All posts filed under: Notebook

Reading, writing and typography

Pictured above. A collection of old signs and letters on display in the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. Photo by Rachel Bray Notebook 18 June 2017 | DEGREE SHOWS | TYPOGRAPHY Reading with a cap ‘R’ – the Thames Valley, Crossrail boomtown; home to the rock festival and the gaol where Oscar Wilde was incarcerated; and home for a while, to poor old Jude Fawley in Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude the Obscure. Once upon a time I spent a week in Reading hospital having my appendix whipped out. It was my first encounter with a scalpel (a few years later I was to learn that the ’10a’ scalpel blade was the graphic designer’s preferred blade of choice). And in 1974 or so, I would have tottered on my platform shoes into Reading’s Top Rank nightclub to see the legendary singer Edwin Starr perform. The ugly old station-side nightclub has long since disappeared and been replaced by smart office blocks but the town is still rather dull and congested with traffic. …

Newies but goodies

Notebook 25 May 2017 | MAGAZINES Last month I wrote about a cluster of wonderful old magazines that I’d unearthed tidying the studio. This month I’m taking a look at a selection of new purchases that I’ve recently enjoyed, starting with a couple of heavyweight and always good-looking consumer titles… GQ (UK edition) June 2017. Creative Director: Paul Solomons, Art Director: Keith Waterfield In some ways GQ is the perfect magazine. For anyone who knows me, I clearly don’t buy it for its features about fast cars, expensive watches and male grooming products. Instead I admire it for its consistently good looks. And it’s the magazine that I like to wave in front of journalism and design students as an example of ‘this is how you do it!’ – because it does do everything so well – from its rich mix of high-quality, short and long-form content, great flat-planning and pace – to its well-engineered design and typography that always makes use of the best photography, illustration and infographics. Highlights of this month’s issue (pictured above) include a profile of London Mayor, Sadiq Khan (with portrait by …

Oldies but goodies

Notebook: 28 April | MAGAZINES The office is a mess. I have too many old magazines and newspapers cluttering up the shelves and I really ought to throw some of them away to make space for all the new stuff. Trouble is, they’re all great mags, despite their age. Here’s five that I’ve just unearthed and dusted down… ELLE DECOR 1990 (US edition). Art Director: Jean-Marie Hatier American Elle Decor still looks as stylish as it did 27 years ago – luscious pictures, tight grid, white space, carefully crafted headlines and unusually narrow columns. Delicious! I think the headline and text font are both Baskerville Old Style. LUFTHANSA BORDBUCH 1995 (Germany) The Lufthansa in-flight customer magazine. Design/layout Alberto Garcia-Izquierdo and Rolf Kuhl The Lufthansa magazine was cool and pared back with excellent photography and dollops of white space. The same features appeared twice – first in German and then in English, but with different pictures. Headlines and text are set in Helvetica. I believe that the magazine is still in production and that it looks very much like it did 22 years ago. ECONY 1999 …

magCulture Meets Real Review

Notebook: 6 April 2017 | MAGAZINES magCulture Meets are a monthly series of informal talks by magazine makers and designers at the magCulture shop in St John Street, Clerkenwell, London and their most recent event was a session with the editor and designer of the award-winning Real Review architecture based magazine. The talk coincided with the release of the third issue of the magazine and, just like issues one and two, it comes packaged in its distinctive cellophane wrapper and is branded with a red face illustration by the brilliant Nishant Choksi and a large, black, ‘brutalist’ ‘R’. But it’s Real Review’s tall, thin, double-folded format that really sets it apart – it is saddle-stitched and then folded again vertically so that it fits comfortably in the hand. The reader can then chose to read one slim page at a time or unfold the magazine further to reveal additional long-form content. Editor Jack Self (from The Real Foundation) and designer Rory McGrath (from design agency OK-RM) explain how the magazine has been designed to feel disposable and not at all precious – they didn’t want it …

New look Sunday Times: packing a punch but with style

Notebook: 3 April 2017 | NEWSPAPERS The Sunday Times newspaper has just undergone a much-needed redesign (with a little help from myself on the design of the Culture section). The rather dated looking old paper with its clunky typography and mish-mash of styles has been replaced with a fresher and coherent design that is a pleasure to read. Editorial design gurus, Mark Porter and Simon Esterson worked alongside art director Russel Herneman and his team over a nine-month period to craft the new look and to test and bed-in the new designs. Porter and Esterson have collaborated before on major newspaper projects including The Guardian (pre Mark Porter’s Berliner-sized redesign of 2005), Publico (Lisbon), Avui (Barcelona) and NZZamSonntag (Zurich). Their starting point was to replace the existing headline serif font ‘Sunday Times Modern’ and the awkward looking sans-serif ‘Solido’ with a new set of elegant and robust fonts that would work well through all the different sections of the newspaper. To quote the designer and author Francesco Franchi, “the secret history of newspaper design, the one that is never apparent and readers are not aware of, lies in …

