Changes to my Blog

Every now and then, we have those moments where we look at what we’re doing, and think “it’s time for a change”. For the past month, I’ve been thinking that way.

The Early Days of my Blog

I started this blog as a way of increasing my presence in the design community, as well as educating both designers and non-designers about the creative industry. It originally began as a LinkedIn blog, before I switched to using WordPress as my blogging-platform. And, I’ve enjoyed writing every post I’ve written, from those about general topics, to those more out of the norm.

However, I’ve come to realise that as I’ve done more writing, I’ve done far less designing; the very career I’ve been pursuing!

Why It’s Come to a Stand-Still

Just about any author will tell you that they come up with ideas for stories all the time, yet simply don’t have the time to write them all down. I’ve somewhat been going through the same feelings, where I’ve had ideas for what I can design, but haven’t found the time to design anything. Not only has work really stepped up a gear recently, with our garden becoming a priority this summer, as well as family matters to deal with, there just hasn’t been any time for design work. That’s essentially the reason why it’s been a good month since I’ve written a blog post.

And, as tragic as the event was (and frightening, given one of my clients is an Orlando resident, who is thankfully safe and well), creating the ‘Let the Love Win’ graphic in light of the Orlando Shooting reminded me of just how much designing I’ve missed. When I design, especially if it’s a personal project as opposed to a commission, it’s a means for me to express my feelings; a way of using one picture to say 1,000 words.

Time for a Change

Therefore, I have now come to a decision to spend less of my spare time writing blog posts, and more time on personal design projects. I’ll definitely be writing posts in regards to current topics, especially if they’re in the news, but no longer will it be scheduled. I’ll attempt to write about at least one thing each month, but I won’t kick myself if I don’t achieve that either.

But, that’s not all, as I’ll also be writing blog posts about the projects I’ll be spending more time on, offering more information as to why I’ll be working on them, details of my experiences creating them, etc.. I like to be secretive about what I create until the project is completed, so keep an eye out for what I have planned. I’m pretty sure you’re going to enjoy what I make!

Essentially, I’m going to be much more casual about my blog. Commission will be my main priority, then personal projects, then blog posts. I think this is the right direction to take, and hey, as someone who’s only been blogging for one year, I don’t think I’ve done a half-bad job!

Thank you to everyone who’s been keeping track of my blog so far; I’ll be sure to make the next post a good one. Keep your eyes peeled!

Is Print Dying?

Not long ago, I wrote a blog-post asking what would happen if digital practices completely overtook everything else in the world, and included a small shout-out the ‘The New Day’, Britain’s first new independent newspaper since 1986. At the time, people were asking if the newspaper could survive in todays increasingly digital world. And now, two months after it’s original release, the newspapers cancellation gave us the unanimous answer of ‘no’.

This begs us to ask: is print a dying industry? Are we seeing the end of an era as more and more mediums, newspapers especially, turn into their digital counterparts?

Where’s All the Paper Gone?

Computers used to be costly, confusing, and frankly. ugly devices that only computer nerds and scientists ever found an interest in. So, for the most part, the everyman stuck to what they were familiar with: printed newspapers and the post.

That was until Steve Jobs came into our lives, and released the iMac, suddenly making the computer more accessible, aesthetically pleasing, and cheaper than ever. Technology continued to evolve, with the likes of laptops and mobile phones. And nowadays, not only is technology becoming more affordable, but it’s also becoming more portable. Gone are the days of computers being reserved to the office, as more people own smartphones than ever before, and the internet becomes more accessible with 4G services, and free wifi-hotspots in multiple towns and cities.

In short, the need for printed items, purely as a source of information, is declining rapidly in the western world. Information accessed via technology is overtaking printed information, due to its increased speed, reduced cost, and enhanced interactivity (it’s true what they say, “never look at the comments”).

Why Does Print Still Exist?

