We're through creative a branding and digital agency from Macclesfield near Manchester. We've put together this site to create a source of inspiration, we hope you like it.

Penguin to unveil new covers on WeTransfer

Posted: April 16th, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Books, Digital, Graphic Design, Illustration | Comments Off

Iain Sinclair, American Smoke. Cover by Nathan Burton

Penguin Books has launched a partnership with WeTransfer where selected book covers for new titles will be showcased via the full screen backgrounds to the file transfer website...

The first series to be shown via the website is for the publisher's Street Art Series of novels which feature covers by artists: ROA, gray318, Nathan Burton, Sickboy and 45rpm. The series actually launched last year – details on the ten participating artists are here – but today's launch will pilot what looks to be an ongoing collaboration between the publisher and WeTransfer.

Zadie Smith, Embassy of Cambodia. Cover by gray318

For the Street Art series the covers are photographed as still lives, surrounded by objects which reflect the subject of the books. If users click on the image they are taken to Penguin's online store.

While the project isn't launching with an entire set of brand new cover designs (three from this series were released in June last year), the tie-up is an interesting way of promoting forthcoming editions. WeTransfer has 20m monthly users so the cover artwork – and the book, of course – has the potential to reach a wide audience. The next series of covers will be premiered on WeTransfer later this summer.

Nick Cave, And the Ass Saw the Angel. Cover by ROA

Zoë Heller, The Believers. Cover by Sickboy

Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End. Cover by 45RPM

WeTransfer have also recently collaborated with the British Fashion Council, designer Nelly Ben and Where's Wally.

Carl Andre cover art

Posted: April 14th, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Art, Books, Graphic Design | Comments Off

The minimalist cover of Yale University Press' new catalogue for artist Carl Andre uses a version of one of his text-based artworks from the 1960s to introduce the larger body of work inside...

Designed by Purtill Family Business, Sculpture as Place – 1958-2010, accompanies the first retrospective Andre has had since 1970 which opens at the Dia Art Foundation in May.

On the cover, the words that appear in the five line Preface to My Work Itself (1963) are simply arranged by length – from "in" to "interchangable" – and offer a playful way into Andre's work.

The piece itself treats the words as objects of different sizes and – as a cover device – lets the reader arrange them into statements which may, or may not, be relevant to his wider body of work in abstract sculpture.

So "my art is made of the same stacked broken pieces; the work piled, interchangable" could be one way of ordering half of the words, for example.

It's an interesting way of getting the reader to categorise Andre's work – much of it having garnered its fair share of both positive and negative reaction over the fifty years he has been working (the controversy generated by The Sunday Times over the Tate's acquisition of Andre's firebrick piece, Equivalent VIII, in the 1970s being an infamous case in point).

In addition to ten essays, the book includes images of many of Andre's sculptural pieces made from materials such as timber planks, concrete blocks and plates of metal, alongside concrete poetry, postcards, letters and documents relating to the installation of many of the artworks.

Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958-2010 by Philippe Vergne and Yasmil Raymond is published by Yale University Press; £45. See yalebooks.co.uk. Details on the Dia Art Foundation exhibition in New York are here.

Cycling covers from Yellow Jersey Press

Posted: April 11th, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Books, Illustration, Type / Typography | Comments Off

With the Tour de France starting in July, Yellow Jersey Press has reissued five classic cycling books with covers referencing some of the most famous colours in the sport...

Designed in-house by Matt Broughton, the series includes broadcaster Ned Boulting's tale of becoming obsessed by Le Tour, How I Won the Yellow Jumper, and the first British winner Bradley Wiggins' autobiography, My Time.

Three of the covers reference the colourways of the jerseys awarded to Le Tour cyclists – hence the yellow (worn by the overall time leader) on the aforementioned titles, the bright green of the jersey awarded to the winner of the points competition, and the red and white Maillot à Pois pattern for the 'King of the Mountains' – the rider who tops the climbing classification – on Richard Moore's Slaying the Badger (the 'Badger' in question being French cyclist, Bernard Hinault).

