I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

Book Budget

I just added a new cat­e­go­ry in my YNAB Bud­get under Qual­i­ty of Life Goals, it’s name? Books.
Since I start­ed using Goodreads in 2013 I’ve read 104 books. That’s an aver­age of just under 21 books a year with a low of 17 in 2013 and a high of 34 books in 2016.
Clear­ly I like to read, so it made sense to actu­al­ly bud­get for these books finan­cial­ly since I’m already mak­ing time in my life to read them. There’s some­thing very dif­fer­ent about sit­ting down and relax­ing with a good book com­pared to a film or boxset that I enjoy a great deal. Most of these books are fic­tion, I find they pro­vide me with a good way of shut­ting my mind off at the end of the day by forc­ing me to use my imag­i­na­tion. I have to let my mind cre­ate the images that go with the words, con­vert­ing the writ­ers descrip­tions into visu­als in my mind. The words on the page act­ing as the brush and my mind as the paint to cre­ate the large land­scapes and cityscapes as well as the detail of the char­ac­ters faces and the expres­sions they pull.
Until a few years ago I had gone a few years with­out read­ing a lot, I always had a nov­el on the go but the num­ber I would read in a year was much less. Grad­u­al­ly as I got old­er and remem­bered how much I like read­ing the num­ber would increase, but the inten­si­ty at which I devoured books became greater after I became ill with depres­sion a few years ago. Through­out my recov­ery, and when I find my mood dip­ping again, nov­els become a great source of escape. Usu­al­ly I find con­cen­tra­tion hard when I’m bat­tling a low peri­od, but a good nov­el (often a famil­iar one that I’ve read many times) is able to pro­vide me with some escape. Read­ing the prose of a good fan­ta­sy or sci-fi book allows me to find free­dom from the cir­cu­lar thoughts and spi­rals of what­ev­er I find myself fix­at­ing on. As a visu­al thinker let­ting my imag­i­na­tion build the worlds cen­turies away from today (in either direc­tion) is a great way of exer­cis­ing my cre­ative mus­cles and pre­vent­ing those unhelp­ful thought pat­terns take hold.
When­ev­er I’ve spo­ken to friends who have been strug­gling with sim­i­lar men­tal health issues, I always rec­om­mend they read. It takes a bit of effort to start, but I’ve found it much more help­ful than watch­ing a film. The act of watch­ing images devel­op on a screen is far less dis­tract­ing than hav­ing to engage your mind with the words and sto­ry of a book. Read­ing, I find, is a form of active rest. I can let my body rest and recharge, while using my mind in a way that’s dif­fer­ent from the work of my two jobs, and in so doing let­ting it refresh and recharge.
So here’s to books, to my new book bud­get, and to the many more hours of rest that they will provide.

Kindle Paper White Review ›

For a long time I’ve thought about buy­ing a Kin­dle. I read a lot, arti­cles and books, to relax with and of course arti­cles get read on my iPad and books the old fash­ioned paper way. But liv­ing in a one bed­room flat with lim­it­ed stor­age is tempt­ing me to con­sid­er a Kin­dle. Reviews like this one from Shawn Blanc help with that deci­sion mak­ing, each revi­sion of the Kin­dle is becom­ing more and more appeal­ing. Trou­ble is, I love the feel of a thick paper­back in my hand and the look of a series next to each oth­er on my shelf.

Reading Stories, Food for the Imagination

I work as a graph­ic design­er. Like many oth­er folks in my pro­fes­sion I find it hard to turn off. I may not be think­ing about projects from work all the time, but I’m always think­ing about projects I’d like to do or review­ing the things I see all around me. I see every piece of design and men­tal­ly crit­ic it, 99% of the time I’m not even aware I’m doing it, but it’s there, almost like a 6th sense won­der­ing what ques­tions the design­er faced.
I’ve lost count of the num­ber of times I’ve sat in a restau­rant look­ing at the menu only to realise I’m not look­ing at what’s on offer but the way it’s been type­set. What font did they use? What does it make me think of the restau­rant? Does it make the food I’m read­ing about sound even tasti­er or does it make me think I’ll be left want­i­ng more? Does the menu fit the sur­round­ings or does it just feel like a design­er some­where threw it togeth­er because he did­n’t get a prop­er brief?
It’s a pret­ty con­stant state of affairs. Right now I’m glanc­ing at the emp­ty can of San Miguel thats sit­ting on the din­ing table. Does it look like the taste? Does it make me want to lie on a hot beach in Spain? What the heck has a ship got to do with beer? Why did the design­er pick gold as the main can colour and break away from the green and white that used to be there?
I can’t turn it off, and many a time I’ve amused good friends as I ver­balise my critique.
Unfor­tu­nate­ly relax­ing is made all the more hard­er by it. I read to do my relax­ing, most­ly the blogs of a select few but they’re peo­ple who I’ve come to trust. I trust that the links they post are to inter­est­ing con­tent, arti­cles that can lead me on a chase around the inter­net look­ing at web­sites, new web­sites. Web­sites that start the inner crit­ic on it’s famil­iar chain of ques­tions. Ques­tions that lead me to find anoth­er way of reading.
Most­ly made of paper that smell of ink and aren’t dis­played on a screen. How­ev­er, in this age of con­stant stream of infor­ma­tion that feeds a thirst for knowl­edge, growth and under­stand­ing, I find I need a book that does­n’t make me think too much. There’s no point going to bed to read only to lie in bed for hours think­ing about the chap­ter I just read and the chal­lenges or knowl­edge it imparts. I need a good sto­ry. Some­thing that will make me keep turn­ing the pages, com­pelling me to read. So it is with great joy in the last year or so that I’ve dis­cov­ered an author I enjoy, one that draws me to read rather than watch inane tv shows.
It’s not the nov­els that I write this about though, it’s the impact they have on me. As well as help­ing me relax, they force me to use my imag­i­na­tion. When read­ing about the unrav­el­ling sto­ry I’m forced to imag­ine the scene, what peo­ple look like and where they are. I’m forced to stop ask­ing the ques­tions I ask all day long as I review and work on the var­i­ous projects I have on the go. That time away from ques­tion­ing and eval­u­at­ing can only have one impact as far as I’m con­cerned, that is, to make my work bet­ter. Hav­ing time to just imag­ine frees me from the con­straints that are so often put in place when work­ing. They may be imposed on me by the projects, or by the press­sures I put on my self, but the more I read and use my imag­i­na­tion in a com­plete­ly unat­tached man­ner. The more cre­ative I feel, the more my imag­i­na­tion is fed the more eas­i­ly I find work.
In a time when the peo­ple around me seem to read more than they ever did, I seem to be the only per­son among my friends who reads nov­els. I’d like to encour­age you to start. Take a short sto­ry and read it. Start small and find some­thing that feeds your imag­i­na­tion, a sto­ry which gives it new life and see what impact it has on your work.

Reading on the iPad — Shawn Blanc ›

Iron­i­cal­ly, the worst read­ing expe­ri­ences are with the apps designed by the “pro­fes­sion­als” that are based on the age-old his­to­ry of read­ing in print: Apple’s own iBooks, and the Condé Nast apps. The best read­ing expe­ri­ences on the iPad are Instapa­per and Reed­er. In part because they are easy to keep up-to-date, but also because their designs have the least amount of frilly bits, and there­fore make read­ing of the actu­al text the easiest.

I would also add the Kin­dle app to the good expe­ri­ences of read­ing on the iPad. Either way Shawn nails it in this piece. The tra­di­tion­al­ly print media folk need to stop try­ing to design the same way for the iPad as they do for the print­ed page. There are dif­fer­ent rules in play here, and as a pre­dom­i­nant­ly print based design­er it baf­fles me how these guys can’t see that.

Send your Instapaper reading log to Readability ›

The web has been a buzz with Read­bil­i­ty talk this last week. I’ve been wait­ing to hear how it’s going to work with Instapa­per, which has just been answered by Mar­co in this post.
The ques­tion I’m still left with is. What if I find an arti­cle I want to read because some­one I respect has linked to it, but which I real­ly don’t agree with? I only sup­port things I believe in and not every­thing I save to Instapa­per falls into that category.