Making tax less taxing

Yet again, I’ve fallen foul of neglecting this here blog, but I guess as a 3rd year now that’s bound to happen. However, I don’t want to stop this thing entirely so I thought I’d give you all another update on one of my projects.

This was a self initiated project which brought my second year to a close. I decided to tackle the subject of tax, and more specifically, the negative image we have of our tax system. I aimed to change people’s perceptions of tax, highlight the benefits taxes bring to the community and generally make taxes more accessible and engaging.

To do this, I created the brand ‘Just Tax’ which would be an independent, but government funded, organisation which aims to break down tax into tangible amounts. I decided on the name ‘Just Tax’ as the word ‘Just’ can be interpreted to mean both ‘simple’ and ‘fair’ which really summed up my brand’s aims.

The brand is primarily a website, with the home screen showing a desk cluttered with various every day objects (click for a larger image):

Maisie Benson, Just tax

Each of these objects has the same value (or near enough!) as the amount you spend on a particular sector, in taxes, each day:

Maisie Benson, Graphic Design

For example, a person on the average UK salary gives £2.14 per day towards running the government. This is represented as a cup of coffee. They also give £1.01 towards education, this is shown with a pack of pencils.

Each object has some form of connection to the sector they represent, as well as being an object that could be on a desk, and bought regularly if not everyday.

As you hover over each object the relevant information appears to prevent the desk being too confusing and inaccessible, however there is an option to ‘See the Full Picture’ on each infographic:

Maisie Benson, tax coffee

When an object is clicked – In this case the coffee – it separates out into an infographic. Here, each component in the coffee represents a different sub-sector within Running the Government:

Maisie Benson, just tax, coffee

And, as with the homepage, as each element is hovered over more information will appear:

Maisie, coffeeThere is also the option to view the complete infographic, which shows how the size of each object is relevant to each sub-section:

Coffee, Just tax, graphic designEach of the objects on the home screen works in the same way. In this case the banana (representing the environment) is being hovered over:

Banana, Maisie Benson, taxIf you are particularly interested in a sub-section within a category, such as waste, there is a further level to the site where it will direct you right to the source of where your money is spent:

Maisie Benson, Just tax, banana

waste, tax, environment

This aims to humanise the tax system and hopes to show why the money is necessary. At this point you are given the option to visit the relevant government site for further information.

To advertise my brand I created a series of posters simply showing the correlation between money spent each day on a sector and the object it relates to. Objects such as the banana add an element of humour and interest and keeping the posters simple keeps the viewer’s attention firmly on the message:

Just tax posters

I think these would be particularly effective as print adverts as the reader will have time to digest the message:

print tax poster

Hopefully that all makes sense but please feel free to ask any questions or give any feedback in the comments section below!



Urban Honey – Packaging Design

I thought it was about time I updated you on what I’ve been up to this term! We’ve had two projects, one live brief and one competition brief which is the one I’m going to focus on today.

The brief I chose for my competition was the jkr Juice brief to brand and package a Global Urban Beekeeper’s Company. We had to consider what products would be in the range and begin to look at ways the products could be marketed. It was aimed at 21-35 year old men and women and would be a quality brand, as they would be paying more for the benefits of city honey.

I decided not to over-complicate my brand, the product already had a number of benefits from being a natural energy boost, to each city having a distinct flavour, to a wide range of medicinal properties so I decided the strongest thing to do would be to simply combine the idea of city/urban with honey!

The brand name of Urban Honey seemed the most appropriate, and it seems to be unregistered, so used that and focused more on creating an impactful visual for the packaging which could become synonymous with the brand.

My final identity was based around road markings from various cities. By replacing the orange / yellow lines with the honey it very simply created a graphic that combined urban with honey and would stand out on shelf.

Below are the final boards I sent to jkr, you can click for a larger image and read more about my concept:

JKR juice 2013 urban honey packagingJKR juice 2013 urban honey packagingJKR juice 2013 urban honey packaging
JKR juice 2013 urban honey packagingI really enjoyed the brief and I’m pleased with the final result. I think they are striking bottles that work as a range but also individually.

Let me know what you think!

Saving Lives at Sea – A Typography Project

As promised here’s the other project I’ve been working on for the past semester. This was broken up into 3 parts: a poster, a catalogue and a typographic installation. There are some issues with ‘of’s in Bell MT italic, I’m not sure why but they randomly shift to the right when exporting (annoyingly because they all needed kerning individually!!) so I’m aware these can look bad in places!

I’ve shown a few bits of these projects along the way but these are my final outcomes. The three sections didn’t have to have a link but they could have a similar style or connecting features if we wanted.

