All posts filed under: Notebook

Cowles

Notebook: 8 April 2018 | MAGAZINES A profile of Andy Cowles – international, multi-award winning creative development director On Tuesday, 11 September 2001 I was attending a business conference with colleagues in London’s Docklands. As we were eating our buffet lunch, there was news of a plane crashing into the Twin Towers in New York – and before the lunch was finished there was confirmation that it was some sort of terrorist attack. With the meeting over, we quickly made our way home – a rumour had spread that an attack was also planned for Canary Wharf, which was the tallest building in the UK at the time, and just down the road from where we were. We were glad to be back on the train and heading home for Norfolk… In New York, Andy Cowles had been on his early morning run. He was living in Manhattan’s West Village and as he jogged down the West Side Highway he overheard a couple of workmen chatting about a low-flying plane – and as his eyes …

Magazine Canteen

Notebook: Friday 13 April 2018 | MAGAZINES | PHOTOGRAPHY In February this year there was sad news that the The Hyman Archive, the world’s largest collection of magazines, had gone into administration. The collection was started by James Hyman 30 years ago and contains more than 5,000 different publications and 120,000 different issues which are housed in a Woolwich warehouse. It began operating as a business in September 2014 and attracted various paying customers from academia and the media. There had been plans to digitise the whole collection to make it available online but I guess these have now all ground to a halt. Recently I stumbled across another big magazine collection called Magazine Canteen which is owned and curated by Warren Casey from a large ex-hotel in Cumbria. The collection is smaller than the Hyman Archive but still numbers around 30,000 magazines. Warren began collecting magazines 30 years ago, starting with Smash Hits and he specialises in titles that he is personally interested in such as fashion, music and lifestyle. Unlike the Hyman Collection, the majority …

Oh sh*t, what now?

Notebook: 28 March 2018 | BOOK REVIEW Oh Sh*t, What Now? Honest Advice for New Graphic Designers by Craig Oldham. Published by Laurence King April 2018 What a great book. It’s full of advice for young designers just setting out into the world of graphic design with words of wisdom on topics such as, education, internships, portfolios, landing your first job, personal development, risk-taking and plenty more. It’s written by Craig Oldham who describes himself variously as a designer, teacher, writer, publisher, campaigner and Yorkshireman. He has an energy and passion for life that comes across in his writing – and if he can inspire a grumpy designer like myself, who is old enough to be his dad, then he’ll certainly inspire younger people. Yes, I like Craig Oldham. He seems like a good bloke and he drinks lots of tea. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to see Craig talk or you’ve watched a clip of him on YouTube, you’ll know that he is very engaging and has a natural talent for telling a story and …

An olfactory excursion, part 2: Odour television

Picture: Plaster of Paris dogs – the remains of a model explaining how odour TV might have worked. See below… Notebook: 11 March 2018 | SMELL I’d just completed a couple of days design teaching in Sheffield and I was travelling home on the train. At Nottingham a flood of passengers poured off but they were quickly replaced by another hoard that clambered on. Out the corner of my eye I saw a rosey faced woman bustle down the aisle and take her seat and as she passed, I smelt her go by. It wasn’t an unpleasant smell – quite the opposite. Outside it was cold and I imagined that the woman had had a long walk to the station because she had picked up the smell of the cool fresh air – that same delicious fragrance that you notice when you gather in freshly laundered washing that has spent a day drying in the fresh air on a washing line. It was a comforting smell and it reminded me of my mother. When I …

Moon Touch Down

Notebook: 16 March 2018 | TYPOGRAPHY | NEWSPAPERS Spotted in a corridor at Sheffield Hallam University – the front page of a special colour supplement from The Yorkshire Post celebrating the first moon landing in 1969. My eye was caught by the odd mix of typography. The title or ‘masthead’, Moon Touch Down, is set in a typeface called Microgramma which became a favourite with graphic designers in the late 1960s and early 70s. It’s a geometric CAPS only sans-serif but with distinctive rounded corners, and its square shape allowed for it to be set with very tight letter and line spacing as is the case here – it captures perfectly the optimistic mood of this period in history. The headline font for First Flag on the Moon, looks rather clumsy in comparison especially with its gappy word spacing. It’s typeset in Futura Bold Condensed (Italic) which has been a popular tabloid newspaper headline font for many years (and is still used today in the ugly looking Sun newspaper). Microgramma was designed in 1952 by Aldo …

