Archive for the 'Working Life' Category

Yr1 ComDes London Study Trip 08-11 December 2014

Tuesday 09 December

VISIT 10.30am


93 Great Suffolk Street, London SE1 0BX

U Borough

Contact / Alex Swatridge

t 020 7620 0272

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Within easy walking distance from Borough – a mixture of large and small scale projects – Royal Mail stamps for the Olympic Games versus hoardings for big property developers – print examples on the glass board room table to peruse – exaggerated book format for Centre Point – 60s inspired textures and patterns beautifully printed – architectural images from Paul Grundy – clean sleek studio – small team of one director (Gareth Howat, co-founder) and five designers – they like to keep themselves busy and currently have 45 projects in progress – a selection of lovely print samples and awards placed around the boardroom – they have been very successful in ‘tickling’ our minds




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VISIT 12.30pm


1st Floor, 5 Back Hill, London EC1R 5EN

U Chancery Lane

Contact / Mike Radcliffe

t 020 7278 7272

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Much talked about agent with excellent portfolio advice for students – shop front leads into neat office with receptionist, gallery space and funky seating area (we all squashed in) – pared back PDF presentation with top tips — try and build up a number of internships for the experience (it will be hard as some companies do not pay students on work placements) – this will help build a rapport and a chemistry – “keep your portfolio simple” – “be proud of what you do” – be well presented, polite and on time if you have an interview – Mike noted that attitude is more important than skill level (things have moved on from five years ago) – try to develop your people skills (warmer skills) – avoid the wet kipper handshake – Mike is open and engaging – he is keen to make links with The School of Art – nice cup of tea


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VISIT 12.30pm


54-58 Tanner Street, London SE1 3PH

U London Bridge

Contact / Gareth White

t 020 7403 0417

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New Future Graphic: a vibrant meeting room and studio space, we were greeted by Gareth White and his energetic studio dog who gave us lots of advice and honest insight into their growing business. The studio grew from the early days producing all the illustration in-house to now commissioning photography and illustration for the project (currently they are the worldwide creative agency for Clarks shoes). They also collaborate with clients and suppliers to bring new products to the market (by bringing together a printer and tailor) which challenges their role as designer and client. There were also lots of practical tips for students and graduates (use mail chimp to monitor your own self promotion) and valuable lessons learned along the way (assumption is the mother of fuckumption). All delivered effortlessly while multi-tasking playing fetch with the dog. Lovely. — Emma Keogh



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VISIT 4.00pm


11 Needham Road, London W11 2RP

U Notting Hill

Contact / Rhian Edwards and Angus Hyland

t 020 7229 3477

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We were welcomed into the big meeting space to the left of reception – I wonder who has sat around this table since 1972? – Angus presented his “show and tell” PDF that he had shared with the other Pentagram partners that week – hushed cathedral atmosphere – the presentation was chatty and engaging – content included branding work for Mulberry, ambitious new publishing project ‘Monarchs’ for Penguin (this included the options rejected by the client – all lovely) – crafted typography, carefully commissioned illustration (including Marion Deuchars etc.) and crisp gold foil blocking – he also showed some of his own geometric compositions used as backgrounds for Cass Art packaging (Glasgow shop is located on Queen Street) – when asked about the difference between American and UK design (“Le Style Anglais”), Angus suggested it was more about attitude (look at the work of New York partner Paula Scher for comparison) – when speaking at The School of Art recently, Paula said “fake your way through something three times, you become an expert”


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Wednesday 10 December

VISIT 10.00am


6 Brewhouse Yard, London EC1V 4DG

U Barbican

Contact / Clare Styles

t 020 7559 7000

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Clare met us in reception and was super friendly (I detected a hint of a north of England accent) – amazing contemporary offices – selection of 2000 era songs floating across large open plan studio (was that “A Song For The Lovers” Richard Ashcroft?) – lively, young, vibrant – lots of ‘break out’ booths with meetings going on – floor space is divided into five teams with Clare heading up one of them – confident and relaxed presentation in mezzanine meeting area – she took us through their Euro 2020 pitch which had been unsuccessful – daunting to think that her team worked solidly for around two weeks in addition to the fee paying work to produce three slick solutions – the cutting room floor often gives you the best insight into the level of creativity – despite losing the pitch, Clare was satisfied with the quality of the thinking and the attitude behind the work – a great studio for a first work placement – big thanks to our friend Lynne Devine for setting up the visit – wow!



