Wednesday 24 August 2011

Stock replies

As someone who suffers intermittently from RSI, I get tired of writing the same email responses over and over again. I have therefore started building a database of stock replies that I can just cut and paste as needed and amend according to the specific enquiry. Here are two that I use most regularly:

Reply to poorly written emails
As a university student, it will be worth getting into the habit of ensuring your emails are grammatically correct. You don’t capitalise your ‘I’s on many occasions, your spelling needs greater attention, and you use colloquial phrases throughout. I know emails are not essays, but if you get into the habit of ensuring you pay close attention to how you write in all your communications, this will become second nature and much easier when you do have to write essays/dissertations. It will also make sure you don’t accidentally write like this when sending emails to prospective employers, which would pretty much cancel out any chances of getting an interview.

Reply to request for free design from students by local businesses/organisations
Thank you for your email and details of what sounds like an interesting project.

Firstly, as I’m sure you can appreciate, students are approaching the end of the academic year/at an important stage in their studies (delete as appropriate) and therefore all levels of the course are currently extremely busy.

The ideal situation for this sort of project would be to include it as part of an appropriate academic module, but unfortunately we are too far into the teaching programme to introduce something new—we plan our scheme of work well in advance of actually delivering them. While this brief is something I would be happy to field to students as a personal project, as we could not include it as part of the curriculum, it would be up to students individually as to whether they got involved or not. I therefore cannot guarantee any would take up an offer of involvement.

Secondly, as for the idea of a competition, I would not consider offering this up to students unless there was some sort of appropriate reward. We are asked a lot by different organisations if students would like to be part of a live project, which has obvious benefits for a student’s portfolio, but I believe it is ethically responsible to offer some recompense for what would otherwise constitute a free piece of design. The additional benefits of this are that it would offer some sort of incentive for a student to take part.

(In light of the above, if there was any extension to your proposed deadline, this would further encourage students to get involved as they are always looking for work to do over the summer break once the intensity of university projects subsides.)

Once again I’d like to thank you for your enquiry and I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Spectacle of the big society

Here's an interesting article about links between graphic design/advertising and looting that is worth a read:

It is particularly interesting when you consider how major youth fashion brands use imagery of protest to flog their goods. Levis decided to pull an add in the aftermath of the UK riots last week. See this feature on Creative Review blog for details:
Awkward timing

All this creative navel gazing should make for a lively debate at the forthcoming St Bride Library conference Critical Tensions.

Monday 15 August 2011

The Inside Out Project

A friend & colleague sent me a link to the video below stating how much it moved him. Cynical as ever, I watched and waited to be moved. Around the point that the shanty town is featured with the roof tops adorned with posters of their inhabitants, that's when it got me—the vinyl prints also help keep the rain out you see.

Then there's the shot of the train passing above posters on an embankment completing the picture, a thing of beauty where there isn't much. Watch for yourself:

Inside Out is impressive enough to have won the TED Prize 2011, an annual award that goes to a person whose one wish is to change the world.

As the project's website details: "INSIDE OUT is a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. Everyone is challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal and share the untold stories and images of people around the world. These digitally uploaded images will be made into posters and sent back to the project’s co-creators for them to exhibit in their own communities".

Where will you be exhibiting your portraits?

The Inside Out Project

Thanks Dave.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

2B or not 2B?

Ever wondered how a pencil is made? Then watch this fascinating video!

Via Core 77

Monday 8 August 2011

McJunk 700

I photographed so much McDonald's litter on the way back from town this morning, that added to what I found on holiday last week, McJunk now totals over 700 on Flickr. Considering that at the turn of this year the total was just over 500, that's some mass littering going on out there.

I haven't scientifically measured my finds but I am noticing more McJunk about. I could draw parallels between this perceived increase in litter and the fact that McDonald's profits are up on last year. This leads me the question whether people are turning to fast food, (and thus cheaper food), as a more regular meal option as their finances are squeezed even further and general food prices rise? Sure, McDonald's are hit by food price increases as well, but they can still provide cheaper food relative to other suppliers because of their business model. I also wonder whether the fact that some children that are fussy eaters are less likely to turn down a trip to the golden arches than they are to waste food put in front of them in the home. If so, this would certainly make McDonald's a more attractive option to cash strapped parents not wanting to see food they've spent money on go in the bin.

Any research you may stumble across relating to this would be greatly received, post URLs as a comment. Thanks.

McJunk on Flickr
McDonald's profits rise

Sunday 7 August 2011

Above us only sky

Claire and I have just got back from a week in Lincolnshire. It's not a county that either of us knew, which is exactly why we chose it for a holiday destination. Apart from two seaside resorts of static caravans and amusement arcades, it was virtually devoid of tourists, which was to our liking and meant clear roads and empty sandy beaches. Lincolnshire hosts some striking scenery once you get out of the fens and into the Wolds, as well as some honest and welcoming market towns unspoilt by McDonald's and endless coffee chains. In fact, the most disappointing aspect was visiting the county city. Lincoln, despite the historic Cathedral area at the top of the appropriately named 'Steep Hill', which had our calves aching just looking at the cobbled road we had to climb, appeared to be one big shopping complex full of coffee chains and generic fashion and sports shops. We could have been in Chelmsford!

One of our great finds on the holiday, about 5 miles from where we were staying, was this Cloud Bar at Anderby Creek.

Thankfully it wasn't a beach bar serving cocktails and lager, but somewhere to go and watch clouds from. The Cloud Bar, endorsed by the Cloud Appreciation Society, is part of a project by Bathing Beauties: Structures On The Edge. According to their website, this is… "a new concept to integrate permanent small structures designed by artists and architects for the enjoyment and understanding of the coastal environment, on the extreme edges of the Lincolnshire coast."

Set in sand dunes on the edge of a massive underpopulated beach, the bar is well worth a visit if you are in the area. Don't worry if you know nothing about clouds other than the fact they float above you in the sky, as there are loads of information panels on top of the single story hut.

I was particularly taken with these concrete seats designed for you to lay on and stare up at the sky. I like the fact they look as if they are brutalist clouds that have just fallen out of the sky, too heavy to float.

These sky mirrors are also a neat idea. You can rotate them to pick out and follow your favourite cloud and bring it down to Earth. Unfortunately it was a little too cloudy when we were there for these to work properly—you need it to be a brighter with breaks of blue sky to offset the edges of clouds to create distinction.

I also loved the fact that some of the information panels were printed on perspex panels which visually connected the physical phenonemon of clouds with the scientific explanation.

One panel dubbed cloud watching as a 'theatre of the skies', which is a rather nice phrase that will stay with me. As Lennon said, "above us only sky".