Category Archives: Core Concepts Part 5

The French Hen

“Newton and Ridley, the brewers best known for their pub, The Rovers Return, are opening
a cafe/wine bar nearer the city centre….This bar is to be called the French Hen and will
be in direct competition with the cheap ‘binge drinking’ venues on the same street. The
brewery is also trying to enhance its own image as a ‘respectable’ alcohol vendor.

They want you to develop some ideas for a logo, to be used:
• on covers for the food and cocktail menus
• in colour on the signage outside, and as a cutout for a window detail
• on T-shirts for the staff and paper napkins
• for one side of a beermat, the other will carry advice on sensible drinking”

I began by researching wine bars etc online. One source was from the best bars in London as recommended by Time Out. Surprisingly, not all of them had particularly strong identities online, though others looked great!

Anyway, I ended up also searching elsewhere, and coming up with quite a large selection of reference photos. here they are:

And here’s a cut out displayed in a window


First I brain stormed around the subject of cafe/bistro/wine bars and the name french hen.


And some of my quick sketches in slightly varying styles


I like this one the most


It seems a good way of potentially representing the hen, aside from drawing one, is to use something symbolic of a hen, such as a hen house,  eggs, egg cup,  a feather, or tracks. I googled tracks. I don’t think this is particularly original, but surely paws prints are used even more?!

chicken tracks google

I wanted to think about circular logos, so again, heres another search.

Ooooh this one is lovely!


And there’s more….



image image image


image image image

A few more thoughts…


I worked up three logo options, the feather, a claw print and a whole hen. Here’s the hen. I used live trace in Ilustrator to get a nice vector. It came up really crisp. Yay.

You can see that a line drawing logo looks rather weedy, so I think I’ll use a sillouette.


Right then. We were asked to be aware of falling into cliches and stereotypes. So I had to get this one out of the way first!

french hen2

And some variations using the claw print.

french hen5 business card1french hen5

Another variation

french hen

The fonts are Little Days and Watermark. I like the idea of a circle logo with a ribbon, but I want to think about some different colour schemes.

I decided on quite a bold but sophisticated one (I hope!) with white, black and chartreuse. I’m not so keen on the grey (middle one, but I really like the other two. There’s a bit of a mis-match with the height of the numbers, you can see the difference in the last one.

frenchHen12.french hen4 frenchHen16

My final colour scheme is softer and more subdued. (Aiming for classy!)

french hen4 frenchHen10 frenchHen9

You can see the “scratchy” font works best with the claw. Any I prefer the loopy handwritten font with the hen, and feather.

Next I enlisted the help of my partner to act the part of the bar owner. He chose this colour scheme, with the claw print. (Yay!)

So here’s the final range for the French Hen Bar/Bistro.

Business card




Beermat (square, with web address as requested by the “Bar Owner”)




T shirt




Mock-up of Shop Front. I didn’t include a cut-out in the window, but the logo would scale up if needed, or the hen could be added if the owner preferred. (At this time he opted to leave cardboard out of his window !!!)


I really loved doing this, now I just have to open shop and find some customers!!!!






Chance Housing Association

“The Chance Housing Association has been set up to try and help first time buyers get
onto the housing ladder and they want you to develop a brand image for their stationery”


We were asked to look at real life estate agents and housing associations. Here’s a selection. These are estate agents… you can see a couple are typographic only…

fulfordsabode  miller and son



And these are Housing Associations, all of these have some sort of illustrative logo.

dch group dcha-logo logo3 NorthWalesHousing_logo QXHA_CMYK sanctuary sovereign westwardtamar housing Wesley-Housing-Association-Ltd-3640 west devon

But this is my favourite! Pretty darn swish for Cornwall eh.

coastline housing

Although we have been asked to only use typography, I couldn’t resist a little experimentation with some rough sketches.

photo 1 white

photo 2 white

This is the little pic I would use.


OK. Back to the brief. We were asked to consider key words for this housing association –



Appealing to young people

You can see here, I was thinking about the lettering, what sort of typeface would reflect the “character” of the company, the angle, and the thought that the “h a” in chance also stands for housing association.image

I feel these straight lines are a bit boring, and maybe not friendly enough.



That brought me to consider a curved section for the main lettering. And some colour options, to reflect youthfulness, action and friendliness. (All open to interpretation of course!