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VISIT 12.45pm


107 Great Western Studios, 65 Alfred Road, London W2 5EU

U Royal Oak

Contacts / Fernando Gutiérrez  and Michael Gibb

t 020 3214 3277

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An exciting ‘hub’ juxtaposed under a motorway flyover (in a good way) – GSA graduate Michael Gibb met us at the front door and led us through a collection of busy studios – lots of activity and a happy buzz about the atrium – this looks like a good place to work – Fernando greeted us and guided us through a selection of images – some were philosophical, some were metaphors and then backed them up with highlights from his portfolio – it was a masterful presentation giving us insight into his passion for research and simple ideas that communicate – his work for the Museo Nacional Del Prado in Madrid combines clever picture research with touches of classical and contemporary typography – Michael is a natural at Studio Gutiérrez, overseeing budgets and coordinating work with a range of international clients – great stuff!

Fernando GutiérrezV25_COVER295x400

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VISIT 4.00pm


Studio 1.8, 1–5 Vyner Street, London E2 9DG

U Bethnal Green

Contact / Peter Hellicar

t 020 8983 3829

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Compact studio in the increasingly fashionable Bethnal Green (not far from A Practice for Everyday Life) – Joel and Pete greeted us and then took us on a journey of the things they have done, the things they would like to do and the things that inspire – what a double act – they dance around each other offering insight with attitude – two unconventional paths synthesised – Joel has a Mathematics and Computer Science degree from Imperial and then went to the RCA – Pete was riding skateboards for 25 years – GSA alumni Kieran Startup was doing his thing in the background – was that an elegant piece of interactive type on his Mac? – Pete showed us ‘stuff’ that he had made in the past and highlighted the value of drawing as a tangible way to express ideas – he showed us a book on rock music photography from the 60s and 70s emphasising the quality and creativity of pre digital images – hey, these guys love the play between analogue and digital – best thing to ask a client, “what did I do wrong?” – there is no lack of enthusiasm here, big thanks.

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Many Hands Symposium

8 Many Hands Symposium

On Friday evening (23rd Aug), Vis-Com-Des person Alec Farmer will be hosting  Many Hands Symposium at the Lighthouse. Also a good chance to see the exhibition if you’ve not seen it already.

More Info

More info on the rebrand project the students association are undertaking, can be found here. The brief is open to students and alumni.

Re-Brand hype

POW if you don’t know about me

POW better ask someone quickly

’cause POW!

Immaterial Labour Isn’t Working

This event looks really interesting, and er… … what’s this … hang on …. looks like viscomdes person Kieran Startup is presenting at it?

The Working Day

A full timetable is up on the VLE, and sign-up takes place in actual person, at actual skypark, as of today, for next weeks ‘working day’ – a day of advice, talks and workshops, about working.

Self-answering question spotted on directors monitor (twice)

From Brother Printer Orchestra behind the scenes (more)

Copyright (Part 1 and 2 of 2), or, ‘Oh Brother!’

Part 1

Its been all round twitter for a few days now, so you’ve probably heard that one of the latest incidences of advertisings liberal ‘borrowing’ (for which, in this case, we can probably use the word ‘copying’) of ideas from other people and places, involves GSA vis com person James Houston.

It’s not the first time that this work has been emulated, but previously its been in a completely different context. We wish Jim well with whatever action he might need to take, and imagine that we’d hopefully see, via the internet and social media, a fairly swift re-dressing of this creative liberty.

There is in addition a more complex back story to this, about Jim’s dealings with the company that used the idea. You can pick up on that in the other online discussions.

In the interests of journalistic balance, Brother have already posted this comment to the youtube video;

“Brother is a business that operates to high ethical principles, and we are therefore concerned to read some of the comments expressed here.
This film is part of a campaign that we commissioned from an external advertising agency. We have asked them to investigate the points being raised and to reassure us about the creative process behind it.”
Antony Peart, European Marketing and Communications Manager, BrotherEU

Make of that what you will.