The five stripes of the world champion jersey appear on William Fotheringham's Put Me Back on My Bike, while writer Tim Moore's retracing of the Tour de France route, French Revolutions, gets a tricolore treatment, complete with up-ended type evocative of the challenge he took on.

All the titles in the series are republished by Yellow Jersey Press (Vintage). More at vintage-books.co.uk.

Good-bye To All That

Posted: April 4th, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Books, Graphic Design, Type / Typography | Comments Off

Matthew Young at Penguin has designed an austere cover for a forthcoming edition of Robert Graves' Good-bye To All That, published as part of the company's ongoing First World War-related series...

The type-only design is a sombre take on Graves' autobiographical account of his wartime experience; with centred text and in a brushed gun-metal grey the A-format design is akin to a field manual or handbook (and similar in appearance to Warne's Observer's Books from the 1930s).

The date set bottom-right signifies that the text is of Graves' original 1929 version of his memoir which he revised and republished it in 1957. The strange, unsettling first edition cover of the book is shown at the bottom of this post.

UPDATE: After I posted, Young got in touch via Twitter and shared this great image (below) of a specimen poster for Curwen, the typeface he used on the Graves cover.

Good-bye To All That is republished by Penguin on May 1; £5.50. Details here. More of Youngs work is at mymymy.co.uk.

The Letterpress Shakespeare

Posted: April 4th, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Books, Type / Typography | Comments Off

While your Arden edition might be a little easier in the hands, The Folio Society's new Letterpress Shakespeare titles are a typographic indulgence that attempt a renewed engagement with the bard's plays and sonnets...

The Society's aim is to present Shakespeare's words "in their purest form" and so the pages of each of the plays are devoid of the clutter of notes and glossaries, unlike most regular editions of the playwright's work.

Of course, for most readers these elements are more than useful, so an accompanying "commentary" edition of the play is also included in each boxed set.

Therefore what the reader encounters in the large-format main edition is just the text: and in 16 point Monotype Baskerville, printed by letterpress onto thick, mould-made paper with feathered – 'deckled' – edges, it's a treat to behold.

This aspect is the real highlight of the project – and the most labour intensive. Each volume was apparently printed just two pages at a time, each page having been put together by a skilled compositor at Gloucester Typesetting Services in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire.

This method, with this paper, means that the words are impressed deep into the page. I had a close look at a copy of King Lear and the quality of the lettering on the paper is sublime.

On the outside, each book is quarter-bound in leather with individually hand-marbled paper sides – complete with gilded top edges and a ribbon marker. The plays are divided into three colours: a dark purple-blue for the histories; red for tragedies; and green for comedies.

The solander box which houses everything continues the 'traditional' look and if anything is perhaps a bit on the pragmatic side – sturdy no doubt, but it's overtly functional-looking, which jars a little with the hand-crafted nature of the type and paper within.

Needless to say, with only 300 copies of each volume available, they don't come cheap: each play is £295; the volume of sonnets and poems, £345; the complete set coming in at £11,555.

So while hardly bringing Shakespeare to a wider audience – there are plenty of other publishers that can do that – these editions do at least honour the quality of the writing within. And there's something about reading the text on the page without distraction that makes it a worthwhile experience, too.

Folio Society titles are available for purchase from foliosociety.com, by telephone on +44 (0)207 400 4200, or by visiting The Folio Society Bookshop, 44 Eagle Street, London WC1R 4FS.

The 100 Archive: documenting Irish design

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 | Author: Rachael Steven | Filed under: Books, Digital, Graphic Design, Illustration, Magazine / Newspaper, Photography, Type / Typography | Comments Off

Ireland’s creative community has launched an online archive documenting visual communications in the country. We spoke to designer David Wall about the project...

At this year's Offset conference in Dublin last month, the three-day schedule featured a range of talks from Irish creatives: photographer Richard Mosse discussed his stunning images from Eastern Congo, Chris Judge spoke about his award-winning children's book, The Lonely Beast, and street artist Maser reflected on his colourful and thought provoking public artworks. On smaller stages, studios and educators spoke about their creative heroes, getting commissioned and judging good design - and several mentioned the 100 Archive.

The 100 Archive is a website documenting visual communications in Ireland – from illustration and animation to album covers, packaging, identities, exhibition graphics and logos.

The site is divided into two parts: 100 Future, which acts as a rolling record of contemporary professional work in the country and 100 Past; an archive of the 100 finest projects submitted each year, as well as examples of great graphic design and communications dating back to the 1960s.

The project was initiated by four Dublin studios - Atelier, Conor & David, Detail and Studio AAD. Atelier founder David Smith first suggested the idea at AGI Open in Barcelona in 2011, when he became the first Irish member of AGI, followed by Johnny Kelly a year later.

The archive was officially launched late last year and since then, it has received hundreds of submissions: a curatorial panel are in the process of judging the finest projects from 2010-13 for 100 Past, which launches next month, and they have also trawled archives and personal collections for interesting items from the past five decades.

“Ireland has a rich visual culture and history of visual communication,” says Conor & David co-founder David Wall. “Design competitions have played a vital role in the setting and raising of standards, but they haven’t left us with an extensive record of the work done here. The ultimate goal of the 100 Archive is to establish such a record,” he adds.

To submit work to the 100 Archive, creatives pay a 20 Euro fee and their entry is assessed by a professional panel who decide if it’s suitable. The panel is currently made up of Johnny Kelly, Alastair Keady (Hexhibit), Susan Murphy (Ogilvy & Mather), Gillian Reidy (Penhouse) and Eamon Spelmen (Limerick School of Art & Design).

The criteria for submissions is broad, says Wall, and any work that has been produced in response to a commission and led by an Irish designer or created in Ireland, is eligible.

“If the work can be described as any of the following: good, interesting, different, unexpected, simple, modest, clear, well executed, considered, culturally relevant or noteworthy, it can be added to 100 Future,” he adds. If three out of five judges opt to include a project then it is uploaded, and judges aren't aware of how their peers have voted.

There are local and global awards schemes for Irish creatives who’d like to see their work recognised, of course - some of which are documented online - but Wall says that as a non-competitive scheme, the 100 Archive offers something quite different and is more inclusive.

"As a non-competitive space for showcasing work, the archive offers a celebration of graphic design rather than the exaltation of a small group. Crediting of work is centred around individuals…so as the archive grows, it offers a rich history of the people behind the practice,” he says. “For those at one removed from the day-to-day industry here — whether they’re students or designers based abroad — the Archive [also] provides an overview of ongoing work here,” he adds.

The 100 projects added to 100 Past each year are chosen by an additional curatorial panel, which will change every three years. The current line-up consists of Brenda Dermody, Gerard Fox, Oonagh Young, Linda King and Liam McComish, who have also been responsible for sourcing historical work from archives and personal collections.

As well as its core staff, the site lists a number of ‘founders’ who have made the site’s launch possible through donations. The team has received hundreds of submissions for inclusion so far and Wall says many have dedicated their own time and resources to sourcing archive material. These objects will be launched on 100 Past later this year, says Wall, and include packaging, album artwork and editorial design.

“One of the things I’m most looking forward to seeing is the evolution of the Tayto pack. Tayto is one of Ireland’s longest established crisp brands — their packaging has passed through the hands of many designers over the years so that will make an interesting case study,” he says.

“Another gem that has come to light is Campaign magazine, which came to us from ICAD. They are the oldest representative body for creatives in Ireland and have been working with us to identify projects and individuals of merit from their extensive archive - Campaign was their magazine in the 1960s and 1970s and some of the cover designs are a joy to behold,” he adds.

More recent examples include the cover of U2’s Boy, designed by Steve Averill, which Wall says is one of his earliest memories of graphic design. “I remember being struck by the image on the cassette cover when I was barely older than the boy pictured on it. Steve’s son Jon is also a practicing designer, and part of the 100 Archive community too."

The 100 Archive is a community project, and Wall says the response to the site has been overwhelming. “At each step, we’ve found more and more people who are willing to help  - one of the exciting parts of the process has been to forge new connections with designers whose work I knew but didn’t previously know personally,” he adds. In the future, he hopes there will be an exhibition of featured work from the 100 Archive, too.

It's an interesting model and The 100 Archive provides a great platform for the country's designers to share their achievements, work together and review their practice on a regular basis. The site should also prove a valuable source of inspiration for aspiring creatives, and a useful reference point for designers based abroad.

Images (from top): Dublin UNESCO City of Literature Stamp by The Stone Twins; What Happens Next is a Secret exhibition catalogue by Ciaran OGaora; Insular typeface by Naoise Ó Conchubhair; Le Cool exhibition poster by Rory McCormick and Rossi McAuley; Back to the Start by Johnny Kelly; DIT Masters of Arts programme by Cian McKenna; Ard Bia cookbook by Me&Him&You; David Smith & Oran Day's artwork for Ghost Maps; Wayne Daly's Archizines; a 1963 cover of Campaign magazine;  album artwork for U2's Boy; AGI Open identity by Dan Flynn, album art for Dulra by David Donohoe studio and The Lonely Beast ABC app by Chris Judge. For more info on each project see the100archive.com

Anish Kapoor: Symphony for a Beloved Sun catalogue

Posted: March 31st, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Art, Books, Graphic Design | Comments Off

Anish Kapoor's first major solo show in Germany was accompanied by a handsome catalogue stained with red oil and designed by UK studio, Brighten the Corners. It has just won them the Grand Prize at the Tokyo Type Directors Club...

Symphony for a Beloved Sun was held at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. The central work of the show consisted of a series of large conveyor belts, set up high in the space, which dropped heavy blocks of red wax onto the museum floor.

Brighten the Corners say that the notion of "tension" created by putting contemporary artworks within the neo-Rennaisance environment of the Martin-Gropius-Bau was something they wanted to reflect in the show's publication.

Each catalogue's cover is stained with red oil paint which then seeps through into its first pages. The book is also sewn with a bright red thread and boasts a red 'cut' to its edge.

"We wanted our book, itself a reference to the first Martin-Gropius-Bau catalogue of 1890, to be both elegant and unsettling," say BTC.

"Maintaining the strict classical grid for all text and images meant that landscape images stretched across two pages, occupying the space they needed and reminding the reader of the works' scale. Finding the right landscape images was a job in itself – hours were spent with Anish Kapoor studio in the photo archive."

"Typographic chapter dividers grouped the works into categories and played further with scale by visually exploiting the font (Stempel Garmamond) and letting it have its moment in the book."

The catalogue is published by Walter Koenig. Brighten the Corners are in Tokyo to receive the TDC Grand Prize this week and will also give a talk at the Design Forum, TDC Day. See
tdctokyo.org and brightenthecorners.com.

Much stuff required for Stuff Matters cover

Posted: March 26th, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Books, Photography | Comments Off

Penguin has revealed the process behind the making of its paperback cover for new book Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik. It involved working with photographer Dan Tobin Smith and carefully arranging an awful lot of, well, stuff...

Stuff Matters documents the 'Strange Stories of the Marvellous Materials that Shape Our Man-made World' and features a cover filled with various objects grouped by colour.

Briefed by editor Will Hammond to "make the reader feel more in touch with the physical world around them, to make them grasp its materiality," the Penguin design team wanted to work with Tobin Smith because of his ability to turn intricate concepts into simple images, designer Richard Bravery told penguinblog.co.uk.

The brief interview explores the team's initial ideas and details the eventual two-day shoot – timelapse below – with Tobin Smith. More of Tobin Smith's work at dantobinsmith.com. Set design: Leila Latchin. Retouching: Martin Pryor.

Much stuff required for Stuff Matters cover

Posted: March 26th, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Books, Photography | Comments Off

Penguin has revealed the process behind the making of its paperback cover for new book Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik. It involved working with photographer Dan Tobin Smith and carefully arranging an awful lot of, well, stuff...

Stuff Matters documents the 'Strange Stories of the Marvellous Materials that Shape Our Man-made World' and features a cover filled with various objects grouped by colour.

Briefed by editor Will Hammond to "make the reader feel more in touch with the physical world around them, to make them grasp its materiality," the Penguin design team wanted to work with Tobin Smith because of his ability to turn intricate concepts into simple images, designer Richard Bravery told penguinblog.co.uk.

The brief interview explores the team's initial ideas and details the eventual two-day shoot – timelapse below – with Tobin Smith. More of Tobin Smith's work at dantobinsmith.com. Set design: Leila Latchin. Retouching: Martin Pryor.

Offset 2014: Day three

Posted: March 24th, 2014 | Author: Rachael Steven | Filed under: Advertising, Books, Graphic Design, Illustration, Type / Typography | Comments Off

The final day of Offset 2014 featured talks from Marian Bantjes, Richard Turley, Jeff Greenspan and I Love Dust (to name just a few), who provided some amusing, thought provoking and inspiring reflections on their craft.

After talks from Genevieve Gauckler and fashion stylist Aisling Farinella, Johnny Winslade and Ollie Munden from I Love Dust discussed the studio's culture and its work for Nike, Karl Lagerfeld and London burger restaurant Meat Liquor.

I Love Dust designed illustrated interiors for the venue and its sister restaurants Meat Mission, Meat Market and Meat Liquor Brighton. Meat Liquor London is designed to "look like the building has been tattooed", while Meat Mission's murals reference religious iconography (a nod to the building's former use as a Christian Mission site). Meat Liquor Brighton is inspired by Miami - "another seaside location full of colourful characters" said Winslade.

The pair also discussed a series of self-initiated projects, from a custom motorbike it designed with Boneshaker Choppers to celebrate the studio's 10th birthday, to 'Black Valentine's' voodoo donuts, coffee cups and coasters.

As well as surprising clients (and making their way on to art directors' desks), the pair said these kind of projects allowed the team, and its new members in particular, to try out new styles and techniques.

What is good design?

Next up (and sadly clashing with what I hear was a very entertaining talk from John Burgerman) was a debate on the notion of 'good design' - what exactly is it and how can it be measured.

Hosted by Studio AAD creative director Scott Burnett, the panel included Johnny Kelly, Richard Turley, Oran Day from Dublin studio Atelier David Smith and Brenda Dermody, who teaches graphic design at Dublin Institute of Technology.

Dermody said good design could only be measured based on its context: it might be a project where someone has worked outside of their comfort zone, or something that is simply beautiful. "But if the designer hasn't learned much from it, is it still good?" she asked. Day, who also lectures at DIT, said that when teaching students, it could be just as valuable to critique examples of bad design, and Turley said for a design to be 'good', it must provoke a visceral reaction.

Johnny Kelly's The Seed

The panel also touched on whether the public is becoming more aware and critical of design, but Turley said it’s not the only discipline to suffer exaggerated critiques on personal blogs and social media these days, while Dermody said that public outcries over logos, marques or branding were often just masking discontent over the brand itself or a wider issue. "The design is just a soft target," she said.

The group also discussed the importance of awards: Turley said he felt there was little value in them, other than impressing his bosses in America. Kelly said he had felt it made people take notice of his work, but claimed he had also noticed a culture of ‘this is definitely going to win awards' among agencies. "It's a bad place to start any project," he said.

Day said that they're still of value, even if there are many other ways to gain recognition online now, because of the positive psychological effect of receiving praise from your peers, while Kelly pointed out that they can also stimulate important debates within the industry.

Richard Turley

Richard Turley took to the stage again after lunch, discussing his work for Bloomberg Businessweek, his thoughts on editorial design and his work for The Guardian.

While other talks this weekend have spoken about the importance of originality, or praised craft intensive projects, Turley spoke about creating powerful covers on a weekly basis, sometimes in just a few hours. Most of the ideas for his covers come from Google image searches, he said, adding: "a lot of what I do is copying. People are a bit angsty about the fact that you must have your own ideas, but I think it's good to admit where we've taken things from."

Of course, Turley didn't mean he actually copies anyone's work, but was referring to the fact that he is constantly seeking and adapting ideas that confront or inspire him - the cover of the election issue was inspired by the Halifax X, and the cover image for an issue on Bitcoin currency by an image of a unicorn he found online.

Talking through Bloomberg's visual structure, Turley discussed his use of Helvetica and a grid structure based on multiples of 1.3 Despite these restrictions, however, he likes cover spreads to be as inentive and "expressive" as possible. "I dislike polite modernism...the Apple-ification of design," he said. "Magazine design is really just about attracting attention: [cover spreads] are like little adverts, and you are selling the writer's articles."

Turley said working on the Guardian and its G2 supplement provided invaluable experience for his time at Bloomberg, and said the pressure of working for daily and weekly titles means "you have to become instinctive. It's very immediate ad you can't over think it," he said.

Marian Bantjes

Marian Bantjes followed Turley and spoke about her need to "say something" with her work, showing examples of designs with embedded codes, concealed type and an installation for the Chicago Design Museum which spelled out the word sorrow in flowers, and died towards the end of the show.

"You have to make sure a project is worth the time and effort you will bestow on it," she said, adding that she had a pet peeve for things like alphabet posters which are pretty but have little purpose. "If you're going to the trouble of creating a beautiful alphabet, use it to say something," she added.

Bantjes also discussed her monograph, Pretty Pictures (read our blog post on it here); personal projects including her yearly Valentine's gifts and a recent project with Adobe, where she customised an Eames chair with wood veneer:

She also spoke about collecting and said that she often photographs sidewalks and hotel rooms: a poster she recently designed for the National was inspired by the structure of the skyline from her room in Hong Kong. "Grids and structure are a key part of my work," she added.

Jeff Greenspan

Up next was freelance creative Jeff Greenspan, formerly a communication designer at Facebook, chief creative officer at Buzzfeed and creative director at BBDO.

Greenspan discussed how his self-initiated and side projects gave him the confidence to build a successful freelance career, and spoke of the importance of "finding your own individual voice and speaking it very loudly." He is the creator of the 'hipster trap' (below), New York's Tourist Lanes (which started out as a simple prank and attracted global media attention), and the Bush Booth (booths where people sick of seeing George W Bush campaign for a second term as President could voice their discontent at a video loop of him just listening).

Greenspan also created Selfless Portraits, a site where internet users are given a profile picture of another user somewhere in the world and asked to draw it, and "The World's Most Exclusive Website", a site where users must have a certain number of Twitter followers to access rooms, only to be met with another locked door. A satirical swipe at fame culture, those who did manage to access the site were offered nothing but confirmation of their followers, but the promise of exclusivity attracted Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber and Jerry Bruckheimer, among others.

Each of these projects were self-initiated yet became viral successes: Greenspan had the idea for Selfless Portraits when working at Facebook, but couldn't persuade the company to fund it, and said if he'd approached brands with many of these ideas, he would have been turned down, yet they have attracted millions of hits and huge levels of user engagement.

"If people don't trust me, I keep trying," he said. "I refuse to listen to people who try to diminish that voice in my head. I know we're not changing the world - I'm usually advertising pizza and coffee - but it's important to be true to yourself," he said. "If you start something, put energy into it and be bold with your ideas...then other people will join you."

Chris Judge

The last talk of the day was delivered by Chris Judge, an Irish illustrator, former member of The Chalets and author of award-winning children's book The Lonely Beast.

Judge presented some charming, funny and bizarre illustration projects and discussed his forthcoming work for a teen novel by Kirsty McKay and an illustrated 'danger manual', Danger is Everywhere, written by comedian David O Doherty. He also talked about his spin-off Lonely Beast counting and alphabet apps, which were recently featured in an Apple ad campaign.

This was just a few of the events happening each day: the schedule also included a talk from Nobrow artists on getting published, a panel debate among Irish architects and one from a selection of Irish illustrators.
Le Cool Dublin has also been running a series of stylus wars - interactive pictionary duels - as well as portfolio reviews, and their have been regular talks on building brands in various industries. With a line-up so diverse, it's little wonder Offset has become a sell-out events with over 2,500 attending.