January 5, 2010


What makes a good designer? Is it what they design, or is it how they design it? Every designers mind works in a different way; each one will see creativity in different places and be inspired by different things, noticing the little details around them that speak to them. Some go to art galleries and exhibits for inspiration. Seeing someone else’s designs has always given me perspective on my own, and while I don’t usually go to galleries, I often take out a few minutes of my time to ask my peers for their opinions and to look at some of their work. Seeing how they are doing and how they approach the same brief with a completely different concept to my own enables me to reflect on how well my work is expressing the brief. I hope to keep this perspective throughout my design career, and remember every now and then to simply take a step back from my work and ask a friend for another point of view so that I may see my designs in a different light. Looking at other sources of creative inspiration helps me to keep my work contemporary and original. Having contemporary designs is vital to having a successful career in design, clients aren’t looking for designs that appeal to audiences in the 90’s, what worked last year may not work this year. To ensure big clients, your ideas also need to be original, no one wants something that’s been done a thousand times before. People are always looking for the next big thing, with original, contemporary designs I hope to be a contender, but there are so many original ideas out there that make the industry so colorful.

Diversity is what makes the design industry so interesting for me, with everyone trying to make a name for themselves and develop their own identities. A designers identity is one of his most important assets, you must always remember who you are and what style you are currently using, if you forget your identity, what makes you so unique, then it will show in your designs and you will become uninteresting and generic. I aim to stay true to my identity and to shape and mold it by proving myself a competent and efficient designer to my ever growing and demanding audience. The audience is one of the most import things to consider when designing anything. Exactly whom you are aiming at can inspire or hinder your work depending on your outlook. I aim to seek motivation for my work from the audience, and to never forget precisely who needs whom, for without an audience I wouldn’t have a job. Wherever my life takes me throughout the design industry I hope to hold on to my principles, there are many jobs out there and choosing which one to take isn’t easy; “Should I make a poster for this cigarette company? It’s wrong but the money’s good…” What’s more important? Everyone will think differently thanks to their own principles and unique knowledge about their employer. Personally I will avoid designing for any product that I think is: harmful to the environment, potentially dangerous to humans or animals, using or associated with slavery, cruel to animals, or is discriminatory in any way. What I am prepared to do is work for a company that may have done one or more of these things in the past, as long as they no longer do them or deal with anyone who does.

Knowledge about whom you’re working for is also important; what they like and dislike, what kind of jobs they’ve done in past, what they want this piece to accomplish, the background of the subject matter, knowing these facts will equip you with the mental tools required to come up with an intelligent and original design. This journey we all take through the industry isn’t easy, things will go wrong, (especially with printers) and a designer must be patient. If you’re working within a team then patience becomes even more important, you must respect and listen to all of the other members of the group so that you can work together efficiently. Patience will also help you remember what you like about your work, when things get difficult it may become easy to forget why you started this project, but it is incredibly important to remain passionate about your work. Passion for your work will give you purpose, and it will give your work purpose, for it is purpose that defines us and our work. Graphic design is a maze, a maze with infinite entrances and exits. We all enter the maze in our own way, and come out in different places. What makes a good designer? The journey.

Take it easy

Captain out

P.S. Again those who got the Matrix reference can has cheezburger.


Top Ten art and design venues

January 4, 2010

Here are my top ten Art and Design venues.

10. The Photographer’s Gallery

Self styled as the largest public photographic gallery in London, this venue has quite a reputation for showcasing some of the best international contemporary photography.

The Photographers’ Gallery
16 – 18 Ramillies Street
London W1F 7LW

Tel: 0845 262 1618

9. National Museum Cardiff

A very well known and respected gallery that holds one of the best collections of impressionist works in Europe, as well as over 500 years worth of incredible paintings, drawings, sculpture, silver and ceramics.

