet, flyer design and social media banners, all of which were vital. She made sure the text in these was easy and visible to read while keeping engagement throughout. [caption id="attachment_18375" align="alignnone" width="960"] Event programme designed by Seniz[/caption] Seniz aimed to make all of these consistent whilst also adjusting to the specifications. She also designed downloadable content that participants could use to create more recognition and support for the charity, such as the event pack. [caption id="attachment_18376" align="alignnone" width="960"] Car sticker and selfie frame from the event pack Seniz created[/caption]
Working through a pandemicA big part for Seniz within this role was working through a pandemic. While new, it did come with some advantages. Knowing that everyone is going through it together for the first time actually made staff grow as a team. They learned new skills such as how to adapt in constant changing circumstances and within unknown times. Working from home also meant she had to do less travelling. [caption id="attachment_18379" align="alignnone" width="766"] Seniz’s work from home setup[/caption] Some challenges included having most of the charity’s events cancelled, and when adapting to the new online way of doing things, there wasn’t enough time to plan it out properly. Starting a new job this way did feel overwhelming but Seniz never felt left out.
Recent workSeniz is no longer working for Launchpad but some of her last projects for the charity included designing some of the external and internal signage at a new Life and Skill centre called Launchpad 135. [caption id="attachment_18380" align="alignnone" width="1024"] External signage at Launchpad 135 designed by Seniz[/caption] Another thing she was also working on was the charity’s brand refresh which included all publication materials. Overall she hopes to continue her career in the sector. [caption id="attachment_18381" align="alignleft" width="644"] Launchpad brand refresh[/caption]
Closing thoughtsSeniz said if there is anything she would want us to take away from her presentation it would be to make use of everything the Department offers and pursue our interests in designing for good causes. Being able to see first hand how her work helped people through feedback and client stories was so motivating and she certainly didn’t have this mindset in first year but the Department really did help introduce her into this lane through certain modules and projects. Her advice is to grab all the different opportunities we have because they can open many doors and she definitely recommends being a part of these even if it is out of our comfort zone.
‘It was nice to see how someone with a similar path and experience to me has gone on to do cool stuff and make a career. Very comforting especially that she managed it in this current chaos – shows how far hard work actually gets you!’ – Part 3 student
‘I always value the talks from past students because I feel like there's a bit of a gap between uni and working in my head so it's valuable to learn what others did afterwards to make that step.’ – Part 1 student
In week 4 of the Spring term, Baseline Shift had the pleasure to host a talk by Achilles Gerokostopoulos – a graduate of the department who has lots of experience in software, tech and corporate communication. Currently working at the Irish National Lottery in Dublin, Achilles’ career involves working in design teams which is what he talked about in the session.
Working in a team is the alpha and omega of design at the momentAchilles’ career path is a very interesting one. He graduated from The University of Reading’s Typography & Graphic Communication department in 2004 and found work in various aspects of design after that. At first he was very interested in editorial design; working for art directed magazines such as Esquire in Greece while also doing some design consulting for newspapers. In fact, one of the newspapers he worked on in Greece – Eleftheros Typos, was awarded Best Designed European Newspaper in 2007. After the Greek economy crashed Achilles decided to move to Amsterdam where he got into tech design. There, he worked as a design director in the gaming sector and a while after he began a freelance career in design consultancy which led him to Dublin. At the moment he has just begun working as a design lead for the Irish National Lottery. Through these numerous jobs Achilles gained a lot of knowledge on how teamwork happens and what it is like to work in product development – ‘One of the likeliest industries you might be absorbed in’, he says. That is why he decided to tell our students a bit more about design in product development as well as the inner circles and relationships between design teams, developers, businesses and users.
