Professional Practice

Contextual Research:

This week’s discussion was about the designer’s portfolio/ online website.

We asked ourselves: What is their purpose?

  • For promotion
  • showcasing skills and capabilities
  • A way to point people to your blog, social media or shop
  • to get hired and find work
It’s Nice That

There is no set standard when it comes to a designer’s website. Avoid trends. Below is Snootie Studios website. The use of a grid makes the information easy to understand and navigate:

Snootie Studios

Your website is your presense, its the first point of contact people will have for you. We need to consider navigation- keeping it simple, nice and clean.

…And like a shop window, the content is changing constantly.

Make sure you present it in a clear way, use large images and make sure there’s not too much graphic noise around the work.

– Hannah Caughlin, Graphic Design Consultant, Represent

Roxane Zargham’s web portfolio is an example of a very clean layout. The absence of background colour/ unnecessary information helps the viewer navigate the work in this portfolio. Her work has also been photographed in a studio using a white background. Treating each piece in the same way unites the separate projects as being part of the same design identity.

She uses the rule of thirds to divide the work into 3 columns. This gives a sense of balance to the overall page layout:

Website portfolio Roxane Zargham

You don’t need to follow rules- be enthusiastic finding your voice what works for your unique personality.

Bravery and personality are maybe the two most important things I’m looking for in a portfolio.

Erik Kessels, It’s Nice That

Be selective- it needs to represent what you want to achieve, what you want to work with. This could mean working on a self initiated project. (You want to show you have experimented with different things- analogue, digital.) For example, on the website portfolio of Bounce (a graphic design studio in Oxford), they have included a variety of projects together. I like that I can view the scope of their work on one page:


It’s important to write a description, since work needs to tell a story. Where to start? Puting the work I want to showcase into 1 folder, allows me to be organised. If I write 200 words for each project, then I have this information ready for when I want to post the work to my website for example.

Art direction and image production (creating the content for your website) can be the most time-consuming part of putting together an online portfolio. (We will be exploring this in a photography workshop next week). We spoke about the things to consider when photographing work.

Photographing work

One possibility is to frame the work in a real life context. An example of this is this project from Tomo tomo Studio. They have decided to photograph the book in an old building, isince the subject reflects an antique theme. The work also constrasts with the blue in the background. It is a nice idea to contrast the colours of the work and its background, since this allows the work to stand out.

Tomotomo Studio “As above so below” Elisa Sighicelli

(Below) Another example of an interesting setting, is this fanzine that has been photographed in an urban landscape. Since the zine is about the city, it is appropriate to capture it outdoors against the brick wall backdrop. This is an alternative to photographing the work indoors and artificially lit. Both are appropraite for different works.

Spread from the issue ‘Vertigo’ by Orizzontale

Coloured paper has been placed in background and creates a sense of harmony in the overall image. The colour has been dictated by the work itself:

Cose. Spiegate bene from Tomo Tomo studio

Including a wooden background places the book in a real world setting, allowing the viewer to picture the physicality of the book and to imagine it infront of them. Including the hands gives us a sense of the scale. (below)

Brian Roettinger
I’ve always wanted a porch by Snootie Studios

We can also use props and other materials alongside the work. For example, if the project is about music, we could place cables in background. We could include props that feature within the work, and place them next to the work also.

Thinking creatively, we can use any material to add interesting background effect. For example, using coloured acetate in the background to filter the light through.


We can play with different points of view when photographing our work. Choosing a different angle presents interesting aspects of the work and can even create surreal, abstract imagery of an everyday object. For a book that has complicated folding, we can use photography to show the complexity of the book binding.

Suspending the book with fishing wire and photographing it can be a fun way to display the work.

Details can be zoomed in on. Where there might be reflective materials for example, we can photograph the way the light catches the foil on a book cover. The tactile/print quality of the work can be showcased with photography. Use of shadows can emphasise the physicality of the piece.

Fragments of Epic Memory, Pentagram

Above: This photo focuses on the details of the spine and cover.

Below: Showcasing the cover of the book, using light and shadow to emphasise the page.

Studio Rejane Dal Bello

We could even take a video of the work to show the handling of it. Stop motion can be a fun way to display the work.