National Museum Cardiff
Cathays Park, Cardiff
CF10 3NP

Tel: (029) 2039 7951

8. Tredegar House

The Gallery’s collections of paintings, watercolours, decorative ceramics, contemporary prints, and craft incorporate work by a great list of well respected artists. The gallery displays a huge collection of Welsh art that illustrates the changing landscape of South Wales.

John Frost Square
South Wales
NP20 1PA
Tel: (01633) 414701

7. Bay Art

The Bay Art gallery is a relatively new venue that aims to nurture and support contemporary works of art and design in the Cardiff area.

54B/C Bute Street

Cardiff Bay


CF10 5AF

Tel: 02920 650 016

6. Arnolfini Gallery

Hailed as one of the leading sites of contemporary art in Europe, the Arnolfini gallery exhibits not only still works but also dance, ‘live art’ and it has it’s own cinema. Like all the best galleries entry is free.

16 Narrow Quay



Tel: +44 (0)117 9172300 / 01

5. North Laine gallery

Quite a small venue it showcases mainly the work of local photographers, and holds the competition for the Brighton and Hove calendar. Another little touch that makes this gallery unique is it’s ‘peoples gallery’, where local people can put up their photos for the competitions, whether they are professional or not.

Kensington Gardens

Brighton BN1 4A

Tel: 01273 628794

4. Oriel Kooywood Gallery

Labeled as “one of Wales’ most prestigious art galleries”, it showcases paintings, sculptures, ceramics and limited edition prints from both established and up and coming Welsh artists.

8 Museum Place


CF10 3BG

Tel: (029) 2023 5093

3. Annely Juda fine art

This gallery is known for cutting-edge modern and abstract installations. Expressionism is frequently showcased, and works are typically from big-name figures like David Hockney and Anthony Caro.

4th Floor

23 Dering Street(off New Bond Street)

LondonW1s 1AW, UK

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7629 7578

2. Tate Liverpool

One of the four art museums under the ‘Tate’ name, this one is stunning. Operating out of the very heart of Liverpool, the venue has a constantly changing list of exhibits that never cease to inspire me, not to mention the incredible historic location of the Albert Dock. It has been up and running since 1988, and I don’t see it closing anytime soon.

Albert Dock
L3 4BB
Tel:0151 702 7400

1. The Victoria and Albert museum, London

This venue is amazing, it has a seemingly never ending amount of beautiful rooms and halls filled to the brim with incredible pieces of historical artwork. Round every corner and up every tiny staircase leads you to some fascinating little display of handmade beauty. Covering a staggering 5000 years of history this venue holds pieces from all over the world, be it a tapestry from India or an authentic samurai battle dress from Japan. On top of all this history there is a changing list of new exhibits that line the great halls.

V&A South Kensington
Cromwell Road
London SW7 2RL
Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 2000

Take it easy

Captain out

Top Ten Photographers

January 2, 2010

My Top Ten photographers

10.Richard Avedon

A photographer who often uses a white background so the viewer doesn’t lose focus of the subject. He traveled across the American West taking portraits against a plain white background to make a collective portrait.

9. Alexander Rodchenko

One of the first photographers to use ‘severe’ angles to create abstract images as he did not like “from the navel” photography.

8. Martin Parr

A documentary photographer who is most know for his series on British culture. In particular I like his series entitled ‘Luxury’, which documents the wealthy population in order to express his own concept of ‘Greed’.

7. Robert Capa

One of the most famous war photographers of all time. His picture; “Falling solider” of a solider being shot during the Spanish civil war (1936 to 1939) still holds controversy as to whether it was staged.

6. Louis Daguerre

Inventor of the Daguerreotype, he was a pioneer of early photography creating some landmark images that are truly inspirational. This one was taken with an 8 hour exposure!

5. Wiliam Eggleston

One of the first photographers to fully embrace color photography, he never really explains what his photographs are about, leaving the interpretation up to the viewer.