My poster is probably the weakest part of the project, you can see the evolution of it starting with this post and carrying on in this post. I’m happy with the hierarchy and the general attention to detail but I think it lacks impact:

saving lives at sea typographic poster

This uses the same colour scheme as my catalogue. I was generally pleased with the outcome of my catalogue., you can read more about the grid and typefaces I used as well as various other features in my earlier post here. I changed a lot of the photography for my final catalogue as I felt the images were stronger. There are hundreds of tiny changes and tweaks throughout! One thing I liked but didn’t mention in my earlier post is the use of catchwords throughout the extract pages, they’re used on the bottom of a page to tell you the first word(s) of the next page, sadly they’re no longer used in books but I’d love to see them back.

Click for larger images:

Saving lives at sea catalogueFinalbookletspreads_Page_02Finalbookletspreads_Page_03Finalbookletspreads_Page_04Finalbookletspreads_Page_05Finalbookletspreads_Page_06Finalbookletspreads_Page_07Finalbookletspreads_Page_08Finalbookletspreads_Page_09Finalbookletspreads_Page_10Finalbookletspreads_Page_11Finalbookletspreads_Page_12Finalbookletspreads_Page_13Finalbookletspreads_Page_14Finalbookletspreads_Page_15Finalbookletspreads_Page_16Finalbookletspreads_Page_17Finalbookletspreads_Page_18The final part of the project was Type in the Environment. For this we had to take a story or text that we wanted to show typographically and put it in a place that helped tell the story. The materials we used and the typography also had to be considered to best reflect the story or the feel we were trying to create.

I decided that I wanted my typographic piece to serve some sort of purpose and to do more than just look pretty so I settled on a quote from the founder of the RNLI that was all about the dangers of the sea. I wanted this to act as a warning but also to celebrate the heroism of the members of the RNLI. One of the biggest RNLI disasters was the Penlee Disaster so I decided to situated the quote there to remind villagers of Mousehole (the place many of the RNLI members were from) of the bravery and to keep the story alive through the generations.

The installation was also there to promote the Saving Lives at Sea exhibition so I used a typeface that I liked from a plaque outside the National Maritime Museum (where the exhibition will be held.) I couldn’t find the right typeface so I wrote the quote out by hand and then used illustrator to neaten it up!

The quote before:

Hand rendered type


The quote after:

Hand rendered typeYou might have noticed that I used this as the endpages for my catalogue, this was an attempt to link the two together but also just because I thought it looked nice! I had a few problems with rivers and I tried lots of things to avoid them but more kept appearing so this was the best I could get it!

The typographic inspiration came from this plaque:

plaqueThe problem with the condensed typography is that it’s quite difficult to read so I decided that this should stay as a plaque:

typographic plaqueTo make the text come to life I decided to take the most emotive words and place them along the pier in Mousehole, reflecting the plaque. To make them serve their purpose as a warning and not an eyesore I found a medium called rust oleum, which only shows up when wet. This means that the message would only be displayed in bad weather, when it is actually relevant.

The words I picked out:

letteringIn context:

typographic installation


If you missed my post on my consumerism work you can find that here, if not, you’re fully up to date with my life / work! I hope you like what I’ve been up to and I’d love to hear your feedback!






Saving Lives at Sea – A Typographic Project

One of our projects on at the minute is to design a catalogue for an exhibition celebrating the RNLI. It is part of a typography module so the emphasis is purely on the typographic detail rather than a big idea.

My booklet is A5 portrait and uses Bell MT and Calibri. I wanted a traditional British serifed typeface such as Bell MT to reflect the RNLI’s heritage and history, but I personally prefer long copy in a sans serif typeface so chose calibri for these sections. The x heights seemed to be a similar size and I thought the stroke weights complimented each other aswell.

All the photography is my own and I worked using a 9×9 grid with margins set to a 2:3 ratio working off Tschichold’s theories of page harmony as well as a number of other principles. (More on this can be found here.) With a simple 2 column grid with 3mm margins within this for the extract section of the catalogue.

Clicking on a page will open larger image:

There are a few things I still need to change as some of the pages aren’t as legible as I’d like, also the page numbers aren’t correct at the minute and the extract text needs more attention to detail. The final page of the extract has a section of the image from the first page of the extract to show that it has finished but I’m not sure if this is clear enough or just looks like a printing mistake!

I also think the cover needs to be more exciting but I like the way it translates onto the first page so I might just look into printing techniques or materials that could enhance the design. Let me know what you think!