2020-21 – two tough years
It's been ridiculously quiet on the graphic design front due to Covid-19. Prior to lockdown and the problems associated with the pandemic, a lot of my jobs were updates and progressions of projects already shown here, such a catalogues, ads, brochures etc. This shows that clients stay with me because I understand their requirements. But unfortunately most of those clients downsized their print requirements considerably and focused instead on online advertising that they managed themselves through social media and other channels.
Prior to the pandemic, I was working on various projects including revamps and tweaks of old projects, new product launches and a lot of things I can't show here, such as work for private customers who do not want their commssions in the public domain. It's a big shame that I can't show you some samples here because it's small projects such as these that produce some of the most inventive results, with flap down pages, pull-out maps, unusual page layouts and interesting typography.
One company I have occasionally assisted is Richard Allan London. Richard's marvellous 1960s silk scarfs/scarves* archive has been relaunched for today's market by his daughter Cate. The gorgeous patterns are availanble to be worn or as framed art prints. Cate has also made integrations with well-known companies, magazines and High Street brands such as H&M. It's been a delight to help out with this.
With so much free time I applied myself to my private projects. I started researching and writing about two sites in Islington with the idea to produce some books. This is still a work in progress and I am hoping to return to it Winter 21/22.
*it turns out that both are correct!
FpoL's Literary Festival takes place during the month of October with at least one walk available every day on a subject linked to writing, books or authors.
A fellow guide (for I am a Clerkenwell and Islington guide myself) asked if I'd design something for them. There was a lot of information to squeeze in and the final printed product shown below bears scant resemblance to my first draft, the problem being that elements kept changing or being added to and graphic devices such as the quill and river were supplied mid-project. Nevertheless I waved my magic designer's wand and found a way to make all the disparate elements work in harmony. The calendar is colour coded with morning, afternoon and evening walks.
Now I need to set do the design and artwork for my own guided walks...
Epsilon Productions puts on small, award-winning thought-provoking plays.
With two productions coming up one after the other, my initial brief was to create the poster and flyer for Chicken Shop using Park Theatre's standard templates but to make them look different from the already-created Crystal Springs print.
Part two of the brief was to design and produce an A5 20pp programme that would cover both shows with two front covers and a common centre.
I introduced a dirty pale blue to Chicken Shop poster that worked well with the poster image supplied. The blue and black theme then contrasted well with the reds and beiges of Crystal Springs and helped to delineate the two halves of the programme.
All other elements within the programme also needed design input; ads, general info, blurbs etc.
It was a bit of a jig-saw, but we got there!
Sam has written a fabulous recommendation regarding my work on this project on LinkedIn. It reads; "Jane took my idea for a book and turned it into a well-finished piece of design that now proudly sits on mine and many others' shelves. However, it wasn't just the design that impressed. It was also Jane's guiding hand throughout the whole process that helped me to learn and make considerable improvements throughout the project. It was very much a team effort, done across two continents and seven time zones, me in Cambodia and Jane in London. This was only made possible by Jane's positive and flexible approach. Thank you Jane, I look forward to our next project together.
Service Category: Graphic/Web Designer – Year first hired: 2010 (hired more than once)
Top Qualities: Personable, On Time, High Integrity
As you can see by the two pairs of ads below, the final versions were much stronger and more colourful.
The colourful branding continues across other items – I have also designed, created and tweaked a set of product icons for use on the website and packaging. They also appear on the A4 information brochures which I have designed to follow a template using CoreFiling's house fonts.
Smaller icons have also been created for use in the browser bar, however at the time of writing, these have not as yet been implemented.
Ditto the redesigns for the website.
Watch this space!
I was also involved with the interior design and layout of the cafe bar itself.
A roaring success!
After discussion with the client, a second set of designs was created, as shown in 3rd and 4th columns. The client wrote larger stronger messages which I aligned across the ads linked by leader dots. And the colours were made stronger.
At a later stage the colours chosen for each product changed again and the approved final magazine ads feature solid colour panels on the right hand side. I also designed and created scalable vector icons in two sizes. See here for the subsequent designs.
But the magazine needed a revamp that would not alienate its readership. The brief was to bring it up to date without completely changing the friendly look and feel.
The tidy-up involved new typefaces to separate the editorials from the step-by-steps, and a stricter though more adaptable 7-column grid with runners, folios and section headers.
The banner heading on the cover also needed amending as the old one used up too much space and did not work very well at small sizes. The basic designs below show how I originally tweaked the old logo and spun it slightly anti-clockwise. At a later date, after conversations with the client to recommend a change, I completely redrew the Cake logo script from scratch and supplied a scalable file. It can be seen bottom right, on the December 2013 front cover.
I wanted the information cards and signage for Amelia Parker to echo the lovely printed books of the 18th century, so Garamond, with its lovely choice fonts and ligatures, was the obvious choice.
Shown above are some of the items I have created including the website (which echoes the colour of the market stall), business cards, signage for the stall, and greeting cards that feature my photographs of some of the textural patterns and figurative images I have created using the fragments.
Back in May 2008, Sam Roberts, another fan of faded ads painted onto walls, contacted me with an idea to collaborate on a book about the old painted signs that cling to the walls above our busy modern streets. 'Ghosts signs' or 'ghostsigns' hint at a bygone past, depicting local traders and services, products and potions, as well as brands that are still going strong today, albeit advertised in a different style. The signs were hand-painted by talented men who were proficient at climbing up and balancing on tall ladders (no scaffolding or hard hats back then!) whilst deftly using a paintbrush and paint.
Sam had seen my my website Jane's London and my vast collection of photos on Flickr, snapped during my extensive wanderings around London, and he thought that we'd be the perfect fit. We were both of the opinion that this would make a fabulous book. Sam was to be the wordsmith and I was to be the photographer, plus, with my graphic design and typography skills, I was well-placed to produce the artwork for print, thus saving on costs and keeping control of the look and feel. We planned for a print date of June 2010.
The project was put on hold when Sam went to Cambodia for a couple of years although we almost secured a publishing deal in 2011. When Sam returned to the UK we were both too busy on other projects to properly return to the idea. It will happen soon but more likely as a self-published title. In the meantime, I plan to produce some books of my own to tie in with my website – little 80pp books, each a collection on a subject (bootscrapers, coal hole covers, ghostsigns with pictures, ghostsigns of traders, doorway mosaics etc). And I continue to take photos of old signs when I spot them, but my Flickr photo account is now not for public viewing – I instead use it as a personal archive.
Let's face it, most business cards are just glimpsed at for a few seconds and then left in a darkened place for years. So I think they should be intriguing enough to provoke a immediate response.
Hence, I like to keep my designs clear and simple as I believe it's the information that is the most important element here, rather than over-designed versions where the vital information is lost, cramped, or way too small/light.
My designs feature text in a legible point size surrounded by a fair bit of white/light space for those extra inked-on scribbles, and I like to use photographs or graphic devices on the image side wherever possible. For instance, my own cards (both my personal one and the revised design for Amelia Parker clay pipe jewellery) feature my own shots of clay pipes – these images always get a good reaction.
Another clever design device for the picture side of the card is to zoom in on an element of an image, or the logo itself, which then becomes clearer on the information side.
In 2012 there was no large catalogue but the bulk of the product shots, namely the jewellery items, still needed to be scaled at actual size before being further reduced to 80% for here. During the rough layout stages items get moved around a lot from page to page until the client is happy that we have achieved the best spreads to sell from.
Having Rudolph on the has proved popular, so he, or one of his other sterling silver reindeer friends, has been on the cover of the Christmas catalogue in 2012 and 2013 as well.
A nice idea, but it was a tough call. The cufflinks spreads already use squared-up panels, but they are all small products – applying the same idea to other pages which show items of varying shapes and sizes, especially in the jewellery section where they need to be shown at actual size, makes it hard to create a grid that works without looking too messy.
Shown below are the initial ideas I came up with, using random colours in blocks (colours would obviously be specifically mixed for each page to best enhance the products).
But, realising that this would make each page an even bigger jigsaw puzzle than usual, plus creating further photographic and/or repro work, this idea has been shelved for the time being.
Shown here are the four early identities. Guidelines for the current one can be found here.
Please note the lovely thank you letter addressed to me which reads:
The design had already been created and approved. I was brought in to streamline it, pull the artwork together and oversee the print, which was almost a disaster, the printer having omitted to buy in the correct cream paper stock. But in the end we got them to flood the pages with 7% yellow and the same effect was achieved.
I watched the flypast from The Mall on the day and it was great to see so many people clutching their copies as souvenirs of the day.