There are two main reasons why printing still exists in the vocabulary of people in the creative industry. For one thing, printed mediums are often a lot more practical than digital ones. Packaging-design, for example, can only be done with printed materials, regardless of whether or not the product is technological. I hardly believe we’re going to see holographic shopping-bags in the future. Signage also remains mainly print-based, since whilst electronic signs still exist, they provide little functional value, and aren’t as cost-effective as standard printed ones, due to the constant need for power to make the signs work.

The other reason is that there’s more variety when it comes to designing print-based items. With digital mediums, a designer can choose certain videos, cuts, animations and sound effects. Yet with print, a designer can choose from a variety of sizes, thicknesses, paper weights, finishes, cut-outs, embosses, debosses, printing techniques, textures, cover materials, special materials, mechanisms, bindings/stitchings, and even scents (limited editions of Katy Perry’s album, ‘Teenage Dream’, were given a ‘cotton candy’ fragrance). Plus, there’s something more aesthetically pleasing seeing a printed item on a shelf than there is seeing a digital item on a screen, overall enhancing the user’s experience when handling the product.

Where’s Print Actually Increasing?

Yep, believe it or not, there’s one kind of printing that works harmoniously with digital mediums, and is continuing to grow and improve in its quality by the day. What kind of printing is that, you may ask…? 3D Printing!

I’ll admit, I was initially rather skeptical about 3D printing, since I wondered if the products printed would be as durable as derivationally manufactured items. But, after a little product demonstration I was given last year, I was sold. Interests in 3D printing are not only expanding, but also diversifying, as the fashion industry has also take interest in the new technology.

Industries Never Completely Die

Remember back in the early 2000’s, when we thought CGI was going to eradicate both traditional animation, and practical special effects? Well, we’ve since discovered that traditional animation, much like print, offers more variety than CGI does. And, many a critic have grown tired of CGI effects, and favour traditional effects which involve makeup, puppets, and a lot of trial and error.

Remember when it was thought vinyl record were going to be wiped from public consciousness, too, since we now have CD’s and MP3 players? Well, the industry has now seen a resurgence in vinyl’s, since they have a stronger sound-quality, and are more nostalgic than the more modern technologies are. And, once again, a collection of vinyl’s on ones shelf is more impressive than a song-list on iTunes.

What Wen’t Wrong with the New Day?

Think back to what I said about the internet taking over printed materials as a source of information. When reading the news, few of us are ever bothered as to whether or not the paper is 120gsm or higher, or if the paper becomes saturated from the overlapping layers of ink. All people care about, when reading the news, is the news itself. So long as the typography makes the type legible, which would have to be considered regardless of whether or not the article would be put under the press, that’s all that matters regarding the design and layout of the article.

Personally, I do feel really bad for the people behind ‘the New Day’, since they seemed to put a lot of time and effort into making it marketable, and they made all the right moves by making the paper more concise and quality-based. They just focused their efforts on the wrong medium.

So, Is Print Dying?

Despite the fact that many print-based products are going out of fashion due to the practicalities of digital methods, I say that print-design, on the whole, isn;t going to drop completely off the map anytime soon. there are still multiple things print has over digital products, as well as products that quite simply aren’t possible, or practical, when made digitally. All that may happen is that print will involve to favour form over function, and become more upmarket than regular digital mediums.

Newspapers may be on their way out, but print is still here to stay.

Do you agree? Do you think print, as a whole, is on its way out? Was there some kept factor I forgot to mention? If so, feel free to comment below with your ideas.

What Would Happen if the Internet Destroyed All Other Media?

There’s been a lot of news recently regarding how much the internet is changing the face of media. Not only has BBC3 become the first TV channel to move entirely online, but The Indepentant announced that it would be going the same way, and people are already asking whether or not Britain’s newest newspaper, New Day, will survive in a digital age.

Not only did this make me wonder what would happen to the media industry if everything moved to being online, but also to the creative industry. Therefore, I decided to examine this possibility, and have listed the most likely changes that would happen for us creatives.