With the rise of digital businesses, design is emerging againFrom his experience, Achilles suggests that more and more businesses are going digital. During this process they realise the importance of design and how it will help them develop further in the digital sphere. He also mentioned that old companies have recently bought design companies to have them as in-house teams, the trend of working with or alongside designers when developing a business is on the rise. This results in an increase of designers being absorbed in the business industry early on in their professional careers and working with stakeholders, businesses, users and development commonly. Achilles continued with a graphic (shown below) of the core stakeholders in product design. He stated that any product starts with users and their needs. ‘In product development a lot of your work will be finding out as much as you can about the users.’ Then there is the business – it is set up to address a particular user or consumer need, and usually sells that as a product or service. And finally, development – they are the group of people that are called upon to implement and produce the business’s idea. ‘Design sits at the intersection of all these.’ Working in product development, Achilles says, there will be people whose needs you’ll be needing to address and you have to balance a lot of people’s wishes and needs. [caption id="attachment_18341" align="alignleft" width="960"] Graphic from Achilles’ presentation to show the core stakeholders in product design[/caption]
Design has two major sets of functionsAchilles explained how digital product development design can be seen to perform two major sets of functions. [caption id="attachment_18343" align="alignnone" width="960"] Graphic from Achilles’ presentation to show how digital product development design splits in two functions[/caption] First are the exploratory functions which mainly deal with exploring and defining the problem space. Designers answer questions such as: What needs to be designed and why? Some common practices in the process feature creating workshops, conducting user research, collaborative ideation and process / journey mapping. Second are the prescriptive functions which deal with translating the requirements into specifications and design assets that development can implement. This includes design specifications, graphic design, interaction design, and design system development. Once you understand these functions, Achilles said, especially in larger companies, you get to the organisation of the design teams which perform these functions most effectively within the context of a company or organisation.
Two modelsFrom his experience Achilles suggests that there are two broad models for design in product development. [caption id="attachment_18349" align="alignnone" width="960"] Graphic from Achilles’ presentation to show the two models for design in product development[/caption] The agency model: where the design resources are concentrated and function like an internal agency – centralised design organisation using waterfall development, and the embedded design model: where design resources are distributed across various product teams, using agile development. Of course, these are only two edges of a full spectrum of models since companies differ in their implementation of design teams and one can definitely recognise some that are in between but Achilles points these two main ones out. [caption id="attachment_18350" align="alignnone" width="1006"] Graphic from Achilles’ presentation to show how the agency model works[/caption] [caption id="attachment_18352" align="alignnone" width="960"] Graphic from Achilles’ presentation to show waterfall development[/caption] [caption id="attachment_18354" align="alignnone" width="842"] Graphic from Achilles’ presentation to show how the embedded model works[/caption] [caption id="attachment_18356" align="alignnone" width="960"] Graphic from Achilles’ presentation to show agile development[/caption] Achilles thinks that both models have their advantages and disadvantages, and largely depend on the structure of the company – the larger the company with a number of development teams, the more likely they’ll be using the embedded model.
Communication and coordinationAfter going over the different models, Achilles continued by describing the methods we can use to coordinate design efforts. He suggested that in either model, there will be several kinds of stakeholders and the designer is in the center. He showed a graphic where these are displayed in concentric circles by proximity of concerns to the Designer. [caption id="attachment_18359" align="alignnone" width="962"] Graphic from Achilles’ presentation to show the concentric circles of proximity of the designer and the stakeholders[/caption]
Design systems and common ritualsIn order to communicate and coordinate with the stakeholders, Achilles recommended the use of design systems and common rituals. Design systems consist of a common set of approaches to particular design problems, a common repository of design assets for use by all designers, a well maintained design documentation and a fully developed pattern library. Being a rather old concept, Achilles said that from his experience they have been an absolute necessity for most editorial design, especially newspapers. He also mentioned that recently there have been a lot of new tools emerging to help the development and use of digital design systems. [caption id="attachment_18360" align="alignnone" width="748"] Graphic from Achilles’ presentation to show how design systems work[/caption] Common rituals, on the other hand, Achilles said, are one the easiest parts of the process, but also the one most commonly neglected. They, however, are very important in order to help the team and stakeholders with knowledge transfer, create a more cohesive team, promote spontaneous communication and avoid repeating the same mistakes. [caption id="attachment_18361" align="alignnone" width="960"] Graphic from Achilles’ presentation to show some of the different common rituals performed in companies[/caption]
What should you do?To end his presentation Achilles decided to give some tips to our students if they ever find themselves being the new designer in a product development team. His three main insights were ASK, CODE, CHANGE. First is to never be afraid to ask questions, Achilles said. As a young designer there will be a lot of things you don’t know, and you won’t come out of university fully formed. He suggests that your first job should be a learning experience. Second, in a product design environment it is essential that you understand how technology works. Especially the closer you are to the visual design. You don’t need to become an expert but it helps to understand the underlying systems, but also some more abstract concepts. This will help with communicating with developers, but it will also greatly improve your design skills. And third is to not be afraid of change. Life happens, things get thrown in your way and you’ll need to adapt. When things don’t work, and your circumstances aren’t conducive to your happiness, change your circumstances. It’s not easy, it’s not always fun, but it’s better than staying still.
