Design after disaster

In the wake of the appalling terrorist attacks in Paris I saw a number of designers and artists using their craft to show support and solidarity on social networking sites.

The most recognisable and widely shared of these was a brilliant mark created by Jean Jullien, a French artist living in London, which combined the CND symbol with the Eiffel Tower to produce a striking and universal icon which could be shared to show unity with the victims and families of the attack.

Jean Jullien Peace for Paris

I saw this symbol reproduced in a number of different guises and shared by a significant number of friends and celebrities:

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Currently the original post has been liked over 155 000 times on Instagram account and his tweet has been shared 57 000 times. I appreciate the fact that Jullien decided not to sign his work before sharing it and has allowed it to become a symbol of hope after such an atrocious event. Indeed, in this article for Wired, Jullien admits he didn’t want or expect any exposure for his image and is “sort of almost embarrassed to be getting that much exposure as a result of such a tragic event.” (Jullien 2015). However, sadly the same can’t be said for other people with one person taking this symbol and using it to sell t-shirts:

Peace for Paris Tshirt

Nothing on this page mentions anything about donating profits to any charity – although I’m sincerely hoping they will do. I think the vast majority of people will agree that profiting from a terrorist attack is pretty atrocious, but what if this profit isn’t quite so direct. What if it comes via recognition for a fantastic symbol you created, or a design award for a poster created to raise money post-disaster? At what point does profiting from disaster become acceptable?

This all reminded me of an interesting post by Michael Johnson of Johnson Banks, which debates whether posters created to raise money for the Haiti earthquake should be entered into design awards. My initial reaction is that this sits very uneasily with me, at my most cynical I can acknowledge that design as an industry is sometimes very centred around a core of egotistical, self-congratulation that lauds mantlepiece ornaments above really making a change in the world, or indeed, at a shallower level – helping clients sell more products. And I think that at times when designers truly have used their skills to help change the world we almost, in a sense, shouldn’t undermine this by believing that a shiny award is the real thing they should care about. Forget the £10 000 you raised for charity, here is a metal plate to tell you that your work is good. Doesn’t that intrinsically feel wrong?

However at the crux of it, I think where I stand is that if a design is created initially as a gut reaction to a disaster or with the primary intention to help then any reward the designer may get as a bi-product of this is a good thing. But when a creation is more about their ego than the cause perhaps we should reconsider what we’re applauding.

My thoughts go out to all of the families affected by these attacks:
Donations to the French Red Cross can be made here
And donations to Medicins Sans Frontieres can be made here.


The BAFTAs illustrated

In the time since I’ve last written a blog post, quite a lot has been going on in my life. I’ve graduated from Falmouth University (sob) and found myself about as far removed from the seaside town as it’s possible to be, working for the fantastic design agency B&B Studio in the cliché that is Shoreditch. You may recognise B&B’s name from the plethora of blog posts I’ve written about them in the past and I’m now absolutely chuffed to now be part of the team!

Anyway, while I’ve been keeping myself busy, the design world has been chucking out all sorts of great stuff and I think after around 7 months of getting myself settled it’s about time I started writing about the things I love again. So to start us back off are some fantastic posters for tonight’s BAFTAs created by the illustrator Malika Favre working with the team at Human After All.

(As a slight side note, I went to a brilliant workshop by Human After All as part of the 2014 D&AD New Blood exhibition last summer where we spent a few hours coming up with ways to “Hack the Commute.” It was a really great afternoon topped off by our group winning the pitch and getting goodies from the team, so a very belated thank you to them for that!)

Back to the main topic of the post, the theme for this year’s BAFTAs is based on ‘The big reveal’ and Favre has cleverly incorporated this idea into the shadows of her posters.

favre bafta

Each poster depicts the duality explored within the films by using the shadows as a device to show how the characters, or the plots, develop. She created the main image above to advertise the awards and then 5 more posters for each film nominated for the ‘best film’ category.

Favre Bafta
The Theory of Everything
Bafta Favre
Bafta Favre
Bafta Favre
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Bafta Favre
The Imitation Game

These posters pretty much sum up fantastic illustration for me. They create intrigue, they maintain each film’s personality whilst staying firmly part of a set, they’re ridiculously clever and they’re beautifully executed, so you could say I’m a fan!

