Wednesday, 7 March 2012

25 years down the tube

I was flattered to be contacted late last year by the curator of the Collections Department of The London Transport Museum, who wanted to interview me on the inspiration and motivation behind the 'Tate by Tube' poster which will be featuring in their major 2012 exhibition - Mind the Map.

Reaping a number of industry awards and accolades back in the days of its first issue, 'Tate by Tube' is reportedly the best selling poster in The London Transport Museum Shop. A great testament to a simple witty idea, well executed and created the year after I graduated in my first job at The Fine White Line, (happy days).

My 'Old Faithful' has always been a great door opener, conversation starter, (and job getter) and I'm proud and delighted it's appeal has not dwindled over the years as it approaches its 25th anniversary. The curator informed me that it had even been a major influence on a second, more recently commissioned poster, the Rorschach Test map by the artist Cornelia Parker.

Mind the Map opens 18th May - 28th October 2012 at The London Transport Museum where the original three dimensional map model will be on display as part of what will be a fascinating exhibition. Try to squeeze in a visit.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Lost in navigation

I had the great pleasure last night to attend a talk by Tristan Gooley, (explorer, writer and navigator) on the subject of 'natural navigation'. This was the first event organised by the new SEGD, (Society for Environmental Graphic Designers) branch for Edinburgh, chaired by my friend Lucy and sponsored by Napier University who provided the wonderful 'Egg' lecture theatre as venue.

And what better subject to kick-start the series of talks, than taking us back to the very roots of wayfinding, literally in some instances, and to the navigational techniques that our ancestors used for millennia but are sadly now a dying art across all cultures. In our increasingly satellite guided GPS world, he took us back to nature and showed how to interpret the wealth of information around us in the landscape.

Tristan Gooley is on a one man mission to keep these skills alive, though I think he may have gained some willing new disciples from within the auditorium. He unpretentiously introduced the simple art of looking. The clever bit is then translating what we see into navigational clues that can accrue into practical directional knowledge. Using a crescent moon to find south, what asymmetry in the countryside is saying and what the timing and flight paths of certain seabirds can tell us on the open sea regarding land. This was fascinating, inspiring stuff and will I'm sure feed intuitively into the design of future wayfinding projects.

Gooley has a couple of books out, both now on my reading list, The Natural Navigator and The Natural Explorer. Now I know what I'm looking for, a walk in the country will never be the same again - especially for the kids as I casually introduce my new found expertise.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Let sleeping blogs lie - not anymore!

Well it's been a while - I admit it - but the return heralds news of a couple of new identities for the local market and a branding presentation to a Scottish Enterprise networking event. This latter occasion gave me a valuable snapshot into the entrepreneurial ambitions of a cross-section of young businesses and a useful insight into the very mixed levels of brand appreciation and investment expectations of start-ups. A good experience and a friendly bunch of people - I wish them luck in their ventures and hope they consider my words of branding wisdom as they pursue their business dreams.

As a proud holder of a DBA Design Effectiveness Award, it still strikes me as a great shame that design seems increasingly reduced to a commodity in a race to find the cheapest supplier and where true originality, ideas and quality have been left by the wayside. Great design should not become the preserve of the Apples and matching megabrands of this world but be a demand of every creative brief issued. It must however, be justly rewarded when delivered.

Almost sounded grumpy then. To lighten things up a little, here's the new North Berwick Kayak Club identity, soon to be appearing on the rash vests and vessels of East Lothian's paddling finest.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Space is Ace

The Space identity was created for Uprising East Lothian to brand and launch a new multi-dimensional activity centre in North Berwick. A hand-built, 'old skool' skate park lies at the heart of this new community hub, amazingly transformed from a disused golf club factory with a crew of volunteer support. It will be run as a social enterprise by, and for, the young people of the region. The brand identity and launch material needed to provide a communication framework for a vast range of activities but retain genuine youth credibility. The problem ultimately provided the solution with the multiple activities forming a dynamic typographic cluster, including a hierarchy reflecting use, with a single silhouetted skater performing on the abstract shape. A membership recruitment call to action of, 'Get in there' completed the piece. And in they have got.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The cream will rise in Glasgow...

No, it's not the Dairy Product of the Year finals but the South West, Wales, Midlands and East of England creative awards - Cream 2011. I'll be joining a panel of esteemed industry judges on Thursday 18th in Glasgow when we will convene at one of the city's premier hotels to peruse and ponder over the range of entries. Good luck to all the participating agencies and hopefully we can whip up something to celebrate with some deserving winners.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Can you smell chips?

I've gone and done it - entered the Drum's Chip Shop Awards.
Nothing ventured... and all that.

'Result' is a dark entry to the Public Awareness category inspired by the statistical evidence revealed of the deeply unpleasant, wider social impact of the 'Old Firm' football matches.

"Fair game?", "Injury time", "Shocking result" and "No winner" were all contending headlines beneath the discreet scoreline but the execution always felt strongest without any additional words - so that's what's gone in.

Please view 'Result' on the Chip Shop website and if you consider it to have merit, then please vote here.

Monday, 24 January 2011


Another media buzz word or a new dynamic and collaborative creative process? Community-based design or creative exploitation of the desperate?

The subject was raised in a recent Radio 4 programme where the best example a protagonist could evangelise about was a Corporation getting a new logo 'done' for only $200 and chosen from a frighteningly large number of 'sourcedcrowd' participants. Sadly it was radio so there was no visual evidence of the device but I truly hope they got what they paid for. This is no way for corporations to think about brand identities, as mere logos knocked-off for them on the cheap - progress this is not.

The industry may have one or two expensive and embarrassing skeletons in its branding closet but not enough to reduce a skilled profession to mainstream free mega-pitching.

The concept is clearly not without value and works for some project types and for community and charitable organizations but I will need an awful lot of convincing that brand identity is one of them.

Please be respectful of the discipline and craft of the qualified design professional, the relationship and depth of service they provide and value them for it.

Consider carefully what crowdsourcing is doing to your industry and if you do choose to 'crowdsource' your talents, please ensure the recipients are worthy and you are not being exploited by a thinly disguised 'fashionable' initiative by a 'rip-off' corporation.

The crowd has a reputation for following not innovating and brands need to innovate if they want to be followed by the crowd.