4. Henri Cartier Bresson

Bresson was a photographer who hated having his picture taken, despite his fame he valued his privacy. He never used a flash when taking his pictures as he thought that it was “impolite, like coming to a concert with a pistol in your hand.”.

3. Annie Leibovitz

Starting off as a photographer for Rolling Stone magazine, she has taken some fantastic shots of all kinds of musicians and celebrities.

2. David Hockney

Famous for his unique composite photos where he uses multiple polaroids to create one single image. These images have a very surreal feel to them.

1. Ansel Adams

A landscape photographer who is renowned for his high-contrast monochrome images of American national parks, in particular Yosemite National Park.

Take it easy

Captain out

Top Ten Architects

January 2, 2010

My Top Ten list of Architects.

10. Konstantin Melnikov

A great Architect, Konstantin was a highly respected avant-garde artist who created utterly different work to that of his peers. Refusing to conform to ‘Stalinist architecture’ he retired from the industry standing firmly by his principles.

9. Jørn Utzon

Most famous for his radical design for the Sydney opera house, he uses quite ordinary shapes in innovative and amazing combination to create some really inspiring designs.

8. Hablinski + Manion

The buildings these architects create are magnificent, they remind me of old English mansions and really radiate class from every arch to every room.

7. Shubin+Donaldson

This is a partnership that has a real belief in the use of cubes. Their style relies so heavily on cubes that they have become experts on the use of them, using this simple shape in ways that I couldn’t have imagined.

6. Marc Appleton

I would love to own an Appleton building, in my opinion they are the very definition of luxury. Built in picturesque locations on the outside they have a very traditionl Spanish feel to them but inside they have a unique combination of tradition and modern thinking.

5. Santiago Calatrava

Named one of the best architects in the world, Calatrava is a Spanish designer who has buildings all around the world. I personally really like his work with spirals, the look is so out of place next to the ‘normal’ buildings it really is refreshing.

4. Kazuyo Sejima

A student of Toyo Ito her designs often utilize clean, white square cubes. This gives her buildings a very unique style, her use of white on the surfaces gives her buildings a very hygienic feel.

3. Toyo Ito

His work looks very clean and fresh, I love his idea that architecture is ‘clothing’ for urban dwellers, I think that this says a lot about his work ethics.

2. Frank Gehry

His crazy designs are so different and bold, seeing one of his buildings is a real experience.

1. Zaha Hadid

I find her use of smooth curves fantastic, I think that her designs are truly futuristic and the way that the building flows from one section to the next seamlessly is quite beautiful.

Take it easy

Captain Out

Top ten Illustrators

December 30, 2009

Yet another Top Ten list. This one was tricky, illustrators are always the best at what they do, and quite frankly every illustration I’ve looked at has been a masterpiece.

10. Frank Miller

This ‘comic book’ artist is famous for his unique style of noir drawing, he relies heavily on shadows and very few colors. This style is very effective at creating a dark atmosphere and is perfect for the macabre nature of his ‘Sin City novels’.

9. John How

Most famous for depicting famous scenes from the ‘Lord of the Rings’, his cover image for ‘The Hobbit’ is easily the most memorable. His paintings havea great sense of movement, and really look as if he’s just captured a single fleeting moment in time. Often filled with action, his design are always impressive and exciting.

8. Bernie Wrightson

I remember being asked to analyze a piece of his work for a project, I studied his image of Frankenstein and I found it fascinating, the way he uses down strokes of the pen to create the image gives us a wonderful dark tone to the picture. I really admire this ability to put so much emotion into a single scene.

7. John Solie

This film poster artist’s work has a very traditional feel to it, he worked with with some classic films, and he gave them classic posters. This era of film asked for a very specific look to their posters, and Solie nailed it. While personally I think this style looks slightly flat and at sometimes dull, I really admire the time and effort put into each and every one.

6. John Berkey

Berkey is another great poster artist who specializes in sci-fi films. His paintings are very action packed, often taking place in the middle of some epic scene or sometimes halfway through a battle. He manages to capture the scene perfect with a style that reminds me very much of George Hull.