A World of Coders

I’ll start with the most obvious change; coding would become an essential skill for nearly all creatives. It’s thought that IT jobs will grow by 22% by 2020, and if more creative careers become anchored in the world wide web, knowing at least a little bit of HTML or CSS would become a priority.

Physical Products Become Upmarket

Predictably, as more people would become adjusted to digital tools, those who are traditionally skilled would become much rarer than digital creators. Therefore, traditional craftsmen would be able (and required) to charge more for their one-of-a-kind products, as well as focus on quality.

Digital Fundimentalism

Fundamentalism is a design-style that was extremely popular during the Modern Age that focused on geometry and ‘less is more’. Not only does this bring focus to the layout of a page, but it would be useful for reducing unnecessary data for a web-page. Therefore, geometric websites and brands in would most likely going to become the dominant aesthetic.

The Return of Retro

For every person who looks to the future, there’ll be one who’ll relish in the past. Therefore, there would most likely be a subculture of creatives who’d specialise in old-fashioned styles. Signs of this are already apparent, as the music-scene is shifting away from EDM into more folk-orientated sounds.

The Fall of Live Broadcasting

Almost every web-page has the option to leave a comment, so the chance to voice your opinion has never been easier. Not only that, but pre-recorded shows are easier to watch as more people become increasingly flexible with their daily routines. Putting both aspects into consideration, it would seem that live shows would most likely to decrease in viewership.

Rising Advertising Prices

Most things people expect to find online are free, so that would only leave advertising revenue as the way people to make money of their websites. Combined with the lack of space available on one page to market, adverts would most likely become more expensive.

More Aggressive Adverts

Another thing to consider is that unlike the old-days, we now have the ability to either hide static adverts, or skip video-adverts after their first 5 seconds. With this in mind, many advertising agencies would have to think about the even smaller time-span they have to get the brands they’re selling noticed.

Extreme Target Marketing

Unlike the older days, when TV shows were watched by family members of all ages, we’re seeing an increase in people using personal devices to watch their favourite shows. This means the family-market could decline, and brands would become more targeted towards specific demographics.

Is a Completely Online World a Good Thing or Bad Thing?

In all honesty, I don’t really think it’s fair to say whether or not a completely online world would be good or bad. Evolution brings both positive and negative effects to just about any kind of industry or society, and usually in equal measure.

The purpose of this post wasn’t to be a warning, neither was it to be a demand. it’s simply a nudge to suggest what could happen, and if so, how we should adapt out skills to fit into the changing environment.

Perhaps you think differently, though. You might think the creative industry might change in a different way, or you have an opinion as to whether it would be for better or worse. If so, feel free to comment about it below.

Creative People with Creative Ways to Sell Themselves

Sometimes, it isn’t just the art someone produces which makes them famous, but the way the artist sells themself which makes us look at them. That’s why I’m taking a look at some people who work in the creative industry that have managed to make a name for themselves by means which are out-of-the-box.

Just to be clear, I’m focusing on individuals and small groups, as opposed to big companies which used clever marketing tactics to make us buy their goods.

Also, I’m only looking at people with creative professions, so I’m excluding cases like Alfred Ajani holding up a sign in Waterloo Station. It’s a story worth reading, but not quite right for this list.

James Addison – ‘Puzzles for Postmen’

A talented graphic designer who graduated from Bournmouth in 2011, James Addison hasn’t just put his name on the map because of the big companies he’s designed for, but also for the ingenious ways in which he teases our Royal Mail.

Rather than use the standard address format, what James likes to do is send letters to various secret addresses in a variety of cryptic ways. From drawing the location on the envelope, to writing the address in morse code, James (to the annoyance of the Royal Mail) has inspired other creative souls to find equally challenging ways of getting their letters sent.

LESSON TO LEARN: Doing something unconventional will most-likely grab peoples attention.

