"There is no such thing as originality anymore, so you might as well give up" Isaac Caplan-Wilson, 2016
My friend Isaac isn't known for mincing his words, and if there was ever a way to get straight to the point, he got the point, in a direct line and left trails of fire behind his sharp fiery tongue. Subtly was never a strong point in Ike's vocabulary.
If you disagree with that statement, then maybe you should have a look at the design around you; the witch-hunts and accidental rip offs that grab the heads of designers and submerge them into the deep water of internet hatred.
AirBnB, the Tokyo Olympics & Beats are all rip offs (accordingly) whether the creators knew about it or not and they deserve to hung drawn and quartered for their disservices to the world. But is it not just possible that eventually, within a couple of years that two different people could stumble upon the same solution for their design problem. I mean there are only so many solutions for companies that share industries and the same initials.
Or perhaps these designers are straight up Snake Oil Salesmen, digging through endless design specimen books for a logo to directly copy and pass off as their own with complete ignorance of the truth, or perhaps they are just an unlucky sole at the brunt of an angry mob of internet 'experts'.
We'll likely never know the full truth of any of these cases, but it does seem true that there is no longer and originality in design, even without knowledge you are constantly copying someone else. You might as well unplug your computer, burn your sketchbooks and snap all your pencils—you'll forever be stumbling through the dark, standing on past designers toes whilst the public stand viewing through the double-sided mirror that is the internet, hurling educated abuse at each movement you make. You cretin.
So we have two possibilities; you accept you'll never be truly original and give up or you ignore everything that stands for and create your own originality. Look at it like a vegetable patch—you buy the seeds and you grow some carrots and you're bloody proud of those orange spear shaped vegetables because they didn't die and you got to eat them with your tea that night. You didn't create that plant, nor did invent the carrot but you did make them. You grew them, you watered them and you took care of them; they might look like every other carrot but you made them; they are your own originality.
If you think you are always producing completely original work in an industry that has existed as long as the mass printed page (see Gutenburg Bible) then you are a fraud, because there likely isn't much that hasn't already been done—so you need to create your own originality. It would be a fair argument to say that all design is fundamentally based on inspiration, thus making nothing truly original in the global sense. So I say to the (Isaac) you sir are both wrong and right, but wise but also ignorant. You are kind of like the bible; yeah, it's fantastic to 'Love your neighbour as yourself' but it's completely stupid to believe everything you have and have achieved is thanks to an ethereal spirit.
But as always, this is just my perspective on things. Just as someone can be a christian and follow the bible as a book of guidance and non-fiction, people can also believe that originality can no longer exist; which ironically they both seem as plausible to exist as each other to me. I mean, if we can fly through the air in a steel cylinder, send imagery and sound through an invisible network and observe galaxies that may have already destroyed themselves, I don't see why originality could no longer exist and a man on a cloud couldn't dictate my actions through this exact writing.
It's all a matter of perspective, knowledge and opinion m'dear.
Sunday, 25 September 2016
Friday, 23 September 2016
Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin. I came to win & nobody knows any more words than this, here's another volume of my pricing guide.
As you may have seen, I recently shared my thoughts on how you should price yourself or at least how you should think about pricing if you are new to this game—the game of pain. I honestly I thought I did quite well with that post and it seems that there is a general consensus that it wasn't all that bad too, but I find that without comment, without critique there is no way I can be happy with it. I guess I'm a bit of a masochist.
As always, good ol' Robbie Scott comes through for me, he drives right into my Facebook living room and lets me know exactly what he thinks and it should be obvious that this is something I respect—I can't be arsed to read between lines or figure out what someone really meant, I just want to know what they think.
He shared a few extra items that I should have considered and to me, they made a lot of sense. I didn't feel like these items should be merely added onto that said post, I thought that they were so well considered and planned that it deserved some recognition. It's not only Robbie that made comment on things that should be added, but his always seem to float from a a height of trail, pain and experience; despite only being a wee lad.
These things worth noting as contributed by Robbie Scott:
Set Your Rate
Even if you are not working by the hour, it helps for you set a price for certain items and processes.
"You need to have a base price which is the minimum value of your time which is non negotiable."
This helps you set your standing with any client, if they know their lowest – as do you – it's a easier process for pricing but also, it's a good indicator to how you regard yourself and your work. The client may never see your lowest rate but you'll know it and that will help your keep a strong chin when they want to try and slash £200 off the final price.
