Sunday, 28 August 2016

Political Types

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.

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.
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.

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

Stranger Things are happening

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

We're going through changes

Remember that terrible cover Ozzy did with his daughter? Yeah I wish I could forget.

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
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.

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.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Strawberry Ice Cream

At 05:10am, 26th of July 2016 – my grandfather Geoff 'Gromps' Walden passed away.

My grandfather is Strawberry Ice Cream. His dessert of choice. His memory.

For a couple of years his health has been on  my mind as he dipped in and out of hospital with various ailments—all the visits making me weaker and undoubtedly him weaker, but he stuck on in there until Tuesday morning, when he passed away surrounded by his family. 85 years & 4 days old.

My grandfather is Strawberry Ice Cream. Everyone knows this flavour and I've never met anyone that doesn't like it—it's humble in it's existence but solid in it's standing. The flavour isn't over the top and despite being kept in the freezer; it's surprisingly warming. It's impossible to be sad with a bowl of it, sat in front of you, looking up at you so pleasantly. My grandfather wasn't just any Strawberry flavoured frozen cream dessert, oh no. He was the Carte D'or kind that you'd always have in the house, but only gave to the people you really really liked.

As a designer, I know you could package Ice Cream however you like. You could emboss the tub, drown it in colour and make it any exciting shape, but why? My grandfather didn't come in a tub, what you saw was what you got. He didn't need to be packaged to be loved, he was just himself and that was more than we could have ever asked for. Perhaps when he started to deteriorate, an outer packaging to hold him together would have been helpful, but he exists without superficiality and that's the man he was.

Just like the strawberry flavour he was straight to the point; you'd ask "You ordered a Chicken Basket? What's that then?" – and after a short pause – "Chicken in a basket" he'd reply. He never climbed Everest and he never made it to the Moon but what does that matter? He taught me how to tie my shoe laces with a wooden clog he has crafted in his shed just that afternoon. Eat your heart out Armstrong.

Being a Designer, I look at everything in my world from that perspective, and rightfully so because however you look at it—everything on this earth has been designed. I can design a logo, I can design a website and I can design a typeface but I couldn't design my life. I got given this man by chance, by conception and without knowing it, the one bit of design that I couldn't influence is likely one of the most important design choices I ever encountered.

My grandfather is Strawberry Ice Cream, he is one of billions of flavours worldwide, but he changed my world, he made me happy and he'll never leave me for as long as I live. He can go on offer, he can melt but he'll never cease to exist. That is the beauty of his existence. I love you Gromps.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The latest greatest hiatus status

It's been about two weeks and a couple of days since I last posted anything, and it's been niggling me constantly since.

Problem was, I didn't know what to write about. It's not so much writers block as much as it was overkill. I went to London, did freelance, died in the heat, went home cried about my grandfather and missed a friend. I did so much that when it came to sitting down to write, it felt both tired and redundant to do so. But I've smashed that chain, broken through the wall and now I'm here again; did you miss me?

I thought instead of being angry about something, I'd let you know what had happened to me over the latest greatest hiatus status. Potat-ers. Well, let me tell you, I've done things. Yeah. Things.

I'll try break this down chronologically—probably the best way to tackle this.
Early July, I was down in London for New Designers 2016, exhibiting my wares and selling myself to the corporate big wigs of London. It was as hot as it was busy, standing there in a sweaty t-shirt, right in the centre of Islington's Business Design Centre. We had air conditioning (unlike many other exhibitors) and even then it was still a rather unpleasant existence.

Have you ever tried to convince someone they should pay you for freelance work whilst your back perspires like a dog in a hot car. I could feel my shoulder blades panting as I shuck hands with the head of humour for Hallmark; quite ironically it was almost the kind of thing you'd expect to see on one of those newspaper cartoon cards that they so heavily produce.

There I was, for a 5 days of the week, stood with sandpaper business cards in my hand and sweat patches bigger than my ambitions. Somehow this worked; I was in contact and in demand by quite a few people to my absolute surprise. I mean, I'm confident in my work and myself but heck, when half the room thinks you went for an armpit-only dip in the sink, it's a little difficult to be 100%.

Aside from this, Universal Music, Moonpig, Hallmark, River Island & Amazon didn't seem to mind at all. These companies, alongside two or three others wanted to speak with me, see my portfolio and care that I existed—it was a lovely surprise. But here's the issue.

All these people were interest in me and my work, but none wanted to commit. I liked and loved the people I spoke to, I found great interest in their opportunities but they all had one thing in common; placements. I went to London on the hopes of grasping at some southern freelance work, but everyone I spoke to had a different idea. They didn't want to give me a contract, nor did they want to give me a brief; they wanted me to come work with them for a set period of time instead.

This isn't a loss at all, but as a graduate it's exactly what I don't want. I've been through two placements already, even one in Sweden; so now, after 18 years of education, I'd kind of just like to be paid. Don't get me wrong, some were paid placements but they still aren't actually a job.

This is an issue that I think doesn't sit with the companies but the industry and it's graduates. Everyone is so excited to fit into the industry that they'll take almost any path into it they can, and big businesses have caught onto this. They know they can cycle through multiple fresh graduates each year, every year. End cycle, begin again.

As a graduate, the one thing you have over all middlewieght and senior designers is that you are fresh. You have just come out of the showroom and your polish is shining brightly in sun—your ideas are different and you are right on trend, finger on the pulse; counting as each movement passes you by. If someone hired you, they'd have new blood, new ideas and a whole different way of approaching projects and this is your highest selling point!

So imagine you are a big business. Fresh ideas, for little money on constant rotation would be the dream right? Backed up by senior designers that can apply these new ideas to solid visuals and concepts; that's the dream. Well if you don't give anyone a fixed contract, don't offer freelance but hand out placements like cigarettes in the 50's, then that's exactly what you'll get.

I am very grateful for the offers and interest I received but unfortunately like every other graduate this year, I'm in more debt that I can deal with and I'd kind of hope that this banking stranglehold and three years of back breaking hard work, that I could sort of pay my bills this month. Please? 

P.s. Remember just after that wicked cool GIF I said "instead of being angry about something" Yeah, me too. Sorry, I'm just a terrible keyboard warrior. Love Vin x

Sunday, 3 July 2016

A slightly used designer @ New Designers – £499 ONO

I go down to London tomorrow to attend New Designers, and if you are there also, perhaps I could interest you in a scorching deal!

If you come by stand VC34 at any point from Wednesday 6th July, I can offer you a great deal on a pair of used wheels. For only £499, I can offer you not a New Designer but a designer with 40k miles on the clock, new tires and full service history. Though, no refunds. Strictly NO REFUNDS.

An accurate description of my mood (excl. blankets)
In the Business Design Centre, Islington is where you'll find myself, the LMLY crew and the rest of the Grillust Team. Standing there with bag-fulls of colour, and abundance of excitement and enough individualism to fuel the whole of Tumblr, twice over.

Visiting stand VC34 will guarantee you not only a great deal on your very own personal designer but also the chance to find yourself in the centre of a Cumbrian Creative Storm—before you check, I've already put copyright on that term. There will be illustrators, designers, animators and creatives of all types floating around like a solar system of excitement. But though I speak for everyone else, I feel it's important to inform you of what I'll have at said the gracious land of VC34, alongside my curly quiff and toothy smile.

Tools of the trade
Above is a visual checklist of all the things I can offer to your lovely face, when you inevitably get drawn to the tractor beam of colour that is the Grillust stand. I have a list of items that I can assure you no other creative will have in their holster though this fine event, in this list I have these exact items:
  • 2 x half filled Moleskine Sketchbooks for ideas, notes and contact information
  • 93 x sandpaper business cards—handy ey!
  • 1 x fully customised chatterbox, full of possible prizes and wax crayon etchings
  • 1 x Berol Pen (ah!)
  • 1 x Stamp (for marking my territory)
  • 1 x Green Marbled portfolio
  • 200 x Terrible jokes, endless design chatter & mild beer expertise

Aside from being at New Designers, it's a bonus I'll be in London for just under a week. So when I'm not offering you the chance win a free pint or a browse of my silky portfolio; I'll also be hunting down all the food and beer I can get my 20+ mits on. Yes please!

Did I forget to say that I'd be with these kooky fellows? The Lucky Me Lucky You crew will be there to sass, bedazzle and excite you about all collaborative projects you could possibly ever think of. We are LMLY and we are on the rise.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Loosely based on famous figures

As everything is slowly coming to an end, I just can't let some things go.

Half-related GIF

As it's been made clear before, I do most of my posters in a solo manner but with the Loose posters it's a little different. I make these with my buddy James as a collaborative project. In fact, it's more of an experiment than it is anything else—we both make posters but we never really do them with each other.

With this, it usually works that James sources and develops the collage, then fires the hefty PSD over my way; I then start building colours, assets, type and the aesthetics for the collage. It's a strange process of two halves, which is often recommended against when working collaboratively; though it works for us.

I keep a hang on this, because I don't want to let go. We're seeing everything finishing around us and this is the one thing that we control the end date of—so for as long as I can hold onto doing the poster, I'll be holding onto working with James on it.

So if you are not quite at the verge of being thrusted into the 'real world' then I would recommend that you work with your friends on something. There is advice to never work with friends, but break that rule. It's difficult, it's strange and it's a learning curve larger than the equator; but DO IT.

Digging the pink

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