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We make nice …

Categories: Extra-curricular, Nice stuff, Our work

The We Make Nice logo, icon and homepage mocked-up on an iPad and iPhone

We Make Nice is a side project we've been chipping away at for a little while now.

In essence, it's a nice, simple website, chock-full of mobile phone/tablet wallpapers which've been created either here in Birmingham or in Oslo. (Or wherever we happen to be really … but I mustn't get overly pernickety. You get the gist.)

We Make Nice initially came about from us here in Brum wanting to collaborate more frequently with Supercool co-founder Kris – the Norway connection – so we decided that every now and again we'd all agree on a theme, each produce a design or designs related to that theme, and share 'em. Simple.

Four designs from several different We Make Nice collections

To make this project a tad more meaningful, we thought it'd make sense for the designs to have a purpose; which is when we settled on making them into downloadable wallpapers.

This of course meant that we had to build the website to work on various hand-held devices, giving us a chance to do some nice things with responsive web design too. (We're all about the brains as well as the beauty.)

Mobile (iPhone) screenshots for the We Make Nice pattern

Granted, it's no big, clever, world-changing idea – but it is nice. And having this outlet isn't solely a pleasant thing to do, it's also helpful to us in our everyday jobs.

As much as we love doing client work, it's important to give the old grey matter a work-out, separate from client briefs, and just make something for its own sake. We Make Nice gives us this excuse to be playful which, in turn helps us do our jobs better by reminding and training our brains to think laterally.

So; We Make Nice makes us think collaboratively, playfully and laterally plus there's a lovely website from which you can download 'designer' wallpapers – and even curate your own little hand-held gallery of favourite designs, if you're so inclined? How very nice!

Have a browse of the website and download sommat nice for yourself: wemakenice.org

You can also 'Like' the We Make Nice Facebook page and follow @wemakenice on Twitter to find out when new designs've been added.

Four strings; for the win

Categories: Extra-curricular, Our work, Silly

The Moselele logo, featuring a ukulele for an 'O'.

A fun little side project, I've recently put together a logo for Moselele – renowned as the second-best ukulele group in all of Moseley (and Billesley). Apparently.

I think I may have found some kind of niche market as this is the second ukulele group I've designed for: see also HUG.

Moselele's new look has plenty of options for playing around with copywriting, which I think has gone down well with the Moseleleians who've already invented a load of new tagline-type things.

They've also been busy applying the new logo to all manner of merchandise in their online shop; I don't think I've ever designed something that's appeared on a lanyard, an iPad sleeve, and a hi-viz vest before, so that's quite something.

(A selection of more serious items such as t-shirts and badges also available.)

Family fun (for everyone)

Categories: Events, Nice stuff, Our work

Last weekend I popped along to the IDFB Family Weekend which happened at the MAC.

Despite being child-free, I had a great time watching a world premiere dance perfomance, Spill (touring playgrounds of the West Midlands and beyond this summer; catch it if you can, it really is worth a watch) …

Spill - a playground of dance; a world premiere dance performance at mac birmingham

… nosing at what 'home' means to people over in The Hub …

Home at The Hub - scribbles on the walls

… and seeing teeny kids having brilliantly messy fun decorating the billowy white shapes I'd drawn out for Peg-a-Cloud.

Peg-a-cloud at the family weekend.

It was a pretty good feeling to see lots of the designs I've been working on for the past few months all in one place, out in the wild, and being well-used – by loads of people. (The Family Weekend was a sell-out.)

It's one of those events which may appear effortless to the folks popping along to enjoy a nice day out, but from working on the IDFB print, I've got a bit of a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the festival workings, so have an idea of the huge amount of effort and planning, and the looooong days, which go into getting these things to come together and run smoothly; not to mention making sure people know what's happening, when and where, when there's a jam-packed programme of events.

So hats-off to the smiley, friendly, helpful and seemingly tireless lot who made the Family Weekend ace for this big kid – and plenty more besides.

My IDFB adventures this coming weekend promise to be altogether more grown-up: Bombay Beach (part of the Light Fantastic film season) and the Digbeth Shuffle.

Change is afoot – Part II

Categories: Extra-curricular, Nice stuff, Our work

Following on from that cliff-hanger of a teaser post the other week, here's my contribution to the Pointe Blank project; creating a poster for Birmingham Royal Ballet's Hobson's Choice.

For last year's Coppélia I spent quite a lot of time on illustration and layering and, though I wanted to do something similar this year, I didn't have quite as much time to spend on it, so needed to keep things simple.

To that end, a repeating pattern of the same ladies' Victorian-style boot made for a good start. I placed this pattern over a leathery-looking background – another little nod to the shoe-making trade – using a transparency and a kind of golden glow. (No special reason for the glow; it just looks nice.)

leathery texture, some boot silhouettes and the poster title

Another element I wanted to include was a zero – that being the precise number of choices Hobson's presented with in the production. I tried a few different ways of incorporating this but in the end, the simplest way was to replace all the incidents of the letter 'O' with the number '0'. B00m!

As Hobson's Choice is a comedy, I thought it was appropriate to use slightly cheeky copywriting, so composed the tagline "A thoroughly amusing allegory of Victorian cobblers." C'mon - it is about Victorian cobblers!

The final thing I was adamant I'd feature somewhere or other were the pink rodents Henry Hobson hallucinates following a particularly heavy night out. Oh, yes siree, they're in there somewhere. Spot 'em if you can.

Photo of the Pointe Blank exhibition launch

That's enough about what I did. You should totally go and have a look at the 26 other designs which were unveiled last night. Just as with Coppélia, there's a huge range of styles, concepts and takes on the subject; it's everso impressive and I'm very pleased to be part of it: www.pointeblank.co.uk

You can find out more about BRB's production of Hobson's Choice, which starts tomorrow, over on their website.