You are essentially paying your own wages
"A common mistake is taking a job which doesn't pay enough to cover your time and often post grads will end up paying themselves less than minimum wage and end up working 15 hour days."
A lot of times you'll think less of yourself when pricing and more of the client. You'll think—I can't charge that much! But realistically you are providing them with a service, they are hiring you because they cannot do it themselves; so as far as pricing is concerned, this is the time to be selfish.
When entering into any project, or pricing for anything you need to assess whether they are hiring you for anything that would require specialist skills; skills outside of your job title and outside of the standard brief. "for example photography, video, After Effects, retouching etc—you can also set a different rate for those skills."
Say you are designing a leaflet, but they also ask for you to sort the photography for them; that's another skill and process that you'll need to provide; this adds to the cost. You are basically removing the need for them to hire a photographer, so why should you do the job of two professionals at the cost of one.
Don't be taken for a mug and you'll keep Captain Scott happy. For which he clearly is.
|Totally stolen from Facebook|
Sunday, 11 September 2016
Pizza shops, hairdressers and newsagents—they all have terrible design. But is it really terrible?
Now, I won't be standing here trying to argue that their design is actually well done or that it's any good; but I do want to argue that bad doesn't mean bad. This is the point where you re-read what you've read and come back to here just as confused as before.
I want to put across to you, that those ugly looking and badly formatted signs you see on your drunken walk home are actually less bad than you might think. If you can put you mind into that post-pint state and see through the hangover haze, these simple designs were a beacon of hope and hunger for your self-inflicted weekend disabling.
The crisp, clear monogram might work in that posh restaurant but Papyrus is king in the Chinese take-away. There is comfort in the poorly designed, the visual ignorance if you like.
Raid any draw in your kitchen and you'll find a menu laden in poor colour choices teamed with a 'printers special' * logo, you'll see at least 6 fonts and it'll be barely readable—but Chicken Korma is clear enough, is it not?
Whether the designer of these logos, leaflets and signs is aware of it or not, they are creating a comfortable bad. Imagery that is simple enough to not exclude, intimidate or offend anyone. It's certainly not good design, thus is must be bad design—but this doesn't make it bad design. Understand? No? Me neither.
Bad design isn't bad when it's in the right place. Mario's Pizza Shack doesn't need the NASA Brand Guidelines, it just needs to tell you it's going to infringe on Nintendo's copyright and sell you a reasonably priced Ham & Pineapple. It needs to be reliably shit, because you don't always fancy going to Pizza Express, sometimes you just want to boost your cholesterol on the sofa. y'know.
What I'm saying is, in some cases bad design isn't bad design; it's just badly designed which in turn makes it good design for the people looking for comfort in bad design. The people without preference in spotting good design or the people that are bad for spotting good design but made bad decisions with various good substances and now seek anything bad for them, usually under the banner of bad design—which we now know is good design because of how bad it is. Get it?
Perhaps bad design is only bad when it's not suited, it's bad not when it looks bad but when it's works badly. Let's look at it like it were maths, which perhaps is bad design on my behalf but who cares?
- Logo made by printers + Large corporate business = bad
- Crisp, strong logo + Large corporate business = good
- Logo made by printers + Local takeaway = good
- Crisp, strong logo + Local takeaway = bad (if done too well)
If you are now looking back and feel that you disagree with me, then feel free to cry in a corner. Because you can clearly see that Snoop agrees with me, and if you think Snoop is wrong then you better check yourself. Love Vincent x
* a printer's special is a logo created by a printing company. It's a derogatory term I made up today to describe a particular genre of branding. "Oh are those your new leaflets?" "Yes, they were really cheap! They even designed my logo for me." "Wow! That's a printer's special if ever I saw one"
Sunday, 4 September 2016
Every creative student on earth has the same issue—"how the fuck do I price my work?"
See that GIF above? Well that could be you, rolling in the money—even if you aren't an Indian lady! (mad right?) It just requires you run over a couple of steps through your head and don't sell yourself short; even though it seems very fair to do so at the time.
Preface: Almost every creative subject studied at university will cover the chance for you to get some freelance work and unfortunately almost every single subject is not respected as 'real work'.