Useful LinksHere is a document with some useful links Achilles suggested for students interested in this topic to look through: Links
‘I really liked the general view of the sort of workflow for designers in the future, the small bits and pieces that you can only get from a designer who has been in the market for a while with a diverse background.’ – MA student
‘It was great to hear such professional insight on the real models of businesses concerning designers.’ – Part 1 student
In spring term, our MA Communication Design students on the Information Design and Graphic Design pathways have the opportunity to undertake a wayfinding project, as one of their project choices. We usually collaborate with partners in the Reading community (for example, last year we collaborated with The Hexagon) and arrange visits to local sites. The pandemic provided an opportunity to develop new resources for teaching this project. Wayfinding briefs provide great opportunities for strategic and creative user-centred design. Students have to consider how visual design supports decision-making and user experience of environments, as well as consider the needs and expectations of different users and stakeholders. They also require students to explore the interplay between functional problem-solving and cultural relevance and how branding and identity systems might need to work across a range of different materials and surfaces. Wayfinding designer, and Reading alum, Joan Zalacain (http://www.zalacain.com/) leads this project. Joan says: “The importance of user-centred design is crucial to wayfinding but we also need systems that are appealing and sit harmoniously within their environment. We strive to convey this to our students as wayfinding is a growing area of international practice and our graduates need to be ready to deliver their best.” This year, factoring in the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on mobility, we developed a new brief to ensure students did not need to conduct any site visits to undertake the project. Joan worked with architect Maciej Kozak to develop maps and models that students could work with. In professional wayfinding practice, buildings are often at the planning or development stage, so it’s realistic for wayfinding designers to work with these kinds of resources. This year's brief envisaged a new community arts centre for Reading. Students worked on either an indoor or an outdoor wayfinding proposal for the centre.
I wanted to take a moment, in the calm before the storm, to thank our wonderful team of Part 3 students working hard to deliver our degree show on Thursday 17 June. This is our first year hosting our show online, and the students are learning new skills on the fly in an incredibly fast-moving field. The event is completely student-led, from the branding through to the final delivery. Reading has always had great strength in allowing students to experience a range of real world professional experiences as part of their studies, and for degree show team this is more true than ever. If you haven't already registered for the show, you can do so at thinkrethink.design, or directly via this link. The show is traditionally a time when new graduates, employers, parents, alumni, staff and younger students come together to celebrate not only the graduating class, but everything that the Department represents. Looking at the list of registered attendees, it seems we will keep that atmosphere going in the switch to online. I'm looking forward to seeing so many people from our community on the night. So well done to Alex Ganczarski, Caitlin Wilson, Rory Tellam, Edoardo Sarli, Matt Dawson and Darcie Richmond. Your work for your peers, and for the wider Reading Typography community is greatly appreciated. The design work looks wonderful, the attention to detail is fantastic, and your dedication to making an impact on the future careers of all your friends has been inspiring. Roll on Thursday!
Applications are invited for the Michael Twyman Research Fellowship in Ephemera Studies in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. The Fellowship is available from September 2021, or a mutually agreed date and for a period of up to 12 months (we estimate this would equate to 2 to 3 months full-time equivalent) and will attract a stipend of £5,000. Find out more, and how to apply: Research Fellowship in Ephemera Studies
BackgroundMy client for this real job was an independent publisher based in Reading. The client is writing and publishing a new book that details historic events dating back to the early 19th century. The book tells the story of Danish prisoners of war, residing in Reading during the years of 1807 – 1814; mainly taking from the memoirs of one of the prisoners, who became better known in the town as the Gentlemen Danes (also fittingly the title of the book). The book is the first to detail the ventures of this particular group of war prisoners as the memoirs were recently recovered and have only been translated fully as of 2020. The story of the Gentlemen Danes follows the group mainly throughout Reading and different parts of Berkshire; describing their lived experiences that make for an interesting, historic read.
