Spring drawings 2014 and the return to blogging!

Okay, I should first apologise for my mass absence from blogging, if anyone is still reading my many past ramblings that is…So the thing is, since my last visit on here much has changed, I had a spate of unemployment which funny enough was great on the creation front of things, but not so much on the wealth. And now live in the opposite of this, with money and a job, but no proper time for creativity and blogging, and real time has to be used wisely and has to be well organised in advance.

I created a few designs in my stage of unemployment that were of a new level and technique, it was more a stage of exploration as a designer of where to head next and to test capabilities, so thought that it is only right to show some of the stuff that is in need of dusting off and showing to you, my loyal followers and readers, this is for you, and in the coming days/weeks more shall be shown bit by bit.

Echosmith Gentleman #1

These  piece consist of my experimentations of building design upon photographs, and putting my own unique style and spin on a more unusual subject. It meant going out of my comfort zone, but getting back to my design roots really inspired me, but still maintaining my stylistic twist.

Echosmith Lady

I began exploring a world of colour that would run throughout both this set of work and flow into future workings, connecting all my work together as one, allowing more people to recognise my style and the work to be mine.

Echosmith Gentleman

I wanted a level of symmetry, thus the use of shape and banners throughout the 3 individuals, as well as a hint of my character approach, the blanking out of eyes, as secretly I can’t master the correct shading and depth of an eye, but can draw hands all day long, loving the mechanics and pose they can offer. Slight tangent but fairly relevant within my summarising, this post leads onto the next level of technique and self progression, with myself playing more on the basis of surroundings, and posture of characters, characters that have evolved greatly from the early  days, some of which were shown almost an age ago upon here and are ever so dated now….so unttil next time, stay tuned folks


“If only I had known” with Sian Saunders

“Good things come in small packages, so don’t be fooled by our size, we do big things!”

Having received the timetable for the week of lectures, “If only I had known” intrigued me from the first sight, setting me off to find out about what it entailed and who the speaker was. The insight of looking ahead paid off, having found it to be a collective of around 6 members branching off into varying fields of designs, ranging from web, illustration and graphics, all of which ran under the name of Daydream Design. The main manager and runner of the group was Sian Saunders, a ever so friendly host, making you instantly feel welcome and in a place that makes you feel like you belong through both the ease of presentation and through the body of work that represents them.

We were told from the start, that people want the world for nothing, so what are we as designers expected to do. Especially with the mission of limited funds, time and ambition towards something that may not necessarily be attractive to you, I went along with the answer to this that Sian gave, how the rejected projects from other studio’s or those jobs that look impossible, make them possible, and accept the challenge. It normally brings out the best work in you and shows other possible clients what you can produce from the jobs that nobody was expecting to turn out as good as it did. Also it was drummed into us, as well as made clear, that its all about doing that one unique element, that extra mile within a project. Take the wonderful creativity behind “The Real Ale Trail, Flintshire” (http://www.realaletrailflintshire.co.uk/) where we caught an actual glimpse of just how far the folks are prepared to go, with such simple design. With a basic pint glass that starts to lessen its load the further down the page you read, its purely clever and just keeps you captivated as an audience, seeing the true meaning of what it is that the website is offering you, making a site on beer much more enjoyable.

We were then presented with pointers that would ensure that we designer are ready for the design industry, with advice first hand from a successful and growing group, that has gone from strength to strength. With each point simply being memorable, short & sweet, as well as that kick that I as a soon to be graduate needs.

Daydream Designs top 5 tips:

-Stand out from the crowd, design with personality,

-We’re hardwired to notice only what’s different,

-It’s all about the customers, we listen. However good you are it means nothing unless you listened in the first place to the requirements,

-Live by design, not by default. So just go that extra mile,

-Perspective, see things differently and stay curious.

With such tips, how can you ever stray or go off the path knowing what it is that studio’s look for and desire in fresh creative’s. Every point made was valid and relevant with the hope of meeting standards; they almost expected and shouldn’t have to be pointed out if you have any ambitions of doing well. My only problem would occur in the “Different” in order to get noticed in the 1st place, with them receiving so many applications and portfolios through their door, it would be a mission alone for them to consider me. Thus this I shall take from today and start work upon how it will be achieved.


“Teaching as an option” with Ursula Byrne

“What’s it like to be on the teaching side, no longer the student”

I decided to head towards a talk that would be completely different and hopefully give unexpected information in an area that I know little about, thus deciding to sit in on “Teaching as an option”. Teaching has never really crossed my mind before, I’ve always thought of myself as either part of a team within a studio or freelance in screen print, so the talk opened up other avenues I hoped, if all else failed or that I perhaps had a chance within teaching but hadn’t really be made aware of what it requires. And straight off Ursula asked the question of how much do we enjoy our job or profession that we hope to go into? This at first sounded rather pointless to begin with, as I wouldn’t be doing a degree in graphics if I did not enjoy it. But it was more of how much enjoyment would you gain from your job say doing it still 5 years down the road. Which I can’t answer truthfully as I don’t know, but am adamant and confident in myself that I can still draw enjoyment as long as it’s what I want and can openly say that about what I create.

