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.

Copyright © Vincent Walden Sucks