My Dog Sighs – ‘Free Art Friday’

Artists are often incredibly reluctant to give some of their work away for free, but My Dog Sighs is an accepttion. The difference with him is that he only gave his art away on Fridays, and would give clues for people to find where the art was. Then, it was up to his followers to take part in a scavenger-hunt for that secret place and get a free piece of his art.

Now only was this trend popular with his followers, but it was so popular, that it spread to other artists from all around the world, and My Dog Sighs was the man who started it all.

LESSON TO LEARN: Encourage brand-loyalty by giving your customers a reason to keep track of the work you’re producing.

Maria Malone-Guerbaa – ‘Famous Face-Paints’

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A mother of two from London, Maria Malone-Guerbaa, despite working for various TV shows as a make-up artist, never found a way to make a name for herself. That was until one day when she decided to combine her make-up skills with those she has an an artist, and see if she can transform herself into different celebrities with nothing – yes, nothing – but face-paint.

With each painting taking approximately 4 hours to complete, she’s gained an immense following on Instagram, she has recently expanded her skills into transforming herself into animals. She has also had multiple media-appearances, and become involved in a variety of make-up based competitions.

LESSON TO LEARN: Sometimes, finding a niche where you can use your talents is enough to make someone want to follow you.

The Clarion Quartet – ‘Having a Jam in the Traffic Jam’

Between junctions 26 and 27 in the M5, a massive traffic-jam was caused when a horse escaped it’s horse box and ran rampant in the road. The quartet in question, on their way home from performing at a wedding ceremony, were also caught in the jam. So, as bored as everyone else was, they decided to step out of their vehicle, and play Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D’ live on the motorway.

It wasn’t long before an audience crowded around them, video-phones at the ready, and were given a round of applause once they finished their piece. And, as you can guess, it was media-appearances all the way from there-on.

LESSON TO LEARN: If you see an opportunity to make your voice heard, you might-as-well take it.

Ben Wilson – ‘The Spitting Image’

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Don’t you just hate it when you see a pavement that’s littered with chewing gum? Well, so did painter and sculptor, Ben Wilson. So, being the son of an artist, and a graduate from art-school, he decided to brighten both people’s spirits and streets by getting on his hands and knees, and painting tiny paintings into the individual pieces of spat-out gum

He was once arrested by police for allegedly vandalising property, yet was released without charge after a wave of supporters wrote letters demanding to set him free. He went full-time doing his chewing gum paintings in 2004, and still gets media-appearances for it to this day.

LESSON TO LEARN: Producing work that can turn a negative into a positive can make you popular.

Doug Walker – ‘Calling it Quits’

Whilst working as an illustrator, Doug used his spare time to make comedic videos of film-reviews. After discovering he was making enough money from the reviews alone, he decided to quit his job in the most OTT way possible, by parading around his workplace to ‘Bohomian Rhapsody’ and putting the clip on the web.

It’s an extremely risky move to make (and one I’d never try in a-million years), but seeing as his reviews have remained successful, even labelling him as one of the Top 10 YouTube Movie Critics according to WatchMojo.com, I’d say it was a successful move.

LESSON TO LEARN: Not everyone will like what you do, but if your target market is going to enjoy something you want to do, it’s a chance worth taking.

Why Do We Lose Our Creativity As We Grow Up (And How We Can Prevent It)?

During a presentation held by a highly enthusiastic Dan Spain at my nearest meet-up, he talked about a 2006 survey held by Sir Ken Robinson. In the survey, 1,600 children were tested to see how many of them were ‘highly creative’ (or more specifically, how many could think in “divergent or non-linear ways”) at various stages of their life.

Frighteningly, he discovered that despite 98% of them being highly creative aged 5, that dropped to just 2% by the time those same children were 25.

(AUTHORS NOTE: I’ve since been corrected that it was in fact George land who did the survey, not Ken Robinson. Thanks a lot, Google!)