I was first introduced to Favre’s work a few months ago when she created an image for TFL’s year of the bus campaign, where they commissioned a number of illustrators to design oyster card wallets. She created a scene showing Route 78 with gorgeous simplicity (although the wallet is now sadly sold out):

Favre TFLI love how she manages to illustrate both a scene and a mood; She seems to know just how much detail is needed within an image to connect with the viewer whilst keeping the illustration as minimal as possible. Her colour palettes are always gorgeous too, which is demonstrated best in her scenes from Fuerteventura:

Malika Favre

I also adore her cover for The Washington Post:

Malika FavreAnd this great robot for the cover of Knack Weekend:


Her website is full of gems so I recommend having a scroll.

I discovered the BAFTA posters on the Design Week Blog.

D&AD New Blood 2014

For the past week I’ve been spending my time as a D&AD New Blood Festival Guide – this gave me the opportunity to meet some lovely people, attend various D&AD events and have a good old nosy at the Festival and the work on display. As always, there was an abundance of great work and I was really pleased I got the chance to have a really thorough look around the stalls as the exhibition can, at first glance, all be a little overwhelming and some clever ideas are lost behind other more attention-grabbing pieces of ‘eye-candy’.

I thought I’d share on here a selection of the work I admired and a bit of an insight into the events I attended during the week. (I was keen not to take too many business cards as I figured students would potentially rather them go to a future employer than some graduate fanny-ing around with a blog but hopefully all of my accreditations will be correct!)

Aside from Falmouth’s stand (of course!), it was Norwich’s that I was possibly most interested in seeing. They churn out fantastic packaging work year after year and I was really intrigued to see if this trend had continued – spoiler alert, it had!

I really liked this popcorn packaging from Joshua Miller, which combined the simple idea of a cinema ticket with popcorn to create a really nice result. I can imagine these working well in a supermarket experience as they would stand away from the shelf.

Joshua Miller Butterkist

Helen Mak’s work also caught my eye on Norwich’s stand – although really I shouldn’t be promoting her as she pipped me to the post to win this year’s jkr juice award! Again, I felt her work was effective as it combined the idea of oatcakes and Scotland to create neat packaging and promotion for Nairn’s oatcakes.

Helen Mak Crackers


I was also drawn to Abbey Hennebry’s work for Bassetts Allsorts which plays on their iconic look and heritage to create a unique range of packaging and set of posters that are sure to make you smile. I think I would almost prefer the packaging if each one just created a whole sweet but I guess she was playing with the concept of ‘allsorts’ and showing the variety, which makes sense!

Abbey HenneburyAbbey Hennebury

Moving on from Norwich now I really liked a series of posters by Anders Kristofferson and Michael McCallum from Southampton Solent University for the D&AD Sky Brief. Each poster plays with the idea of abstracting an element of a film’s plot and comparing it to a very different film and was deservedly given a D&AD In Book award.

Movie Mashups

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Another clever poster I enjoyed was by Steph Hamer (I think! Please correct me if not) and is a clever observation that links drawing with football.

It's a draw

A final set of posters that I liked were created by Hannah Hughes and Tiffany Trethowan in response to a YCN Brief for Standard Life. These posters take the idea of saving with Standard Life and depict an exaggerated scenario of what happens when people choose not to save.

YCN Standard Life YCN Standard Life YCN Standard Life

There were some great examples of photography on display too. I really loved this one from Patrick Kelly, particularly the confidence of composition and the dreamy quality the photo has.

Patrick Kelly

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I also loved Tereza Cervenova’s Photography and she was even kind enough to give me a postcard of one of her shots (Right before she won a Yellow Pencil so I should’ve got it signed!). Her work is hugely varied exploring emotions, light and just plain beautiful compositions.

terezacervenova terezacervenova

In terms of cute-ness, I just couldn’t resist Stephanie Morgan’s work for Save The Bees. I really like the simplicity of the pack and the illustration style and I want one of the little ones on my window sill!

Stephanie Morgan


Another sweet bit of illustration was this cactus Jessy Morris from Plymouth University:
Jessy Morris


I also liked Abi Sambells‘ illustration work, she turns a lot of her images into animations and I like the way she documented her character development.

