Thursday, 19 April 2012


After much deliberation, I have decided to up sticks and move Dubdog on over to WordPress. This site will remain as an archive for as long as Blogger allow it to stay here. I'd like to thank Blogger for the service they have provided over the past six years.

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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Split identity

Split identity by Dubdog@Flickr
Split identity, a photo by Dubdog@Flickr on Flickr.

Claire and I visited the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art today, and as well as being impressed by many of the exhibits—the Edvard Munch and accompanying Graphic Art exhibitions are well worth a look if you are any where near Edinburgh—I was duly taken with its identity system.

Designed by Glasgow based O Street, they have aligned all the 'O's, (their website reveals an slight obsession with 'O's, as their name may suggest), something I didn't notice at first. This allows a neat, right aligned edge, with which to split the logotype in two, emphasising the fact that there are two galleries to the Modern which are split into different buildings separated by a road.

Before realising this, on seeing the half written gallery name on a sign as we approached the building the Munch exhibition was housed in, I thought it interesting, but a little gimmicky. A bold move, I thought, as I wondered how they ever managed to sell the idea of only displaying half the clients' name to the client. However, it all made sense very quickly when walking around the two sites, especially when seeing the two halves so closely situated, as in the above photograph, and I am now an ardent fan. I can imagine the fun they must have had in dreaming up different situations where they could exploit this visual game, and thus reinforce the concept to visitors to the gallery.

Check out more examples on my Flickr and the O Street website.

Friday, 6 April 2012

The Small Letter

The Small Letter is a type primer produced by Desmond and Libertad Jeffery in 1956. It was donated to the BA (Hons) Graphic Design course at UCS for its book archive recently, along with various other books, and it has become an object of fascination to me. With an introduction that states: "We do not expect this booklet to be of any use to anybody, except possibly as a Dreadful Warning to the thoughtful against undue distortion & ornamentation of basic letterforms," how could it not?

So intrigued by this, and other such books that have either been donated or I've personally acquired, that I have started a research/archive project on Tumblr. At this stage, I'm intending it to consist of pre-digital print, type, and graphic design related books, although this may change depending on what I uncover. The blog is titled after Jeffery's booklet.

Sunday, 18 March 2012


Terence Conran exhibition end quote

I highly recommend the Designs Of The Year 2012 and Terence Conran: The Way We Live Now exhibitions at the Design Museum after spending a few hours there yesterday. They make a great double act, in fact. Catch them both while they are on together.

See below just one example of the nominations for the Design Of The Year Award that perfectly illustrates Conran's quote above. While I would love Gordon Young and Why Not Associates' excellent Comedy Carpet to win, this one is going to be hard to beat, in my opinion.

The Awards will be announced on 24 April. Even if Comedy Carpet doesn't win overall, it'll have stiff competition in the Graphic Design category, running against what I consider to be the book of last year, Beauty Is In The Streets: A Visual Record Of The May '68 Paris Uprising.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Childhood Remixed launch

Professor Mike Saks, UCS Provost, gives the opening speech at the Childhood Remixed launch

This week I was involved in the launch of Childhood Remixed, a project I've been working on for nearly a year now. My initial brief was to create a visual presence in the form of a logo for what would become the first academic journal to be published at University Campus Suffolk (UCS). Working alongside Allison Boggis and Darryn Thompson at UCS, the project initiators, the remit of my involvement morphed as we discussed what Childhood Remixed was actually going to be.

From the outset it was only ever going to be something that was for UCS staff, final year undergraduate and postgraduate students, and alumni, with the intention of giving them a first step on the publishing ladder within the confines of a 'safe' environment. With a focus on childhood, the interdisciplinary nature of the journal would also mean that image based work would be welcomed for submission alongside academic papers. It was also always intended to be an online venture, but it needed to be able to be read offline as well. Therefore, it was quickly decided that a downloadable PDF was the best format.

The 'in-house' nature didn't mean that it could be something that had any less design consideration applied to it and it was interesting what I had to take onboard in designing this document. Very early on I decided to let functionality dictate my decisions. For example, as this was intended to be read on screen, I quickly realised that it had to be one column throughout to avoid excess horizontal and vertical scrolling, something that could easily lose the reader's place. On what could be up to 3000 word papers, it is important to maintain focus.

Other user considerations to be taken into account were in regard to the differing devices that this document may be read on. The iPad, for example, wouldn't have forward or backward keys to hit to progress to the next page in the same way a desktop keyboard does, and excess scrolling could again mean an over zealous finger action shoots the user to the wrong page. I therefore included interactive backward and forward buttons at the start and end of each block of text.

The length of articles also made me realise that it was unlikely people would want to sit and read the whole journal in one go and therefore needed to be able to return to the contents page at any time, from any page, so I included this function.

Accessibility issues, in terms of visual impairments, were important to take account of, as were whether people would actually read it on screen. Therefore, being able to print it off, not waste ink and still be readable meant tinted backgrounds and elaborate colour schemes were out of the window.

The success of Childhood Remixed, and where it goes next, will become clear over the next few months as readers hopefully respond to our requests for feedback. But considering there were six papers submitted (all of which passed the peer review process), with one being an image based work from my colleague Russell Walker and another being an audio submission, proves that there is a will within UCS to support such a venture.

Jessica Clark presents her paper to the launch audience

Russell Walker discusses the relationship between his childhood drawings and his adult creativity

Finally, it has been a pleasure to work alongside Allison and Darryn on this project, and it is exciting to think where this may go next.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Journalism [sic]

A week is a long time in blogging, and certainly too long to react to a newspaper article from last Sunday, especially when so much has been said elsewhere. And although when I read John Naughton's piece in the Observer, titled: 'Graphic designers are ruining the web', my reaction was immediate and I wanted to post about it, a busy week has got the better of me. But it is still in me, and I need to get it out. So as I snatch a few moments here, (still busy—more on that in a later post), find below a direct rebuff to Mr Naughton, in bullet points:
  • Good design recognises the need for accessibility in web pages and will allow for users to customise a page or switch to a text version should there be a need. Blame Flash and designers who design for themselves above the end user, not graphic design per se.
  • On the "print counterparts" comment: The Guardian website's print counterpart is one of the best designed newspapers ever. Unfortunately, I don't have time to go into why, I'll save that for another post, but needless to say, The Guardian understands the value of design, both in print and online. Just speak to the head of the design department next time you are in King's Place and he'll tell you why.
  • Technology has allowed for better web design, and more image rich sites, granted, but good design still considers download times and bandwidths. Again, blame inconsiderate designers if a page doesn't load, not the trade they ply.
  • You don't consider visual language to be information? Hmmm. Then you probably have never even considered that there is a language system to be decoded in graphic signposting systems. This also implies you clearly don't understand semiotics. You therefore do not have the knowledge to be able to judge such things.
  • The bit about Flickr and Futurists—your point here is what, exactly?
  • "I'm a minimalist: I value content more highly than aesthetics." This is an oxymoron. Minimalism is an aesthetic design decision, not a by product of a lack of a thought process.
  • The website you champion is a navigational disaster and clearly doesn't present a friendly interface or clear understanding of information hierarchy. Pity the dyslexics who would like to access its content.
  • It is not the designers who dictate the content of websites, so why even mention 'LOLcats' and Internet shopping?
As I've said here before, and it is one of the central themes through the essay I wrote to accompany my McJunk book, graphic design is a much maligned discipline, and there are good reasons for this. But if graphic design is going to get a kicking, then at least let it be critically informed and not a piece of nonsense such as this article is. And so, to one last bullet point:
  • Poor research and inadequate understanding are ruining journalism.