A2Z+ book review

Above: Front and back covers of a school kit, USSR 1968 (Pollocks Toy Museum). From A2Z+ by Julian Rothenstein Notebook 5 March 2018 | BOOK REVIEW: A2Z+ by Julian Rothenstein. Published by Laurence King, April 2018 Although we spend much of our day tapping away on a phone or keyboard the majority of us still pick up a pen and make marks on a piece of paper. It’s good to see that schoolchildren continue to scribble and doodle in the margins of their exercise books and make use of decorative titling and other flourishes on the covers of their notebooks and school diaries. When I was a teenager there was a fad for writing titles with extravagant bubble writing with one outline letter overlapping the next – almost like a graffiti tag. My take on this was to use drop-shadows, 3-D blocking or primitive serifs (see pics at end) based on typefaces such as Cooper Black or the slabs of Clarendon or Playbill. Reference material for my decorative titling would have been old press adverts, packaging or the …

Digging through the women’s magazine graveyard

Notebook: 23 February 2018 | MAGAZINES | TYPOGRAPHY | PHOTOGRAPHY I’ve been reading Paul Gorman’s ‘The Story of The Face: The Magazine That Changed Culture‘ which was published late last year by Thames and Hudson. The Face (1980-2004) was the brainchild of Nick Logan who later went on to launch the men’s magazine Arena (1986-2009) but I’d forgotten that it was Logan’s company Wagadon that had also published a bold and eye-catching but short-lived women’s magazine called Frank (1997-1999). I still have copies of Frank sitting on my magazine shelves side-by-side with two other women’s magazines from around that same period: Bare and Nova (The Second Coming). They were all edgy, unconventional and good-lookers but sadly none of them lasted for more than a couple of years or so in their crowded marketplace. Here’s what I liked about their designs and why I’ve hung on to copies of these magazines for over 15 years. Frank (1997-1999). Published by Wagadon Frank was launched in October 1997 as a ‘provocative, challenging, intelligent and witty’ women’s magazine and it carried a lively …

An olfactory excursion, part 1: Uncle Ernie

Notebook: 31 January 2018 | SMELL Forgive my self indulgence as I put all thoughts of editorial design temporarily to one side, close the lid on my laptop, throw open the window and sniff in the air. Today I detect an overriding but comforting smell of woodsmoke from a neighbouring chimney pot and a background tang of tarry smelling pig manure from a far-off farmer’s field. And every now and again I catch the delicate and ethereal fragrance of the winter-flowering Sweet Box shrub (Sarcococca Confusa) quietly doing its thing at the end of the drive. It’s a heady but rather delicious mix. It’s time now, for me to step back 36 years and more, on the first of a two-part journey about our underused sense of smell. My great-uncle Ernest Paul was a chemist, botanist and plant hunter. He worked in Bristol at Wills tobacco and lived on the coast at Clevedon in Somerset. As a small child I remember his garden being awash with greenery and exotic plants which must have benefited from the warmth of the Gulf Stream pushing …

Busy week for news design geek

Notebook: 21 January 2018 | NEWSPAPERS It’s been a busy week for a news design enthusiast like myself – digesting and enjoying the new-look Guardian and Observer newspapers (and website) whose re-designs have been prompted by their switch from their unique Berliner size to tabloid, to save money. And this coincided with me running a newspaper design project for students on the NUA Design for Publishing course in Norwich. Here was my week… Sunday 14 January: Scouring the internet and Twitter, I catch my first glimpse of the re-designed Guardian. Gone is the familiar white-out-of-blue, slab-serif masthead, and in its place is a black-on-white, two-deck arrangement set in a new, sharply chiselled typeface. It’s looking good… Monday 15 Jan: More sharp looking pages surface on social media. I hurry to the newsagent to grab a copy but can’t see it and worry that they’ve sold out. Hold on, there it is. Sub-consciously I must have been looking for the old blue title. I study the cover and ponder if the masthead needs to be 5 or 10mm …

NYT mag masthead mash-up

Notebook: 12 January 2018 | MAGAZINES | PHOTOGRAPHY Some of the best looking and most effective magazine covers are a bit like the best of the old print adverts with a ‘less is more’ approach that uses just a couple of simple ingredients: a strong image and a well written cover line. The designer and editor work as a closely knit team in much the same way that a designer and copywriter might do in an ad’ agency. Think back to the well known George Lois Esquire covers from the 1960s and compare them with the famous Volkswagen adverts from the same period, or a Nova cover with the Saatchi pregnant man a decade later, and you’ll see what I mean.   In the 1960s and 70s I enjoyed the advert-like covers of Drive, The Sunday Times and Nova magazines and in the 1980s it was Time Out mag that hooked me in with its simple but striking covers.   These days it’s the covers that pop up each week on Twitter from The New York …