Restated Brief and deliverablesThe job originally started off as a commission for an illustrative font cover with a rather quick turn-around; it entailed that I create an illustration that works as an eye catching, historically accurate front cover that did allowed ample bleed and did allowed for the integration of text for the title to exist in the same space also. To begin with there were not many reference images to work from, aside from one sketch that my supervisor had quickly drawn herself. Ultimately the illustration was described to me as a somewhat realistic illustration for The Gentlemen Danes history book that displays one fete (‘Revel’) as described in the text (the text was provided for me also). After emailing my supervisor who was in direct contact with the client, I then found out more about the nature of the illustration and some possible additional deliverables on top of the proposed illustration. It was being discussed if the cover would also serve as a smaller sized thumbnail image on the inside of the book also. I was also told to consider using the colours that were see in the Danish flag and that the exact colour values I use would have to be noted for possible use elsewhere on the book; perhaps for the titles or other text on the cover. This meant that I also had to think carefully about which tones would work on top of the illustration for it to be legible enough. After going back and forth further with my supervisor and client however, we came to an understanding that the colour would be dropped as a deliverable and that the main focus was just the cover as an illustration. During this process the dimensions of the cover (275mm x 212mm) were given to me as well as how much bleed was required (3mm around all sides). From the start the illustration was set as being CMYK as it was definitely going to be printed, and the point was made that care would have to be taken to make sure all necessary detail was big enough to be see on a cover at the size it was. The other considerations that were very important that I think about carefully were the accuracies of not only the scene being depicted, but the clothing, hairstyles etc. of the time as well. There were only two reasons where the brief had to be changed in a substantial way; one being because of the change of deadline and the second being because the main deliverable changed. During around December time the client decided to change his mind about what he wanted for the cover. I was told that he came across an original painting that displayed the Danish flag on its sales and he thought it to be a very good cover for what he was writing about. This did not mean that I had been designing for nothing however, and he made the compromise to keep a space left in the book for my illustration to be displayed. The brief had to be updated from a cover illustration to a general inside pages illustration; which fortunately meant that I would not have to change much except fill in the space where I left empty for text to be.
ScheduleThe job to begin with was a rather quick turn-around of Around 5 weeks, of which I was confident in reaching on time. This did not go as planned however, and the level of accuracy and detail that my client required was more than initially expected. Not reaching the deadline I was given was not however a problem; I had warned my client before time that I may not reach the deadline I was given, which was originally the 15th of October and he explained that he truly wanted the illustration done by January. I assumed then that the original date given wasn’t entirely true to the sentiments of the client. Over the time it took to create the illustration, I believe that I have kept a steady, suitable pace, even when other commitments got in the way. In terms of communication with my supervisor and client this real job felt a little different than the average. My supervisor was a Masters student who was very busy a lot of the time, and it became apparent when her reply times were getting longer and longer. We came to a happy medium however where I would directly email and set up video meetings with the client instead of going to my supervisor first. This was agreed on by all parties and in retrospect made sense for this kind of job; I was making changes as per the clients request so the supervisor just being an extra messenger was not the most efficient. From this point in about early November, I would be meeting frequently with the client, and every so often emailing my supervisor with an update on the illustration process.
ProcessAt the beginning the job ran like a normal real job would. I contacted my supervisor for feedback, and when given the green light I would get feedback from the client. Often times my supervisor would be medium between us, but after a while it was established that I was better off getting feedback directly from him as it was his specification I was catering to. It also meant that I wouldn’t have to go through my supervisor just to get to my client. From then we were in agreement that this be the process for communication. In the first couple weeks the interaction between me and the client was mostly to do with general styles of illustration and the composition of the scene. We settled fairly quickly on a style, but the layout of the scene took a while longer to agree on. At this time I was still working with barely any detail and mainly would move rough stickmen figures to signify where a person would be in the illustration; perhaps the lack of detail and didn’t allow for a true representation of what the layout actually looked like at this time. In this part of development we went over a lot of changes in a period of time, building up the composition piece by piece. [caption id="attachment_19242" align="alignnone" width="300"] An example of the images sourced from the research visit to the MERL - image is from Pyne’s British Costumes (William H Pyne)[/caption] After a while of talking about research for the kind of clothing they would wear at the time, the client requested that I visit the Museum of English Rural life to get a more accurate and confident look and feel for this aspect. The visit was very fruitful, and the notes I took were very helpful to the character development over time. The books where I got the most useful information from were British Working Dress – occupational clothing 1750-1950 (Jayne Shrimpton) – Shire Library, and Pyne’s British Costumes (William H Pyne) It was the first time that I would have to an extended amount of research for an illustration. It was also a learning curve for me in terms of illustrating from descriptions in text.
