Shield & Fortress

The blog for Phil Bowell, Designer at 18TWO Design

Doing something difficult requires us to hit the wall that feels uncomfortable, causes uncertainty, and makes the sweat pop out on our forehead.
Chris Bowler

Strong feedback is usually a good sign, even if it is negative it means they were engaged enough to become emotionally invested. If everyone’s feedback is nondescript or they have nothing to say, that is usually a bad sign of an uninspiring design. If everyone hates it, it may be terrible or brilliant— it is sometimes hard to tell.

Anand Sharma

I’ve linked to this site before, but I always think a making of story is worth linking to. There are often things you can learn that may one day help you in your own design process. It’s important to note that often things don’t just click and they have to be really worked at, whilst at other times something will just make sense right from the off.

Do the Distance4Dalits

In a bit of a moment of madness, I’ve agreed to do a 4 hour cycling endurance event on Friday 20th June. The event takes place at 8pm on Staverton Airport’s runway, just outside Cheltenham, and finishes at midnight.

Why am I doing such a thing?

Well I’m raising money for a very worthy cause. Cambray FC has been for the last 4 years, putting on a series of events to raise money to build a school for the a very disadvantaged group of people called the Dalits.

This years fundraising event, aims (by the power of team work) to cover the distance between Cheltenham and Good Shepherd School, Usilampatti, India. That’s a total of 6,500 miles. The mileage I cover, along with a few friends, on the night of 20th June will go towards this total.

Please consider sponsoring me!

Every little counts, if you can go without a pint or a coffee for a couple of days, it will be valued greatly by all the children who are able to attend the school as a result of your contribution. It will also motivate me to go as far as I can on the night, and believe me, I need some motivation!

Look I’ll even show you a photo of me and Andrew before we headed out on todays training ride.

cycle

By Design

Another meeting of two worlds links. Eric Spiekermann the grandfather of type speaking to Rapha about his love of bikes.

Rapha – Building a Brand Through Creativity

If you look at how much we spend on marketing overall, we don’t spend more than probably any other brand – we just spend it differently. Instead of shouting a lot all over the place we just make really cool stuff. It can be harder to measure, but overall it definitely works.’

A good look at the beginnings of Rapha and the motivations behind the content that they create. I don’t own anything produced by Rapha, but I do really like the style of the products they produce. I identify with them as a brand largely due to the connection I’ve developed through the films they produce.

The One That Got Away

The coincidence is frustratingly unfortunate, and occurred through innocent misfortune. The two design elements of the Union Jack and the arrow weren’t by any means revolutionary but for two different organisations, they worked well for different reasons.

I wonder how many times in this world a designer has been vilified for producing something which he genuinely arrived at by working through the design process, but that looked like he’d stolen the idea from another unrelated project?

This is a fascinating look at a design proposal that got canned because it innocently used a similar execution to another piece of work. Maybe in the future we shouldn’t always be quick to accuse of stealing, especially in a world made so much smaller by the wonder that we call the internet.

A Rational Approach

Maybe it’s just the designer in me, but I love looking at and reading the about thinking behind the homes that people live in.

PC">Replacing the PC

When I first saw the iPad, I knew it was going to replace the personal computer for the vast majority of people. I was wrong.

Insightful piece from Dustin Curtis on his observations on the future of the tablet and computing. I’ve been very happy with both my iPhone and iPad, but have lately wondered what it would be like to have an iPhone that was just a little bit larger. Although because I still use my iPhone as a phone, I’m still not keen on holding a 5/6 inch slab to my head…

Jewish Museum by Sagmeister

Really interesting and bold approach to rebranding The Jewish Museum in Manhatton.

URL Schemes for Posting Links From My iPhone and iPad Using Poster">Shawn Blanc’s URL Schemes for Posting Links From My iPhone and iPad Using Poster

Finally getting round to sorting a few things for the blog so that I can get back into the habit of posting regularly. I don’t read a lot on my iPhone but my I do my iPad, hopefully this will he.

Small Screen Productivity

Really good insight into how attitudes to our tools and the illusions we fall into can affect our productivity. It’s all about mindset and setting our tools up properly.

Being Your Own Client

A recent Twitter conversation resulted in a final tweet suggesting I write a blog post about the topic of conversation. Over the last few days I’ve been mulling over the idea and finally decided to pen to paper. The subject of that conversation? Designing your own website/branding and how hard it is.

Like many designers I am my own worst client. I can begin something on one day, happy with the direction it is heading in and then the next day want to scrap it and start over. Nothing is ever good enough. I always feel like I can do better when I’m working on something which is meant to represent me. So when I decided it was time to refresh this site at the start of the year I used a new approach which I articulated across a couple of tweets.

It is hard, but I treated myself like a client which made it a bit easier. I made sure there was a story to tell as a solution to a defined problem.

Set yourself up as a client

One of the biggest problems that I’ve come across in the past has been trying to squeeze my own design work in around the client work I have on the go. It’s meant two things.

  1. 1. I’ve never actually focused on it properly.
  2. 2. The work is never given the time and room it needs to mature.

The two points go somewhat hand in hand. Without dedicating the time I need to sit down and focus on the work properly, it’s evident that the design will never mature properly. However, actually having a proper focus for the job can mean that you don’t need quite as much time to complete things you would otherwise need.

When I sat down just after Christmas to schedule the client work I had for the next couple of months, I included myself as one of those clients. Straight away it set me up on a level footing with my clients and allowed me to come at the project with a fresher and more professional approach. It set the tone for how the project would be run and it ensured that the time needed to complete the project as effectively as possible would be allowed.

Define the problem as clearly as possible

Once the time for your project has been scheduled, it’s important to continue that professional approach when you begin the work. So often when approaching a project that is self initiated, even if it has a specific reason, we have a tendency to approach the work in a manner that is not consistent to the way we would treat a normal client.

At the beginning of a client project, if I do not know exactly what the problem I’m solving is I don’t start until it has been clearly defined. If there is no clear problem, there is no clear solution.

A rough idea doesn’t count as a clear problem that needs solving. Setting off on the process of solving a rough idea will lead to a watered down and likely very trend based solution. The result might look pretty, but chances are it doesn’t communicate what it needs to, nor will it stand up against inspection or the test of time.

Having a clearly defined problem for your self initiated project will give you a constant reference point. Something you can turn back to every time you feel that nag saying “it’s not good enough” to reference against your problem and determine if it’s because the underlying concept is missing the solution, or if you need to continue to revise the solution you are developing.

Solve the problem in the same way and using the same process as you would a normal client

Once you have your clearly defined problem, continue in the same professional manner you’ve started and stick to your usual design process. If you get to a point where you think you’re nearly there, stop and consider if you would send what you’ve got to a client for them to review. If you wouldn’t, you’re not there yet. Keep to those same high standards you set for your clients in the work you are producing for yourself.

Work hard to meet your deadline

In the past, when working on things for myself, I’ve always avoided setting a deadline for myself. I’ve never been able to get out of my head that it’s something that I’ve made up and doesn’t need to be met in the same way that a clients deadline needs to be met. In setting myself up as a client I did away with that attitude. With the work scheduled in amongst my other client work, it was important I stuck to that schedule as best I could in the same way that I would a client. Going over would impact the work for other clients, and would mean I had dropped my professional standard, something no freelancer can afford to do.

The bottom line

Most importantly, when approaching your self initiated project. Keep yourself professional. Work to the same standards as you would for your clients, treat yourself as you would your clients, and stick to your process.

CP1">Lamy CP1

I’m a massive fountain pen fan, but am currently without such an instrument. I’ve long looked at Lamy’s pens and this one looks like a beaut. Nice summary from Minimally Minimal.

Thirty Years of Mac

Really nice timeline of how the Mac has changed in the last 30 years.

Grandpa’s iPad

This is a wonderful story that brought a big smile to my face when I read it. Well done Apple, you changed the world for a legally blind old man in a way that most people will probably never understand.

The Electric Grand Prix: The World’s First Formula E Car

I’m a big F1 fan and I’m quite excited by the prospect of Formula E. Electric cars have really peaked my interest in the last few months, so to see a racing series that can drive the advancement of the technology is a massive step forward.

& Coffee">Type & Coffee

Going through my RSS this morning I this headline immediately caught my eye. A really nice and quite a fresh exercise for a piece of branding for a coffee shop. I’ really digging the repeating pattern which is used to create interest without being overly dominating.

The New Mr. Reader Icon

Nice insight into the design of the new Mr. Reader icon. Mr. Reader is an app I’ve seen and heard a lot about but I’ve never tried, largely because I’m a snob and judged the icon, deciding it would never appear on my iPad. That may change if I ever get discontented with Reeder.

The Grinch

It’s Christmas Eve. You need to listen to this. Again.

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