West Kent College

AOI World Illustration Awards, 2015 at Somerset House

 

© Phil Wheeler – Biodiverse
© Phil Wheeler – Biodiverse

Today’s visit to London’s Somerset House was essentially a day for thinking about all things Illustrative. On what had to be one of the most glorious of October days we went to the AOI World Illustration Awards 2015, previously known as ‘Images’.

The mission: We wanted to point out to our students that Illustration can be many things and that it comes in many forms. That might sound like a fairly obvious thing to say, but I am still slightly surprised by just how many people say that they can’t draw and therefore they’d be no good at illustration. There seems to be a preconceived notion that all illustration is based on being able to draw like an Old Master. Of course some form of ability to draw is useful—and it could easily be argued as being essential—and I would never play down the benefits of the ongoing practice of observed drawing, as this is a way to noticeably improve ways of seeing and recording; to develop a style of visual voice; seek visual themes of interest and discover what tools and materials you respond to and enjoy using. Even the benefits of casual doodling can lead to many a new idea. I could go on.

This year’s exhibition was a true smorgasbord of illustrative voices and we simply let the students explore the exhibition set with a task of writing their own review using some prompts for discussion. The feedback was great and it was interesting to see what styles of image making were attractive to individuals and the ensuing points of discussion.

I found the exhibits were excellent as was the variety of styles present. I was particularly taken by the illustrations of João Fazenda that were centered around Japanese folklore (immediately below). The echoing of traditional Japanese artistic simplicity came through and both the lively quirkiness of the images and the wonderfully  simple colour combinations worked so well as a striking collection.

© João Fazenda – Japanese Folktales
© João Fazenda – Japanese Folktales

I was also struck by the incredible paper constructions by both Gail Armstrong and Sam Pierpoint, that latter producing the most incredible skull of waves crowned with a ship. Entitled ‘El Jimador Skull’ this formed part of a contribution to celebrate The Day of the Dead. As well as the compositions I find the engineering simply fascinating.

Andy Ford’s ‘Cel-EGG-Rities’, painted eggs of celebrity faces were simply brilliant, as was the use of Twitter that helped to generate suggestions for them. (See John & Yoko below)

For both technique, message and depth of meaning many were drawn to the poignant works of Olivier Kugler whose illustrations drew attention to the plight of Syrian refugees and their ability to live through adversity. The simple style of drawing and colour, peppered with hand rendered typographic messages gave a sensitive and personal voice to the topic.

In short, I found the perfectly curated collection simply brilliant. The quality of work was incredible and as a means of introducing some of our students to the wider world of illustration it was great. To round the day off we issued each student—tutors too!—with a blank postcard and asked for the card to be illustrated with an image or text of their choice; simply something connected to their day in London. The cards came in and we posted them as the 9th October was World Post Day and perfectly timed with our illustratively themed day.

The exhibition ends  1 November 2015. Anyone with a passing interest in graphic arts should not miss this exhibition.

#sampierpoint #illustration #papercraft #skull #paper #design #somersethouse #worldillustrationawards

A photo posted by Tim Bones (@mrtimbones) on

#illustration #eggs #lennon #yokoono #johnlennon #somertsethouse #worldillustrationawards #andyward A photo posted by Tim Bones (@mrtimbones) on

#worldpostday #postcard #illustration #curiouseventsday #thegraphicdesignproject #westkentcollege

A photo posted by Sancha de Burca (@sanchagdp) on

Thinking About (design) Thinking

Shoe tower
Designers with souls!

So begins the new term at West Kent College and this week and my colleague and I have been introducing the new students to aspects of design thinking. We’re keen to stress the importance of thinking and approaches to the design process, trying to reiterate that using a computer as the exclusive means of problem solving is not what design is about. Yes, Google is great and so is Photoshop but so are our brains along with our ability to communicate and it’s these that need exercising as much learning how to make slick designs on a Mac.

We want to demonstrate—or rather have the students demonstrate to themselves—that planning and discussion are essential in design and for them to appreciate the importance of remaining open and receptive to new ideas and to be able to develop the means to explore approaches to thinking and the range of possibilities that such thinking can yield.

This little group activity requires the building of the tallest and most elegant tower of shoes possible. In doing so the participants discuss, build, take down, rebuild, and essentially explore possibilities. It sounds and looks a bit quirky but if it helps students consider that design is about possibilities, communication, interaction and collaboration then maybe they will rapidly appreciate that this unusual activity serves a very meaningful purpose.

And the winner is…

 

Graphic Design Show 2015 West Kent College (University of Kent)

Another great year for our HE Graphic Design & Illustration students at West Kent College (University of Kent). Well done to all. Here a a few of the works exhibited along with a brochure put together by yours truly.

Brochure Graphics Spread
Click to view document (if using a Flash incompatible device click the PDF version below)

West Kent College offers a range of creative Higher Education courses including Graphic Design validated by the University of Kent (West Kent College):
http://westkent.ac.uk/university-courses-in-kent/he-art-and-design.html
http://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/additional/#!k-college

Images from clockwise:
Hayley Eldridge, Hayley Eldridge, Fred Sirman, Hayley Eldridge, Matt Wyles, Dave Sexton.

 

The Crystal: A model for sustainability (and exhibition design?)

The Cystal 2

Well, this is something of a hidden gem.  I’m not alone in saying I’d never heard of The Crystal. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to says they’ve not heard of it, even those teaching design in London! Having been there I left impressed and feel like spreading the word particularly given that The Crystal is the “World’s largest exhibition dedicated to urban sustainability.”

Having been tipped off by a student who stumbled across it, my teaching colleague and I decided to organise a visit. This striking building in London’s Royal Victoria Dock in east London contains a permanent exhibition about sustainable development. It is owned and operated by Siemens and is an exemplar of sustainability in architecture. The Crystal “is one of the world’s greenest buildings” and it emits an impressive 65% less carbon dioxide than other comparable office buildings and consumes 50% less energy. But as well as being of interest as a model of sustainability part of our reason to visit The Crystal was to see how had been it is designed as an exhibition space and how it was presented in terms of display graphics. The same student who told us about the building mentioned that the exhibition graphics were good and he was right. Typographically the building contained a real mixture of design that the materials and surfaces must have provided the graphic designers with as much pleasure as they did challenges. (These can be seen below.)

The most important thing was that I took something with me when I left. This was both a mixture of hope and a slight dread for the futures of the coming generations. The exhibition was a great way to drive home the importance for planning and anticipation as well as an acute need to reflect upon our needs and our behaviours.

Lettering Workshop with Sean de Burca

Sean_de_Burca_Artwork

Sean de Burca is a former design student of West Kent College (University of Kent) who completed his graphic design degree with us several years ago. Since then Sean has established himself as a designer with a niche angle. As well as being an accomplished musician, producing the artwork for his own albums, Sean is gaining popularity as a designer with other musicians who are appear to want designs with a personal, more organic look rather than a slick, digital feel.

Sean’s work is meticulously crafted and our students had the pleasure of watching Sean deliver a talk and demonstration, during which the students emulated his approach. As someone who is familiar with a number of lettering techniques I can’t recall seeing an approach like this. The process that Sean has created and honed is one that allows him to work at an impressive speed given its intricacies.

Using this tried and tested method of creating lettering guides Sean then builds up his lettering in pencil adding any embellishments as required, and once satisfied with the drawing this is then taken into Illustrator for digital drawing and refining. Lastly the designs are further worked on within Photoshop where he can try a variety of treatments to obtain the right feel for the musician and their music.

It’s always fascinating to observe the subtle nuances of different lettering artists and once the students got to grips with Sean’s method of creating the lettering guides they soon became immersed in creating their own letters. As well as being interesting, some of the students are already considering how they might utilise this technique in their projects.

Sean’s artwork can be seen here.

‘Time: Tattoo Art Today’ at Somerset House

2014-09-26 12.16.01

Today was the first of our annual college trips for new academic year. Time to get out of the design studios, look up from our Macs and seek inspiration from elsewhere. This time it was a visit to London’s Somerset House to see ‘Time: Tattoo Art Today’  The exhibition is unique. Some 70 tattoo artists have been commissioned to create a work of art and inlcudes work from Ed Hardy, Horiyoshi III, Rose Hardy, Chris Garver and Claudia De Sabe. What struck me immediately was just how talented these people are when not working on skin. Works included painted sculptures—two of my favourites being Chris Garver’s ‘Indigo Dragons’ and Henk ‘Hanky Panky’ Schiffmacher’s ‘ACBC’, a mesmerising and sensitive portrait of a tattooed Christ. (Directly below)

The theme of ‘time’ lead to many of the artists producing works reminiscent of medieval memento mori, clearly referring to our measured time in this world, along with the message that youthful beauty is fleeting.

The collection is incredibly diverse and is well worth the visit, but don’t expect to see tattoos, that’s not what’s on show! However, it would have been a bonus if only to have had a small image of each tattoo artists’ work, just to give the viewer a glimpse of what they create as tattooists. It is a great exhibition, and, for the most part, entirely unpredictable as you move from piece to piece.

Time: Tattoo Art Today ends October 5th.


Above: ‘Rouge’ (detail) by Rose Hardy.

 

K College Summer Shows 2014

O'Reilly's Whiskey flavoured drinks design by Jamie O'Reilley
O’Reilly’s Whiskey flavoured drinks design by Jamie O’Reilly

A
s ever the HND and BA (Hons) Graphic Design students of K College pulled off yet another another successful end of year show. The show was well attended and the feedback was great, with some students getting interviews for jobs and internships. Some of the work can be seen on our Pinterest page. One  of our BA students, Alex Greenhead, put together a good little review that cab be read here.

Well done to all and best of luck for the future.

Book of quotations by Liz Owen
Book of quotations by Liz Owen
students 2014
Some of this year’s student sensing the relief of a job well done!

shoe 2014

 

“What I wish I had known when I was a design student”

Marc Foley of type foundry Dalton Maag lending a helping hand to some of our BA students.

Rarely, if ever, can education mirror precisely what is happening in industry. Consequently, there is an ongoing challenge to identify workable solutions to help bridge the gulf between the two. One such way is by asking guest speakers from industry to come in and talk to and work with the students and staff, and yesterday we were very fortunate to be visited by former WKC design student, Marc Foley, who now works for international font foundry Dalton Maag.

During his studies Marc became fascinated by typeface design, and, largely by teaching himself the numerous intricacies of this field, he began working with Linotype whilst still a student at Reading, before more recently taking up his current position as a font engineer with Dalton Maag.

The overarching theme for Marc’s talk was ‘What I wish I had known when I was a student’. The talk was a fascinating and amusing insight into Marc’s journey from student to professional, and consisted of personal reflections upon study and professional observations on what the real work-a-day realities of a design professional are, including some of the dos and dont’s of job hunting.

Opening by outlining some of the possible roles that a design graduate might seek, Marc went on to stress some of the fundamentals of design that a graduate designer must be familiar with. It wouldn’t be right of me to repeat all of Marc’s lecture here, but I wanted to share just some of his key remarks simply because they are so valid and so commonly forgotten or neglected by students. Marc made many salient points and he weaved them together better than I’ve thrown them out here.

  • Learn to set one paragraph of text correctly.
    In other words, get the basics right first before moving on, and this included learning how to:
  • Use a baseline grid.
    Essential for the coherent structure of information is the use of a divisible grid. Learn how to set up a document properly. Calculate how to get well proportioned pages, types sizes and margins. I was particularly glad to hear Marc reinforce the value of these points, simply because having taught this and many other essential typographic conventions,  I often sense that some students can be a little dismissive of what might be perceived as the dry and old fashioned stuff, when what they really want to do is to get back to making pretty pictures in Photoshop.
  • Focus on being timeless
    Marc showed the students a range of designs that were fashionable in the 80s and 90s. He then showed a piece of work by Josef Müller-Brockmann and asked the group if they could guess in what year it had been designed. No one in the group gave a date an earlier than 2000 and they were surprised to hear it was designed in 1955—without a Mac!
  • Check your grammar and spelling
    Typos. We all make them, but in formal communications they indicate a lack of attention to detail. No matter how often I stress the importance of checking for errors, I am still amazed at how many communications I receive that use a lowercase ‘i’ for the personal pronoun or that are simply full of spelling mistakes, or portfolios brought to college interviews with work riddled with typos. It’s this sort of error that will end with your CV going into the bin and the chance of an interview being wasted. Marc recommended that students should have a book on grammar usage to refer to.
  • Make your final project count.
    Like Marc, I too did not make the most of my college FMP and wished I had worked on a live project that had had a genuine client and that might have more real world value. I’m pleased to say that for both FMPs and other projects, staff have for several years been encouraging our students to engage with client led briefs and to enter industry led competitions, of which they have had a good degree of success, including winning entries of the Design Museum’s Student Competition two years running. After discussing other topics such as money and finance, portfolio sizes, the Fibonacci Sequence, the price of beer and the importance of valuing your studio mates, Marc summed up with a few other gems:
  • Be yourself. Wear a smile. Having a good manner goes a long way.
  • Leave your ego at the door.
  • Have other hobbies outside of design.
    And finally…
  • Don’t be a dick
    Priceless.
The $64 million question

Graphic Design at K College (University of Kent) Summer Show 2013

Part of the HND & BA Graphic Design show 2013
Part of the HND & BA Graphic Design show 2013

Once again the HND and BA (Hons) Graphic Design students of K College (University of Kent) have done themselves proud by putting together yet another great show. The show was well received by those in industry as well as the general public. Students were being approached by industry representatives, and positions look to be gained from the work on show.
Well done to all those who worked so hard throughout their courses and for your help in spending time piecing the show together. There have been some excellent grades awarded this year including a number of 1st class degrees.

Some of the show pieces can be seen here on our Pinterest page. Last year’s work can be seen here.

Miles Baker Clarke's branding for 'Cranks', a quirky cycling themed café.
Miles Baker Clarke’s branding for ‘Cranks’, a quirky cycling themed café.
James Sales' skateboard designs for his 'Four Seasons' range.
James Sales’ skateboard designs for his ‘Four Seasons’ range.