Shield & Fortress

The blog for Phil Bowell, Designer at 18TWO Design

Tag: design (page 1 of 4)

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.

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.

Jewish Museum by Sagmeister

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

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.

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.

A Typographic Verse

Tidying up some of the files on my Mac this afternoon I stumbled on a piece of typography I developed for a project that didn’t get used. Since it seems a waste to leave sitting on my Mac and not see the light of day I thought it’d be nice to share it here, hope you like it!

Romans-15v13

Audi Storybook

I’d love to see this in the flesh. A stunningly illustrated book for Audi telling their story from start to present day. If anyone works for Audi and wants to send me one, please feel free to do so!

&E">A Better a&E

Absolutely fascinating piece of design seeking to help provide A Better A&E. A real practical demonstration on how design can help communicate and help people to understand the process of something we think we all know.

Kern Type, the Kerning Game

It’s probably not a good thing to discover this early on a Monday morning, but a great test of your kerning skills. 91 out of 100 on my first go.

The Great Discontent: Jeffrey Veen

Another great interview I recently read on The Great Discontent with Jeffrey Veen, the man now at leading the teams working on Adobe’s Creative Cloud.

This nugget stood out to me:

I had not yet learned that sometimes the solution people want has very little to do with what they ask for; it often has to do with making them successful, rather than making their product successful.

It makes a lot of sense in the world we live in. So many people seem to be striving to make something which has meaning in the world, but most of the time that thing they are making has meaning to themselves and maybe a very select group of people. More than anything it’s a meaning which proves to themselves that _they_ are being successful at whatever it is they are doing. It’s not about the thing they are making, it’s about themselves.

Reynolds and Reyner — Coffee House London

Anyone reading this blog might think I have a bit of a coffee and design obsession. They’re probably right.

Anyway, this latest link for a coffee house in Ukraine’s capital Kiev, set’s out with this at its heart

Launching a new coffee brand in today’s very competitive market is hugely challenging. You have to offer something truly unique, of the highest quality, along with great atmosphere.

You really have to stand out in a crowd.

Boy did they nail it. I had to google the name of the shop to try and confirm where it’s location was, such is the execution and level of design. It really feels like it would be at home alongside places like the Ritz.

N° Six Depot

I really like the quirky nature of this branding for an independent coffee shop in Massachusetts. It’s a really interesting blend of illustration and typography that makes me want to visit the place. The UK seems to be so lacking in interesting independent coffee places.

The accompanying website carries the imagery well, but I can’t help but feel it misses the quirkiness of the rest of the design.

Around the World Beer Flight

Lovely bottle labels for a collection of world beers. Love the idea of each one being represented by their airport initials.

Vin GrâCe

Fascinating idea for new wine packaging. Can’t say I’m enthralled by the idea of drinking wine out of a carton though.

Befak Pianos Identity

Really like the execution and prestige of this branding for Piano maker. It reflects the finished piano’s beautifully.

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