DesignThe first sketches I sent to the client were in pencil and were to get a feel for the number of people in the scene how the scene would be generally set up. [caption id="attachment_19243" align="alignnone" width="312"] Image of initial sketch used as template for graphic styles[/caption] [caption id="attachment_19245" align="alignnone" width="436"] Initial sketch of a possible layout of the scene[/caption] I would also draw in pencil a template for the styles I gave to the client to decide from. I had already been told that the client liked some of the styles shown on my portfolio, and I had also been told that the illustration was to be somewhat realistic. I drew the same human figure and took it to illustrator to create a few different styles of which the client picked the one that incorporated shading made up of hatching. The reason was that it resembled engraving and gave historical connotations in of itself. [caption id="attachment_19248" align="alignnone" width="300"] One of the proposed illustration styles sent to the client[/caption] [caption id="attachment_19249" align="alignnone" width="300"] One of the proposed illustration styles sent to the client (chosen)[/caption] From here we would simultaneously go through different characters and the accuracy their clothing, and the composition of the scene as whole. Up until the last one, every meeting with the client would result in either a major or minor change to the illustration. [caption id="attachment_19260" align="alignnone" width="300"] Initial digital sketch - use of stickmen for positioning of characters[/caption] [caption id="attachment_19263" align="alignnone" width="300"] Developed digital sketch - composition is more balanced and background is built up with detail[/caption] [caption id="attachment_19264" align="alignnone" width="300"] Developed illustration - composition nearly finalised and relevant detailing is coming more and more into the scene[/caption] [caption id="attachment_19266" align="alignnone" width="648"] Final illustration with all details added, sense of depth with blurred background, and etching style finish over the top of it[/caption] For a while it was quite intense with the number of changes suggested, but I soon got the hang of it. I also learnt very quickly to work in a way that would allow for things to be moved easily around the illustration without any problems, i.e. ensuring each person was their own entity (by grouping their components) so if they were to be moved to the left or made bigger, it was an easy change. After a while colour was incorporated, many characters were changed around, taken out or added and the whole scene became a reality.
ReflectionThe real job ended different to how it started in more ways than one. Firstly I didn’t realise how much detail and research was required for this illustration, and it came as a little bit of a shock to me how much time I would go on to dedicate to it; it stands to reason that the initial brief set false expectations due to it being advertised as a quick turn-around. Another area where there was a big change was the connection between me, the supervisor, and the client, with the supervisor eventually becoming an unnecessary step in getting feedback from the client. The final area was when the job illustration changed from being a for the cover to being for the inside content. At the start there were a few things that the client wanted to explicitly be in the illustration in some way or another. The list consisted of a black and white dog, some of the Gentlemen Danes in the frame, one of the main Danes being very tall and skinny, a large famer welcoming them into the fete, a line of fete banner across the field they were on and some kids playing one of traditional summer game. With all of these worked into the illustration, the client seemed very happy with what was achieved. A word from the client that further justified this; “Lewis put his name forward to do an illustration of a country event in Berkshire in the early nineteenth century for a forthcoming book. In order to be as historically accurate as possible Lewis had to do a lot of work in researching the costumes people were wearing at the time. After many online meetings, and a number of adjustments and modifications to the original brief, we finally honed it down to a picture that I was very happy with. Happy not only because it is an authentic reproduction of how the event might have appeared like, but also because it was done in Lewis' own graphic style. It was a very pleasant experience to work with Lewis and I wish him great success in the future” Overall I was very happy with how the job turned out, and although the prospect of having my illustration as a book cover was more exciting, I am still very glad and grateful that it even gets to be in a publication of some sorts. The end product felt deserved due to all of the time, research and effort that went into the work. Thank you to Libby Skipp and John Nixon.
BackgroundRed Emerald is a new business that aims to advise and support leaders in universities, colleges and government bodies on internationalisation strategies and activities. For example, supporting university students in achieving their goals to engage in an international experience indirectly through university staff. Red emerald also advises international students and their parents, wanting to study in the UK or UK students wanting to study/work abroad. The company with hold conferences with government bodies for which they will supply reports and other reading materials.
Restated BriefOur aim was to create a brand identity for Red Emerald, that would appeal to the company’s broad target market. The brand needed to be consistently identifiable across all design outcomes whilst complimenting the different formats required. Competitors currently in the market mostly have a typographic logo, with a fairly muted colour scheme. The few that have a graphic logo reference a globe illustration, which our client wanted to avoid for individuality. What we agreed to design:
- Business cards
- Letter & Report Template
- Presentation slides template