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    Seb Lester @ Playdesk

    Here, as promised, is my full write up of the Seb Lester lecture I mentioned in this previous post. 

  2. Last Thursday night I was lucky enough to see the brilliant typographer & lettering artist Seb Lester give a talk at the Museum of Brands in West London.

    Above is the rather lovely print I received at the event, designed by Seb himself and printed by Brighton based screen-print studio A New Star in the Sky. It’s a silvery black ink on white paper, the photos really don’t do it justice unfortunately. 

    The talk was fantastic, expect to see a write up about it for my blog at work soon! After the talk I had the pleasure of meeting Seb, who is a very nice guy and grew up a few streets away from me! You can follow Seb Lester on tumblr here; http://seblester.tumblr.com/

    The lecture was organised by Playdesk, which is well worth checking out if you fancy coming to some design lectures in London and for a drink or two after (here is me looking confused).

  3. Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend the D&AD presidents lecture, which this year featured advertising legend Sir John Hegarty, co-founder of one of my favorite advertising companies BBH. He’s a great speaker, very warm and charismatic but his lecture was a bit of a ramble (in a good way). So I’ll try to just lay out his most interesting thoughts and some of the work he showed from his long career.

    He started straight away with three main points;

    1. Have a personal philosophy about yourself and your work.
    2. Generally you will have ten years at your peak when you do your best work, but try to figure out how to keep this going, don’t worry about your ideas running out just try to have new ones every day.
    3. Companies Must have creative people at the top in order to be creative companies.

    Cynicism is the death of creativity, you have to be constantly absorbing because good ideas are out there but you have to search for them. Creativity is a preoccupation not an occupation. Good work is 80% idea and 20% execution.

    He said you have to hate good ideas, because you hate that you didn’t think of them. His example being this famous ad, his idea was a photo of a pregnant underage girl but when he saw the pregnant man he knew it was better and that’s why he hates it! Very good example of the sort of thinking that you need to do great work. Do the unexpected, create shock or surprise, think differently don’t just do what everyone else does.

    This is exactly the philosophy of BBH, they first became well known for their work for Levis, who’s brand very much stands for the same things as they do. Best shown by the advert at the top of this post; be the black sheep, when the world zigs, zag. By having a jeans advert which didn’t have jeans in it BBH were being the black sheep, doing something different to the crowd.

    Here are a few of the great BBH adverts he showed during the lecture;

    • Levi’s Laundrette, such an iconic ad! His anecdote was that censorship made it boxers rather than y-fronts, which lead to a huge increase in the sale of boxers!
    • Levi’s Creek, funny and memorable definitely give this a watch!
    • Boddington’s beer advert 1992, looks so dated! But the ideas still a winner. The boddingtons print adverts are pretty good too, one of them above here.

    Generally Sir John was very optimistic in his outlook and positive about the possibilites of technology, he denied the notion of a golden age in advertising, saying that the golden age could well be now. He also advocated the 2 person advertising team (copywriter and art director) as still the best way to work on advertising, the tension between 2 different disciplines is good. He did say as his argument for this system that who’s seen Shakespeare’s paintings or read Picasso’s book, not sure I’m totally convinced though.

    If you want to know more about Hegarty and his career then definitely get Hegarty on Advertising: Turning Intelligence into Magic it’s a good book! Lots of writing even though he spent his whole career ‘taking words out’.

  4. Todays lecture at NUCA was from legendary American graphic designer Lance Wyman, and was in conjunction with the exhibition of his work at the NUCA gallery; You Are Here a brilliant little exhibition mainly featuring the Mexico 68 olympics graphics (above) which he is most famous for, as well as excerpts from a few other projects and more recent work.

    He started the lecture with a summary of how his life lead to him being hired to work on the Mexican Olympics. From working on a fishing boat and in factories, to studying industrial design at the Pratt institute around the time of the birth of the American graphic design industry, at the time of Saul Bass and Paul Rand. After graduating he worked for General Motors, had a few years in the army where he gained a love of maps, then to the George Nelson office in New York. Where through meeting certain people and some unexpected circumstance he ended up flying to Mexico to work on the designs for the Olympics…

    The work he produced for the olympics is truly amazing and still very impressive and appealing to this day. The main identity came from the genius idea that two of the rings could be the lower counters of the 6 and the 8. The black and white geometric patterns of the logo were influenced by the Op or Kinetic art that was very current of the time and the patterns often seen in pre-hispanic Mexican imagery and folk art. From this a typeface was born and a black and white visual language instantly recognisable as related to the games. It was applied to a huge range of things like clothes, hats, giant balloon, interior design and even the ground around the stadium. 

