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Dance, design and a living doll – Part I

Categories: Extra-curricular, Nice stuff

I've been invited to take part in a project called Pointe Blank.

I won't waffle on about it because it's undoubtedly explained much better than I'd ever manage over there on the Pointe Blank website; but the essence is to bring designers/illustrators together to each create a piece which conveys some of the story, themes and/or atmosphere of Birmingham Royal Ballet's production, Coppélia.

The above's a work-in-progress detail of my submission. I think I'm happy with it. So far …

The complete design – and everyone else's pieces – will be viewable at a launch event at Birmingham Hippodrome (home of BRB) on 13th June, as well as on the Pointe Blank website. (I'll pop my design here on the blog too.)

A bit of a bind

Categories: Extra-curricular, Learning things, Useful/interesting

 

I love handmade design stuff (and dreadful puns). You may know this from some of my previous posts.

In my pursuit of a balance between computery and non-computery creations, last weekend I booked (ha!) myself onto a 2-day beginner's bookbinding course run by Simon Goode, over at Birmingham Printmakers in Digbeth.

I'm not going to drone on about it in detail but suffice to say it was great fun and means I'm now able to make good use of the various odds and ends of paper I've collected over the years but not known what to do with, yet been loath to throw away.

With my bookbinding tools and newly acquired knowledge of pamphlet stitching, case binding and Japanese stab binding, come Sunday afternoon I left the Printmakers with a huge sense of achievement … and six (six!) handmade books. Not bad.

I recorded the most complex and time-consuming binding technique we learnt, case binding, in a little photostory:

As you can see, case binding's quite a convoluted process but the end result is well worth the toil and vague "Will it work?!" trauma. It's a proper hardback book!

So, I'd heartily recommend a bit of bookbinding – it's definitely good for the soul.

Oh, and for future reference I am now the go-to person if your pub quiz ever has a bookbinding round. (Codex, foredge and bone folder; I'm totally down with all the bookbinding lingo.)

Simon's running another bookbinding workshop – No Glue Needed – in December. There're details on his website, incase you're interested.

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?