Professional Practice Week 2

We began the week by discussing with our tutors, what we hope for our future careers. This took the form of an informal presentation, where classmates were encouraged to get involved and think about specific design industries and studios.

This is an exciting time in the course. Suddenly the real world is on the horizon!


I was happy to share my ideas with the group, however, what I realised is:

  • I don’t really have a clear idea yet.
  • I might know what I admire in other’s work, but I hope my path will become clearer as I continue to work on briefs and keep my eye open to new ideas.
  • I don’t have much confidence in my work. For example, I can look at a beautiful editoral layout that uses experimental elements, but to believe that I am capable of anything nearly as inspiring?
  • I know at least one thing. That the morals and ethics are number 1 for me. That art, healthcare and education are the topics I am most passionate about if I had to narrow it down.
  • The group was smaller in size today. I enjoyed this experience much more because I got to hear from every individual. I felt more involved and enjoyed participating in discussions. I like being able to offer advice to others and be supportive.
  • Researching studios could really be an endless task! I’m sure if I continued to research it would influence me further.

Below is a PDF of my presentation slides:

I realised afterwards that I never mentioned printmaking, but printmaking is normally used as part of an illustrators process, rather than a discipline in itself.

We discussed that what I may be more interested in is the concept itself, as in creative direction.

Sketchbook Logotype Experimentation

This week, I continued to experiment with monograms in my sketchbook. I used a felt tip pen to sketch these ideas. I then took 4 of these ideas forward and drew them using a paintbrush and purple ink. (The purple had no significance, I used it because I wanted a dark colour for contrast and couldn’t find the black ink at home.)

(below) I then used collage pieces to create the letterforms from paper, using scissors. I layered these on the page, considering the composition and negative space.

(Below, right) I wanted to see the effect water would have with the ink. I wet the page with water then drew the ‘DB’ with ink and the end of the paintbrush. Below this, I drew the Db with diluted ink. I like the softness of this.

Digital Iterations

I scanned these experimentations and placed them into Adobe Illustrator.

I Image-traced them. For example, the grey monograms above were made by selecting ‘shades of grey’ and the darker monograms beneath were from selecting ‘silhouette’. I then played with Effect > Stylize > Scribble. This gave the letterforms a rougher appearance.

On one monogram, I used a box to place the initials in and crop the edges off. I chose a square because I feel I have the square characteristics (from last week’s workshop).

Sketchbook Logo shapes

Further experimentation with squares and circles.

Contextual References

I looked at how designers have used shapes within their logo designs.

Fedoriv’s identity for Rezult

‘Korosten MDF Plant in Ukraine is an environmentally friendly factory producing laminate flooring and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) panels.‘ In this example, Fedoriv have formed the ‘R’ using a rectangle as a separate shape to the rest of the letterform. It looks as though it is holding up the rest of the ‘R’. This gives the impression of stability, reflecting the theme of construction.

Development of dovetail joint symbol, logo, and signage. Jack Renwick Studio, Carpenters Wharf

(Above) The squares are rotated and divided by a wood joint line. The texture of wood is key in the identity and is used within the square shape.

The square pattern looks like a kind of rectangular puzzle grid and is placed within the letterforms.

ico Design, Burst

For the identity for this oral care brand, ico Design have constructed the letterforms from a repetition of circles.

From Letterhead Logo Design II (Rockport) by Design Army:

‘We believe in simplicity. In fact, you could say that it’s part of our identity. Our logo is a star. Our colors are red, brown, and mint green We use one typeface. It’s simple, consistent, effective—all the things you’d expect from a powerful brand. Simplicity is perfection…Along the way, we confirmed what we already knew: It’s the little thoughts that have the biggest impact.’

Visual identity for Design Army
Default’s design for Merge Architectur
Blok Design’s identity for Taller De Empresa
Asli Kuris Design, for the client Ayse Ebru Tuner

This receipt was from the cafe I ate at this week. I like the way the ‘c’ and ‘o’ have been entwined.

Below: The author’s initials are combined to create this geometric monogram. The monogram is appropriate for the theme, since Douglas Adams is a science fiction writer.

Creative Journal: January 2023

You should as a creative person constantly experience as much as you can so that when a brief comes you’ve got some inspiration already. The whole world gives you stuff to call on. Immerse yourself in the world of culture- both high and low.

Liam Gibson, art director

Happy New Year blog readers!

We are now reaching the end of January and it has occured to me that I can’t not record my creative activites and inspirations from this month. I will be reflecting and collecting my ideas in this blog post.

Ideas and inspirations are likely to float away if I don’t make an effort to catch and record them. This is a lesson I learnt during semester 1 of this academic year.