As I left that night, I asked myself why we drastically lose our creativity as we get older. What I came up with were a variety of factors and a variety of ways we, as grown ups, can get around it.

We’re Not Looking After Our Bodies As Well As We Should.

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We privileged westerners often end up living unhealthy lifestyles, which can include too few vegetables in our stomachs, and too many un-earnt pints at the local pub. And, there’s plenty of evidence to prove that having an unhealthy body can lead to having an unhealthy mind.

Furthermore, graphic designers can spend long, long hours sat in front of the computer, staring at bright screens with square eyes, and eating way more carbohydrates than one can burn.

This is why looking after your body is important. You don’t have to be a health-fanatic by any means, but little things like keeping an eye on what you eat, exercising, quitting bad habits, and only treating oneself in moderation, can make a big difference. Keeping your body and mind healthy will allow you to hold onto its creative juices the longer you live.

We Have a Dumb Idea of What Makes Someone ‘Smart’.

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Whilst I’m probably more respectful for our education system than most of my friends are, mainly because I’m just glad it’s compulsory, I do think it can do with some patching up.

Partially to blame on society, it tends to be overly dependant on revision and memory, when rationality and innovation are greatly underrated aspects to ones intelligence. One of my ongoing clients explains this astonishingly in one of his articles (and if having a grizzly-bear alter-ego isn’t a creative outlet, I don’t know what is).

Slowly but surely, our society needs to change the way we classify ‘intelligence’, and see that there’s more than one way someone can be smart. It’s not all about remembering the facts, it’s also about experimentation, discovery, defensive skills, and determination.

Computers Have Made It Too Easy to Find Answers.

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One of the biggest faults of the Digital Age is that, quite literally, we can Google any question for almost any answer. Problem-solving is a vital part of divergent thinking, so the fact that we live in an a time where programs solve the problems for us means we’re not exercising our brains for finding the answers ourselves. Some professions require problem-solving skills as standard, but that’s a rarity.

It might sound like a no-brainer, but if your job doesn’t require those skills as much as others do, brain-teasers and puzzles are a good way of entertainingly training your head (Sudoku is a favourite of mine). Or, rock-climbing and orienteering can challenge your brain whilst giving you a breath of fresh air.

Whatever it is you’re doing, make sure you exercise your mind to avoid taking everything at point blanc.

We’ve Put Our Lust for Money Before Our True Passions.

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If you ask me, society has wildly over-glamorised money. From what I see, most high-paying jobs are extraordinarily stressful, and people in these positions barely have the time or energy to enjoy the things they buy. Furthermore, it’s not helped when those in higher positions disregard creative roles as ‘proper careers’.

So for one thing, let’s realise that the creative industry is perhaps more valuable than one may have first thought. To put it bluntly, it’s worth £71billion in the U.K., and $698billion (approx. £453billion) in the U.S.A.

Secondly, perhaps we should start measuring wealth by how much life one has lived. You really don’t need to buy 1,000 things you’ll never use! If you have a creative job you genuinely enjoy, so long as you can earn enough to survive, you’re better off using the rest of your energy living the short life you have with your friends and family.

After all, if I can survive with just Nokia 130 and without the latest iPhone, I think you can too.

We’re Scared of Trying (and Understanding) Anything New.

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I have come to discover that even the most open-minded people, despite good intentions, can struggle to look at creations which aren’t ‘standard’, and realise that it might have been beneficial to break an unwritten rule to two.

A fantastic example of this is ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Extraordinary and unconventional, it originally received mixed reviews, and a comment from Elton John saying “you’ll never get that on the radio”. 40 years on, it’s one of the greatest pop-songs of all time, as well as one of the most played ones on British radio.

This might be challenging, but if you see/hear a piece you don’t like, don’t just give it a thumbs down. Take a moment to question why other people enjoy things you don’t like, and not only will it allow you to see understand from a different point of view, but it might even turn that thumbs down upside-down.