Abi Sambells

Abi Sambells


Moving onto Falmouth now, we had a range of different work on show from the illustration, graphic design and advertising courses. It’s always hard to be subjective when looking at the work of your friends but I thought I’d include a small snapshot of the work on display.

From the advertising courses (that’s BA(Hons) and MA) I liked Miranda & Pat ‘s campaign for Dove for Men, playing with the simple premise that ‘It takes someone special to be a daddy’.mirandaandpat mirandaandpat


I also liked the work of Tom Dixon and Jo Griffin who took phrases and completely changed the meaning with the simple addition of a polo ‘o’. These just stood out as really simple and clever, working particularly effectively as animations which can be seen on their website.

Jo & Tom


The illustration course was particularly strong this year with fantastic work from a number of different students.

Key pieces for me came from Josh McKenna:


David Doran:

David Doran

Rachel Saunders:

Rachel Saunders

And Fiona Rose:

Fiona Rose

I think the thing that sets Falmouth’s illustration course apart is just how well developed each person’s style is. Walking around the full degree show felt almost like looking through an agent’s book with each student demonstrating clearly what you would get from them if they were commissioned.

Finally we come to the Falmouth Graphics show. I won’t dwell too much on this one as I’m very biased towards various bits of work but I thought I’d pick out a few pieces that really stood out.

Firstly, I loved Adam Peacock’s posters for the Syrian Appeal, cleverly changing war paraphernalia into child-like drawings.

Adam Peacock

There was also some nice branding work from Adam Chescoe for a gift shop for the Forestry Commission. I particularly liked the way he’d changed the bar code to resemble a forest and used tree rings to create markers for his map.

Adam Chescoe

Adam Chescoe\Adam Chescoe

Another stand out piece was April Temlett’s silver prize winning entry for the Design Bridge rebranding competition (Coincidentally she also got the gold prize but I happen to prefer this entry). She chose Florette and played with the idea of lettuce creating french girls’ skirts.

April Temlett

It was also nice to see a small selection of my work up on display, a branding project for an immersive theatre company. You can read a bit more about this project here.

Maisie Benson


Finally, it wouldn’t be right to write a post about the New Blood Exhibition without a nod in Craig and John’s direction. They created the signage and branding for this year’s festival and it looked brilliant. The outer walls of the festival were full of great gems of copy and it really got people excited and curious about what was inside.

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I did plan to write a little more about the events I attended but I think that may have to wait for a future post! I hope this did the festival some justice and reflected the incredible quality of the work on display. See you again next year!




Branding as Conversation

This is a bit of a different article for today and is a little taster of my university dissertation. I was exploring the theme of Branding as Conversation and looking at how brands are beginning to use copy on packaging and digital conversations as an integral part of their branding.

This surge in chatty branding has created an influx of blog posts with differing opinions on whether or not brands should be our friends. There’s a host of absurd terminology arising from ‘wackaging’ to ‘branter’ and right now there’s almost no one I envy less than those entrusted with a brand’s social media persona.

I am a 90’s child, and have spent a good portion of my life now on social networking sites. I have also spent almost half of my time on Earth surrounded by ‘chatty’ copy on packaging. However, somehow, despite all of this, if someone asks me who my best friend is (although I have to say that trend stopped in around year 7) I would not instantly declare ‘Tesco Mobile’ or ‘Innocent’ or even ‘Waterstones Oxford Street’. I realise this information may not come as a shock to you but brands are not actually trying to be our friends and we do not really see them as such. Just because they post an entertaining picture or tell us to ‘pop round to say hello’ doesn’t mean we’re instantly mates – they’re simply trying to break up the monotony of introspective, un-engaging and frankly dull messages and information that surrounds us all.

Whilst I am generally in favour of brands having personality and a unique tone of voice, the emphasis of this sentence needs to firmly be placed on ‘unique’. Brands need to find out who they’re talking to and what these people want to hear. It’s no good seeing a brand post a picture of a cat with a moustache and decide that that’s the best route for another brand because, 99% of the time, it is not. I think a lot of brands fail to acknowledge that the section of people they are talking to changes constantly and they need to be personified to such an extent that they can adapt to these changes in the same way that humans do. I have seen no end of articles dictating that brands need to create a ‘consistent tone of voice across all platforms’ when in reality it is not consistency that brands need, but instead, coherency. There is a huge difference between posting a tweet that will primarily be seen by individuals who have chosen to engage with a particular brand and creating an advert due to be aired on prime-time television; and the brand’s tone of voice needs to reflect this.