I’ve began a physical folder of collected printed material. It’s being filled with anything I like the look of. This might be the technique, material, colour or typography. Why didn’t I do this before? I didn’t know I came across so much printed material in my every day life, but this has been disproven. It’s filling quickly!


This month, I’ve been excited to start a printmaking course at City of Oxford College. I’ve decided to create a separate blog post for the coursework progession. Expect to see this in February.

Wood carving this month at City of Oxford College

I’ve picked up another hobby and with some regret- it’s an all consuming activity! Hours go by in a soothing hypnotism.

In my first project, I used satin stitch on a canvas paper. This stitch is used to fill in solid areas of colour. It isn’t a stitch I was confident in beforehand. With practice, I found the number of threads used in a single stitch made the greatest difference:

Beginning satin stitch

I am experimenting with different ways to fill in the areas, between solid single colours and varying the colours in an area. Also varying the direction of the stitch shows me what difference this makes to the overall piece.

I was inspired by the hand-lettered type used for posters by Sam Piyasena. I based this embroidery piece on What the World Needs Now. I used another designer’s design because I’m only at an emboirdery level of a beginner and therefore needed to practice the stitches before working on my own designs.

Further practice, following instructions from this youtube video.

This traditional practice allowed me to explore the various types of stitch (I can’t remember their names.)

Sketchbook Update

Recently, I’ve been mainly using my sketchbook to experiment with mixed media.

1 – Mark – making from printing ink and cut – out collage pieces

Below, I used scraps of paper from a printmaking session where I had placed the inky brayer down and accidently made these markings. I liked the textures so much that I thought it a shame to throw them away. In my sketchbook, I combined these marks with images from a magazine.

2 – Acrylic paint and cut-out collage pieces from magazine

3 – Exploring the concept of home

What makes a home? Is it simply the space you occupy.

Furniture pieces dissasembled and reassembled. I used white acrylic paint to represent spaceand the newsprint transfer technique. I used thicker paint for this piece.

4 – Trying this technique again with a thinner coat of the same paint

A thinner coat of paint transferred the newsprint more effectively. The aim of this piece came from a set project in the book Approach and Language, Ambrose/ Aono-Billson. The purpose was to create an image based on a set word-pair. This pair being ‘Hair-Suite’. When considering this brief, I looked at the different definitions of ‘suite’. A musical suite is a collection of musical pieces written to be played in succession. I followed this idea.

I used stitiching, collage and paint to illustrate a woman considering different hairstyles or reflecting on the various hairstyles she has had or will have.

Life Drawing @ Thursday Night Life

It was a pleasure to join the sketchers at Magadalen rd studios for the weekly drawing session. The studio had a warm and friendly atmosphere; providing boards, easels, advice and biscuits! I would highly recommend this group to anyone. I again used a mixture of materials to depict the model (who was impressively still). This is my usual method of switching up drawing tool constantly. I now wonder if this is a way of me avoiding dedication to one tool and stitcking with the challenges of that material. I usually like to see my drawings in different colours and textures out of curiosity.

Creative Writing

Hidden Spire is a creative collective based at Arts at the Old Fire Station in Oxford. For the first writing session, we took inspiration from the poet Marechera. I prefer appreciating and analysing literature than writing itself. This is only because I don’t feel talented or confident in my own writing. I was impressed to hear the prose poetry written by my fellow group members. Their individual voices came across and each with a different message to share, despite being given the same brief. Being part of a group discussion is something I greatly enjoy.

We looked at segments of Marechera’s work (below). I noticed that he expresses a state of day-dreaming which suddenly collides with the reality around him. This conflict seems painful for him. I like the clear imagery and honesty in his writing.

70’s song lyrics (David Bowie and Prince) helped to inspire us and get our minds into the era when Marechera would have been writing.

For encouragement, we were told to ‘write anything’. This helped me let go of self-critism. (Below) pages from my sketchbook.

Human Animals

Donna Mann’s exhibition at the Old Fire Station gallery captured my attention. Can you guess why? …Mixed media.

This show expressed our interconnectedness with all of life. I liked the element of things being hidden and things being revealed across the space. I felt that I was seeing the expression of life within its smaller details, such as the moth. My eyes made connections across the various elements of life that were placed beside one another.

The carbon of the stars became life on earth. Mann’s installation traces an exploration of healing, friendship and transformation.

Carbon love.

From dark matter to light.

Arts at the Old Fire Station
Victoria & Albert Museum

I took a trip to London and headed for the V&A for the Beatrix Potter exhibition. I took photos of the posters along the walls in the tunnel betweeen the underground and the museum. These are the designs that most appealed to me:

The V&A has a photography section which I visited first. From having completed the Exhibition Visual System module last semester, I took notice of the design of the exhibition. For example, the metal type used for the title of the exhibition (below). This was a perfect choice, since the exhibition focuses on industrial photography.