Orwell

Notebook: 13 April 2017 | BRANDING | TYPOGRAPHY When I’m not designing for Gilburt and Paul, or teaching editorial design, I collaborate with two ex-work colleagues and old friends, the journalists and writers Jonathan Arnold and Gary Mead. We have a partnership called Orwell and our aim is to provide businesses with influential content and design that enhances those businesses’ core philosophies so that they become better known, better understood and better received. And we do this using rigorous thinking, superb writing and carefully crafted design. Our expertise lies in creating a wide range of long form content such as annual reports and other corporate publications, thought leadership brochures and magazines, research documents and white papers. To find out more about Orwell, take a look at our website. Here are pages from our Orwell brochure that I designed last year.

Attention to detail

Notebook: 29 March 2017 | NEWSPAPERS | DIGITAL Over the last couple of years, and with little fanfare, The Telegraph newspaper has undergone a major design overhaul that started in 2015 with the main newspaper, filtered out across the website, digital edition and live app and was ‘completed’ in March 2017 with the redesign of the Saturday Telegraph Magazine. Although it’s a newspaper I choose not to buy because of its political bias, I do admire it for the quality of its finely crafted design and attention to typographic detailing. The brains behind the Telegraph group’s redesign is creative director Jon Hill who joined The Telegraph in May 2014 after having worked for seven years at The Times. Hill’s brief from the group’s owners and the editor, was to improve, modernise and bring consistency to The Telegraph. It was refreshing that he had an understanding ‘client’ who gave him a free hand and told him that ‘everything was up for grabs’. He assembled a team of designers for the task, that included Nicola Ryan, Sara Martin, Mark Hickling, Joel Wade, Fraser …

George Hardie retrospective. Brighton Uni’, 11 March – 7 April 2017

Above: One of George Hardie’s earliest designs/illustrations produced when he was still a student at the Royal College of Art Notebook: 19 March | ILLUSTRATION | ILLUSTRATION HEROES As a student in the late 1970s, I became fascinated by the work of the graphic artist George Hardie. I collected tear-sheets of his work, wrote essays about him and even managed to wangle a visit to his studio in Covent Garden. I still love his hard-edged, ideas-based illustrations with their hidden twists. Hardie is a prolific artist and designer and a retrospective exhibition of his work entitled 50 Odd Years is currently showing at the University of Brighton (11 March – 7 April, 2017). The exhibition spans three rooms and is packed full of his work from across the decades – from his early album sleeve designs and drawings for rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Genesis and Pink Floyd, through to later work such as his ‘Magic’ stamps for the Royal Mail in 2005. It’s a fascinating collection and if you’re going to visit, give yourself lots of time to digest all the goodies on display. Unfortunately there …

Wrestling with a broadsheet

Notebook 8 February 2017 | NEWSPAPERS | TEACHING Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) is one of the few graphic design courses in the UK that offers students the option to specialise in editorial design via their BA degree in ‘Design for Publishing’. Regular readers may remember my review of their excellent degree show last summer. The course has a high success rate for graduates taking up careers in magazine, book and newspaper publishing as well as digital publishing and graphic design. Each year, 2nd-year students are split into small groups and are set a project where they have to redesign pages 1-3 of the Sunday Times newspaper along with designs for a digital version for phone and ipad. A printed newspaper may be an old medium to work with but the strict design nature of the task means that the students quickly learn all about using grids, typography and type hierarchy as well as visual storytelling, picture editing and simple clear communication. This year we encouraged the students to also think about how a redesign might be able to attract younger readers. …

A tale of two albums

Notebook: 25 February 2017 | MUSICAL INTERLUDE | ALBUM COVER DESIGN A tale of two albums In June 1979 I graduated from my graphic design course at Lanchester Polytechnic in Coventry and took a flight to New York with my college mate John. We were on our way to work for three months at a summer camp in Massachusetts and our job would be to mow the lawns of the sports pitches, clean the toilets and showers and carry out any minor repairs on the camp. We were joined by two American students from Boston and we all shared a cabin together. John and myself were both big Clash fans and we were determined to convert out American buddies from Country Rock to Punk Rock. We had no music cassettes and even the Sony Walkman was a year or so away from making its first appearance and so we listened in vain to the local radio stations hoping to grab a snatch of the music we loved. We were given one day off a week and at the first opportunity, …