Part 2

My own personal views on the rights and wrongs of copyright law are mixed. As a law, it is fairly arcane, and what seems worse is that in situations such as this, it appears to do little to support the (often smaller, less wealthy) originator of the work. As an issue, it has come up in other degree shows, with other people accusing students of using music etc in pieces that they have made, without proper permission. I would argue that this is a completely different set of circumstances, differentiated primarily by the lack of commercial gain or motivation in the latter cases.

I also think that, in a broader context, a free flow of materials and ideas is a good way to recognise and celebrate the fact that nothing is dreamt up in a vacuum, and that ideas come about from combinations of influences. But this is completely different to lifting and replicating an idea wholesale for purely financial gain. An important foundation of this is the acknowledgement of sources and influences – again, something the Brother incident fails to do. People may disagree with this, and we would be happy to extend this discussion in the studio. It might form a useful starting point for some of the professional and ethical discussions we plan to instigate in the second term. More on that later. In terms of further reading in this area, I think this and these are good starting points.

Hall’s of Broxburn R.I.P.

My vintage collection

I found this drawing recently, which got me thinking about the uniform I wear every day (and have done for 25 years). It consists of a tee shirt, a pair of jeans and trainers. My friend secretly recorded every tee shirt I wore for a month while working in a design agency. When he revealed the drawing, I had no idea that I wore a different tee every day – wearing two on Fridays as we played table tennis and I sweat profusely when stress busting. I realise that it is just another of my collections and the fact that I wear them on rotation adds a layer of obsessive–compulsive disorder. As I grow older, the need for a counter-culture statement has diminished – the tees are more monochromatic and generously tailored, the jeans are not so worn and the trainers are not falling apart. All the tees illustrated now form part of ‘my vintage collection’.

Another collection HERE

TO (sub)LET

6 Dixon Street, Glasgow
6 Dixon Street, Glasgow

The space is next to Mary Mary and Kendall Koppe gallery, near St Enoch. It is a large,
well lit room with wifi and is currently occupied by graphic and textile designers. We have a microwave, kettle and all hours access to the building. The studio was set up by a group of graduates from Vis Com with the idea of creating affordable work space open to designers of different disciplines. Heating and bills all incl £50–£75 pcm

Please email if you are interested.

Vis Com 12 Degree Show

Vis Com 12 is the website of this years graduating 4th year students. And representing as it does, a fantastically diverse body of works, has the most tags of any post on the vis-com blog ever.

Design Council Resources

Thanks to alice for sending in this link to a set of resources on the Design Council website, about various aspects of professional practice.

Designer in Residence

Opportunity to apply for the Design Museum Designer in residence position, via Blueprint Magazine. Open to graduates of the last 5 years.

Studio Surfing

Open Studio Club is a nice idea, a bit like couch-surfing for designers.

Talkers Talking

A quick note about the talks happening this week at 4pm in the 2nd year studio on Friday (28th Oct), with James Houston and Chris Leslie, all vis-com-des students welcome. On Friday, post-talk drinks (again, open to everyone) will be in a local bar/bistro/diner/patisserie, any suggestions of a preferred nearby place very welcome.

And a quick reminder about the Dixon Baxi talk on 3rd Nov, 7pm, Mac Lecture Theatre. We have 20 complimentary tickets courtesy of LongLunch – some of them have been snapped up already by eagle-eyed viewers of the blog, but some are still left. They’re available by responding here, (click link), on a first come first served basis.

On Isms

The well documented crusade against binary or polarised (or ternary) thinking took a bit of a setback with this seemingly well rehearsed (oft repeated?) discussion on Mike Dempsey’s Graphic Journey Blog.

Asking the question; “Do graphic designers read or just look?” it takes in a selective history of graphic design, and illicits a chorus of ‘yesses’ from (some of) the design establishment, though I’m still a bit unclear of what it’s yes for.