I thought it best to start in black and white on the computer Here’s some very plain sans serif typefaces – Corbel, Comfortaa, Dax Light and Century Gothic. I  like Century Gothic, so I’m a bit miffed to find some folk online are now declaring it should be avoided along with the usual suspects, comic sans and papyrus. Tsk.

chance housing sans serif-01

It seems a bit like being a teenager again,  when someone  decides a band are so uncool because they have become  just far too popular and mainstream?! Well as you can see I’m using it anyway, So there.


chance housing

I like these colours, Here’s a few business card variations in blue. Not the most exciting but OK.



I wanted to inject a bit more character into the design. Here’s several fonts, and a few colour combinations. I’m not keen on the purple!


Chocolat Bleu


Fancy Not Medium



Classic Robot



And my favourite – Colombian Stroke. Its more obvious with some fonts than others that I’ve enlarged the letters “h” and “a”. By adding the curve, I think it just adds a bit of interest, and perhaps echoes landscapes…

The only thing I noticed on printing these out, it is that the serif typeface isn’t all that readable at this size, and colour. I changed it to Myriad Pro, and its a lot clearer.





image image


Once I had decided on the design, I created a matching letterhead. here are two versions.




And to finish, we were asked to print out a low quality black and white advert to show suitability fir a newspaper advert.

image image


Logo Research

I really like looking at logos. I think I might have mentioned Paul Rand talking about his designs on You Tube. It really fascinates me that he makes the point that sometimes a good logo is perceived to be perfectly apt only after it has become a mainstream image. I mentioned a good example of this in a previous post – the Nike logo was not loved by the managing director, it was a grower! That said, as much as logos vary enormously, of course there are some common factors.

Here’s some big company logos! What they have in common is one strong concept that has been beautifully pared down.

Mercedes-Benz-logo lloyds



Coca-Cola and John Deere have a long history, you can see from these vintage examples, that their branding has stood the test of time.


john deere

Here’s some more designs. You can see that many logos are either reversed out – like the Castelli scorpion or make use of negative space such as with Core Cidar. This combination of bottle and apple, perfectly shows what the product consists of, and demonstrates another feature of some logos – the fusion of two elements that illustrate a key part of the company product or service.

logo castelli ds_logo3 3258cfb454b2a40855f8da2938d5827a1 35fcee8b73d3353511d023657843c0fb1

More use of negative space…

8e8c9f1e21cae747836e7200bf85bc79 7f604c35ae83316175209c2905ca6d4f


If you hop over to Cool Infographics, they have a blog post entitled 40 Brand Logos with Hidden Meanings. (I can’t help thinking that sounds a little sinister?!) But it contains examples like the arrow in the FedEx logo, and some lesser known ones…

An assortment of logos that caught my eye.


talland spoon kubi kate hellerbell gnome gekko entertainmentwise echo auroraimageimageimageimage

Colour and Logos

Of course some logos are purely typographic. One of my favourites is Rapha. Part of the branding is these colours – black, white and pink.



Not all logos are associated with colour, but  Coca-Cola is strongly linked to red and white. And there are others…

Purple Penguins

purple penguins


logo barclays


T Mobile





Yellow Pages



Royal Mail



Yodel. (OMG I love Yodel vans, I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to put a pic up on this blog!)


The Samaritans white and green.


Head Office requests that all branches stay “on brand”, by using the correct “Samaritans Green” both online and in print for consistancy. (I can’t remember the hexidecimal value, but you get the point!) Their font is also a custom one, with a particular letter “R”. Even charities are very aware of their branding these days!

I don’t think I need to state the obvious about what particular colours are supposed to convey! But I do know that companies spend big money on colour analysis, and market research –  clearly the impact of what a colour “says”, can’t be underestimated.

Here’s a link with some gorgeous packaging examples and a nice colour wheel with lots of associated words! Enjoy.

OK. Here it is in case you are in a hurry.


Poster and Flyer

“You have been asked to design an A3 poster and an accompanying double sided A6 flyer
to promote a singing course run by an organisation called SingOut (all one word). They
have very little money so want to print these posters on their black and white
photocopier. You can use a colour paper if you want”

I have experimented with a variety of styles here, from rough and playful, to more serious. It was really interesting being restricted to black and white, and also consider what shade of coloured paper would actually allow the ink to show effectively.

I had various ideas, and haven’t worked them all up on the computer. Some might come in handy for other projects.


This design is simple and clear, using Myriad Pro. The drawback is of course that it is reversed out, and would consequently use a lot of ink.

Lighter sing6-01

Here it is  printed out


And in plain dark ink on coloured paper. I chose blue because its fairly bright. I felt pastel coloured paper would be rather weedy, and red or purple too dark.


Here’s another very pared down one, using Clement PDai. I needed an “s” shape that would curve upwards and give me a “platform” for the word SingOut to sit on. This is one of those ideas I might re-use elsewhere, but not for this project, I feel its a bit too serious and doesn’t really reflect the subject effectively. A different style “S” would allow me to run the little word”SingOut” vertically instead  (see rough)

sing diagonal-01

This letter “s” is from a typeface called Clive Barker, combined with Futura. Again, I wonder if its important to make the theme of music more obvious.


sing diagonal 2-01

Here’s some ones with a more direct reference to the theme of making music. Here I used the pen tool to draw a treble clef, then changed the stroke to a dry brush for a distressed look. The font is A Little Pot, for a scruffy playful feel.

In my rough, I had curved the text around the shape of the clef. I was experimenting with contrasting the relaxed forms with neat left aligned text here, but I’m not sure how well this works.

A3 Poster

treble clef 3-01


A6 Flyer –  Front

treble clef 4 small flyer Front-01

A6 Flyer –  Back

treble clef 4 small flyer BackB-01

This final set are some variations based on musical notes. The serif font is Pistilli. Looking at this, I should have emphasised “Learn to Sing”!

sing 12A-01

sing 12DNewBigNote-01


You may need to squint (or tilt your screen) to see the light grey background shapes here!

A3 Poster

sing 9B-01


A6 Flyer –  Front

sing 9B Flyer Front-01

A6 Flyer –  Back

sing 9B Flyer Back-01

I’m not really clear how much free rein a designer has when working with copy. For example, if a client has provided all the text they wish to include, can you re-arrange the order?

How about re-phrasing/editing? And what if their feedback is that they would like the phone number or other contact details in large capitals?!!!!

I have experimented a little here with leaving out the cost on some versions, as maybe the charity might want to give this information when people make enquiries instead. Maybe the client would prefer I was more specific that there is no need to read music, and this could be added to the flyer. I”m not sure how much you are looking to grab attention, versus add all the info possible, particularly on the poster.

Poster Research

“Posters have a long and rich history documenting everything from boxing matches to
Bollywood films, the Soviet Revolution to punk, encouraging young men to join the army to
persuading women to buy bras. There are many collections in books in museums and
galleries and on the internet. Find out more about your own particular areas of interest.”

Like most people, I get drawn to a variety of posters, so its hard to pin down a particular subject or era. I began by looking at  English and French vintage posters that caught my eye. My theme (if there is one!) is posters based on illustration. I could have equally focused on mainly on typography, or photographic elements.

This is a screen shot of the  Jules Cheret’s work. The main website is

Cheret worked as a painter and lithographer. Many of these examples are from around the 1890s.

Jules Cheret


Art Noveau  obviously features in many areas of design. Here’s some Alphonse Mucha advertisments. (Not that I want to be advertising Nestle)

Alphonse Mucha

Alphonse Mucha2

Alphonse Mucha3

This is by french artist Paul Berthon


This lovely one is by  Isiah and Benjamin Lane



Aubrey Beardsley. I love the impact of the black and white with the flowing lines.(I hadn’t seen this particular one before!) Its also a little creepy (or is that me?!)


I found this website which has a good article on Art Noveau

And its nice to drool over vintage posters you can buy here!


They also have an interesting section on how posters were traditionally made

When looking at vintage posters, you can see that they are produced by painters and illustrators. As time moves forward, posters become more “graphic” looking.

German Designer and former architect Ludwig Hohlwein.   “Hohlwein was the most prolific and brilliant German posterist of the 20th century” – Poster historian  Alain Weill


A M Cassandre (real name Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron) was born in 1901. He set up his own advertsing agency, and worked for many large companies of the day.





And  fashion illustrator Rene Gruau, who worked for many decades, spanning much of the 20th Century. This first one was produced in 1949. The second in 1987. (I haven’t been able to date the third unfortunately)

Rene Grau 1949 bigChristianDior

Rene Gruau 20

Exhibition Poster of Gruau’s work, I love this!


This poster was produced for Braniff Airlines by an unknown artist, but I include it, because its just so sweet! (These two are from as you can see by the watermark)


And here’s a more typographic one for contrast


I  really could go on and on of course….there are a huge quantity of vinatage posters, particulary advertising food and drink, and travel. Naturally they are heavily influenced by art movements belonging to their era such as art noveau or art deco. But you can also see the influence of vintage posters in more modern designs. This one is from the 1980s

bigVillemotOrangina (1)


Ken Bailey vintage inspired cats and dogs!

Ken Bailey

And here’s a modern day digitally produced poster in a retro style




Birthday List

“For this exercise you are going to make up a poster list for yourself…Start by collecting all the birthdays of your friends and family. You’ll need their name and
birth date, to decide whether or not you buy them presents or just send a card, text
message or email. When you have all this design a chart to include all this information”

I am already a bit stumped for ideas with this one, as the example we were given is already a great solution, so I’m really not sure how to put my own stamp on this.

I think with the infographic exercise and this one, its more a case of learning what not to do, as by the end I wanted to re-do everything I had worked on! hopefully i’ve learnt from my mistakes…

Here’s some very pared down charts from one of my silver smithing books, which shows you can be very clear and minimalist..but its also not at all decorative!

image image image

Obviously , I’m aiming for something both clear and pretty!

First step, was some paper roughs. I felt the best solution is to have two rows of six, with a simple key for text, card and present. I’m afraid I had fun making up fictional family and friends who mysteriously all have first names that correspond with the first letter of the month they were “born” under. (With apologies to my real family and friends!!!)


On roughing this out, I decided I would make the key both letters and colours, as remembering colours alone seems a bit tricky. I’m fairly happy with this layout, but I went a bit left field for a moment and considered venn diagrams. There would be a diagram for each month, with the same colour each each time, and the names written in the the relevant portion.  Its different, but not all that practical, probably more decorative than useful I think.


Next I got going in Illustrator and began working up some charts, based on my first idea. I think the horizontal boxes are confusing here, as your eye doesn’t  have enough to hold onto.

chart 9


Here I’ve broken up the boxes to help distinguish between months. I feel these work a bit better, as the months are really standing out more clearly.

chart 4

Its hard to make everything look neat, because of the little boxes . They have letters inside them, wether I line up the box, or the letter inside it doesn’t quite work with the other text? Also, I think my dates look untidy because I was trying to align the gap between the date and the name, which means I’ve mixed left and right alignment.

Despite Illustrator having very good align tools, I still found this pretty fiddily!

chart 4

I can’t decide if the pink blocks behind look a little busy, I was experimenting here with creating a bit of depth. I’m also aware these are very girly colours and the green and purple of the key blocks are so small they don’t show up much.

chart 4

This has made me think about hierarchy a lot… I can see that this is a work in progress and I have plenty more to learn. I planned this on an A3 sized art board, so the text is a reasonable  point size, but on screen the names and dates look rather small and cramped.

I’m not that happy with what I’ve done here its harder than it looks! It still looks a bit untidy to me, but I will update the post if I have any further ideas!


Giving Information

“Find some examples of information graphics. What can you learn from them and when
would it be appropriate to use a similar design solution? For this exercise you are going to describe your immediate surroundings using information graphics…” 

Some magazine infographics…a flow chart.




And more charts….



Here’s a lovely one I found online..

Education Infographic 66

And a more sober one, which is maybe just a chart rather than an infographic?!


There are plenty of  websites devoted to this subject such as Cool Infographics, Daily Infographics etc… Some display facts, such as a historical timeline, or clusters of information, grouped into flow charts.

Some display statistics and data. Often with graphs, percentages or maps (depending on the subject) So I couldn’t resist playing with the graph options available in Illustrator, and an “arc circle chart” made with my custom brushes. So here’s what I came up with. They look so pretty, maybe I can shoe horn in a graph somehow?!!!!



Anyway. Obviously I need a suitable topic for this, so I chose my kitchen….

And quite quickly wished I hadn’t (!)

The difficulty is how do you display information in a way that isn’t like a drawing of a kitchen plan? In hindsight I actually think I would have been better off drawing my kitchen units in one point perspective and labelling everything with a key. Similar to this example here with the large points of info (though this is an aerial view of course)


As it is, I don’t think I have really come up with any good solutions here, but blimey I tried!


This is a rough plan of where things are in my kitchen, but I got a bit bogged down by deciding categories, and all the different levels of cupboards and draws at different heights.image

How to colour code? By location or food/non-food? Hmmmm…

(The dots are items on the worktop)


Thinking about adding some “statistics”….

image image

This one is the most abstract…


How much detail should I go into with a key? Do I need one?! Arrgggh.


OK. I decided on an aerial view with statistics. Here it is as a computer rough. I’m not sure how to explain this view – a splayed aerial view?!

kitchen plan rough


And my final colour version with the (entirely pointless) statistics

kitchen plan3

Does anyone need to find their way around my kitchen? Could they?

As I said, I think a more conventional drawing of a kitchen might have worked better, but this certainly got me thinking a lot about problem solving. Whimper.