An abundance of identities

Listening to the Design Matters podcast, this episode features Dario Calmese. The discussion is based around the fact that ‘we all have multiple identities’ and that choosing 1 career path may be limiting ourselves. Calmese is described on his website as ‘sitting at the nexus of art, fashion and academia, Dario is an artist, urbanist, director and brand consultant currently based in New York City.’ His curiosity was encrouaged by his parents and he was able to explore many different skills from a young age.

‘Each medium allows for a certain type of communication’

‘Fascinated by what is possible’

About identity:

Identity isn’t necessarily who you are but the things you hold. You are the vessel that holds these identitys. identity is something that comes from the outside, people are telling you how you are seen vs you defining it for yourself.

Dario Calmese
Further Logotype

I looked at the book Logo by Michael Evamy. I was more drawn to the painterly textures within the logos in the book:

I was inspired by these textures when refining my logotype:

Printmaking: Woodcut

January 2023

To start the year, I signed up for a 5 week printmaking course at City of Oxford college. It turned out to be 5 weeks of woodcut, which is a technique I have never tried before.

My first introduction to this printmaking technique was at the Scene Through Wood exhibition at The Ashmolean a few years ago:
Edvard Munch, Head by Head. Woodcut, 1905

And the Interior Light exhibition last year at The North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford:

The artist included examples of her woodcutting technique on the plate itself.

Leaflet of the exhibition.

The begin our process, we needed to draw our designs onto tracing paper. I hadn’t come prepared, so I worked from a photo I had taken last year a the Botanical Gardens:

This turned out to be a bit too detailed and I also wanted to work on an abstract design, so I therefore changed my mind after the first session…

I sketched the lines I intended to carve (above).

I considered how overlapping the layers would create new hues.

I cut shapes from paper and used these to construct the drawing. I could place them on the page and play with the overall structure to test out different variations.

I planned to print 3 layers. One black (the key plate), one yellow and one blue.
Week 2

The black layer would need to be printed last. It would become the most detailed layer. I sketched the design onto the wood:

I then needed to remove every area that was not the black area. Carving was not as smooth as cutting lino, but I did get used to it. I found that I needed to keep the lines quite thick.

I printed this layer first. This allowed me to make any corrections had I needed to. It also allowed me to create the second plate using the back of the wood and another piece of wood.

Week 3

This session began with more carving, then I was able to print my first coloured layers:

Layering the coloured layers produced green segments. I was surpised to see the amount of detail produced, since I wasn’t sure how clearly the carved strokes would appear.

After printing 3 layers, I could see the areas of cross-overs. The overall effect is energetic.
Week 4
The studio, colour mixing by the group.
My prints on the drying rack.

The texture of the wood became apparent after the wood had been inked and cleaned once. This is due to the moisture sinking into the wood and expanding the pattern of the grain.

Me cleaning the plate.

Yellow, orange and dark green layers.

I felt that these prints didn’t need a black layer, as they already had enough contrast and brightness to make them interesting:

The abstract design meant that I couldn’t decide which way up the image should be viewed.

Logotype: Modular Typography

Definition of Modularity (From the Cambridge dictionary)

the quality of consisting of separate parts that, when combined, form a complete whole.

In terms of design, modularity is a principle that helps manage content- it’s repeatable because its made from 1 module.

In the modular & matrix writing workshops of module 5002, I learnt to work with the restrictions of using a limited selection of shapes to compose letterforms. It was more challenging than I thought it would be. I found myself accidently breaking the rules. Because I was using paper, scissors and glue, it was possible to break rules. In today’s digital workshop, this wasn’t possible.

Other posts where I explore modularity:

Project #4 Drawing with a Grid

Grid Systems

Examples of modules

In today’s lecture we began by looking at examples of modules we are used to seeing in the world around us.

  • In pixellated photos, every cell is a module.
  • Graph paper consists of equally spaced lines, therefore squares.
  • In book design, the use of the grid makes an editorial layout an examples of modules.
  • Quilting Bees- popular in mid-late 19th century, mainly women, building a quilt together, creating a sense of community. Everyone expressing themselves via these individual squares. The pathwork designs are modular.

Modular Typography

Using a modular structure helps with decision making, as it gives some guidance to the designer, by providing limitations. Grids can start the creative process of the work, then you can focus on shapes, colour etc afterwards. It is 1 useful approach for designing logotype.