Having kick started us with such a question, Ursula soon exposed us to hat it is to be a teacher, what we require, what it entails and what to expect. All of which took us by surprise, with the level of time needed in one whole year while undertaking a PGCE, the GCSE level boundaries shifting upwards to a B grade and the whole what will be expected of us upon a single interview for a role. With the likes of…

Why you want to be a teacher?

Interest in children

Communication and Interpersonal skills

Sense of humour

Energy, Determination and Perseverance

Some of which were expected, and others taking you by surprise, but firming up of how you should be kept on your guard and don’t go into an interview expecting to just breeze straight through, because it won’t happen and you’ll soon come unstuck.

The idea of heading down the teaching path surprised me at how much I actually considered, especially with it being a whole new concept, but having walked away at the end and given thought, I was still set on my path. I intend to finish with my degree, create gig posters, screen print an produce graphics, the things that generally make me happy, teaching I can’t see completing me or keeping me satisfied for however long of a career.

“Design & Illustration in illustrated publishing” with Yasia Williams-Leedham

“Just apply and email thousands of junior design jobs, wherever you live, try and it will prevail for opportunities”

I told myself that I had to go to a talk that would be completely different to all other talks that I may target within the week, thus going for an illustration and publishing lecture. I wasn’t all that sure as of what to expect, until hearing the intro to the talk by Yasia. Talking of her simple journey beginning from my own Glyndwr, and progressing to the great heights of deputy art director of the publishing group Octopus. This opening was got me hooked, it showed just what you can achieve, and if you set your sights from a small uni you really can go far, with her hitting up London and finding the success she has with the creation of such an array of splendid books ranging from the likes of “TOWIE” to an Ice cream book.

The Icecreamists

After seeing such great examples of what can be achieved through determination and imagination, it soon was made clear how incredibly hard it is to get into at the moment in time. With such a demand in cook books for example, it’s seen that with all the books on the shelf with all the same sort of cover, it’s a mission standing out. That’s where Octopus comes in, with its aim of creating that unique piece, i.e. the ginger pig featuring strong neon colours, especially bled across the pages axis. Something of which is what the cook book industry lacks, the fact of how nothing pushes back the boundaries, almost creating the perfect opportunity for someone different to step in. Half of the actual job it seemed to me is getting the target audience to pick up your book, and this is where appearing visually different gets you noticed in the likes of WHSmiths and Waterstones. The other half is remaining on topic and desired I found. With the likes of E-books stepping up their game more and more as the years come and go. With the year of 2010 showing the start of their popularity and the following year then saw a 117% increase of sales, a ridiculous percentage that now worries many within the publishing industry. The only way these companies can survive is to embrace the change, thus adopting the way books are now produced. It just goes to show how publishers are evolving with the times and allowing themselves to survive.

The Spiritual Guide to Attracting Love

What I took away from this most of all is, to look for niches and expose them, as well as move with the times. Never stay put, follow the trends and how the future is evolving in time like the shift in the publishing industry towards E-books, saving me from extinction in my design.

“How not to be a designer!” with Robert Ball

“The most unusual jobs come from the most unlikely”


Those words spoken above I believe to be of great truth, with many creative’s and designers drilling into countless times that if you want to do something awesome and out there, it comes from the sort of jobs you’d normally avoid. And this was laid down by Robert Ball, showing just how much success he has achieved from doing such jobs, i.e. the Thristlington cubicle company, which straight off sounds like the most mundane job, which was turned into a great piece of brand, in an area most of all that you wouldn’t expect to see much design come from. It just goes to show how; you can take a plain and simple brief and turn it into a award winning concept. This got me thinking again about my morals and what it is that I want to stand for, do I want to do such jobs like the tobacco, sex or alcohol industry, all of which have jobs to do but it’s whether at the time I can say no to them. It seems to me that as a designer I have a conscientious decision to make through my career and an answer cannot be formed from today, it will come along the way of doing work and what I want out of life. Which Led on from what Robert did, and he opted to shutting the computer screen, get away from the machine, that’s when idea’s can truly come, do we as a design society now rely too much on computers and technology to give us an idea or make it for us. I say yes, and try my hardest to do the minimal on my laptop; I’m all about the process of screen print, which is all about hand contact and actually experiencing something other than looking at an illuminated screen 24/7.

Moving on, Robert touched upon a issue that is normally one that lies heavy upon my mind, getting stuck on a project and having no idea where to go with it “If you get stuck, always ask someone, in order to avoid the tunnel of panic”. Simple really, and sums up how easy it can be to overcome the block, but tends to be ignored. I myself have recently stepped up and put people around me to greater us, asking opinions and being generally more open to what they have to say and what their approach to my project may be. With the need for confidence and the attitude of going with a concept until you can no longer get anything from it, truly pushing it till it can give you no more. A prospect which I have been greatly missing and lacking within my own projects as of late, and most definitely need to develop, which Robert sort of highlighted and made me aware of.

