Sunday 30 October 2011

Brooks goes sabbing

Great little short video about the making of the new Brooks saddles advert that marries anti-fox hunting and cycling. I'm not sure which it makes me want to do, go and sabotage a hunt or buy a new leather saddle, but either way, it's stylishly done.


Friday 28 October 2011

Childhood Remixed

I've been working on an identity for some colleagues at University Campus Suffolk recently. The first unveiling of the results came this week, with the above logo, in a call for submissions for Childhood Remixed, an electronic academic research journal themed on childhood. There's more work to do on designing the publication itself over the coming months as submissions come in and are peer reviewed.

The launch of the first issue is expected in spring 2012 and will initially only be available to those from within the institution. This PDF based downloadable journal will act as a publishing opportunity for UCS staff, alumni, postgraduate students and final year undergraduates producing both written and image based work.

Saturday 15 October 2011

Two ends of a spectrum

Today I've been impressed by two items of publishing, both at opposite ends of the media/medium's spectrum.

Firstly, this morning I got my first copy of Varoom through the post. For those who don't know, it is the magazine of the Association of Illustrators. We'll, it used to be, it is now the newspaper of the Association of Illustrators. It is sensitively designed, beautifully laid out, and, suiting its content, tactile. Intelligent writing about contemporary illustration and its relation to society, graphic design and art make this a fully formed publication and it is stuffed with great work.

What is really interesting about this publication though, is that it has rejected its previously 'glossy' magazine format as a response to the economic crisis on everyones doorstep. This has resulted in the price dropping to an affordable £15 for 4 issues (one issue free for subscribers), with no change to its previous high editorial standards. I've only read Varoom in libraries, or been loaned someone else's copy, but I can immediately see this new stance of change for survival sake, sets it apart from many other design/illustration magazine's out there. Instead of trying to impress with some major stylistic overhaul, it has zagged where everyone else is zigging, and is all the better for it. Eye and Creative Review are great magazines for different reasons, and I will continue to get both until they give up due to falling sales, and, I suspect, the strength of the free content available on their blogs. But Varoom really does beat Grafik–which is untrust worthy in its existence, having nose dived several times in the 10 years I've been reading it–and It's Nice That, which is a new kid on the block. While being well produced with varied content, which strangely makes it more transitory than interesting, it does tend to be much more of a surface read and concerned with the ├╝ber trendy. But then a magazine with the word 'nice' in the title always was going to be more of a showcase rather than a critique.

So, onto my second revelation of the day; I downloaded The Guardian iPad app this morning. I wasn't expecting much, to be honest. I like the paper edition, and usually flit between that and the website depending on whether I want to sit, read and contemplate, or whether I want to get the most up to the minute information. I wasn't sure this was going to be anything other than forced content. However, after 10 minutes getting to grips with how it functions, I must say I'm impressed. It's certainly better than the website in terms of making you feel like you are navigating through the days paper edition. And as long as you've wifi connectivity, it links to the most recent stories on their website, (and external sources). This, on first impressions, is a real contender to the print edition and certainly beats the New York Times app, the only other newspaper app I've downloaded, (but stopped using once I had to pay for it). The layout of the articles is logical, it is clear how to get between stories, suggests other stories that relate, and like the paper edition, as opposed to the website, each page feels like it belongs to the whole. One of the things I don't like about is that when I jump to an article, because of the greater blank space around it, I feel like I've left the main website. In design terms, the app has the sense of cohesion between different elements that is lacking online. In this, the design team behind this app have managed to make the interaction relate much more to the paper version than the website, which is an impressive feat in itself.

Whether I will completely go over to the app version once my free trial runs out, or still continue to buy the daily print version, is difficult to say. During the week I can get the paper cheap from the Student Union shop at work. The paper version also gets me away from a screen for a while, which is always a good thing. However, the advantages of getting the Saturday edition for the iPad was that I didn't get the frustraitingly ultra-middle class Weekend magazine, (apart from the odd article). But then I didn't get the excellent Guide either. Nor does the print edition's commitment to commissioning contemporary illustrators seemed to have made it across the digital divide. So I guess I'll have to use my few months free trial wisely to assess the pros and cons between print and digital, but on the current evidence, this app will set the bar for many other cross overs.

Thursday 6 October 2011

Steve Jobs: The man who changed everything

There's lots I could say about the sad passing of Steve Jobs, just like every other design related blog out there. However, why repeat when someone else does such a good job of saying it. Read Creative Review's article here: Creative Review - Steve Jobs: The man who changed everything

R.I.P Steve Jobs

Wednesday 5 October 2011


I got the new Roots Manuva CD, 4everevolution, through the post today and was immediately struck by the track listing on the reverse.

From the photographs I'd previously seen of the cover, I hadn't realised that what I was looking at was a real stone carving. However, this is clearly the case seeing the reverse. Stone carving is very beautiful when done well, and the type here demonstrates that. I was also drawn to the fact that the process is on display. Rather than seeing the finished article, we get the see the sketching—the marking out—before the chisel has finished all its strokes and the chalk is washed away.

On the inner sleeve the demonstration of process is continued with the stone that forms the front cover shown in the studio of stone carver Jim Kirby.

Designed by Oscar & Ewan, this theme is followed through into the CD booklet, where Rodney Smith's (Roots Manuva) own process is on show, that of his handwritten lyrics. Roots has always been a great wordsmith, twisting words and syllables to fit his dub and hip hop hybrid rhythms, and I've often wondered how he writes. Whether these are first drafts or rewrites is not known, but that doesn't matter. In both stone carving and in Smith's lyrics, we are actually seeing the hand of the artist and that brings a human resonance to fore in this ultra digital age. And while Kirby's hand is literally set in stone, Smith's is formed on paper to later be recorded and evolve into some form of cultural permanence through the tunes we hear as listeners that get lodged in our minds.

It's rare that a CD sleeve provokes so much thought in my mind before I've even heard it. I'm looking forward to getting to know this piece of work if initial impressions are anything to go by.

Oscar & Ewan
Jim Kirby