Back in 1967 Marshall McLuhan declared that, “Propaganda ends when dialogue begins” and I believe this quote applies well to the state of branding today. If brands can find a way to create conversation and dialogue with their consumer then the idea of them being ‘propaganda’ is lost. They stop becoming spam and filter themselves almost seamlessly into our lives. However, the minute disconnect arises (potentially through the wrong choice of media or audience) and the conversation becomes stilted or unreciprocated they instantly become propaganda once more, and seemingly devious propaganda at that.

This is an extremely fine line for any brand to tread and with such continuous public feedback and criticism it is not a task to take on lightly, however if it is done well, then they can gain almost unlimited access into their consumers’ lives and, more importantly, minds.


Taking the social out of media – The Social Media Guard.

It can be a little frustrating when you’re working on a brief and you see the exact thing you’re trying to communicate done in a really new and funny way. This is precisely what has just happened to me.

Recently a fellow student and I have been collaborating on a brief that aims to reconnect people with nature and take them away from modern technologies, (some of you may recognise the description of this as the D&AD National Trust Brief). It’s been a really fun project and David Beavis (hello!) and I have come up with a campaign we’re pretty happy with and almost ready to submit, but I’ve just seen an idea that I’m actually a bit gutted that we didn’t come up with!

This is the new Coca Cola advert, from Memac Ogilvy Dubai, and it’s a brilliantly simple solution to an actually quite similar problem:

The thing that I think makes this advert successful is that it doesn’t make the consumer resent the brand for telling them to put down their phones. It can seem like quite a patronising thing for a brand to say, but by incorporating wit into the advert Coca Cola avoids this feeling of superiority that can sometimes come across.

If you see National Trust social media guards come out soon then it definitely was just a huge coincidence…

Found on the Creative Review Blog.

Sorting out Santa’s Branding – A brilliant self-promotion from Quietroom.

I think Christmas is the best time of year for design. Sure, there are a whole heap of clichés that get recycled each year but it’s also a time where a lot of companies send out self-promotional mailers (which try and push the limits of their creativity and design) and brands often relax their usual guidelines and stipulations.

One of my favourite pieces of Christmas inspired design I’ve seen this year (that’s aside from the Warburton’s packaging I had a small hand in creating) is the Santa Brand Book from Quietroom.

It’s full of witticisms and gentle jibes at the world of branding and marketing and I think they’ve done a brilliant job of promoting their incredible way with words in a fun and festive way.

The whole thing is well worth reading but I’ve included a selection of personal highlights here, which includes this brilliant selection of venn diagrams – The ‘ho ho ho’ one is particularly inspired!
Santa Brand Book

I also love this brilliant paragraph which mocks the way that when branding something we are often taught to compare it to other objects to truly understand the brand. The best bit, in my opinion, being “if it were a holiday, it would be Easter.”
Santa Brand Book

There’s a great diagram to step you through the brand pyramid, starting with gullibility and ending with the lovely detail of ‘delivery’.

Santa Brand Book

And they provide a brilliant rationale behind the brand name:

Santa Brand Book

They offer a great selection of colour ways to chose from, including ‘white on white’:
Santa Brand Book

And, in case you weren’t sure which white to use there’s a great chart to ensure you get the colours just right (or ‘even’ in this case):

Santa Brand Book

I think the best part of this diagram showing other figures that may infringe on Santa’s territory is the inclusion of Jeremy Paxman (and his recent controvertial facial hair!)Santa Brand Book

As the promotion is from a company who focus on copy and words there is inevitably a focus on brand language and tone of voice, which is, as expected, spot on!

Santa Brand Book

Santa Brand Book

Having not heard of Quietroom before I think this brand book is a really good example of self promotion done well. I’ll definitely be looking out for more of their work in the future and following what they’re up to!

The whole book can be viewed here.