What I shall take away from today apart from all other advice was the nugget of wisdom regarding CV’s, the sticky area that I am still avoiding to this day. With the blatant and hard fact that 90% of CV’s are never read, they are discarded, it’s the work that’s wanted and is often looked at first. If I am to go down the route of writing about myself, never put in how I’m interested in film or music etc that instantly gets turned down “The best hobby I ever heard was, Forklift Driving, so I gave the guy an interview, its different”. Don’t try and fit into what you think the employer wants to hear, and again that went for portfolios with the advice of the best piece of work to be positioned at the front, back and perhaps in the very centre, the not so good work just use to fill the middle, “almost a double sandwich portfolio”. An approach that I already kind of go for in my portfolio, it just needs bulking out with more of me and what I do differently to every other competitor.

Opening Ceremony

“It’s time to reach out from your field and grab what you do so desire” Dr Stuart Cunningham

So once again it has come around to that time of the student calendar for us all to note, learn and take action of our futures. With Dr Stuart Cunningham kick-starting the festival of creative futures with his wrestling themed entrance showcasing what the university has to offer through media, filming and all the technology that is around to enable such acts, as well as carry a light yet funny tone with such an entrance.

The opening ceremony is to clearly welcome us to the chance of getting our careers off the ground and making use of what’s on offer while we still have the resources. With it being my final year many of the guests and information earnt will prove to come hard to find and receive. Having been to the previous year’s opening ceremonies and them all being similar, this one meant much more with graduation looming ever closer, with what I was being told finally sinking in. What struck me most was all the facts and figures circulating, with over 13% of creative media employees having vacancies for creative’s and being told how design is flourishing within the welsh nation, with such a high and desired demand for creative’s. Giving hope to me the humble designer of what it is that I shall do once the end is actually upon me and that I have options.

After taking all stats, figures and references on board I feel like I am finally one step closer to achieving what I want and ready to listen to everything thrown at me this year with the great range of knowledge and advice circulating from the people having been in similar positions as I am. I even have an idea of what talks I want to see as well, with a blend of inspiration, business and advice from the likes of Robert Ball, Dave Gray and Sian Saunders.

Screenprint industry

Approaching the time of placements and finding somewhere to seek experience in my field of graphic design come graphic illustration, I’ve come to the conclusion that it needs more than the basic research and asking about. I need people in places that already have their foot in the industry that I do so desire. Thus, through the connections of my uni and it’s variety of lecturers at hand,  I plucked up the courage and enquired whether there is much on offer within my area and outlying counties for me to go and gain experience in the art of print. Having asked, I was soon told how people within the area running anything within the print industry, can not offer me the greatest of opportunities that I seek, its all the same bread & butter, they feed you. With the printing of for sale signs, plain brochures or the general bland objects within society.

The problem I was told, is that nobody really screen prints these days, not with the combination of graphics and the techniques of traditional acrylic based prints. Its all digital printers, or digital screen print  discarding the pushing and pulling of printing by hand, which I have come to realize first hand through contacts and witnessing the industry, its a place that has no real room for anything no digital based. To me it seems as though such a amazing and wonderful skill set is being forgotten, the only evidence of  it still being about in the Uk, is through the likes of Luke Drozd, Army of cats, Drew Millward, mostly guys from the north, alot of them set within the districts of Leeds and the capital, London. Where as screenprinting of gig posters,  the area I want to step into, is huge within the USA. With posters being produced as one off’s for all gigs, no gig goes by without having its own unique poster produced. While the Uk just adopts a boring style for its posters and no true imagination, it’s just columns of info on a page with a photo of the band positioned at the top of the A4 page. This to me is my chance to aim towards a niche that is untapped and not reaching its true potential.

Photo: Hello folks!So, the other day I stumbled across a big box of original ink drawings and sketches. They have been sat cluttering up my workspace for some time, and I feel like it's time to let them go off, into the world. I've ordered tubes, and at some point in the next week I will be stuffing those tubes with original drawings, sketches, prints, stickers... anything that is around. Each tube will contain at least 2 prints, and at least 1 original drawing. They will be going up for sale on my site, at some point soon. If you get your hands on one, it will be like an early Christmas.

I don’t want to end up in some print studio where all they do is print the plain, I want to illustrate and bring characters alive upon paper to represent varying bands and gigs. Its the exciting graphics  I want to do, like the role models and icons I look upto for inspiration. Its time to pull strings, use my contacts and dedication to step up into the role I want, this will be carried out and give me what I want. This year most of all shall hopefully see me get the experience and fingers crossed get myself a position within the Print Fair in Manchester.