    As well as the branding he also designed great pictograms for the games inspired by traditional native glyphs. Lance has designed a lot of icons through his career and they are something he really loves. An interesting moment in the lecture came when he showed the similarities between his 68 icons and the app icons on the first iphone. He also designed lovely colourful stamps with silhouetted sports people which have a recurring pattern that joins up at the edges, which he also pointed out were quite similar in style to those original ipod adverts !

    After the olympics he stayed in Mexico working commercially there on the Mexico City Metro and Mexico world cup mascot. Then he came back to New York in 1971 where he has worked ever since on a huge range of projects, a lot of logos, pictograms, wayfaring and maps for companies and city councils. My favorite that he showed was his work for the National Zoo. 

    At the end of his lecture there was time for a few interesting questions. On the 2012 logo he said that it was at least different! And that at the time he had said ‘give it a chance’, but that he hadn’t seen anything interesting done with it yet! Then on the subject of computers he said that he had used a compass on his 1968 logo, and that when the compass was invented there must have been a lot of dumb circles drawn. Nice analogy! 

  5. Last Thursday and Friday I was very lucky to have book designer David Pearson visiting NUCA for a design workshop. Above is a selection of his covers, mainly for the Penguin Great Ideas Series, for which he is best known. I’m an admirer of his designs, so It was really exciting to have the chance to work with him. Last year he came and did a lecture about his work, which you can read about along with a few other past posts about him here.

    As for the workshop itself, it was brilliant. David is a very humble and friendly guy, totally enthusiastic about helping people with their work. He always saw the positives in everything everybody did, even when they were at very early rough stages. I had hoped to ask him some pertinent questions to post on here, but we ended up just chatting about other book designers and blogs and that sort of thing. I’m pretty pleased with the work thats come out of it as well, I had expected more input from David but he liked them and didn’t want to meddle in my work, but I guess thats a pretty good endorsement!

    I don’t need to waste any time telling you how great he is at book cover design, because his work speaks for itself! But I can say he is also a really nice guy and refreshingly optimistic, his attitude was that less books are being published so all the more reason (and demand) for them to be more beautiful and better designed! Sounds like he has a very busy schedule, so its not all doom and gloom.

    I still hope to post an interview with someone on here one day, but if you fancy reading an interview with David Pearson why not read this one here from The Casual Optimist

  6. Todays lecture at NUCA was a big one! From Bruce Duckworth co-founder of Turner Duckworth, he apparently only does 1 lecture a year so we were very lucky to have him! He founded the company with David Turner, who runs the San Francisco office while Bruce works in the London studio. They have about 50 employees overall, work on packaging and branding (see pictures above), and were ranked number 1 for packaging in the last design week survey! They are probably best known for their stellar work on redesigning and simplifying the packaging and design of Coca-Cola, or logo design for Amazon. The lecture was really great so im going to try and pass on some wisdom rather than giving my opinion, since Bruce was such a brilliant speaker and his company do amazing work.

    Turner Duckworth have 3 types of client; 

    1. Culturally Significant (e.g; Coke & Levis) 2. Progressive Retail (own-brand) 3. Entrepreneurial (start-ups)

    Some principles of Turner Duckworth;

    • Clear vision through iconic design
    • Iconic design is simple
    • Simplicity must delight
    • Iconic design is emotional and unmistakable
    • 1+1=3 (Which if you haven’t seen in a creative context means that in combing two things you should create something that is greater than the two things separate. So the best ideas come from where two things meet, like a venn diagram)

    What Turner Duckworth look for in a new designer;

    • Talent (of course)
    • Great ideas (their holy grail)
    • Do everything for a reason
    • Enthusiasm and optimism
    • Hard Working
    • Passion for design
    • No prima donnas!
    • Last but not least - have some fun!

