Show sidebar

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:

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

Change is afoot – Part I

Categories: Extra-curricular, Nice stuff, Our work

Repeating silhouette of Victorian-style ladies' boots

Last year I took part in the first Pointe Blank with 26 other designers/illustrators. We each created a poster for Birmingham Royal Ballet's production, Coppélia, and those posters were subsequently displayed in one of BRB's studios at Birmingham Hippodrome, and over on the project's website.

Now the time has come for Hobson's Choice to get the Pointe Blank treatment.

Mindmap of ideas

So, this time the brief is to visually represent the tale of Hobson; the drunken owner of a boot shop in Salford, who refuses to allow his three daughters to marry … until the eldest offers him a choice which is, in fact, no choice at all. That's the hugely abridged version – there's more detail about the Hobson's Choice plot on Wikipedia if you're interested.

One of few stipulations in the Pointe Blank poster design brief is that there must be some sort of reference to the Victorian era, as that's when the story's set.

My initial idea was to incorporate some Victorian language in there somewhere, so I set about researching such things – meaning that part of my brain will forevermore store the fact that Victorian slang for shoes was 'crabshells' and boots were known as 'trotter cases'. They had a way with words, those Victorians.

Handwritten note - 'trotter cases' is Victorian slang for boots

The slang didn't make the final cut but I can confirm that the design will include an illustration of a boot – a Victorian ladies' boot to be precise – and ten zeros.

I attempted to shoe-horn (!) in the puntastic phrase "It's a story of the well-heeled and the well-oiled" too, but it wasn't quite right … so an equally groan-worthy play on words will be included instead.

All will be revealed – at the launch exhibition and online – on 20th February, along with the work of the 26 other designers/illustrators.

Designy reflecting

Categories: Learning things, Our work

8th birthday celebration image, with an octopus and eight-shaped underwater vessel

Supercool are eight years old. Eight!

To mark this milestone, we've been reflecting on eight years of intelligent, well-considered and effective design. While we were doing our thing …

200430 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin) won the RIBA Stirling Prize.

2005Git was released.

2006 Twitter launched.

2007 – Apple unveiled the first iPhone.

2008 – Jos Buivenga designed the hugely popular Museo – a font for print and screen.

2009 'In Praise of Shadows' was part of the London Design Festival.

2010 Get Satisfaction won the 'Business' category of the SXSW Web Awards.

2011 – A Book Apart published 'Responsive Web Design' by Ethan Marcotte.

All aboard!

Categories: Our work

Some months back we were approached by 'social web' gurus MySociety who were looking for some help with the branding and user interface design of their latest major project.

MySociety are kind of a big deal and do some ace projects so we were pretty chuffed they got in touch and wanted to work with us – especially as this was the first time they'd ever worked with a design agency.

And what a project to work on.

Fix My Transport logo

Now, the fruit of everyone's labour – FixMyTransport – has officially launched; and to rather wonderful (worldwide) reaction.

At a basic level, FixMyTransport makes it easy for people to send problem reports to the companies or authorities responsible for those problems. (You can find out more about it on the FixMyTransport 'About' page – have a read.)

Sounds like a simple idea, right? Deceptively so …

With around half a million bus and tram stops, train stations and ferry ports across the country, each needing to be linked with (possibly several different) transport operators, it's been a work in progress for a good while and, with MySociety blogging about the project's progression, has been eagerly awaited.

Following a few weeks of beta testing, on the official launch day it had fantastic press coverage, including articles in Wired, The Guardian and the BBC over here and The Wall Street Journal across the pond.

We were especially pleased with this Guardian Professional article, which picks out the site's user-led interface and design as being a key factor in its success so far. Hey; we worked on that! So that was nice.

Primarily, however, the site's success is due to the ideas, clever coding, hard graft and sheer tenacity of MySociety senior developer and all-round good egg, Louise Crow. (Who is also thoroughly adept at using video conferencing and instant messaging to explain the ins-and-outs of Ruby on Rails, ERB, HAML and PostgreSQL. Quite a feat.)

According to MySociety's blog, on the day FixMyTransport was officially launched after its quiet beta, there was a 550% rise in visitor numbers and more than 70 new campaigns were created; with lots more smaller problems being sent directly to the relevant operator. Those are some impressive stats.

All told, it's been a pretty smooth and thoroughly pleasant journey; definitely no complaints. I think we can confidently hail this project a success.