Every man and his dog would love branding for his god-awful business, every millennial wants illustration on their walls and for some reason everything needs a website now-a-days. See here.
The only problem is, the majority sees these as 'non-essential' and don't really want to part cash with something they reckon they "could do themselves". Every early creative knows this in the back of their mind and the majority of clients know it too. They know you don't have the piece of paper that says BA(Hons) yet, so it's fair game as far as they're concerned.
So lets me share a couple of tips with you, to help you understand how to price yourself.
Freelance doesn't mean free of charge: This seems really REALLY obvious right? WRONG!I haven't really encountered it myself but there is a large percentage of people that will see the word free and instantly assume the above.
Exposure doesn't buy beers: "This would be great exposure for you!"
Yeah man, a logo I designed hanging above your estate agents without any credit to myself will be great for my career—hey, let me do this for free for that privilege!
Charities, non-profit and work without pay: When it comes to work of this sort you need to ask yourself two questions.
Did whomever is asking for free work approach you or did you approach them? It's a question or morals really. If they approached you, they are looking for free work and will likely be a nightmare to work with. If you approached them, then you are offering a service with gratitude.
And secondly Does the person you are creating work for get paid for this? if they are getting paid from your hard work, then you've been ripped off—but if they aren't being paid and you two are both working payment free, then perhaps you are just being helpful.
Working by the hour: A difficult choice, with no real easy answer.
If you are an illustrator or artist alike, don't you dare think about working by the hour; whereas with design you can justify working by the hour because it's easier to predict the time it might take to do most jobs, especially if you've done them before.
With that said, I suggest you avoid doing so if you can. Use it as an idea for pricing but don't hing on working by the hours unless you've got a solid contract that allows for changes and cancellations.
Rights, terms and usage: Though you might not have thought about it too much—where, how and how long the work you are creating will be used, changes how you should price it.
Student doesn't mean cheap: You might not know everything but that doesn't mean you aren't the right person for the job; don't allow yourself to get into the mindset of 'I'm a student, so this is too much' though, I got my main freelance experience producing posters for £20 each. My time and work was worth more than this, but they were so frequent that the learning from the work was worth the sacrifice in money. It's a difficult decision but I reckon you might know when you see one.
You're worth more than you think: No explanation needed.
The PPP: (Practical Pricing Process)
- Student £10 per hour
- Graduate £15 per hour
Use these as guidelines to raise your price, lower your price or estimate a cost without working by the hour. I am not an expert but I find whenever anyone else does one of these they don't actually talk figure so it doesn't help any one. It's worth considering that you may want to reduce these figures if you are doing work that you aren't knowledge on or raising it if it's work that you are confident with.
- A long deadline? Lucky you! (+0%)
- A short deadline (+10%)
Do you have years or minutes?
If you have a long time you needed price for extra hours, it just means you have more time to ponder and return to it; but on the other hand if you have nearly no time at all the complete the project, then you need to raise that price because you are making it priority number one.
- Local Business (+0%)
- Large Business (+10%)
- Charity or Non-Profit (-20%) Just to be nice
When pricing it's best to understand who you are pricing for and how this will effect the work you produce. If it's a local business it might just go in their window, but if it's a larger company it could go on billboards and be circulated for years.
- Are you printing?
- Do you need to buy anything for the client or the project?
Don't cut yourself short, if you need 200 meters of silk to complete the project, make sure to add the cost of that alongside the pricing of the work.
Changes take time, time costs.
When pricing make sure to allow time and costs for changes; but be lenient. It's okay to allow three changes but when it comes to changes everyday, adding extra items or changing the whole project—you need to price accordingly. THIS IS IMPORTANT because the client will not always see things the way you do and is best outlined in the contract.
It seems cold, but there is little to no reason to not work with a contract with your client. It gives you both security with the work and lets you know where you both stand.
- Under £100 (No Deposit)
- £100 – £400 (33%)
- £500 + (50%)
Deposits allow safety on both sides. If the client drops out you haven't lost hours without pay and vise versa the client knows you aren't just going to drop out on them. It also means you can survive whilst working on the project.
Disclaimer: Though I have done my fair share of Freelance, I've only been doing this for three years so take my words as a guideline more than anything. You'll know when you see the worth which of these apply and which don't. You'll under sell yourself and you'll get screwed over—this happens to everyone.