Artwork by Donna Ruff

Photos from the Beatrix Potter exhibition:

Graphic Design Reading Material

Reading novels is an automatic activity for me. (If you’re wondering, I finished The Buddha of Suburbia this month and have moved on to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein)

But this month, I have intentionally made more time to read a small selection of the many graphic design books I have laying around. Reading them carefully instead of dipping in at random allows me a greater understanding of the subject and helps me pick up ideas I would have otherwise missed. Reading about specific designers, their work and methods gave me the most satisfaction.

Wolfgang Weingart

The radical father of the New Wave movement, Weingart taught his students to move beyond the rational swiss typography of the time. ‘Weingart reacted to existing standards by pushing typography to the limits of legibility and beyond.’

Wolfgang Weingart
Crystal Goblet Analyogy

The essay The Crystal Goblet by Beatrice Warde is an articulate piece of writing describing good design. Warde illustrates this idea using the metaphor of a wine glass. She suggests that we use a wine glass to be able to see and therefore appreciate the appearance of the wine as part of its enjoyment. An opaque cup would hide the appearance. Good design highlights the message and content. A well chosen type means we wouldn’t notice the choice of type. An ill chosen type would stick out awkwardly.

Poster, Ausstellung Europäisches Kunstgewerbe (Exhibition of European Applied Arts), 1927; Herbert Bayer; Lithograph;

I really like this bold and obvious use of the modular grid.

Fabien Baron

Editorial design in different publications. I really like his use of type and the way it merges into being illustration as well as the heading. Images from this page.

Rachel Anderson

Rachel Anderson is a young designer based in Florida. I like her designs based on the work of Tibor Kalman. The design was inspired by his work.

Thirst/ Rick Valicenti

Rick Valicenti’s design combines the weapon and the effect of violence in these powerful images using skulls.

Stop the Violence (book and trailer) by Rick Valicenti

Project #3 Looking & Recording

This part of the summer project asks us to use our sketchbooks to look and record our found objects. This is a process I am familiar with. I regularly use my sketchbook when at home or out and about to record the world around me. This month I joined the Oxford Urban Sketchers group and took part in drawing sessions at Osney Lock and Folly Bridge. (The Urban Sketchers are a drawing organisation who gather in cities all over the world).

I used black coloured pencil and watercolours to record the many colours and textures of the river, boats and other details. I used black pencil because I feel comfortable with it and I like the bold markings as well as the soft texture it produces.

When drawing at Folly Bridge, I used 3 different approaches to what I saw. My process is usually intuitive and I don’t have a plan when I set out to sketch. For example, for the first drawing of the day, I used a black fine tipped marker. This was for 2 reasons.

  1. The sun was so bright that it made it difficult to see the scene and the drawing. Using pen allowed me to see clearly what I was drawing, as I also needed to wear sunglasses due to the brightness.
  2. The pattern of the bricks inspired me to go bold. Along with the geometric lines, I knew a pen would help to bring out the patterns.

I then moved onto this scene of boats moored on the bank. They looked happy and tranquil. I chose watercolour to pick out the variety of colours: the blue of the boats, the green of the bushes and river and the brown of the wooden decking.

After laying down the colours, I went back over the drawing with a blue coloured pencil. This allowed me to define the shapes and highlight the blue of the boats.
For my final drawing of the day, I captured a fellow sketcher at the river. I used a fine liner pen and blue pencil to sketch the scene. I found the man looked very peaceful and also I had moved to a shadier spot this time. The coolness of this position inspired me to use blue and the calmness of the scene inspired me to be gentle with my materials.

As you can see, I always let the subject inspire what materials and methods I use for the picture. This is usually the mood combined with the texture I want to capture. For a watery scene, I will usually reach for watercolour paints.

Applying drawing to the theme of nature:

At the Botanical Gardens in Oxford, I tried some observational sketching. I chose a brown pencil to reflect the earthly theme and create soft markings to reflect the soft texture of the plants. This is page 1 and 2 from a double page spread in one of my sketchbooks. I focused on capturing the variety of plant species in the rock garden. I was amazed by the many colours, textures and shapes of these plants that share the same habitat.
line drawing of lilies in my sketchbook

When approaching the drawings for the summer project, I looked at artwork mostly by illustrators, to learn from their process of looking and recording.

Secondary Research

Helen Hancocks

When at the Illustrator fayre at King’s Cross in London this summer, I had to pick up this zine by the illustrstor Helen Hancocks.

