Archived entries for Portsmouth

Portsmouth Creative Scene – Illustrator Profile: Alison Gardiner

It’s become quite apparent to me recently, that Portsmouth as a city is really starting to develop it’s own creative scene, filled with other designers, artists and illustrators, all producing some really interesting work. I hope to post some more info on some of these people and organisations over the following days in an attempt to show people who live outside the city just what they’re missing out on.

To kick it off then, I begin with Alison Gardiner. I found out about the local Portsmouth illustrator as I recently did some graphic design work for her which involved creating a brochure to showcase her Xmas products. Aside from these Xmas items, Alison illustrates and designs her own unique range of mugs, prints, calendars, stationery and post cards.

Below are a series of images recently shot for Alison by the ever-impressive part-Southsea-based creative photography duo known as Cotton Candy Photography – who I did a feature on last October – that were taken to advertise her range of Royal Wedding commemorative mugs.

Using local Portsmouth locations such as the Spinnaker Tower and the fortifications at Old Portsmouth, here are a few of my personal favourite images from the shoot:

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

The Belle Isle – Southsea

Belle Isle Southsea - hipstamatic

Whilst I was out in Southsea the other day, I stopped off for lunch at ‘The Belle Isle’, Portsmouth’s new bar situated in Osborne Road.

My first impressions of the place were good, it is a nice airy feel to it with lots of natural light coming in through the wall to ceiling glass front panels. The attention to detail of all the branding was impressive and definitely helped give the place a laid-back surfer ‘vibe’. The furniture still left a little bit to be desired though – once again it seems a Portsmouth bar has opted to buy up a load of mismatched uncomfortable old school chairs rather than actually invest in something better – however it did all fit in with the style of the decor and there did seem to be a few sofas tucked away.

The menu head-chef Dave Wooly has put together was impressive and reasonably priced. I could have quite easily selected several dishes off the menu that took my fancy and none of them would have been over a tenner. I think I would probably describe the menu as pre-dominantly Mexican but with a selection of various other dishes from around the globe and a couple of fresh seafood dishes (which is always welcome considering where Portsmouth is!). A few notable ones I jotted down include jerk chicken curry, mango chicken salad, warm chorizo potato and halloumi salad & shipwreck mussels. In the end though, I opted for a Chilli Beef Burrito. When the food came it was beautifully presented and came with all the trimmings I was hoping for: salsa, sour cream and guacamole. I eaten a far view Burritos in my time and this was definitely up there with the better ones. The consistency was thick without being to sticky and the tortilla was crisp rather than soggy. For £6.95 the Burrito was a decent size and did a good job of filling me up for the rest of the day. If I had one gripe I would say it could have been a bit hotter spice wise, but I understand that that is more personal preference than a real criticism. My partner opted for a lunch-time bagel filled with cream cheese and chives and for only £3 she was equally impressed.

Belle Isle Burrito

Considering the surprising lack of real diversity and quality of pub cuisine in both Portsmouth and Southsea, The Belle Isle is a welcome addition especially considering how reasonable the prices are too. I will definitely be putting this on the list of affordable eats along with The Vines, A Bar Bistro, Cafe Parisian and the 10th Hole. I am yet to experience the venue with just drinking in mind, but judging by the clientele, the style of the venue and the people who run it, I’m sure I will be soon.

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