You'll lose work and you won't always get it right. The hardest part of being a creative is being paid for it (until you hit the big leagues) so stick at it!
Sunday, 28 August 2016
When you vote, you vote for the manifesto, the policies and not the person—or at least you should. Usually this doesn't go to plan and political parties are clicking onto this; with politicians becoming more of a brand than a person.
C'mon you had to have seen this coming.
I know this final bit has nothing to do with their choice of typeface, but although type was a prominant part of my message here it's not the whole story. All these politicians chose to represent themselves through various typefaces because of the connotation of the imagery of their words. PJADAD's branding was no different but instead of the typeface being the masthead for their communication they used relative humour and human connection.
|Trump gets it|
Think of any brand you know, any brand you love—it has a particular typeface doesn't it?Because words are how we decode the information around us, with fonts making the visual representation for all words around us. Typefaces and Fonts are the core for almost any branding structure, developing a sense of warmth, trust or safety in a brand; this is exactly why politicians embrace them so heavily.
Imagine Donald Trump's full campaign set in the god awful Amatic – which I've secretly used before – that wouldn't allow much trust his loyal minions. Trump is a man that sets his words in BOLD and SERIF because clearly he's strong and traditional, right? I mean, there aren't strictly any fonts that print Xenophobia that well.
Trump mostly sets his punchy messages in Akzidenz-Grotesk BQ Bold Extended a strong favourite of mine and the original G when it comes to sans-serifs. In the world of typography this font holds more weight that Trumps campaign in the swamps of Mississippi—described as The Snob's Helvetica by a certain Andrew Byrom.
And when he's not shouting that we should save veterans or build walls, he wants to inform you that he is the best way to make America Great Again! in a mix match of every font available to his small fingers. I can't quite nail down exactly which one because sometimes it's FF Meta and other times it Times New Roman but it's always with a fauxed sense of traditionalism and knowledge.
On the other hand, we have a black man. Barack Obama.Just as he ends his term in office, he retires a surprisingly strong branding system backed with a spine built upon Gotham—a strong, alternative, modern sans typeface. For the man rising through the ranks, beating racism down with a strong manifesto and a highly notable wife; it couldn't be more fitting that the right font for the job shares the same name of the crime ridden metropolis that Bruce Wayne keeps in order. If you haven't got it yet, I'm comparing Obama to Batman—the original alternative hero.
Things are no different here in Britain either; we have strong branding for the innovators and we also have idiots hiding behind warm branding.
But what if someone changed up the formula, for good or for bad; made a politician as local, friendly, modern and relatable as they all try to be? What if someone who did this was someone I can't shut up about, someone I've spent good amounts of time with? What if they were Swedish? What if this was done by PJADAD?
C'mon you had to have seen this coming.
|They saw it coming|
In 2009, when I was merely a young boy (15) PJADAD was working hard creating a political branding system; for the CUF (Centerpartiets ungdomsförbund). A system aimed at the youth of Sweden, it employed comical noses, bright greens and as always a strong sand-serif. They described their system as a trojan horse, working it's way into not just displaying the political party but creating a link between voter and politician, a unifying item.
With the green nose supporting a clear link to the wild and colourful branding of the party, it was a clear sign that someone supported the party and when worn created a sense of obvious unity in ideology, like a trainspotters badge collection or a memorial poppy.
The idea of obvious unity of thought isn't new but is effective; even Trump caught onto this one.
|You know them Swedes know whats up.|
Their use of typeface for brand reinforcement and the development of a clear visual connotation both proves and disproves my point. Their words display who they are, but the visual link their followers embrace defines what they see.
Saturday, 20 August 2016
It seems that the world is currently mad for another TV show; but their are Stranger Things at work with this one. (geddit?!!!)
It may be 2016 but it seems that the whole world is obsessed with the 1980's, fairy lights and quite strangely, a Parisian 'Art Nouveau' serif. As is always with TV show trends, I try to distance myself from them, as although I don't doubt that it makes for great watching, I just don't feel that need to fit into the current 'hype' for whatever is currently exciting and 'life changing'.