I’ll post below an email exchange between me and friend on the topic, in lieu of a more reasoned write-up:

ME: There’s a comment at the foot of the comments section, that I think is alluding to this idea that each of these ‘isms’ is summarised (in the context of this discussion) by a ‘look’, (rather than the motivation or politics of the piece) and that it has to be an either/or situation, you’re either for us or against us… I think this is the most accurate analysis of the problem.

Surely, as a designer, some work you/I do will have to connect with a wide popular audience, whatever that might be, and some of it will be aimed at more niche audiences, so we’ll permanently be treading this grey area, doing a range of things across a range of areas. Factor in to that the self-initiated projects that all (?) designers do to develop their own practise and you have potentially a very rich, and hard-to-categorise landscape. I think the design/art discussion is defunct (well, maybe not defunct as a discussion, but of no use in this context).

HIM: Design’s essentially pluralist, and any attempt to reduce to a binary argument – ideas/style, tradition/modernism, Fletcher/Crouwel, my dad/your dad – is patently a load of rubbish. I stuck a quick post up on my blog that tries to make the point about how similar even Crouwel and Fletcher’s work can be when you view it outside their own private mythology.

I think my parents would have probably appreciated the Fletcher exhibition more than Crouwel as well, but I think that’s as much down to the staging of the exhibition as the work. The Fletcher exhibition was brilliantly staged by GTF on a loosely chronological basis (or so I remember), with the space subdivided into different rooms. You see a logo, then a poster, then an advert, then a book, then another poster – making the whole thing feel a bit more lively. Spin’s design for the Crouwel show on the other hand, all the posters on one wall, all the logos on another, staged in a massive white room, was almost guaranteed to homogenise everything into a fairly daunting whole. Having seen it though, I think more of the austerity came from the show design than Crouwel’s work. These sort of distinctions are never useful.

Paul Rand was obsessed with Swiss design, and wrote the intro to Wolfgang Weingart’s ‘My Way’ (I prefer that title, personally). Bob Gill’s written appreciatively of Karel Martens. Spiekermann calls Alan Fletcher his hero. And Fletcher and Crouwel were friends. There is no dividing line, just people doing things that interest them.

Actually, maybe the biggest irony of all of this is Mike Dempsey invoking Tschichold to provide back up from his argument, when Tschichold’s own conversion to classical style was in part motivated by feeling uncomfortable with his former didacticism.

ME: I agree. I don’t know if its something to do with the blog format, but its all too easy to fall into generalisations and a ‘this happened, then this happened then this’ type approach, as used here. It seems to be a bit myopic as regards the history of graphic design.

I was intrigued by Sara de Bondt’s ‘treating of matters‘ project with the RCA. I thought this was a great effort towards a more nuanced understanding of graphic design history, and the kind of sensitive enquiry we could do with more of.

Image: Paul Elliman and Peter Miles

First things last

Metahaven co-edit Print’s October 2011 Issue;

‘For designers dissatisfied with the present conditions, the discourse around design is stagnant. Why are design institutions still wheeling out Ken Garland and Milton Glaser every time we want to talk about our collective conscience? If we make “critical design” what is it criticising? And of what relevance in an ethical appeal of selective client-rejection and humane capitalist social relations when most of us can’t get paid work in the first place? We all know professional institutions such as AIGA and D&AD exist for a conception of the designer – subject as a free agent, in a position of autonomy in relation to clients and coworkers, and with full control over the direction and content of a given job: a conception which is at best rooted in select circumstances and at worst in pure fantasy. We suspect this discourse of ethics and selective refusal of work will, in the face of austerity, be replaced with TOTAL REFUSAL.’DSG

Thanks to TtLA,TtR for the tip-off.


Oliver Pitt (Vis Com Person) is one of a group of alumni representing Glasgow School of Art at this weekends Vault Art event. I might be missing something but the main vault website seems a bit thin on information, but there are various talks and events and things happening too.

It’s That

It’s Nice That have been in touch about 2 themes they’re running on their website; Student of the Month and Graduates of 2011. If you’re interested in having your work profiled on the site please get in touch with Bryony at ‘It’s Nice That’ [bryony -at-] with a folio of your work or link to your website.