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Taking stock

Categories: Nice stuff

Paper. There's a lot I could say about it.

I could go into detail about the way a particular paper stock feels, its grain and how it holds ink, or voice my concerns over how much paper (and other stuff for that matter) is wasted every day and the impact of this on our environment.

You'll be pleased to hear I won't do either to any great extent but the fact is, when it comes to paper, 'reduce, reuse, recycle' has become mainstream. How many of the emails in your work Inbox end with the missive "Don't print this email unless you have to"?

Here in the office, we only print when we need to, reuse paper when we can and, of course, have a recycling bin. It's acceptable, sensible and it just seems 'right'.

Having said that, I wouldn't want to work in a completely paperless office.

Not solely because I design for print but because I simply love the stuff; for me there ain't much better than going through the post and finding you've been sent a beautifully printed … something or other. Little things, eh?

In many cases, printed materials are still a great – at times the best – way of communicating with selected people. And there's my point; selected people.

Folks don't want to be bombarded with stuff that they're going to put straight into the recycling – print just isn't the best way of communicating a general message to lots of people. There's something else which does that much better.

The internet's open to all (theoretically), so has loads of benefits in terms of reach, expanding audiences and, not least, accessibility; but receiving a high quality, beautifully crafted, tactile object is so much more personal, more human, more emotional, and it can leave a hugely positive impression when well-matched to the person receiving it.

Besides this, one of print's supposed flaws I see as one of its strengths – it can't be instantly altered. What's good about this? It has permanence, longevity, certainty; this can lend printed materials a huge degree of credibility compared with online communications which can be amended at the click of a button. (I'm talking good quality print here, not churn-it-out junk mail sort of stuff.) Print is often maligned as wasteful, but I think the trick is simply to be sure to choose the right tool for the job.

So; my hopes for the future of print? Increasing use of recycled paper stocks; shorter print runs of higher quality things; and pieces that are designed carefully, to be 'keepable' rather than bin-bound.

In essence; sustainable, lasting quality over general, throw-away bulk. Hmmm; let's see …

The photos are of print samples from, respectively, Typoretum and The Mandate Press.

Stop: look and listen #1

Categories: Inspiration, Stop: look and listen

Torgny and Emil Trier
A transcendent view into Norwegian youth culture. Two truly brilliant music videos.

This is England '86
Shane Meadows and cast discuss the Channel 4 show (in The Guardian).

10 Crazy Campaign ads
(Compiled by The Daily Beast).

Basia Bulat "Heart of my Own" (album)
Heartfelt, timeless folk pop. Grows with every listen.
Dungen "Skit i allt" (album)
Swedish prog folk rock. Sounds like it's recorded in the woods.

William Brittelle "Sheena Easton" (track)
Totally over the top pop production, somewhere between Toto and Prince.

First impressions

Categories: Extra-curricular, Superinterns, Useful/interesting

As it's back-to-school time, we've been thinking about learning here at Supercool HQ.

Whether it's a second-year student on a work-shadowing placement, an intern with us for four months as part of their course or simply someone who's unfamiliar with some of the design terms agencies use but interested to find out what they mean; we like to be useful and help folks learn. It's good for us too as we always learn something new along the way.

We get sent umpteen CVs every month requesting placements, jobs or portfolio surgeries, all of which we respond to – and within our replies we also like to include some helpful feedback when we can. The problem is that this takes time; and much of that time we find ourselves repeating the same or similar advice, which struck us as a bit daft.

The solution? Some sort of repository which houses the most frequently handed-out hints and tips; somewhere useful we can direct people so we don't find ourselves repeating the same or similar things; something that's accessible to not only the people who contact us but others too.

Initially the project was called Hello Folio (named by Sarah Carter) but the Hello Digital festival started up in Birmingham later that year, so we decided the name had better change. And so Yoo-hoo was born; advice on saying hello to design agencies and making a good first impression.

We've had a number of people contribute to Yoo-hoo so far (including design professionals, students and recent graduates) in an attempt to ensure it's as useful, meaningful and relevant as possible to those it's aimed at helping.

Most recently we crowdsourced advice on how best to approach design agencies from a range of local designers and used their feedback to create a top ten of hints and tips.

We hope this is just the beginning for Yoo-hoo and have lots of plans for the site's development; so in actual fact we may not have saved ourselves any time at all. Oops.

Still, the result should be the sort of thing that would've helped us when we were just starting out, so we're sure it'll be useful to upcoming designers – and we can at least feel all warm and fuzzy inside for having done our bit to help.

Folks who've been involved with Yoo-hoo so far: Caroline Archer; Sarah Carter; James Coleman; Keith Dodds; Clare Godson; Kristian Kaupang; Tina Loekke Leth; Ning Liu; John Newbold; Katie Parry; Aliya Tariq.

Type faces

Categories: Extra-curricular, Nice stuff

Possibly a throw-back from being forced to write 'self-initiated briefs' at university, every now and again I like to set myself a small design project.

It feels like a useful and, this sounds cringeworthy but, 'creatively fulfilling' exercise to design things outside of commercial work. Trite but true; and doing things like this helps me access the bit of my brain that does the lateral thinking, allowing me to consider things in a way that I hope adds something to my day-to-day work as well.

Anyway, the latest of these little projects is typography-related, as many of my self-set endeavours tend to be, and is called Type Faces.

Creating pictures from letterforms is hardly a ground-breaking idea (and is in fact fairly common on the interwebs) but I did stick to several specific and rigid constraints to keep things interesting:

  • Each face can only be made from one weight of a single typeface.
  • The face must be up of an anagram of the typeface's name.
  • The only manipulation allowed is alteration of each letter's rotation and/or size.

Although my Helvetica Face ended up a complete disaster (and now resides in an 'In progress' folder until I can bring myself to try again), the other outcomes have so far turned out fairly well and are currently prettifying one of the walls at Supercool HQ.

Yes, they may respectively look like Rolf Harris, a forlorn puppy and some kind of surprised punk, but can you identify the three faces from the three faces?