I've seen Game of Thrones come and go and I watched Breaking Bad about 4 years after everyone forgot about it—through all these shows I could see people sharing excitement, screen caps and theories on how the plot might pan out; drawing in everyone's interest like a Netflix Blackhole. This is how those shows exist and how their popularity grows, to which Stranger Things is no different. I know of it's existence because of my friends and I feel a sense of recognition when I see that lovely type appear.
The point I have here is, you likely came to this post because you saw the title-card in the thumbnail, or read the name in that font we've all come to know so well. This show has flipped the standard hype train on it's head. Nobody is sharing images on Winona Ryder, they all want a bit of that sexy lettering. They all want their name to look like it's just burst out of an original Lucas Arts production.
Everywhere I look I can see peoples names, business and mottos spelt out in a soft glowing serif—ITC Benguiat to be specific. It seems that every word looks pretty in this lettering style and as hard as I try, I just cannot make it look ugly. Even the ugliest phrase I could think of still looked pretty swell. (see below)
|I couldn't think of a more ugly sentence than this|
The reason why I'm waling on about this is because it's a massive change in the market to see fans resonating with a typeface; with lettering rather than a character, an actor or various quotes. From day to day everyone sees typefaces and has their own favourite and least-favourite fonts whether they study design or not; but this little piece ingenious branding has captivated the average person to lust over type like I've never seen before.
It's not everyday you see the world obsessing over typefaces, looking at letterforms like beautifully crafted structures—just how I see them. It's a fine and dandy moment when you see great design become recognised, but when the design is just right and it captures the ideals of all the gleaming eyes of the Netflix audience; it's a real thing of beauty.
Promotion for a TV show doesn't often hinge so strongly on a typeface alone, but with a bit of effort, some talented designers and what looks like really strong script writing; the world could care that little bit more about type design.
Sunday, 7 August 2016
Remember that terrible cover Ozzy did with his daughter? Yeah I wish I could forget.
Now I've listed every possible variable, every change and everything ever; let's look at how this works for me. As everything changes arounds me, it's only suiting for me to adapt—design has never stood still and anyone that twiddles their thumbs at last years 'trends' is quite likely to fall off the train. Arriving at my door this week was my degree certificate; my poorly signed, soon-to-be-framed ticket to the train of multidisciplinary momentum.
Well as shite as it is, it's poignant to what I'm trying to convey. As Ozzy so shamelessly tells us from his ornate arm chair, 'we're going through change-eee-ereees', once again reiterated by a melancholy Kelly; what a lovely blog post this is shaping up to be ey?
Well, we are going through changes and as a recent graduate none more than myself. As a side result of these changes, this blog and my work are feeling the chain reaction of these movements.
When I started this blog, it was way before university under recommendation of my cousin and was just a proving ground for me to start confidently analysing and critiquing my own work, despite the fact it was all around the same quality as Trump's political campaign.
Upon reaching university, I grabbed my defibrillators and shocked this blog back into action; using it as a platform to display the work I was producing weekly in university and the bits of freelance I was doing on the sides. This worked as a solid formula for me—I could share, destroy, praise and laugh at my work; alongside post random crap every now and then.
Now, as I've changed I've realised this needs to change with me. No longer can I just post works in progress or the second I've completed them. I'm still working at the same rate of production I always have been, but now, the work I create has copyright issues and would likely upset employees if I was debuting them before they could. You can likely agree it's become a much trickier field than before when I could just whack something on paper and share it with you all.
Along with the rules of the work changing, the actual content I wanted to post changed too. I found as I read more, I wanted to write more and with an ever growing footing in the design industry I no longer needed to post every piece of work in hopes of scoring myself future projects. I found I liked arguing with the status quo, I liked pissing all over Helvetica and I've loved the conversations I started in response to my words. Shoutout to Robbie Scott – my friendly devil's advocate.
|Couldn't find a suitable GIF so have a hip-hop reference|
As far as I can tell, design has never changed but it's always in constant development. All the concepts are the same and it's always going to stand to be a mixture between concept and visualisation; art for a purpose if you will. The point with highlighting these changes is to shine the light in the face of the obvious, nearing future.
I've always described myself as a sponge, and changing has just become nature when it's part of your fibre; your learning and existence. I want to change this blog's platfrom, it's contents and it's structure—this might just happen but for the moment it's just part of the whirlwind that is my leap into a post-graduate existence. It's like hyper-puberty for full grown creative adults.