Arim Hofmann

Swiss designer, Arim Hofmann wrote a book about graphic design guidelines, called Graphic Design Manual, Principles and Practice. It was published in 1965 and outlined rules such as structure, form and line.

In his work, he demonstrated how many variations could be created with the single same modular, just changing positions.

The examples below are of typography that used a modular grid to compose. This is seen in the way the letterforms ‘fit’ together in the (left) example. The letterforms on the right combine wider horizontal strokes and thinner vertical strokes. This would indicate a grid that has narrow vertical columns and wider horizontal grid lines.

Karl Nawrot

Nawrot’s type design took inspiration from architecture, including in the way he worked on the designs. This was to use physical materials to build a structure, which he then drew letterforms (below, left).

Another method of his experimental typography was to create 150 different stamps and apply these to the same grid.

Nawrot names four of his typefaces on members of the Bauhaus school (below, right) : Josa (Josef Albers), Breu (Marcel Breuer), Mon (Lazlo Moholy-Nagy) and Pauk (Paul Klee).

Item Magazin Issue #4 ‘Strip’ Emilia Moro, Dylan Demtröder

In this issue of the student magazine, Item, the students were working with the theme of ‘strip’. Here, Moro and Demtroder have used Nawrot’s typeface Lÿno (co-designed with Radim Pesko.)

Item Magazin Issue #4 ‘Strip’ Emilia Moro, Dylan Demtröder

An example of a ‘stencil wheel’. Nawrot used these stencils to design letterforms, adding to them during the design process.

Albrecht Durer

In the 16th century, Durer designed modular type based on human proportions.

Fregio Mecano

This typeface was designed by an unknown designer in the 1930’s. It was made using the 20 components shown below, right.

These 20 pieces were found in the Nebiolo specimen from 1939.

Nebiolo Mecano 1940s
Jean-Claude Chianale

Design for a ballet identity system. Chianale has used an interesting grid when composing the letterforms:

The type applied to the poster design:

Jurriaan Schrofer

Dutch graphic designer, Schrofer’s dot matrices and sqaure grid system were progressive at the time and influence the way we approach type deisgn today.

Juriaan Schrofer (1926-90) The book, designed by Spin brings together a series of commercial and experimental projects from Schrofer

‘Writer Frederike Huygen, who provides an essay for the new book, describes Schrofer as ‘a computer-designer before the computer’.

Schrofer designed the book covers for Les Textes Sociologiques in 1970. Typeforms are used in an illustrative way. The underlying grid creates a gradient pattern across the type.

Wim Crouwel

Crouwel’s typeface New Alphabet was used by Peter Saville for Joy Division’s album cover:

When New Alphabet was first used, it was found illegible/ inaccessible for people. This modular typeface was adapting to the first digital screens, giving it its geomtric appearance.

Architype Stedelijk was the typeface he used in his well-known poster for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Interestingly, he kept the grid visible in the poster:

I like the Architype Stedelijk ‘a’.

Crouwel’s sketches, using grid paper to plan his letterforms.

The title for this poster has a uniform appearance, from its use of an underlying modular grid. There is a satisfaction to the neatness and logic of it.

Mario Eskercezi Studio

Typeface/ identity for the Victoria Brewery in Malaga. Since there a lot of tiles in the city, the designer took the environment as inspiration when designing the modular typeface for the beer advertisement. The grid pattern is also used in the background of the poster which provides a ground for the type to sit on.

The type could then be used within the environmental design, since it could be easily made up of equally sized tiles.

By designing our own grid, this will determine the design of a unique type. A possibility is to make our own grid- rounded. However, for today’s workshop, we were provided with a grid designed by our tutor. Below is the grid I was working with. The designs in the square were worked on by my tutor, I kept these for a reference to look at.

Illustrator Workshop

I ensured snap to point and smart guides were on. This helped when working with the grid. But even so, I still found that the shapes didn’t always fit exactly into the grid squares.

Effect> distort and transform makes shape imperfect to use in modular. (I didn’t use this effect today but I would like to try it in future practice).

Results from this workshop:

Using 3 different shapes.

Using 1 shape to create a curvy, twisted letterform.

3 different shapes.

The 3 shapes I used to design the letterforms below: