Archived entries for Design Life

‘While the City Sleeps’ Playlist

While the City Sleeps Playlist Artwork

Recently I’ve been discussing with a friend and peer of mine Mark Priddy from Spindrift Media about creating a little acoustic band. With our intention being to perform a mix of classic and unusual covers and possibly a few numbers of our own.

In order to get things started, I said to Mark that I would create a playlist of songs that would constitute a set list of covers that I think we could do. Due to the stripped down nature of the 2-piece band we intend to be, the playlist tends to suit after-dark listening and I have themed the artwork to suit. Whilst I don’t this would consitute my definite chill-out mix – as I’ve tried to include songs which I think we have a chance of covering in some way or another – I hopefully think there are at least one or two songs you might not have heard or enjoy. I also resisted the temptation to fill the playlist with hipster songs just to make me look cool and decide to concentrate instead on trying to make a set list that flows well musically from one song to the next.

If you are interested, perhaps you should click the link below and see where it takes you. If you do and you find something you like, then please get onto iTunes and check out any of the artists included in more depth. Although to be honest, I’m sure you’ve heard of most of them before and probably own the songs anyway. If so, I hope you enjoy it regardless.

Pease feel free to comment and suggest your owns songs you think Mark and I should consider adding to the list.


1: Jolene – Dolly Parton
2: Scar Tissue – Red Hot Chilli Peppers
3: She Will Have Her Way – Neil Finn
4: The Only Living Boy in New York – Simon & Garfunkel
5: 6 Underground – Sneaker Pimps
6: Be There – UNKLE feat. Ian Brown
7: Empty – Ray LaMontagne
8: Beach House – Cave Singers
9: For Emma – Bon Ivor
10: Rocket Man – Elton John
11: Hurry Up & Wait – Stereophonics
12: Crash Into Me – Dave Matthews Band
13: Sometimes – James
14: Solsbury Hill – Peter Gabriel
15: The Whole of the Moon – The Waterboys
16: On & On – Longpigs
17: Night Walks – Black Mountain

Clicky link that takes you magical places.

Beautiful Stills From Beautiful Films

I stumbled across this site recently and thought I’d share it with you.

The site does pretty much what it says on the tin.

Beautiful Stills From Beautiful Films

Here are a few of my favourite images. There are plenty more on the site, so please give it a visit.

Clockwork Orange

Clockwork Orange

Don’t Look Now

Don't Look Now

Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket

O Brother Where Art Thou?

O Brother Where Art Thou?

There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood

Business Guys on Business Trips

If you ever wondered what it feels like to either be a designer or work in the ‘creative’ industries, then you need do no more than take a look at You really wouldn’t believe how spot on they are.

Here are a few of my personal favourites:

Why Every Graphic Designer Should Watch ‘Mad Men’

There comes a point in every designer’s career, when they will inevitably be required to present their ideas or concepts to a client. Whilst I have yet to make such a presentation as Flint & Tinder, I did witness several in my previous agency positions most of which I would go as far as saying were poor and unprofessional. As a result, I have been actively trying to increase my knowledge of what makes a good presentation in preparation for the day when I get to the point that I’m producing work for the level of clients who requiresuch a presentation.

From what I do know about presentations (through my experience of having to make them internally) is that more often than not, designers find it difficult to put into words the visual ideas they can envisage in their head. This can be particularly frustrating during the early stages of a project, when one is possibly trying to sell a ‘complete concept’ with the feeling they have not been given the time or resources to mock up enough design collateral to illustrate the concept effectively. As a result, more often that not, us designers resort to trying to describe the idea in intense detail to the client and at the least confusing them, and in the worst situation going so far as to effectively dilute the concept in the client’s mind. Both of which are not exactly situations when we are desperate for a client to green-light an idea we think would be perfect for them and their target audience.

One of the many reasons I watch ‘Mad Men’ is because every now and then it gives you a glimpse into how a master practitioner does it. Yes, I know Don Draper is fictitious, but that doesn’t change the fact that his character, time and time again, delivers what I feel are perfect presentations. So what do I feel is his secret? Well, fundamentally, I think the most important things to take from the show are the important of a concise narrative and a simple exhibition of one or two well made designs that illustrate that concept.

Obviously some may argue that this is somewhat difficult, when a presentation involves say, a complete re-branding that may cover everything from a simple black & white logo for internal use all the way to Aeroplane livery and everything that falls in-between, however what I’m suggesting is to only show the client all the minor design details for a project after you have shown them perhaps only one design that encompasses the concept as a whole, as – the ‘Mad Men’ theory goes – only after you have a client on board with the concept will the rest of those elements matter. What this means in a practical sense is that, it may be more beneficial for us designers to include the creation of such a design within any exploratory stage of a project regardless of whether a client has specifically asked for it or not (because I expect nine times out of ten, when given the choice, the client will fail the see the value of such an exercise and consequently refuse to fund such a task directly). So say a task is to create a new brand identity and then a website, what I am proposing is that it be more beneficial to present an identity concept as a single billboard advert complete with logo, tagline, image style and branding message in place than a series of separate elements (such as multiple versions of the logo, typefaces & Pantone colour palette) spread across different presentation boards or pages of a pdf. If the client doesn’t think the concept works one on single page, then I doubt they will think it will work over five and of course, as many designers know sometimes the biggest hurdle you will have in a project in simply getting the client on board in the first place.

Unfortunately I can’t find the scene I really wanted to post – when Don presents to Bethlehem Steel – so the following clip will have to do instead.

Mad Men ┬┤The Carousel┬┤ from Emilio on Vimeo

Also, Don Draper is always good for advice on how to deal with clients and all the unspoken politics of the designer-client relationship, but that is of course another post in itself:

A graphic designer’s trip from Portsmouth to London

Last week, my partner Gemma and I took a trip up from Portsmouth to see the fireworks display at Battersea Park. As these days I seem to have a pervading sense of guilt whenever I take time out from work and don’t utilise it to do something productive, I decided to make a visual diary of the trip from a designer’s perspective. The end result being this blog post.

I’m actually really glad I did it because not only was a good exercise for me to critique the work of others, but it should give you, dear reader, a good insight into how the mind of designer processes the constant stream of stimuli we are all bombarded with everyday. Especially those of course, who live in London.

I hope enjoy reading it.

From Southsea to Fratton

The first piece of design that caught my eye was this beautiful lettering on what I assume is still a pub in Goldsmith’s Avenue. When I think about it, I can’t ever remember seeing the pub open so may be it’s been converted into flats. Regardless of that the building is now used for, I’m really glad the owner has still kept this lovely original sign. Portsmouth is actually blessed with quite a nice array of beautiful examples of signage typography, so perhaps at some point in the future I’ll try and collate a few more pictures for this blog.

South West Train to Clapham

Whilst I usually try to take in the views whenever I travel anywhere, the route from Portsmouth to London is not exactly awash with new and exciting scenery at every turn. Because of this, I figured I’d use the time to make a bit of a dent in my ever-increasing reading pile that sits next to my desk. Having just finished ‘Studio Culture’ (which will form the basis of a new blog post soon), the next book on my list is ‘Just My Type’ by Simon Garfield. I haven’t read that much of it yet, but what I have read is surprisingly revelatory. Without giving too much away, who knew a book about fonts would contain tales of incest, rape and bestiality? Not I, that’s for sure.

.net Magazine and Just My Type by Simon Garfield

Clapham and West Norwood Station

All throughout the day, these ads were everywhere, seemingly taunting me. From what I gather they are adverts for a new newspaper launched by the publishers of The Independant simply called ‘i’. The paper is effectively a scaled down and condensed version of it’s older sibling aimed at busy workers and younger readers who don’t have the time to sit down and read a complete quality broadsheet from front to back cover, but still wish to keep abreast of global news developments. Whilst I think the paper itself is a great idea, I really can’t say the same about these ads.

In many aspects it’s the visual equivalent of the Timbaland song ‘The Way I Are’ – a reasonably witty concept utterly ruined by the fact that the idea itself only works through the use of terrible grammar. In my opinion, that bad grammar makes the concept null and void. If an idea can’t work without the use of proper words then theoretically it doesn’t exist at all.

I find it interesting that this ad is also used for a paper that is aimed at intelligent savvy individuals. The kind of people who would scoff at the poor use of grammar and think less of the paper for stooping to that level of linguistic idoicy. The kind of people like me I guess.

i is all you need for 20p

i is. Are you?

Kingsway Square

After lunch at West Norwood, our next destination was to head for Kingsway Square for a roof-terrace view of the fireworks over in nearby Battersea Park. Whilst the fireworks were amazing, I was probably more impressed with the building itself. From what I gather Kingsway Square used to be a former College that has been completely turned into beautiful modern flats. Whilst walking through the huge corridors reminded me a little bit of the hotel in The Shining, there was the odd bit of beautiful typography to admire and of course, the roof terrace would be worth the (probably quite considerable) rental costs alone.

kingsway square

great hall - kingsway square

Unfortunately I had to take all these pics with my iPhone 3G which is hardly known for it’s crisp photographic images, especially at night. Because of this, I decided to take a few pics of the fireworks through the Hipstamatic app because for some reason dark images come out better through that. Anyway, I hope you can get an idea of just how amazing a view the roof-terrace of the building has.

view from Kingsway Square

battersea park fireworks

The long way home

After a rather sleepy and tipsy train journey journey home, I spotted the advert pictured below and liked the concept. It’s a bit hard to make out but the tagline at the bottom reads “The new Sportage. A little bit more adventurous.” Pictured above it is what I presume is a photo of said car with the clever addition of a couple of unicycles (as opposed to standard bicycles) attached to the bike rack. Yes, ok, the design is not exactly pushing any envelopes and the concept will hardly win them a yellow pencil, but on a day where good advertising appeared to be very thin on the ground, this advert stood as a coherent idea, well executed. For that I think it deserves a bit of praise for that simple premise seems to be beyond many an advertising agency in 2010.

Kia billboard advert

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