    And the lecture ended with a great quote from Fred Astaire, which Turner Duckworth use to explain their aesthetic;

    "If it looks like hard work your not working hard enough"

  7. The weekly graphics lecture at NUCA today was courtesy of Designers Anonymous. A small London design studio founded by two Norwich graduates in 2008, since then they have built a really great portfolio of mainly branding projects which often encompasses packaging, web, print or every aspect of the brand. Some examples of their client work are above, so many great ideas and a nice style! I saw their Zest sauce packaging in a shop a few weeks a go, it really caught my eye but I like all their work!

    As well as client work they also do a lot of self-initiated projects, often involving products they can sell. A few other studios have shown work like this but none of them have done it in the same volume as Designers Anonymous. I think it’s really cool that they do this sort of thing along side more commercial work, shows they still love design and havent lost their passion! Have a look at their online shop to see (and buy) lots of their products.

  8. Todays graphics lecture at NUCA was from ex-student Jim Sutherland, co-founder of design studio Hat-Trick. Jim came to Norwich about 2 years a go to do a similar talk, but wow have they been busy since then! They produce an amazing range of great work for big clients despite being a small studio of about ten designers, apparently they have around 40 live projects at the moment.

    Check out all their work on their website; http://www.hat-trickdesign.co.uk/ lots of clever witty ideas, which they push as far as they can. Plus they do some fun side personal side projects like these.

    Oh and also Jim designed a nice poster for his lecture and sent a stack of them to uni, Im hoping to get one for my wall now the talks done…

  9. This weeks lecture at NUCA was from Zoe, co-founder and 1/4 of Studio8. Who are best known for their magazine design work, I had much admired their Wired magazine typeface when I first saw it last year, so it was great to get more info about the studio and their work. 

    As well as working on magazines such as Wired, Elephant and Plastique they have also designed books such as the Brian Cox Wonders series, and have a few identities in their portfolio. I really like their style, very nice type! Which they are especially known for. Very impressive the amount of work they do despite only being a studio of 4.

    Definitely check out all the work on their website, a must see for anyone interested in editorial and magazine design! http://www.studio8design.co.uk/home/

  10. Also last week I missed posting about another lecture I had at uni, this time from illustrator and artist Paul Davis, very enjoyable lecture! He is a really funny guy, enthusiastic with very witty humorous work. Lots of interesting stories from his long career as well. You can see a bit of video of him talking from D&AD here and here.

    Not much of his work came up on a google search, so if you want to see more try and figure out his quite weird website http://www.copyrightdavis.com/ 

    Tomorrow I have another lecture, someone from the brilliant Studio8. So expect a post about that…

  11. I missed posting about a few things last week while I was doing my Mid-Century Modern themed week. 

    The first was a lecture from Fraser Muggeridge, who is a designer and artist who runs his own studio mainly designing for artists, doing things like books, posters, catalogues, invites, leaflets and booklets. His style of work isn’t totally to my tastes, but I do appreciate it and enjoyed him sharing his process and methodology, great eye for typography!

    I think the most interesting thing for me was the problems of designing for artists and the art world as clients, he has to work to a certain style that compliments the work of the artist and is aesthetically right but doesn’t steal the limelight. If your at all interested in graphic design for the art world definitely check out his work; http://pleasedonotbend.co.uk/

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    Busy times recently in graphic design at NUCA.

    Yesterday Mills from ustwo came for a lecture and teaching. You can see more about him in the video above, and if your as big a geek as me, and actually watch lectures voluntarily in your own time you can see one from Mills here.

    We also had Christian Bird, from amazing packaging design studio Design Bridge, come in last week for some teaching and D&AD advice, very helpful!

    Today recent graduate Jamin Galea, who works at Someone, came in to show us his portfolio and give us a lot of great advice about life after graduation, and also spoke to us individually for a bit of help with our work.

    My graphic design class has a tumblr blog; nucadesign.tumblr.com/ so follow that if your interested. 

  13. Above are a few bits of work from London design studio Spin, its a small company with a select few clients and well known for its very clean simple modern approach in a variety of different design fields.

    Tomorrow Tony Brook, co-founder of Spin is giving a lecture at my university, with a Q & A afterwards. I saw him speak at TYPO a few weeks a go, he was definitely one of my favorite speakers of the lot. Really down to earth, honest and unpretentious. He was mainly speaking about design and the North of England which was interesting and funny as well, but im hoping tomorrow is more about his design process and Spin. 

    Tony was also the co-curator of the Wim Crouwel exhibition at the Design Museum this summer which I went to and enjoyed (and wrote about here) as well as being co-founder with Adrian Shaughnessy of publishing company Unit Editions. So lots of interesting things he gets up to!

  14. TYPO London 2011 - Michael Bierut

    The final speaker on the first day of TYPO London was Michael Bierut, of Pentagram, who was sure to tell everyone he has no link to the capital of the Lebanon. And provided his wife’s method of telling people how to spell their name “I E R as in sexier”. So now you have no excuse if you spell it wrong! Oh and also he has twin brothers called Donald and Ronald. Which is a strange little insight into his personal background, which is one, it seems of a not very exciting town in Ohio. But Michael found his passion, and it was art. As seen in a history essay he showed that earned him an A+, complete with an amazing ballpoint pen illustration of the sinking titanic (above bottom left, via). And later he discovered his real passion was design, after designing a flyer for a school theatre production he felt like a celebrity, more people saw his poster than the play itself! The flyer (above bottom right, via) was pretty punky really, hand drawn messy type, but he soon moved on to discover modernism and never look back. Art school, then ten years working for Massimo Vignelli and then onto Pentagram till the present day. Quite a career!

    Michael then proceeded to explain ten pieces of Pentagram work, that fitted the conferences theme “Places”. As well as Michaels own theme for his talk “The Only Important Decision”, about how picking a typeface can be the major part of a designers job. The projects he showed were a visual style for the Disney town of Celebration, Identities for the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), a wayfinding system for lower Manhattan, signage systems for the Lever Brothers building, General Dynamics offices and The New York Times building in Times Square as well as super-graphics for the Harley Davidson museum and the New York Jets training facilities.

    For me the most interesting project he spoke about was designing the logo for the New World Symphony Orchestra, he thought he had nailed it with a mark influenced by the unique architecture of their Frank Ghery designed theatre. But this along with other ideas had been rejected by the client, he was incredibly honest about how frustrated he got with the process. He wasn’t afraid to admit that a clients rough sketch inspired him to look more at the music itself rather than the architecture. Through looking at the movement of conducting he came up with a perfect solution. Some of the projects made his design process seem so effortless and brilliant but he did show as well that he’s only human.

    Overall Michael was a brilliant speaker, articulate and very funny too, with a deadpan sense of humour that was helped by his suit and tie. If you have ever read 79 Short Essays on Design you will know how good he is at writing (Go get it if you haven’t!), but he is definitely just as good at speaking. Very charming, I can just imagine how he wins clients over to his ideas. And what good ideas they are, all the work he showed was great and his explanations behind them were very insightful. Definitely an inspiring lecture, and an inspiring man, it’s easy to tell why he has had such a successful career!

    Top image © Gerhard Kassner (via)

  15. text
    So today I won two tickets to TYPO London thanks to twitter and Computer Arts!
This thursday, friday and saturday Il be watching some amazing speakers! Including Chip Kidd, Neville Brody, Michael Bierut, Gary Hustwit, Erik Spiekermann, Jonathan Barnbrook, Tony Brook and Michael B Johnson of Pixar. Plus loads more, should be amazing. Feeling pretty lucky to get the chance to go!
Il write some notes while im there and blog about the most interesting thing. Long shot since tickets are so expensive but anyone else going?

    So today I won two tickets to TYPO London thanks to twitter and Computer Arts!

    This thursday, friday and saturday Il be watching some amazing speakers! Including Chip Kidd, Neville Brody, Michael Bierut, Gary Hustwit, Erik Spiekermann, Jonathan Barnbrook, Tony Brook and Michael B Johnson of Pixar. Plus loads more, should be amazing. Feeling pretty lucky to get the chance to go!

    Il write some notes while im there and blog about the most interesting thing. Long shot since tickets are so expensive but anyone else going?

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