"Hello, I am an aspiring graphic designer looking to go to graduate school in the US or UK and I am wondering if you could recommend any schools I should look in to. I don't really know which universities are the best and I am looking for advice."
I don't really know enough about the US, so I'll talk about the UK.
I used to think St Martin's was good. But I grew out of that. What used to be called the London College of Printing always seem good. Norwich have had great student shows over the last five years. I met some people from Northampton the other day and they seemed like decent fellows.
I don't think there's a stand out college. Go for somewhere that concentrates on ideas, that has read this and that lets you step away from the Mac once in a while.
Caspian from Smooth Fluid in New Zealand has asked me a question about pitches.
"Pitches. You win some, you loose some. When you loose you'll usually never hear why, and when you win the reasons given should be taken with a pinch of salt (just read BLINK and the smoke is lifting, that, in addition to a masters in psych, has proved very handy ammunition in this field of our). I digress.
Maybe I slept through a class once. Maybe it should be all to obvious, but presenting one's own work is one of the hardest thing we ever have to do, in particular for awards and the like. What would be really handy is on anonymous person who is on a panel saying what pushed his/her buttons about the presentation (not the work), but so far I
have been unable to locate any.
Do you have any advice? Thoughts? Or maybe you listeners do."
You can read my thoughts on free pitches and pitching in general here.
The main thing about pitching is that you lose more than you win. I reckon you win on average one in every (insert number of people on the pitch). So if you're always up against four agencies you'll probably win one in four.
When you're on a roll you'll win more than that, when you're going through a bad patch you'll win less.
I have sat on the other side once. I was on a pitch panel for a public sector organisation looking to appoint someone to look at their identity. It was only a creds pitch but here's a few of my thoughts.
1. Only half the agencies (there were 6) had laptops. For some reason, the ones with laptops looked better. A lot better.
2. Most people had a standard presentation. This looked shit. Someone had taken the trouble to scan in some current literature from the organisation and they talked about that for a bit. That was brilliant.
3. Everyone was nervous as hell. Even the big, experienced agencies.
4. People showed their work as if it was the Mona Lisa. It wasn't.
5. Some people were just boring.
6. Most people came in two's, but only one agency had taken the trouble to work out who was Bert and who was Ernie. All the others kept interrupting and overlapping each over.
7. Everyone wore a suit, or a least a jacket.
8. Some people forgot to hand over business cards (ooohh that makes me mad).
9. The ones who were the best were the ones who had actually read the brief. You'd be surprised how many people hadn't.
10. In the end we went for the one who inspired us the most.
I may be annoyingly anonymous, but I do have an email address. firstname.lastname@example.org
I've had loads of interesting emails recently (which I'll try and reply to on Monday) which is brilliant. Favourite topics include links, China and pitches.
Of course, I still love comments. Even more than emails.
No blogging today, I'm off to make some videos and then I've got clients to entertain. Which means I'll probably miss this. I'll make one one day.
Can’t write about the interweb without giving Russell's new thing a bit of a plug. Him and few chums have set up what they endearingly call a global small business. Open Intelligence Agency will do all kinds of clever, planning type stuff.
I love the new identity. It really feels un-agency like which is great. It feels flexible, witty, cute (in a good way), friendly and different. All good things for an identity to be. It was done by Stefan at 344 Design.
They don’t have a corporate website, just one html page and four blogs.
We’re having this discussion in our office at the moment, so I’m very familiar with the arguments. Part of our website is almost a blog anyway, so why don’t we just have a blog. Just one blog. A blog is searchable, has a nice structure which shows your growth over the years, it has personality and it shows real emotion.
What do you think?
There are 2 political blogs which I read every day. I’ve mentioned them before.
I wouldn’t normally talk about them (because they’re not about graphic design), but there is a phenomenon emerging which I think is worth talking about here.
Here’s a quick intro. Guido Fawkes is a very satirical, extremely libellous, Private Eyeish blog. The writer is anonymous (like me, ha!) but amazingly accurate. From the Lib Dem leadership election through the Loans for Peeages stuff to Prescott’s pants down, he’s always been spot on with his predictions and always several days before the “dead tree press”, as bloggers like to call them.
Iain Dale’s Diary is less of a mystery. Iain runs Politico's, has stood as a Candidate for the Conservative’s and used to be David Davis’ Chief of Staff. So, obviously Tory biased and very well connected. His blog is nowhere near as funny, not libellous in any way, but just as accurate.
