Mentor Me — One Year On

Its around this time of year that it all kicks off again with the MentorMe programme at the Colchester School of Art.

This year has seen a few changes, all for the better. Instead of running alongside the third year students studies in an external way, it is now intimately tied into the course. One of the great benefits of this is there is now accountability to ensure no one falls by the wayside.

It is a great opportunity to not only influence someones development (and provide a much needed industry experience for the student) but by being able to tap into the collective creativity of up-and-coming designers gives me, and the other mentors, great insight into new ideas and trends of the future.

As the programme really gets into gear I will be sharing the progress of my mentee, Georgina, and I will also be inviting her to contribute blog posts of her own.

And, after all is said and done, it’s still an excellent excuse to meet people whilst looking at some exciting work over a cold one in the SU.

You can see some of Georgina’s work on her tumblr, here

Photo by Peter Marano

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Ben & Jerry Camper Van

The end of the road for the classic VW Camper Van

Earlier in the year we designed a Ben & Jerry’s branded Camper Van for Unilever, so it was a sad day yesterday when I heard that after 63 years of happy camping, this iconic vehicle has been read it’s last rites. Brazil is the last country to still make the VW Camper Van, but the introduction of new safety regulations means production will have to stop at the end of the year.

A design classic synonymous with the hippy culture of the 60’s and early 70’s it was cool enough to feature on the cover of Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Owners would often repaint them in bright primary colours, others with psychedelic flower patterns.

Check out Camper Blog which has is a great collection of retro Camper Van ads over the past 60 years.

John Lewis TV Adverts The Bear and the Hare

It’s beginning it feel a lot like Christmas…

Today saw one of the momentous days of the season, no, not mince pies hitting the shelves (that happened weeks ago) no, today saw the unveiling of the John Lewis advert.

Going head to head with M&S these adverts now have their own press screenings, they last well over 2 minutes and are eagerly awaited. Famous faces, famous voices and even famous directors are all drafted to make the short films something to remember all year. The real aim here though is to make us spend more, double dip recession aside it is estimated that the Christmas revenue generated more than £1 billion in profits for John Lewis over the last 2 years. With profits down no doubt Marks and Spencer will hope for the same. And I’m going to make one prediction both Lily Allen and Keane will have a very Merry Christmas …

Coca-Cola Life

A green Christmas?

Christmas is in the news again (well the marketing news) with many of the big High Street retailers launching their holiday season campaigns this week – only 47 days to go! (more…)

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Aurora_Comms Forum2

24 hours and counting.

In just 24 hours I will be boarding the cruise ship Aurora. Destination…the Channel Islands. Yes, I’m attending the annual Communication Directors Forum and I have to say that I’m pretty excited. The last year has been a buoyant one for Playgroup – no life rafts needed here! The key has been collaboration. Collaboration with clients and a real emphasis on understanding their needs before we embark on a project. We hope to meet many more interesting people over the coming few days. If you’re attending do come over and say hello.

Hope to see you on board!


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Responsive web design

Web browsing is changing and changing fast. This year for the first time the number of people viewing websites in the UK on mobile devices will overtake the use of desktop PCs and in many developing economies mobile outstrips PC already. For example, in Africa only 4% of Google searches are from a PC, the rest all come from a tablet or a smartphone. (more…)

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5 things to consider before updating your intranet

Intranets have become ubiquitous in the corporate world. They are central to internal comms and employee engagement, but are often not given the resources they need and are sometimes seen as a poor relation to external websites. When done right, they help to unify an organisation, giving everyone access to the information and applications they need, but get it wrong and they become not much more than a very expensive internal telephone directory. (more…)

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A purpose beyond profit

With the horse meat scandal dominating the news at the moment and corporate tax taking centre stage last year, is it any surprise that more and more people are taking a closer look at the companies behind the brands? With corporate governance under increasing scrutiny it’s crucial that companies demonstrate that they share the same values as their customers. When a company’s values are out of step with those of their customers there is a real danger that they will be seen by many to be “part of the problem” – just another big business taking without giving anything back. (more…)


It’s Courier, just… better.

Courier is one of those fonts that everyone knows (it’s the typewriter one yeah?) but not many know it’s history in the lime-light.

Through it’s inclusion with on IBM’s best-selling Selectric II typewriter, it soon became the default typeface of choice for screenplays that wound their way that Mecca of film, Hollywood. (more…)

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Employees make the best brand advocates

Marketing and communications are often focused on campaigns designed to differentiate their products from their competitors. Branding, PR, advertising, digital, social, are all crucial, but in order for them to be effective the product has to match the promise. (more…)

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Map I – The Northern Sky

If you are at all interested in design (which should be safe to assume since you’re having a read of this blog) or if you like to have a gander at the night sky but never know what any of those pesky stars or constellations are called then this maybe your next poster based purchase. (more…)

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Damien Hirst, Tate Modern, That is all.

After first spotting the Damien Hirst’s Tate Modern exhibition poster on my way to the V&A I have had far to many distractions getting in the way of going but with only a few days remaining I went and it was, well it was what it was, that’s all you can say. Damien Hirst is an artist who splits opinion, I witnessed this from some American tourists, the mother of which asked my opinion on a piece to gauge why so many young people were interested in this particular exhibition.

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Popping up in King’s Cross

After doing a fair amount of work in, with and for King’s Cross it’s amazing to learn even more about it’s history in a format that stimulates my more illustrative side. Discovering King’s Cross- A Pop-Up Book by illustrator by Lucy Dalzell commissioned by the architects John Mcaslan + Partners act’s as a fantastic piece of promotional material for the team behind King’s Cross stations marvelous regeneration but doesn’t just look at King’s Cross station but at the Victorian engineering genius that helped fuel the “golden age” of british rail ways. This is all brought to life by Lucy’s fantastically textured illustrations and the joy that can only be brought from pop-up books. (more…)

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King’s Cross – an exciting destination

London is a vibrant and exciting place to be at the moment, and no-where more so than Kings Cross. Yep, Kings Cross!

It was a pleasure to be at the opening of Granary Square last week – now one of the largest public spaces in Europe. The square, as big as Trafalgar Square, is a great place to walk through or stop and relax, with the steps to the canal, the benches overlooking the fountains or the copse of trees at the far end. (more…)

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The Art of the Olympics

The Olympic Park in London may still be out of bounds for most of us, but the Art in the Park programme has now been unveiled, offering a glimpse of the 26 new arts installations that have been commissioned in celebration of the 2012 Games.” (more…)

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mentorme_01 copy

Mentor Me

A few months back I was kindly asked to be involved in a new initiative called “Mentor Me”. It was set up in response to the lack of industry support for creatives in higher education. Mentor Me offers 10 graphic design students the chance to be paired up with 10 design professionals to help mentor them through their 3rd year giving them industry experience and helping them with the transition between being a design student and working commercially within the industry. (more…)

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Irina Werning photographer

Steve recently pointed me in the direction of photographer Irina Werning where she takes old photographs and recreates them in situ with the same people often a number of decades later. It gives a really interesting insight that will raise a smile – check it out! (more…)

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Design & Code

Just a quick blog tonight, but I wanted to talk about an argument that I’ve seen doing the rounds fairly often. It goes something like “should designers learn to code? And should developers learn to design?” I’m going to touch on the first part, and in my opinion? Yes, but not to the extents that some suggest. Let’s face it, we’re not all going to become developers overnight. (more…)

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Is the album cover dead?

This is a question that has been asked so many times it’s probably hugely out of touch for me to even be bringing it up at all. It even appears as a suggested search on google, bad times. I do still think it’s a valid question to ask though so here’s my hopefully valued opinion. (more…)


The Typographic Games

Conqueror paper is hosting an olympic based poster competition called the Typographic Games!
The entries will be judged by an international jury of leading typographers lead by Jean Francois Porchez and the winning work will be displayed in Creative Review. The First prize is a pair of VIP tickets to the olympics, while 5 Silver medalists win a pair of Nike ID trainers!

Entry is free and designs must include the phrase “it’s not what you win but how you conquer it” I’m going to enter and I’ll post my design up when complete! The deadline is the 30th April.

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Glug – Now! That’s What I Call Christmas 2011

Tonight we are heading to the Christmas 2011 Glug! conveniently located around the corner from us at Fabric nightclub! Its set to be one on the best set of talks this year with a mammoth list of speakers. These include some industry leaders such as Anthony Burrill, Airside and Studio Output.

If you are going look out for us and feel free to come and say hi! (more…)

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Who is Smith?

We have recently been involved in the branding of a new social dining platform, designing their identity.

The purpose of Smith is to connect people from around the world that share similar interests and love to push boundaries. Smith brings these people together while sharing sensory experiences within unique settings combined with premium tasting experiences. (more…)

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Happy Rain

We had lots of fun implementing the decor I’ve designed for our daughter’s nursery. I’ve always adored handcrafted things that are made with care and I want Frida to appreciate them too when she grows up. Each piece is hand-sawn plywood, treated with bio oil and hung a few centimeters away from the wall that creates a nice depth with the shadows… (more…)

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“FILM” by Tacita Dean – Tate Modern

I recently went to the opening of this year’s Unilever-sponsored Tate installation: ‘Film’ by Tacita Dean. Having been involved in Unilever’s launch evening, designing elements for the night, it was good to finally see the finished film after it being shrouded in secrecy. (more…)

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Knit one, pearl one

Graffiti in London… yawn how 2010, nowadays its all about guerrilla knitting. Their prime objective is to enliven the dull city streets with a riot of colour – one stitch at a time. (more…)

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No fools or horses in Peckham

High rise council estates, rioting and burned out three wheelers. These are three things that people commonly associate with Peckham.

Art, conservation areas and cool bars, are three things that people don’t. But these are exactly the things I found on my recent trip to this South East London neighbourhood. (more…)

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Firstsite Gallery

September saw some of the biggest changes in my life so far, the first, making the transition from intern to a full-time member of the Playgroup team (I can still hardly believe I’m getting paid for doing what I love), and secondly, from student to graduate. (more…)

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