Category Archives: Part 1

Coursework Part 1 – Seeking inspiration

Exercise: Seeking inspiration

“List three things you’re interested in, for example areas of sport, popular culture, cuisines, travel, or particular histories. Now find examples of graphic design, illustration, photography or other cultural artefacts that relate to your choices, for example football programmes, food packaging, film posters, etc. Try and avoid clip art that represents the items on your list and instead find real examples where graphic design overlaps with your areas of interest.

Gather your findings together in a visual diary together with your thoughts or feelings on what you’ve found. You may want to use some of the blogs listed above, OCA resources and/or wider internet or library searches.

Now refine or broaden your search and go again, for example picking up on a particular aspect or form of design. You’ll inevitably find things of interest along the way that you weren’t anticipating, so record these and perhaps use them as a new starting point. Reflect on what you’ve found – what’s inspirational or intriguing, what might be useful in your own design work or in your broader thinking about graphic design.”

My chosen topics are: Animals, Food, Music


I’m often drawn to work that has animals featuring in it.



I have a Pinterest board entitled Animal Illustration here it is: (NB you may have already discovered this, but if you hover inside this panel below, the cursor will turn into a little hand symbol, and allow you to scroll down through many images)

I’ve also recently started another board about ancient art and sculpture, which often draws my attention if its animal themed! For example, this Minoan vase featuring dolphins. I didn’t have a clue about Minoan art till I stumbled on it in Pinterest – they often depicted with beautifully stylised animals such as dolphins and bulls. I think they’re amazing and I’m quite surprised they remain more obscure than, for example, the typical greek vases with blokes running across them! I’d rather have one of these.


In fact, if can afford it, you can have this one – its a bronze reproduction Minoan bull.

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I absolutely love the shape of the this Etruscan horse.


Early Iranian Pottery

Nikon 990 Digital Capture

We’re all very familiar with Egyptian cats, but what about an Egyptian hedgehog?

AMQ107027 Model hedgehog, from Tomb 416 at Abydos, New Kingdom (red ware pottery) by Egyptian 18th Dynasty (c.1567-1320 BC); Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, UK; Egyptian, out of copyright

AMQ107027 Model hedgehog, from Tomb 416 at Abydos, New Kingdom (red ware pottery) by Egyptian 18th Dynasty (c.1567-1320 BC); Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, UK; Egyptian, out of copyright

Or a golden fish…


Moorish saddle


My dog, Finn is a lurcher (Deerhound x Greyhound) and there is quite a lot of artwork depicting his ancestors…

The Greyhound family (Pinterest)


Detail of lurchers in Bruegal painting


Greek dog


Rock painting

I get really embarassingly enthusiastic about work that was crafted so long ago. I think its because these cultures and time spans seem so far away, and often so irrelevant. They are unknowable people from so long ago. I can’t speak their language and would find very little common ground – until you see what they made, and its just so beautiful, it makes time fall away.

And what about photographs of animals, particularly in a historical context: A British woman who helped bring Arabian horses to the UK.


Archived images from the National Geographic


Oh dear, poor circus hippo!


Refining my search on animals

I wanted to look at how animal images are used specifically in graphic design. It seems to me that some of the animal shapes on coats of arms, and for example, within celtics design begin the process of silhouette. But as we come up to date with some present day design examples, there’s plenty to inspire. I think this logo for the company Labrador is particularly good, with the lead reversed out against the dark of the dog – so clever.


A retro inspired illustration for a blog of the same name. I’m not so keen on the writing at the bottom though.screen-shot-2016-04-02-at-20-59-44

As with Labrador, this recycling company use part of the animal to connect directly with the typography – in this case, the elephant trunk


Sometimes simplicity just works so well! These next three are from Design


full_control-motion-pictures jurassic-wine-logo-design





Collection of animal logos (Pinterest)



Just when you think all brand identities ought to have crisp outlines…


This packaging design is just amazing!!! Love it, love it!

Card Cat


I started out my research for this section looking at quite eclectic categories, shown here on Pinterest. The images collected range from Victorian times – such as illustration for Mrs Beeton’s book of household management, fantastic modern novelty cakes, illustration and graphic design food related branding.

I decided to make a video of me talking about food packaging. (Warning: I’m talking about packaging for about 4 minutes. Seriously consider if this is really how you want to spend the next 4 minutes of your life)

Refining my research

I felt drawn to explore food related branding, as I had already spotted these when I was previously online, and taken screen shots.


Delicious. This site offers online recipes, with a simple clear layout with nice touches of accent colour.


Stoned Pizza, Braunton. The home page runs a video, as you scroll down the menu is displayed with impactful typography. I also like their simple logo, based of course, on the shape of a pizza.


Squires fish and chips, Braunton. I’ve always liked their logo with the little fish on the letter ‘Q’. Inside is well laid out too.


Jamie Oliver. As with many celebrity cooks and chefs, his name has become a brand, complete with website, cookbooks and cooking equipment.


I think you can see a theme emerging, which is uncluttered design, which is simple and clear to read, while having just enough elements and touches of carefully balanced colour to look inviting. The simple style with white background actually makes me think of a nice clean work surface, and freshly cooked food ready to eat.

I’d really like to show the layout of some cook books I like – unfortunately they are inaccessible at the moment while the kitchen is being re-plastered etc. If I can fish them out later, I will!


Music has always had a firm connection to graphic design, particularly posters and album covers. There is a gorgeous treasure chest of design in this area. Here’s a taster from another of my Pinterest boards

I am quite drawn to posters that rely on illustration, but I also enjoy pure colour.

Refining my research.

I decided to move from posters to album covers, and look in particular at their use of colour. Here’s one I love. As you can see, it fulfils its function perfectly, you will be unsurprised to learn that the music is described as ambient…the perfect circle with muted colour shifts, progressing to the deep blue ‘bass note’ at the bottom, anchoring the shape.
Tycho – Awake

Sourced from

Apparently the musician designed these himself. Sigh. Thats just too much talent for one person!


From the same source, I found this gorgeously colourful ‘mess’ of coloured string. Its a simple idea thats effective and draws you in immediately.

Liars – Mess


The x x

Again, this image uses a plain background, contrasting with a perfectly crisp ‘x’…but inside the x is a lovely shimmer of – perhaps oil on water? – however its created, its very striking with beauty and depth. It evokes a sense of delicate mystery which I think is very appropriate.



Another cover with plenty of colour, this time really playful and referencing 60s psychedelia. The cheeky, lively mood of this piece again reflects personality of the music. Although it appears to be crazy, you can easily see an underlying structure – the shape bottom left allows the ‘burst’ of line and motion to fan out from it. The beige and white give our eyes a rest from the brightness of the other colours, and the cogs, circles and flowers serve as repeating shapes that also help with a sense of unity.


Nicki Minaj – Pink print

There is an idea in graphic design, that you show it, or say, but not both (I’m paraphrasing Chip Kidd) But, who cares. This looks stunning. I love the shock of colour, the sense of movement and texture. To me, to works.


Its a little strange picking albums I may or may not like musically! But obviously, thats not the point of the exercise, and each one is a strong design. Of course colour isn’t the only way to draw attention to an album cover,  but I would say the ones I have selected make very good use of it, and theres more goodies I’ve collected here.



Coursework Part 1 – Learning to learn

“Take stock of the tools you have available to you, especially your digital software. Reflect on how well you know how to use these tools and tick the level that most closely describes you.”

Learning to Learn

I would describe myself as somewhere between “Advanced Beginner” and “Competent” with my practical skills.
Tasks I’m absolutely confidant with:
I have a basic knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite, on both PC and now Mac. I’m most familiar with Fireworks and Illustrator; able to perform simple tasks such as creating or duplicating new layers, pasting in place, aligning to an object or artboard, transforming (scaling, reflecting etc), using the eye dropper or applying a hexadecimal value. Also applying filters, the difference between vector and raster, RGB and CMYK, using the pen tool competently (quite proud of that it takes a while!!), grouping objects etc… I’m familiar with converting text to outlines in relation to preparing to out to PDF for printing and to allow for a bleed.
In Photoshop, I can produce contact sheets, and perform basic post production of images e.g. using curves, levels and exposure, as I’m familiar with a histogram. I use a number of tools such as magnetic lasso, quick selection, stamp, patch, spot healing without thinking…I do use some shortcuts habitually, but I know there are many more.
Tasks I’ve done before, but I need to refresh my memory:
I often forget to invert my selection where necessary when using layer masks in photoshop (grrr). I have used the graph tool, custom colour palettes in Illustrator and created some custom brushes but I’m a bit rusty. I used Indesign for the previous course, and found I got into the swing of it, but its been a while so would need to remind myself for most tasks but I think it would come back quickly!
Areas to work on:
I haven’t mastered many of the more powerful and complex tools – such as the perspective tool – the programmes are vast and I often feel I have only just scratched the surface. I sometimes know there is a tool for something e.g. making a spiral, but I’d have to dig around to find it. Some years ago I made some basic animation in Flash but none in Photoshop. I confess I don’t really understand smart objects! I also find working with vector in Photoshop less intuitive – I often feel its more ‘clunky’ and doesn’t seem to automatically select and effect as smoothly as Illustrator.  Often its very useful to understand the differences in the adobe suite, I’m often hampered by forgetting how they respond differently! For example, I haven’t use type on a path often enough for it to be second nature in any programme.
Next to clarify more specifically, I’ve opened up my software to actually hover over the tools to see which ones I’ve rarely or never used:
Photoshop – Marquee tools (prefer other methods), Perspective Crop Tool, Slice Tools, 3D eyedropper, colour sampler, and note or count tool (who knew what was hiding with the eyedropper!) colour replacement, mixer brush, pattern stamp tool, history/art history brush tool, background/magic eraser, 3D material drop tool, type mask tools, rotate hand view.
Illustrator – Magic wand or lasso (I think of these as Photoshop tools!) polar grid tool, pencil/path eraser tool, blob brush tool, shear and re-shape tools,warp, twirl pucker etc, shape builder & live paint, perspective & mesh tools, blend tool & symbol sprayer, slice tool.
Crikey as boring as these lists are, its actually very useful to specifically review what I don’t make use of. Often its those extra tools you have to access below the commonly displayed ones.
Obviously I’ve only mentioned the tools panel, and there are many more functions than this.
Finding out more:
Being more specific about what I don’t know, has given me a starting point about what to try next. I plan to gradually work through the tools I’ve neglected and see how they work, then I will go on to look at the panels I ignore and so on. Its easy to stay in your comfort zone and forget to test your knowledge. I feel this has been an excellent nudge to work on expanding it the blank spots (or craters!?) in my skills.
Where to go:
I’m happy to refer back to resources I’ve previously used and find new ones. Creative Suite for Dummies and other books in this series are always helpful, I also have interactive learning discs for Photoshop and Indesign. From memory, I think they each have about 30 hours of video on them, and you can work through a lot of information at your own pace. Its amazing how much you then realise is NOT on there. For example, the photoshop tutorials tell you a lot about how to select and refine your selection using every single available tool, how use layer masks etc but there’s a lot of time saving tips they don’t give you, such as batch processing, or crop & straighten and so on…I think thats the point, you are unlikely to find everything you need from just one source.
Aside from my own books and videos, I use online resources a lot. You Tube is obviously fantastic for learning this kind of thing, and you generally get to know who’s a good tutor. I don’t often use the actual adobe help section, as I think its less easy to follow. I much prefer video tutorials to written text online as you can listen while you learn. I need to see and then physically have a go myself to learn something new. Reading online is slow going; I’d prefer to print the information out and refer to it with my software open in front of me.
I’m always happy to find new resources, such as books from the library, or hints and tips from professional graphic designers, either online or in the real world. I’ve so far had the chance to talk to two professional graphic designers and I’d always jump on the chance to speak to someone who works in the field again.

Coursework Part 1 – Too many carrier bags

Exercise: Too many carrier bags

“A number of complaints from residents have recently featured in a local newspaper, picking up on the amount of discarded carrier bags at a nearby beauty spot. Local businesses are worried about the implication of this bad publicity for their trade. They want you to respond to the issues and offer a range of solutions to fix the problem. Use this situation to run through the creative processes described so far:”

Identifying the problem

  • Analyse the brief by unpicking the issues involved. What’s the problem?

The problem is litter being dropped in the wrong place. The consequences are that a local beauty spot is ‘spoilt’; this is likely to impact on the area in several ways: endangering wildlife and causing less people to visit. If carrier bags are discarded, this implies that more rubbish will accumulate. Local businesses are aware of the problem and concerned about negative publicity.


My Questions

  • Identify what research you need to do to inform your thinking and awareness of the issues. What questions do you need to ask?
  1. What is the environmental impact of the carrier bags – what effect does plastic have on the local wildlife? How many months/years does it take for a bag to rot? If water is present, does that plastic leech into that water and with what effects?
  2. Does some littering inevitably lead to further littering, and a downward spiral? What other items might appear along with these bags? Are there increased dangers to the environment?
  3. What about child safety – how dangerous is it for children to play in this area? Obviously due to the bags, but also from other rubbish?
  4. What is the damage to wildlife and the ecosystem?
  5. Is there also a potential risk to domestic or farm animals nearby?
  6. Based on research, what are the most common causes of littering (if known?) Do the location or number of litter bins, make a difference? What have other communities done to tackle this problem both here and globally? Are there any demographics relating to littering?
  7. Where is this beauty spot in relation to the high street? Have the business owners considered there may be less footfall to the area if less people visit?
  8. How do we balance the needs and concerns of everyone involved? Who is funding this project?  What is the budget? Businesses, local council or someone else? How can the community get involved in this? Which organisations can be consulted? Local business groups? Schools? Charities? Are there any volunteers? What sort of publicity/advertising (digital or real world) is available? Has anything like this been done before? What can we learn from that?

 My thoughts and ideas:



  • Think about how you creatively go about solving the problems you’ve identified. What ideas can you come up with?

Fines – what are the penalties for dropping litter? Is this futile? Does awareness/education help? Carrot or stick approach? Or both?

Rewards – are there any rewards for collecting bags or disposing of them properly? Why should I bother?

What is the value of carrier bags to the user and third parties? (Interestingly, since the UK government introduced compulsory charging for bags, they have now become like gold dust so I’ll have assume this brief was written a while ago.)

Who needs bags? Charity shops, dog walkers – who else?

Idea 1: Can we make rubbish bins easier to spot and more appealing?

a) Is it possible to get permission for local children to decorate them?

b) How about a design competition?

c) Sign posting? Posters? Arrows?

Idea 2: Can we collect bags for dog walkers to re-use?

a) what about bins to collect carrier bags that dog walkers can then use to pick up poo? This could be displayed alongside the existing dog poo bins. Probably everyone at some point has forgotten poo bags – this would be useful!

b) how about a doggy mascot – perhaps based on a real life friendly dog to spread awareness and ask people to deposit bags to help out? (Something like the very well behaved dogs that go into care homes to cheer people up).

Idea 3: Can we collect bags for charity?

a) Some charities drop new plastic bags through our letter box asking for clothing, books, toys etc that they can collect and sell on. What about collecting and re-using carrier bags?

b) Do charities need more bags when they sell items to customers?

Idea 4: Education 

a) Is there any wildlife at this beauty spot that particularly appeals to people? Lets face it, furry or cute is better. If some poor animal’s life or health is in danger, people may empathise and act more responsibly.

b) My research has indicated that a carrier bag can have a life span of a 1000 years. Would you like to hang around for 1000 years? Could this be expanded into an educational tool?

Idea 5: Can we spread the word about re-cycling more effectively?

a) What if we knew bags were worth collecting because they can be recycled and used to make new items such as clothing?

b) Can we create a hubs to collect them, with a reminder about what they might be used for?

Idea 6: Can we cut down on the use of carrier bags?

a) Is excess packaging being used? What are people buying that causes them to discard the bag before getting home? If so can we launch an awareness campaign?

b) Shop owners need to sell items, and the public like to shop. It seems best to avoid blame in this transaction. Sales of goods aren’t dependant on the use of carrier bags, so can we encourage a ‘bring a bag’ campaign for local independent shops? Better designed bags are more often kept and re-used. What about some ‘bags for life’ that are a bit more funky and something you really want to keep? These could be sold at multiple outlets.

c) Paper bags are easier to recycle (although they aren’t necessarily environmentally friendly to manufacture) If the unit costs are workable for the retailer can we encourage this instead?

Idea 7: Events and social media

Taking in all of the above, I think it would work well to organise a campaign that shows the retailers have listened to the residents concerns, and simultaneously get some positive publicity/advertising to counteract the negative newspaper article. This could include forging links with community groups, schools and charities.

a) Environmental awareness day – held in the town centre, increasing footfall and spreading info about green issues

b) Volunteer litter picking – perhaps a competition for the largest volume of litter collected gets a prize. Local business organisation gives out the prize

c) Carrier bag man, woman or animal. Ever seen a huge ball of elastic bands? This is an invite for people to bring their carrier bags and create a giant figure. Maybe beat the world record (if there is one) Lets say a lot of cute mice are accidentally ingesting scraps of plastic – what about a giant mouse??

I googled litter prevention and stumbled across this comment originally from the Franklin County Times (USA) – ‘What could be more innovative and catchy than mixing music and litter prevention in one event? N Harmony with Nature (NHWM) has proven that music is a powerful mover for people to act in contributing to a litter-free environment.’

Well, you get the idea, an event that people enjoy that raises awareness or funds and allows the community to pull together. I think a good name would be the 1000 year festival/campaign – you remember this is the estimated life span of a carrier bag. Any of the above could be advertised on social media and in shops.




  • Reflect on your proposals from a range of different viewpoints. How can these help move your ideas forward?

I think some of these ideas have potential, and it might also be possible to combine some of them too. Probably the weakest is the link to charity shops. The strongest ideas are maybe making bins eye catching and fun, and the holding an event.

Hopefully I have already considered what would make the residents feel heard, what kids would enjoy participating in, and what would give positive publicity for business.

Larger Issues

  • Take a critical perspective. Can you identify larger issues than the immediate ones set out in the brief? Do you have any radical solutions to solve these issues? Use loose-leaf worksheets or your sketchbooks to record your creative process and to summarise your findings. Reflect on the process. What has this exercise told you about your approach to responding to briefs?”

I think its clear that issue is part of a larger subject about how much packaging we use, how we look after the environment and each other.

Weirdly I think the government has already come up with quite a neat solution by charging for bags. Its rare that you can say politicians come up with answers. I shop online with Tesco, and always used to tick the option ‘no bags’, only to find I was usually still swamped with them. There are a lot less now!

I’m not sure I have any radical solutions, I’ve already strayed into some very amateurish attempts at PR, so I think I’m out of ideas at the moment!!

What has this exercise told you about your approach to responding to briefs?

I quite like the challenge of tackling the planning stage of briefs – if this was to progress further, it would need a lot more work, but throwing up questions and ideas is interesting. If this was an actual brief I would seek more contact with the business owners who approached me, and hopefully other interested parties, to clarify whether I’m going in a good direction. And what are their expectations for this project? I’m not sure what to say about my approach; I put a lot of thought into it and tried to be as broad as possible. (My thought processes continued to develop as I was typing up this blog – the act of ‘doing’ always seems to lead to more ideas). Have I been broad enough? Well, I’ve tried, but there’s aways room for more! I’d love to come up with some stunning or amazingly original ideas but I think thats aiming a bit high?! I made my brain hurt. I think thats effort enough.



Coursework Part 1 – One hundred and One

Exercise: One hundred and one

“101 Uses for a Dead Cat (1981) was a macabre series of cartoons developed by Simon Bond that playfully explored the practical and humorous possibilities of using your dead cat for other things. Develop a similar series of ideas for a piece of paper, a bucket, or any object of your choice. This is an exercise in divergent thinking which aims to get you to broaden your approach to creative problem-solving. You might not get to 101 options, but be as exhaustive as you can.”

This is such a fun brief. I remember my Mum was given a copy of 101 Uses for a Dead Cat years ago and we all loved it. (Though it did make you wince when looking at the innocent faces of our real life family felines, now sadly gone) Its maybe particularly clever as a concept because pets are so precious and this makes his ideas all the more outrageous.

My first thought was to pick something stupid that you definitely would NOT want to re-purpose  namely: A Used Toilet Brush. I decided to brainstorm in pictures, here are the results.



You can see a change of pen half way through this page, as I needed to go away and let more ideas surface before coming back to it.


Just when I thought my boot jack idea was original, I had the idea of googling toilet brushes and guess what I found

This little ceramic beauty (!)


At this point I’ve run out of ideas, so I will return soon…

OK. I’m back…



I’m having loads of fun with this – its great, but I don’t think I will get anywhere near 100 ideas! Thankfully as we’ve always been encouraged to show roughs, I don’t feel too embarrassed at the scrappy drawing.


And I’ve reached 40 ideas. Is that enough?? I hope so. As I was scribbling, I could see how I could re-draw some of these images to either clarify what we are looking at (eg. perhaps one ‘snow shoe should be lifted out of the snow, mid stride) Or just that some poses can be more dynamic (why not have the fencing people actually stab the other) As we aren’t required to work up any of these, I’ve left everything as first roughs.


Yes. Bum flosser. That was my partner’s contribution. And he thought I wouldn’t include it, but of course I had to…Sometimes the rough drawing and lack of detail is a blessing.


So. Did I expand my ideas? Or create hybrids?

Hmm. Well I did return to various themes, such as sporting activities. I’m not sure I managed any hybrids, but I tried to think about it as a whole and in its component parts (cutting up the plastic spikes to use as fringing)


Have I solved any problems? Only if you actually need a bum flosser. I think my ‘solutions’ are pretty much all silly, as clearly the brush is not a very good implement for most of the tasks at hand.

New inventions? As above

Re-interpretations of older ideas? I felt I was often re-hashing the joke to to honest – there are even more sporting activities I probably could have gone for now I think of it: hockey, golf, cricket, all an equally poor use of a large brush on a stick.

How did you approach this task and what strategies did you employ to generate new ideas? Well, as I mentioned, I think you need to let ideas develop over time. I’ve done this task over a number of days. Just when you think you’ve hit a wall, more ideas surface. I also had bursts of scribbling, and ‘making’ images come, by the act of doodling. I chatted about my ideas to a few people which helps spark new ones. Meditation, listening to music or having a bath can also help. Getting too ‘left brain’ is best avoided. I’m not sure what else to say about generating ideas, I think its simply a mix of some self discipline and formal ‘doing’, but with breaks. Exploring your own imagination is playful and fun – its important to let that happen with some nudging, but no judgement if possible.

PS Yikes – I’ve just realised I’ve done the same idea twice. I’ve ended up with a pair of ‘vases’. Damn.

Back again. More ideas…It occurred to me that although some ideas are repetitive, its not so bad when you group them under categories: interior design/soft furnishings, fashion, people and pets, hobbies and sports, DIY/chores, work.



Thats 55 now. Hurrah. Not bad. (Or a few more if you count the sports I listed, but didn’t draw) You could of course ‘cheat’ as metal and plastic can be melted down into entirely new objects…but I think thats against the spirit of this exercise.







Coursework Part 1 – Visual Play

Exercise: Visual play

“Reflect on the visual experiments you’ve conducted through the exercises so far. What have you found particularly relevant or revealing? Look at examples of your own design work and think about where you might benefit from a more experimental approach. For example, do you need to develop your use of colour, the shapes of the visual elements you use, their layout or layering?

Develop an experimental project of your own that allows you to play with the areas you’ve defined. For example, you might decide to explore what kinds of shapes you can use and how these might work together. Develop a series of variations that explores the possibilities.”

Firstly, I would like to develop my ability to experiment with lettering. I’ve just bought some new paints (Aqyla). They were developed in Japan, and I hadn’t heard of them before. They are said to be extremely versatile – handling like watercolour, gouache, acrylic and oil depending on use. Sounds interesting! More importantly (because I’m a mucky pup) its waterbased, so won’t stain. It can be used on many surfaces (similar to acrylics). Here’s my experiments, to see if it works on wood and glass…


As you can see, the colours are very vibrant on glass, the paint flowed well and I would definitely  consider using this in a finished project.


And wood



Then, I decided to think laterally, and grab the chance to learn about hand printing – by going to my first linocut workshop.  As my health isn’t great, I don’t often manage to be at any sort of face-to-face class, so it was particularly special; even better my Mum stayed for the weekend and came too. I felt a bit wistful, as its SO lovely being in a group of people, it really was a fantastic creative atmosphere. The tutor, Luna North, is a professional linocut artist, she was great; very down to earth and encouraging.

Linocut was entirely new to me, and I found it really helpful to understand a little more about this kind of printing method – I’m guessing it is also similar to woodcut, which of course goes back centuries. We all found it surprisingly difficult to visualise which areas needed to be dark or light, and of course discovered just how difficult it is to produce certain types of line.

We were encouraged to draw our designs onto paper, then transfer them to the lino, ready for cutting. I drew from imagination, so this lizard is of course not that accurate but the medium seems quite forgiving of stylised images. (Please excuse the bad quality photo)


It was pretty difficult to get the hang of cutting, and as you can see, the lettering was really difficult. I’m not sure why the letters were harder – perhaps its the increased accuracy required. I now understand why shapes are often simplified, and the effect is intentionally ‘homespun’.

When we had reached the stage of printing, I was really interested to learn how to prepare the ink, and to see the results. In hindsight I would have separated out my areas of pattern as parts of my image are hard to ‘read’. This wasn’t obvious in the drawing stage. Not essential for illustration, but definitely for any graphic design projects in the future.


Lizard Bookplate


Its hard to explain but I think it helped the penny drop in terms of traditional printing methods. I felt a real ‘a-ha’ moment. Not only did I have a lovely time, but its also enabled me to think about how I can use this technique again, and indeed cheat by using the computer!

I say cheat, as producing linocut is really time consuming, and although its a shame to use digital, this kind of printing effect is a form of ‘grunge’ which can be reproduced artificially. Thinking about how to use this technique makes me think of logos – as of course they often need to work well in black and white.

I decided to use what I had learnt to produce an image which looks rough like linocut and also has the potential for pattern – another aspect I enjoyed with our recent tasks.

A common symbol for Devon is the hare. They are amazing creatures, and a good traditional subject for my fake linocut! I gathered a few reference pictures, and got to work.

Brown Hare sitting in evening light Lepus europaeus

Brown Hare sitting in evening light Lepus europaeus


I probably should have sketched on paper first, but I felt reasonably confidant it was a shape I could produce in Illustrator.

Version 1  Here’s the basic shape, and a fill using a custom style I downloaded from the internet. I decided the hind quarters were too stylised and didn’t really work.



Version 2  A hare sticking a bit more closely to basic anatomy!


Finished Work The typeface is Snell Roundhand. I think this piece works quite well, although I’m very aware rendering this lettering would be a challenge with traditional techniques! I think the effect successfully mimics a hand printed effect.

Image 1


Image 2


Image 3


Of course one major difference between the hand made and the digital, is the crisp white background. I could have embellished my work with a border, and added texture throughout the whole artboard. I think its depends where this would be used as the whether you wanted roughness throughout. A logo would probably call for a clean white background.

My aim was to try something charming, in the spirit of the linocut work. I hope I have done it justice, I think this sort of design could function as a surface design or logo. Its not a wildly original image, I understand that, but it sprang from a real life learning experience which has helped develop my understanding of print and I’m glad to have had the chance to do it.





Coursework part 1 – Visual grunge

Visual grunge

  1. “Return to the previous visual dynamics exercises or make a new selection of typeface and zoom into some of the letterforms to pick up on its details. Try and pick selections you’ve not previously worked with.
  2. Use the shapes you’ve selected from your typefaces as a template to cut out existing pages of magazines, newspapers or photocopies. You might want to work at a larger scale to make things easier. This cutting will create new selections and unexpected juxtapositions of the existing content on the paper content. Explore what accidental opportunities it offers by layering and collaging your selections.
  3. Explore how you can make further selections through cutting out new layers, removing content by cutting away, simplifying the designs or adding in more layering. Try and focus on the unintentional visual qualities created through cutting and layering.

You may want to explore this exercise through physically cutting and sticking, digitally exploring collage by using digital tools and translucent layers, or exploring the possibilities of using both approaches.”

Looking at Grunge

David Carson is famous for this style of typography. I watched an interview with him quite a while ago, and from what I remember, he spent a few months as a student, before landing an unpaid internship at a surf magazine. Despite minimal training (or maybe because of it!) he broke all the rules, and developed a highly experimental and edgy style.



This is gorgeously anarchic, and reminds me of punk artwork (No, before you ask, I was too young to remember all this at the time!)



Rough quality images and messy typography which is really dynamic and bold in style

Andrew Krivine posters II

The sex pistols image of the Queen is now iconic, and has been re-worked many times


Modern book cover design


Eduardo Recife – digital retro style collage meets grunge


I can’t remember who coined the phrase ‘That Wicked Worn Look’, but here’s some examples of digital grunge from Smashing




If I am completely honest, before learning anything about graphic design, I found some typography that’s hard to read baffling at times – and most of all when typography is used purely as decoration. It depended on the context. The above examples cue you in, but its worth bearing in mind that we aren’t always ‘in’ on the ‘joke’ (unless I’m odd, which is always a possibility!) For some audiences, type has one function – to be read, and I think thats fair enough. Obviously a grunge style won’t always fit the brief.

To get started, I used a creative commons google search (with permissions set to ‘labelled for re-use with modification’) using the search terms ‘newspaper’ and ‘magazine article’. From this, I saved whatever caught my eye, and added some digital elements too.


I used this opportunity to add a few shapes and the arrows – I get SO irritated that Photoshop doesn’t behave exactly the same as Illustrator! So I’m trying to get a bit of practise in, otherwise it will annoy me every time.

A simple ‘lined paper’ background and my choice of lettering.


I used a clipping mask to cut out lettering from the Strand Magazine cover


And newsprint


Photos and effects added


Trying out newsprint


Next I cut out the ballet dancers



Completed Images



How does this differ from my reference images? Well, for one thing, all the typography is very neat. For a more ‘authentic’ look, I think I would need to add handwritten elements. I think I got the hang of layering OK, though I wonder if it lacks impact, as the colours are quite muted. (Though I do like them). I’m also not sure the right hand arrows should lead off the page.

At this point I decided to give this a ‘real world’ try. I referred back to my previous work more closely and tried to think about the negative space surrounding the letter forms. This time I searched for various subjects such as patterns, birds, fish and so on.


I love some of these patterns and textures…Here they are printed out


And some typography shapes



Experimenting with combining the two


Hmm…I thought I’d enjoy doing this, but I actually found it much easier on the computer! Oh dear.Its rather bland, theres not much difference in tone, not sure where I’m going with it.

I wrapped a piece of board in tin foil, and layered my pieces on top


And to complete, I worked up the image in photoshop, adding brush strokes and pretty illegible writing as decoration


Still not sure the composition is all that effective, but its quite pretty?!






Coursework Part 1 – Patterns

Exercise: Patterns

  1. “Return to the previous visual dynamics exercise, or select a different typeface and zoominto some of the letterforms to pick up on its details.
  2. Choose some of your selections to develop as a repeat pattern. Consider your choices in terms of the potential for being decorative through repeating, reversing, rotating, overlapping, or through a combination of all of these processes.
  3. Explore how you can simplify or develop the designs by emphasising the relationship between the foreground and background, exploring scale, grouping elements into one form, or getting rid of unnecessary elements.”

I have just bought a lovely book on pattern – “The Chronology of Pattern” by Diana Newell & Christina Unwin.



Its a really comprehensive overview of the history of pattern/surface design, a real treat to look through. I noticed that much of the pattern is highly complex and probably not something I could readily create. However I thought I could maybe take inspiration from the geometry of the early Islamic patterns, and also the simplified forms from the modern era, such as designs from the 1950s.

I would also just like to mention this bookmark – the company is called Persephone – they aim to reproduce classics, and often also call on vintage design for their art work. So pretty.


Google search


So. I started with the letter ‘R’.


I got lucky with this one, it came together  very quickly. I simply arranged 3 letters vertically, copied the group, rotated and…well thats it. And I reckon the type designers really did the work for me!

Pattern 1


In the previous exercise, I’d played with the ‘i’ inside the ‘o’…


I added a bar across the top, to make my shape symmetrical.  I also copied the dot above the eye to re-use elsewhere.


Pattern 2


I quite like this, I think it looks pretty retro. I could have angled the O’s so they aren’t sitting vertically, which might make it a bit more ‘organic’ looking.

Next idea –  what about adding a line to an inverted letter ‘i’?






Isolated letter elements – snipped off a letter ‘t’


Letter ‘g’ chopped in half


Pattern 3 


Pattern 4


As you can see, the patterns became more elaborate and embellished as I went along, building on the previous designs. So is sooooo much fun, I could carry on doing this for a few more hours. Totally addictive!!!