So, here’s the phenomenon. When the “dead tree press” or the BBC mention “internet rumours” they basically mean Guido Fawkes or Iain Dale’s Diary. In particular regarding Prescott’s affair(s) Guido has named 2 other people that Prescott has allegedly had affairs with. The traditional media have come nowhere near naming either person.
Guido held off at first, but then published the names and invited each party to sue. No-one did. The site is registered in the US (as Typepad probably is) and that makes the sueing thing complicated, but still no-one has threatened anything.
Iain hasn’t been anywhere near as bold, but seeing as Guido is anonymous, Iain has been doing the rounds, Newsnight, Radio Five Live etc, talking about political blogs.
Labour’s Spin Doctors have regularly issued statements aimed at discrediting both blogs. They've gone to quite a lot of trouble for a blog, really. Both websites get more hits than the Labour or Conservative main websites. All the major political editors and newsrooms read these sites, which gives them great power. The information which dare not be mentioned in the mass media is widely available to everyone on the internet.
So why is all this interesting to brandy people?
Well, imagine if this happened to a brand. And it hasn’t yet, despite what you may think. What if there was a marketing blog that was so popular it could control the agenda behind the scenes like these guys do. What if blogging (and that’s all it is) was more powerful than the FT or Campaign or Business Week. I mean really more important, not ‘five bloggers sat in a pub think it’s more important’ important. Imagine if one blog had the power to make or break the launch of say, Coke Zero?
What interests me is that there are so many cross overs between political messaging and traditional marketing (West Wing anyone?) that this phenomenon will be coming to a blog near you soon.
It's this blogs birthday today. Which is pretty amazing.
I've really enjoyed writing it and interacting with the comments. I've become a lot, lot better at writing and more importantly editing. It's made me think about stuff more, which is always good. It's allowed me to play with theories I probably wouldn't have done otherwise.
Here's some highlights from the past year.
1. All the many people who have linked here. Thank you very much.
2. Being quoted on the BBC News website, fairly early on.
3. Being linked to by Design Observer which sent hits through the roof.
4. Linked to that, my Future Of Graphic Design post which is probably the most comments I've ever had.
5. Slagging of Seth Godin (which also saw an upturn in hits).
6. The Fucking Elle debate, which still rages.
7. This little post which probably gets me the most hits via Google.
8. Getting the guys from BR&Me to comment on me slagging off their new name.
9. The Unicycle Parking
10. Having somewhere (useful) to store quotes
11. My first exhibition review (which is still really popular)
I'm going to celebrate with a Gin & Tonic.
(Half thought out post number 2).
There is a medium sized debate going on at the moment in the brand-o-blog-o-sphere about simplicity vs complexity in brands.
Maurice Saatchi was recently awoken from his slumber to defend simplicity in the FT. (Did you read that article in the FT? Complete bollocks.)
If you'd asked me about this 12 months ago I'd have gone for simplicity. But I think I was misunderstanding the question a little bit. So, am I now on the complexity side of the argument? Hell no, I've invented my own theory. (Yeah, check me out, running round inventing my own theories... I'll be writing a book next.)
My theory is called The Diversity of Ideas. You see to be a successful brand or creative agency, I think you need a healthy diversity of ideas.
I went to a lecture at the RSA in 2004 where Shell talked about how their diversity policy had affected the bottom line. (Oh and by the way, diversity does not just mean ethnicity. It means class, ability, culture, background, education and everything else.) It was fascinating talk and has had me thinking about diversity ever since.
So by Diversity of Ideas I mean good ideas and bad ideas. I mean big ideas and I mean tiny ideas. Web ideas, paper ideas. Ideas from ideas people and ideas from non ideas people (users, consumers etc). I mean expensive ideas and cheap ideas. But it means doing lots of ideas and it means actually doing them, and it means doing them with out knowing for sure if they're gonna work or not. It means letting go.
You already see this in action in people with a true entrepreneurial spirit, Branson is the obvious example. Most successful small companies (say 5-25 people) do this out of necessity. A small company may spend all it's marketing budget on a trade show and hold a small bbq in the factory for suppliers every summer. It's all selling, it's all building the brand.
