J & M. Craig, Ltd., Kilmarnock

Makers of White and Coloured Glazed Bricks, Sinks, &c.


This exquisite enamelled brick is to be found at Rothesay’s Victorian public conveniences. My thin research on J. & M. Craig, Ltd. suggests that Messrs. James and Matthew Craig purchased the Hillhead Fire Clay Works in Kilmarnock 1861. Enamelled bricks were produced in a variety of tints with the brilliant white ones adapted for lining back walls and “wells” often seen in the centre of Glasgow where the reflection of light is valuable (see the exterior of Rennie Mackintosh’s Daily Record Building, Renfield Lane 1901). The letterforms have a gentle cross hatching technique giving them a warmth and solidity – it reminds me of doodling with a blue Bic biro. I love the idea that a process by which raw, worthless-looking clay, can be transformed into a beautifully enamelled building material.




Old shop fascias visible again

Allison Street

Allison Street

special A_2

Pollokshaws Road

Pollokshaws Road

I noticed a couple of old shop names revealing themselves recently in Pollokshields. I am drawn towards them because they are so fleeting – once the refurbishment is complete, they are hidden again for years. I am particularly fond of the Art Deco A from THE CLASSIC CAFÉ shop entrance (“HOT FOOD CONSENT” suggests permission to return to its former glory may have been granted?). By rendering the A, I could enjoy the hand painted sign writing skills.

What Not to Do

Now that the following ‘trends’ are in a Creative Review list, they kind of operate as a what-not-to-do of typography. I am currently designing 2 jobs using Optimo’s (very nice) Stanley typeface, and its important to know that these jobs were started a while back, before being listed here. Very very important to know that. Trends seem to move so fast now, that its possible to be both ahead of, and behind, the curve – all within the lifespan of a project.


Singapore is a unique blend of Chinese, Malay and Indian culture. This permeates to the local language commonly known as Singlish. Although often viewed negatively as an incorrect use of English, it is one of the most authentic and genuine facts of Singapore. Singlish is built upon the subtle nuances of the Singaporean personality and reflects the daily life in the country.

One of my favourites /

talk cock [Eng.talk cock]
1 To talk rubbish, spout nonsense, make an unfounded statement.
2 To engage in casual banter, chit-chat or small talk.
“Roger Federer lost in the first round at Wimbledon? Don’t talk cock lah.”
“Sorry I’m late. I met Jack at the coffee shop and was talking cock with him for a while.”

As we wave off 66 ComDes GSA Singaporeans, I would like to thank them for their charming good humour and humility over the past three weeks. They have brought a smile to all of our faces here at GSA after what has been a turbulent time for everyone. I would also like to thank the student ambassadors for their patience and unrelenting support – take a bow Penuel Smith Yr1, Jessica Taylor Yr3, Calum Douglas Yr3, Trudi Hannah Yr2, Dawn McCance Yr3, Roisin McAuley Yr2, Fiona Hunter Yr2, Ross Galloway Yr1, Juliette Duffy Yr1 and Sam Walker Yr3. A final group hug for Kim, Emma, Stuart, Jo, Moira, Cherylann, Stephen, Irene (for being so accommodating in The Haldane), Tiernan, Lynne, Craig, Megan, Michael and Ross.

A final mention for the YELLOW group who asked to donate all the one pence pieces from their installation towards the Glasgow School of Art fire appeal. A touching gesture from KJ, Leonard, Melissa, Wilson, Christine, Jiaxin, Georgina and Joshua.

See the GSA Singapore group blogs HERE.

6 17 32 34 35 5 12 42 2014-06-18 10.11.322 38 49 36 51

Women in/of Graphic Design

Women of Graphic Design - About

“Although the Graphic Design department at RISD, where this project began, is 71% female, only 6% of the designers students learn about in Graphic Design history are women. This is a severe imbalance in the curriculum, and it’s not the problem of just one institution. Though there were and are many men to impact the history and world of graphic design, there have been great female designers right along side them. In fact, the National Education Association reports that 54% of working designers are women. But why is a whole group being ignored in institutionalized design history?”

via Women of Graphic Design. On a similar topic, this book is good. Available for lends.