5. George Hull

A concept artist, most famous for his work on the ‘Matrix’ sequels, his work is the very definition of detail. Every one of his drawings has every wire, every bolt and every tiny little detail added with the meticulous accuracy that concept artists all possess, but he has a certain sketchiness to his style that makes his pieces so stylish.

4. M.C. Eschner

I could stare at one of Eschners impossible drawings for hours, they are so well drawn and complex. He is an amazing artist, and the thought and care he puts into his work really shows through each and everyone of his designs.

3. Paul Kidby

A fantastic artist whose great sense of humour shines through in every piece he does. He is best know for his work on the original (and best) covers of the discworld books by Terry Pratchett.

2. Bill Watterson

Creator of ‘Calvin and Hobbs’ he creates stories that are beautiful, highly intelligent and hilarious. Every single tiny little sketch of the two is a priceless gem of brilliant writing and ingenious drawings. These characters never fail to brighten my, and although  he has now retired, Bill Watterson’s characters continue to spread wit and humor throughout the world.

1. Drew Struzan

Looking back at some my favorite films growing up, it’s the Struzan poster that sticks out and identifies the film, (maybe thats just because Im a designer but humour me). Drew Struzan is quite simply, a legend. He has painted the faces of childhood heros of an entire generation, films that I and all of my peers grew up with are forever represented by the glorious artwork of Struzan. Using traditional materials he manages to create images that are so detailed people often mistake them for photographs.

Take it easy

Captain out

P.S. All hail the lord God Drew Stuzan!

10 favourite designers

December 28, 2009

Hey heres my next Top Ten list. This time it’s designers.

10. Alan Aboud

I don’t know much about this designer, but his work is brilliant in its simplicity. His ‘London’ design is so effective andoutstanding it really shows me that you can design with almost nothing.

9. Milton Glasier

Everyone in the world has seen his design, or a variation of it. Most famous for his ‘I love NY’ campaign, this iconic image hasbeen replicated millions of times to play off or parody his original design, it goes to show how powerful three letters and a shape can be.

8. Banksy

Although he is principally a Graffiti artist, his art work never ceases to make me laugh or to make me think.

7. Tom Eckersley

As a designer, his posters are some of the most effective and yet the most simple that I have ever seen, they often consist of a series of geometric shapes that fit together to make a scene. As a lecturer he set up the first undergraduate graphic design courses in Britain, so with out him I’d probably be doing ‘fine art’, thank you Tom.

6. Jonathan Barnbrook

While I do like his work, in particular his album cover for ‘Heathen’, what I remember most about him are his outspoken beliefs that deisgn should have a conscience and that; “Design is a weapon for social change”, this quote inparticular always reminds me just how influential design in advertising can be.

5. Saul Bass

As a graphic designer turned film maker Saul Bass has worked on some of the best films ever made, his title sequences and film posters are so surreal and vibrant, they turned a corner in film design and made the most unforgettable films.

4. Bronislaw Zelek

Almost an unknown artist Bronislaw is a polish designer who did the film poster for Hitchcock’s ‘The birds’ Polish release. Film posters being a personal love of mine his ‘Ptaki’ is one of my all-time favorites.

3. Reza Abedini

I find his work with Persian typography truly inspiring. I have always thought that characters in asian languages are so much more artistic than those of western writing, and the designs that he creates really emphasizes this fact.

2. April Greiman

April Greiman is famous for being one of the first designers to really embrace computer technology as a viable design tool. I think this is an example to embrace new concepts and roll with what life throws at you.

1. David Carson

This surfer come graphic designer, amazed the industry when he started designing magazines that broke even the most basic rules of design, why did he break them? Not because he thought he was cool, he simply didn’t know them. He took a weekend course in design and said “Yeah I like this lets do it!”. I always remember his story whenever Im trying think up a different approach to a project. It’s quite easy to ‘think outside the box’ if you forget that there is a box.

Take it easy

Captain out

P.S. There is no spoon….

10 favourite Movies

November 27, 2009

Heres a list that fits in with my project! Yay me! Now these aren’t films that I think are the pinnacle of the industry and are perfect in every way, on the contrary, most of them have glaring faults, they’re simply the ten films that entertain me the most.

10. Doom

This film is a bit of a guilty pleasure, it’s one of those films thats bad…but it’s awesome! When I first saw it I thought that it was gonna be another one of those cheesy, boring sci-fi horror films that leeches off of the game it’s based on, I was wrong, this film was funny, original and has the best acting that The Rock has ever done. Also the first person scene at the end is GENIUS!

9. Steam boy

A successful anime film that isn’t Ghibli? Surely not! Eastern anime always amazes me with the sheer amount of detail in every scene, and this film is no exception, but with a budget of $20,000,000 and a production time of ten years it kinda had to be. A thrilling story and a fantastic setting (woo England) this film is great fun.

8. Crank 1 & 2

These films are insane.

7. The Shawshank Redemption

A classic in every sense of the word. I could go on about how perfect this film is but I wont, it’s simply astounding. Based on (like all good things) a Stephen King novel this film showcases absolutely brilliant acting talent from every single character and one of the best stories you will ever see.

6. Army of Darkness

A cult classic (as well as the two prequels), this film is hilariously ridiculous with awesome special effects and gore as well as a lead role that only the one and only Bruce Campbell could play. It’s groovy.

5. Rocky

This film series is a bit of an acquired taste, it’s not for everyone. But personally I think they’re fantastic. They set the standard for all other sports films to come. Yes, they’re extremely cliche and cheesy but they’re aloud to be because Rocky invented all the cliches.

4. Anything that comes out of Pixar

Every single film that Pixar has ever made is incredible. Every movie is filled with brilliant characters, hilarious dialogue  and originality that just seeps out of the seems. You know where you stand with a Pixar film, whenever you go to see one you know that you’re in for a great time, young or old.

3. The Matrix

This film shaped a generation, with it’s unique filming style, brilliant casting and superb special effects it is a household name that asked it’s audience to question the very nature of reality. The inspired script delivered by a perfectly selected cast still makes people really think about life to this day. (I dont include the sequels here because I didn’t think they had the same effect on their audience not because they were ‘crap’. I actually enjoyed them)

2. Pulp Fiction

Three words, Bad Mother Fucker. Quentin Tarantino constantly impresses me with his distinctive style. His larger than life characters make this film seem so surreal and exaggerated and yet they are grounded by real obstacles that bring this films back into the real world. Never before has a film been so well edited and so well scripted that a barrage of separate tales and points of view flow so effortlessly into one epic story. (I strongly suggest that you see Inglorious Basterds, it’s a perfect example of the awesome insanity that is Quentin Tarantino)

1. Back to the Future 1,2 & 3

Do I even need to explain why these films are my number one? No I dont. Anyone who doesn’t like these films wasn’t paying attention, they are AWESOME in every meaning of the word. Time travel is a difficult concept to write effectively, but these films make it almost believable, from the 80’s, to the near future of 2015 (Im still waiting on those hover-boards) to the Wild West they make the sets and characters really feel like the era with subtle little effects and of-the-time dialogue that pulls the audience head first into the story. With the wild, eccentric Dc. Brown (Christopher Lloyd) providing all exposition with very natural feel and a grounded, struggling Marty Mcfly (Michael J. Fox) who handles the situation with a blend of difficulty and coolness, the pair gel as a great team and provide a superb moral compassion throughout the films with the ever present villainous Tannen family. Every time I watch these films I notice some new little way in which they tie in to each other in the flawless dance of plot that is the very definition of the word ‘trilogy’.

Take it easy.

Captain out