The zine has no narrative or text, simply drawings of cakes and sugary food items! The simplicity of the zine designs makes it bold and rememberable. The lack of colour makes the images easy to view and the booklet cheaper to produce. The only colour is on the front cover (see images).

Her line is bold and confident, which is the appeal. The pen flows across the page and the result is imperfect but full of character. The illustrations are sometimes 2-dimensional (see the eclair drawings below).

Let Us Eat Cake, (Zine title page)
(Zine front cover)
(Zine spread) Hancocks includes areas of block colour to create some depth and solidity.
(Zine spread) Here, she leaves negative areas where the viewer can imagine colours.
Ryn Frank

Looking at this particular set of drawings by Ryn Frank, I get a sense of the artist’s personality. She has been quite loose and playful with her line. For example, the cup at the top, centre, doesn’t have perfect proportions, if this drawing was used as a design drawing for a real cup, that cup when made would not stand on the table. But this inaccuracy doesn’t make the illustration ‘bad’. This is something I learned at UAL. Adding a personal touch to an illustration will make the viewer enjoy it more and make your work also stand out amongst others.

Here she has used the same thickness of line, filling areas in with patterns or block colour to add interest. The patterns she has used are varied from stripes to circles, whichever is appropriate to the object. She also uses negative space to give the eye a place to rest and break up the business of the patterns. Her drawings have a 2D element to them, but this doesn’t hinder us understanding what the drawing is of.

Charlotte Trounce
Insects drawn from collections at the Natural History Museum and Pitt Rivers Museum

Illustrator Charlotte Trounce produced a series of over 100 illustrations to promote the national art pass, for the magazine it’s nice that. She used the same black brush pen for all the drawings. It gives her work an expressive line, and in some drawings she used just one line to record the object.

Trounce added some areas of colour, but not too many as she didn’t want to ‘overpower the line work’.

Again, I like the loose quality of her style. The imperfections make the work really likable for me. The boldness of this medium shows confidence and clarity.

Rebecca Green
Rebecca Green, Mushroom Collector
An example of ink illustration
Faye Moorhouse
Faye Moorhouse, Forty Faces

Gouache and ink illustrations. The faces sit in rows of even numbers. This ordered way they are laid out, balances with the fact that Moorhouse paints what she calls ‘wonky’ drawings of her subjects. The colour is laid out first, allowed to dry, then the faces are added on top. Adding the details afterwards, means the line remains clear to read.

Nina Chakrabarti
Nina Chakrabarti

The use of green with the black and white drawings is an effective choice. Limiting the colour keeps us interested as an audience. Green in particular is an appropriate choice for the subject of nature. In this case, it helps us to guess the subject before we have read the line of text ‘Pattern is everywhere in nature’.

In her botanical illustration (below), she has used a thicker line, which I find unusual for the purpose, since botanical illustrations typically use a fine line to depict the tiny details of a plant. The labels are clear and therefore helpful. She has been selective with her application of colour, only adding what is necessary.

Botanical Illustrations for Albion

The illustration below for a London grocers is more how I would imagine botanical illustration. The time and the careful way Chakrabarti has drawn every detail of these mushrooms, is apparent. This illustration is more accurate that the previous work I have looked at in this post.

Any colour added would obscure the fine linework in this piece.

Food Illustrations for Melrose and Morgan
Koosje Koene

Koene uses mainly watercolour paint with a brush pen. Her sketches are vibrant, like this painting of lemons. The black shadows and bright yellow make the lemons look solid on the page. I like her use of mark-making to express the texture of the skin.

Koosje Koene

A continuous line drawing is used for this apple core sketch. This helps to sculpt out the shape of the fruit and the dips and curves. A broken line wouldn’t have had the same impact.

Primary Research

It was now time to turn to my sketchbook.

Taking photos of the leaves was a good way of recording the different colours, textures and shapes accuratley, but the process of taking photos didn’t allow me to absorb the subject visually. Photos are useful to keep as reference, but taking the photos takes a number of seconds. Drawing, on the other hand, requires the illustrator to explore the subject for a longer amount of time.

Gouache and coloured pencil (below, top). Brown pencil creates a softer mark against the watercolour layer. This medium allows a variety of texture to be expressed.

Gouache and pen (below, bottom). Painting a blob of colour onto the page, allowing it dry then drawing an outline drawing on top with a black fineliner pen.

(above) I was inspired by Charlotte Trounce’s brush pen markings. I don’t own a brush pen, so I used the next best thing, a pot of black India ink and a regular paintbrush.

12 leaves

Step 1- painting colour onto the sketchbook page with gouache

Step 2- Adding line to the leaves. I added outlines and details with a black pencil.