Good brands already do this, probably by accident and by the nature of the marketing industry meaning they have lots of marketing people and agencies who don't know what the other one is doing.
Google have started doing it, Volkswagen have always done it and Nike do it (no pun intended).
Google, Volkswagen, Nike - all have really simple messages (search, affordable engineering excellence and Just Do It) that a diverse framework can be built around. So they're still communicating a simple message but in a diverse way.
Diversity of Ideas means that brands have to have a strong, distinct character. Someone like Innocent could probably pull this off, because the story they're building is interesting enough to handle diverse ideas. We'll see.
The last two paragraphs explain why I think diversity is different from complexity. I worry that people will take complexity and use it as an excuse to make things hideously over laboured. Whereas diversity means that brands can have a simple message (or messages) and it means we can experiment, we can play, we can remix, we can let go and allow users to play with the brand. It means we can have some fun and it means we can be surprised. And that's a good thing.
If you are a blogger, and many of you reading this are, then you'll always have several posts saved up in your head. I know I do.
I'm always waiting for the perfect image, event or news story to trigger my awesome post. But that never happens. Rather obviously.
So over the next few days I'm going try and get these often half arsed posts down on to paper. Or screen. Here's the first, it's called Advice: Always do it for real.
This is something that I 'think for granted' and I presume everyone else thinks like this too. But they probably don't.
As a designer, if you're asked to put some hand writing onto a brochure of a document, do it for real. DO NOT use a hand writing font. (How can you have a hand writing font, anyway?) Write the text out and scan it in.
If you need some distressed type, then print the type out, screw it up, photocopy it, re-screw it up, re-photocopy it and so on and so on. Distress it for real, DO NOT use a distressed type font.
If the client asks for a scrapbook style brochure, then make a scrap book and scan it in. Page by page. DO NOT use Photoshop layers.
If the job requires some chalk writing on a blackboard - then do it for real.
Sure, all this takes a lot more time (and therefore costs more money) but it will look a million times better, it will make you think about the thing you are designing and good people will be able to tell you've done it for real. And they will appreciate that.
It's not just designers, ad agencies need to do it too. Actually the good ad agencies are very good at it. For example, if you need to chuck some coloured balls down a hill, then chuck some coloured balls down a hill, don't just CGI it. If you need to make a six foot pencil, then make a six foot pencil, don't just enlarge it back in the editing suite.
And if you're not convinced, then take a look around. There are millions of examples of hand writing fonts, photoshopped 3D text and models comped onto dodgy backgrounds.
Don't do it kids. Always do it for real.
The lovely people at the D&AD have asked me to suggest some speakers for the next lecture series.
I'd actually like to hear some more clienty type people speak. Brand/Marketing Managers/Directors for consistently successful brands, Volkswagen, Nike, Apple etc.
Who would you like to hear give a talk?
I'm not sure if I mean Paul Smith the brand or Paul Smith the person.
Anyway. This is lovely. It's a letter that appears to be from the Paul Smith Japan store to the man himself.
It's framed and on the wall in his Floral Street store. It reads, "Dear, Mr Paul Smith. We all wish for your great success heartily. Please do your best!"
I'm not gonna turn this into a marketing lesson, but this is lovely, genuine, warm, mad and brilliant. Sir Paul, enjoy him while you can folks.
Great post here from the Marketing Profs. Very relevant to Typepad users!
My favourite? Number 5 - Take your kid to a movie, but forget about blogging about it afterward because you can’t.
Good people, I wonder if you can help.
Tomorrow is supposed to be the hottest day for a trillion years. So naturally we're trying to find a way to not go to work. We want to spend the day in the park, or the pool, or on the terrace, or just wondering about. But not working.
Thing is, we kinda feel that we need a decent excuse not to work. And we don't really think "the hottest day for a trillion years" is good enough on it's own.
So, anyone got any great ideas why we should not go to work? Comments please.
There's this nice ad in The Economist at the moment. Post It Notes reminding world leaders of the promises they made at the G8 last year.
I love The Economist. I've been subscribing for about 5 years. I bought it once on a long train journey, becuase I liked the cover (yes, really).
The ads in The Economist really amaze me. Anything and everything gets advertised there, from watches and cars to countries and Governments. They are all very generic and the brief always seems to be, 'rich and important people read this so we must need to tell them about our brand'. Except that I read it and I'm not rich and important.
At least, I don't think I am?