GSA COMDES  Degree Show 2014

GSA COM DES Degree Show 2014 will come to you. If you’re in London. On the 26/27/28 June. Amazing Pecha Kucha on Friday 27th with speakers including; Hamish Muir, David Pearson, Tomas Leach, Michael Sacco, Alice Rooney, Cliff Andrade and more. Please circulate.

Prix Pictet / / Consumption at V&A


The Prix Pictet at the V&A : : Consumption

If you can not make it down to see the Prix Pictet: : Consumption exhibition at the V&A you might enjoy this review form Monocle at the link below;


Form and Function

Information: Information for all students here. Buildings to remain closed until 30th May, please read link in full for comprehensive information.

Thankyou: It’s difficult to comprehend what happened yesterday. In the first instance we need to thank the staff and students of the Mackintosh building, who evacuated the building safely and tackled the blaze in the first instance, and the firefighters who brought the blaze under control, remarkably emerging with a building that is “90% structurally viable”.

The loss of artworks of graduating students and rooms of historical significance is terrible, and it’s been amazing to see the support coming in from people throughout the world. And the reason people have such strong feelings about the Art School is that it has currency.

If the Mackintosh Building had the same architectural form, but it’s function had been something other than an art school, it would not be regarded in the same way it is today. It is a form that is completed by its function, where it’s raison d’être is to support the making, experimentation, and reflection that goes on inside it. Its cultural impact and influence, and the pleasure it brings people, is a direct result of this powerful combination.

It is a building that has, throughout its history, been used, wholeheartedly, by its inhabitants. The Art School will undoubtedly recover from this, on the back of all the friends and all the support it has, from around the world – and in the short term our work should be about supporting this graduating year in whatever they want to do to mark their time at GSA. Thanks to everyone for their support.

GSA Pecha Kucha XXI

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 13.09.43

GSA Pecha Kucha turns 21 on Wednesday (14th May). Come along for the usual eclectic and uncoordinated collection of talks, and also, I hear, some birthday cake. The speaker line-up, comprising of students, staff, alumni and guests, includes; Rachel Mimiec, Art School I/O, Arne Wern, Fraser Birtwistle, Adam Benmakhlouf, Shona Paul, Robyne Calvert and more…


Ivor Williams, vis com des person and visiting tutor, launches Uji. Using the wall-clock archetype, this device responds to the heartbeat of the owner/user. The project stems from Ivor’s work and research at Fabrica, and he talks about the project on Dezeen, here.

With Us


Come join 2nd Year Com Des for an end of year exhibition at the Old Hairdressers, opposite Stereo, in Glasgow, in Scotland, at 6pm on Monday 12th May.


Just taken delivery of HOLO magazine, and it’s available to loan for anyone who’s interested. I’d say the accompanying review on WMMNA is a fair one, but it’s quite an undertaking for a start up that came out of the Creative Applications blog. One particularly nice feature is the ‘stream’ at the end of the magazine charting notable digital events of recent months.



Facing up to Mackintosh

At 9pm on Tuesday, BBC Two broadcasts ‘Facing up to Mackintosh’. This is a BBC documentary about the new building and its place on the campus. It was made by a team of filmmakers, led by Louise Lockwood, and including GSA vis-com-des-people Walter Hamilton and Lu Sisi. It also features a brief cameo for Edwin’s hands in a stunt letterpress set-up, and doesn’t feature a lengthy and probably quite boring interview Ed and I did, which now resides on the cutting room floor.

Duel Control: Designs of the Year

This review by Peter Maxwell, gives a good overview of the current Design of the Year competition/exhibition running at the Design Museum London, highlighting both the inherent daftness of the premise of the award, but the interesting way a show like this can profile an engaging cross-section of contemporary design work.


Support the Com Des degree show fundraising efforts via Kickstarter. If you prefer analogue fundraising, there are also cake bakes and jumble sales in progress, keep an eye out for posters.

Whose Legacy? Public Walk

To continue the CG2014 theme this public walk may be of interest:

Glasgow Games Monitor are hosting a free public walk around the Games Village and in the wider area of the Dalmarnock, Parkhead and Bridgeton. On Saturday April 26th, meeting at Bridgeton Cross at 1pm.

There are currently frantic attempts by local government and its partners, spurred on by the Games, to create a “new east end”. This walk, or “territorial enquiry” will be a critical response to those efforts. We will be going to key sites of transformation in and around Bridgeton, Dalmarnock and Parkhead to discuss and reflect in-situ, what these changes mean in the everyday, and in a wider political context for the city and for democracy. JOIN US!


With the huge countdown clock appearing above the departure board at Central Station, excitement for the Commonwealth Games has stepped up. The nine digit clock had initially shown 128 days to the opening ceremony before somebody switched it off and on again to get the correct number of 135 days. This minor glitch of 7 days brought back fond memories of being part of a group of Glasgow School of Art students contributing to the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony in 1986. The 1986 Games were affected by a large political boycott and financial mismanagement. A rotund newspaper tycoon with black dyed hair called Robert Maxwell had stepped in promising to invest £2m. Unfortunately the contribution of this demagogue was just £250,000 encouraging Private Eye magazine to lampoon him as the “bouncing Czech” (he was Czechoslovakian born).




With The Pastels on my Sony Walkman, I walked over to Garscube Road from Wilton Street to join my fellow GSA students at the Display company. We assembled in a big warehouse and were briefed by a monosyllabic boss man in a nylon shirt on the master plan for the Opening Ceremony. Demographic schemes including Africa and Oceania were proposed for carnival style floats. These would be driven around the running track in Edinburgh with happy people waving their hands in fancy dress. I was put in charge of ‘blowing up’ thumbnail drawings of the Houses of Parliament and applying them to the side elevations of the float. I was given a small projector with a 25 meter flex and a wobbly podium on wheels to complete the enlargement. This took me two weeks to execute and when it was laid out on the warehouse floor, it was twice the size required. I was happy to be dismissed of my duties because it meant I could join my fellow students who had nearly completed their 3D rendering of the great barrier reef. After a few more days we were all asked to meet with the monosyllabic boss man who proceeded to hand us some money in small brown envelopes. Our work was done, it was time to leave and the BBC stepped in.

The graphic design that complements major sporting events from the mid 1960s onwards is a patchy affair. Otl Aicher and the 1972 Munich Olympics was breaking new ground. However, when researching the graphic design for the 1986 Commonwealth Games, I found very little evidence. The logo designed by Joe Hall stands up very well (the cross of St Andrews combined with roman numerals), but I was struggling to find anything else. I shifted my in-depth research to the iPad and YouTube. To my delight I found the VHS footage I was looking for of the Opening Ceremony in 1986. Move over Danny Boyle, Yer Magesty and 007 – this is “Smile With Us”. The floats appear at the beginning up to about 3:25 when the female daredevil with the tan coloured shower cap and swimming goggles defies an icy wind off the sea and lands on the grass. The smooth journey of the floats around this jamboree of a running track is assured by blue tractors. The highlight of the pageant (at 5:00) is a massive shortbread tin on wheels stopping briefly in front of the Royal Box and then being escorted out of the stadium by paramilitaries in white boiler suits – blink, and you will miss it.

Will the Red Road flats being blown up and beamed live into the ceremony at Celtic Park on a 100 meter ‘Window on the Commonwealth’ LED screen, be able to match this?

Visual Journalism

As part of It’s Not Very Nice That, at the Lighthouse, VisComDes person Chris Kohler/Acta is presenting Riot From Wrong, a documentary on the London riots made by young people, and which raises lots of important issues about both the subject matter and future directions for ‘visual journalism’. Free to attend.

Why design cannot remain exclusive

The Open Design Now website is well designed. I have the book (available for loan, as are other books), but hadn’t seen the site before. A useful and interesting resource.

It’s sunny in Dundee mostly


Tentsmuir WW2 Coastal Defences

In the spirit of inter-institutional caring and sharing:


Preview: Thursday 27th March 7pm
Exhibition Open: Friday 28th March 12 – 4pm, Saturday 29th March 12 – 4pm

The White Room project space, Tin Roof Studios. 38-40 Bellfield Street
Dundee DD1 5JD

Presenting an exhibition of work created by 3rd year Illustration Students from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design.

Come along to our show! It consists of hand printed posters and set designs for a series of imagined theatrical adaptations of plays exploring climate change, sustainability, urban planning and related social and political issues.

Exploring subjects such as:
Hydro Fracking, Gentrification, Micro-topias, Climate Activism, Nuclear waste disposal, Nuclear War, Social Housing, The melting ice caps, Surveillance, Community Gardening.

For more information please visit: