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Critical Context

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I am a Graphic Designer in the general sense from an outside point of view; the reality is I’m a Typographer, a visualiser, a designer, a maker and a creative. I take conceptual ideas from their origin and take them on a journey across a variety of mediums to produce compelling visuals. I have gained prolific experience in all Adobe programmes, but I have also began to investigate the world of 3D visuals simply due to the want and drive to further diversify myself into the world we know of Graphic Design. I have a style; that is primarily black and white and minimal. To me, less is more in all areas of design; subtlety can portray and narrate a far superior story than loud noise can. There are skills and areas that I haven’t even began to scratch the surface with, however I intend to investigate these ever-growing areas of design as the unfold in front of me. At this point in my journey I intend to work with people, clients and also just myself. I want to work with those that don’t necessarily understand the world of design but have an appreciation for the skill and creative practice. My work at my current point is very commercial, and it was only last year that I really began to push the edges of my skills and begin to experiment with new styles. This is something that I am going to continue with and hopefully push myself into more discursive areas of design. 
When it comes to my work as a practice I feel like it is very broad, I would say I have a very diverse range of skills, my first project is a branding project for the company Envio, a ‘try before you buy’ technology company set for really big things in the coming years, The project itself was challenging, and really engaged my creative process through iterating ideas and doing mini sprints to develop a clean and simple mark to brand the company. After visiting London and 

seeing numerous studios, I learnt some valuable lessons when it comes to branding, always do more, and it can always be improved, so the mark will again be adjusted and improved. Start Design are a customer experience design consultancy. The business is built to make the very most of the experience economy. they use their  expertise and our understanding of people to re-engineer the value our clients derive from their brands. They believe everything can be made better by design: re-thinking, re-shaping and re-building the experience solution. A better designed customer experience, creates a more differentiated, more likeable and more valued brand of tomorrow.

From start I learned to do more, change more, and go further, so I took the original designs and implemented them into real world context.

my self directed project is all around the Value of typography, how its used and where the value lies in the creation of bespoke typefaces in the commercial environment type is one of the most important and highly used forms of  communication, and it traces all the way back to hieroglyphs or pictograms which were ‘Designed’ for a purpose. Used by ancient civilisations of the world to represent ideas, these images soon evolved into alphabets and phonographic writing, which led to the development of various typographic systems. Typography has an “illustrious” history and is obviously a crucial aspect of graphic design. Sure enough, typeface designers need to have a thorough understanding of typography—especially its evolution over the centuries—in order to incorporate or revive older or even extinct typefaces, depending upon their requirements, and give the letters a modern touch.

my self directed project is all around the Value of typography, how its used and where the value lies in the creation of bespoke typefaces in the commercial environment. The original idea was to create 3 type sets at 3 different price points with each having a different level of design to them, from a basic all caps font to a family of fonts with a full set of glyphs and ligatures; however I quickly learnt the value really does lie in the craftsmanship of the type as i had never made a font I soon realised it is a long, time consuming and precise design practice. The project is now a research project, dedicated to the art of creating type and aims to give the viewer of my publication an insight into my findings and to educate them just like I was educated in the pursuit of my project. 

My second source is the visual history of type (1st edition, published by Laurence King) written by Paul McNeil (2017). The source it-self is a very large detailed book on typography, it runs through the origins of type from a historical point of view right the way through to modern type design with a critical review. I’ve found that the publisher is extremely reliable, Laurence King Publishing is a London-based British publisher of books on the creative arts. The company was founded in 1991 by Laurence King and has been independently owned and run since that date. and well trusted in the design community. Upon further reading of the book it’s clear that it is designed and written for designers using a specialist language, key terminology would throw office novice readers, I personally find that the book itself is a brilliant read, and well structured thanks to the author and designer Paul McNeil is a typographic designer with over 30 years’ experience working in brand communications and visual identity for the UK telecommunications, government, public and charity sectors. In 2010 he co-founded MuirMcNeil with Hamish Muir. Its activities are focussed on exploring parametric design methods to generate appropriate solutions to visual communication problems. McNeil currently works as a Senior Lecturer in Typography at the London College of Communication having been Course Leader of the MA Contemporary Typographic Media course at the college from 2011-2016. and so therefore is almost a legend in typography, and his word could be considered as law. The source allows me to be able to have a detailed breakdown of typography through out history and therefore relates to my current project of designing a typeface, and I also wish to move towards becoming a typographer, so therefore it really is a key bit of reading for my future aspirations. 

The demand for typefaces with extended character sets has been growing steadily for many years. OEM and branding typefaces are expected to cover more than one script, and often three or more. Beyond the obvious scripts of the wider European region (Cyrillic, Greek, and Latin), the interest has shifted strongly towards Arabic and the Indian scripts. But there are two key differences between the Latin typographic script, and pretty much everything else: firstly, that the type-making and typesetting equipment were developed for a simple alphabetic left-to-right model that would have to be adapted and extended to work with the complexities of the non-Latins. Although rectangular sorts will work sufficiently for the simple structure of western European languages, the model strains at the seams when the diacritics start multiplying, and pretty much collapses when the shapes people use do not fit in neat boxes, or change shape in ways that are not easy to describe algorithmically. No surprise that most non-Latin typesetting implementations make use of compromises and technical hacks to get the script to work. The second factor is that most non-Latin scripts did not experience the full profusion in styles that arises from a competitive publications market, as well as a culture of constant text production. (It’s no surprise that the language of display typography first developed in nineteenth-century Britain, in parallel with the Industrial Revolution: urbanisation, rising literacy, and trade in goods and services go hand in hand with the need for typographic richness and differentiation.)

Massimo Vignelli has been and still is a massive influence in my life, I am using him as a designer and practitioner as a source due to his world renowned work and methodology. He is more of a guide to me, an influential character in design. I personally feel he is almost the definition of a graphic designer, he has worked across all types of design and has reached global fame within the design world, he has his website which if anything is the least impressive, his interviews and talks are far more engaging, his language and tone of voice are engaging and specialist. He has a very firm stand on his design views and has stuck to them through his career, and motivates me to do the same through my statement of intent to identify my role and my stand point on design.

My fourth source is the book How to use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry, and (every once in a while) change the world (published by Harper Design) written by Michael Beirut (2016). The book itself is an extremely detailed focus on graphic design and its communication within the world as we know. The book features more than thirty-five of Beirut’s projects, it reveals his philosophy of graphic design–how to use it to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry, and (every once in a while) change the world. Specially chosen to illustrate the breadth and reach of graphic design today, each entry demonstrates Bierut’s approach to desgin. In his entertaining voice, the artist walks us through each from start to finish, using preliminary drawings (including full-size reproductions of the notebooks he has maintained for more than thirty-five years), working models and rejected alternatives, as well as the finished work. Throughout, he provides insights into the creative process, his working life, his relationship with clients, and the struggles that any design professional faces in bringing innovative ideas to the world. Michael Beirut is the Protégé of design legend Massimo Vignelli and partner in the New York office of the international design firm Pentagram, Michael Bierut has had one of the most varied and successful careers of any living graphic designer, serving a broad spectrum of clients as diverse as Saks Fifth Avenue, Harley-Davidson, the Atlantic Monthly, the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation, Billboard, Princeton University, the New York Jets, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Morgan Library. this source allows me to view a full range of the creative process involved with some extremely renowned projects, and has given me insight into the professional design world and will further my practice by helping me strengthen my process.

My final source is The design of dissent by Glaser, M., & Llic?, M. (2006) and published by Rockport. its a book that looks at dissent in the world. Dissent is an essential part of keeping democratic societies healthy, and our ability as citizens to voice our opinion is not only our privilege but our responsibility. Without this dialogue, the backbone of what we have fought so desperately for could easily crumble. The source is a contemporary provocation published by rockport, Rockport Publishers was founded in 1984 and became part of the Quarto Group six years later. Looking for the latest in design industry trends or graphic art reference? There’s a book for that at Rockport Publishers. Rockport creates beautifully illustrated source books for professional designers and artisans of all types. Rockport’s books present the best in design work from around the world  and bring readers inside the world’s most talented design and art studios to see how the work gets done and the inspiration that lies behind each finished piece. the language used is specialist as it comes from Milton Glaser and his wife. 2 extremely renowned practitioners in design. they are taking a very broad standpoint on dissent within the world issues and therefore enables me to see things from a broader perspective. Milton glazer as a practitioner is an idol to me through his work and methodology.

my work is currently still broad in its style, ranging from book making, branding, type setting and 3d work, and to me this isn’t something that is going to change, I aspire to be a designer that can demonstrate a strong understanding of all areas of graphic design, and a few very refined skills, which has moved on from my original statement of intent slightly. I’m bolder and brighter; both in my design and life style; Start Design really influenced me to challenge the way I design, both pushing what I do further past where I think my work should finish, and what you can actually do as a creative. The company has diversified itself in a competitive market both through its work and its studio culture.

Secondly Hannes von Döhren has brought a new level of appreciation to his practice, Hannes is a german type maker, who has maintained a status as a heavy weight in the freelance type market, not falling to giants like monotype.  Due to the original nature of my self directed project it has brought me to realise a key flaw in my thought process, that I can’t do everything perfectly straight away. I attempted to design a typeface and soon realised that the time, skill and patience it takes is ridiculous, thus changing my perception of a lot of disciplines within design, that although my skill range is broad as previously mentioned I do need to fine tune a chosen few to really stand out in the design community.

Due to the insights I’ve gained from the past few months I’ve began to really focus my skills and refine the work I’m going to be pursuing in my creative practice, I intend to brand, I will still attempt to work into new areas and disciplines however I will reserve those for spare time till I feel they re strong enough to put into practice; following the physical practice side of my work, I am having to assess my morality as a designer; it’s a huge question that is put to us, and frankly there isn’t a definitive single sentence I can put to define my morals into; I know what they are, and can easily say yes or know to a question on morality, it is simply having that question asked? No I wouldn’t design for arms dealers, no I wouldn’t design or a slaughter house for dogs, But there is a lot of things that some people wouldn’t design for that I would, and in the design world there will always be that split in morality, but I feel it’s individual and isn’t something that can be judged by another.

I’d love to be a designer that designs beautiful and diverse things that are experimental, but to me, that wont pay the bills right now. I don’t have a name for myself, and in the industry standard my portfolio is lacking, yes once I’ve gained real world experience in design, then I can begin to explore and provoke my audience a little more, I am an argumentative person that wants to prod and poke with design and change the world really, My own studio would be amazing, but what I saw at Start showed me that you don’t begin there… I was shown an image of the CD of Start and his friends when they were at university, all of which are now founders and CD’s of various studios, however they all worked in industry and gained a name for themselves. but that is the end goal, for now it’s about the journey there.


Antoniades, T., & Matthews, D. (2017). Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Ninja Theory.
This is a game that really inspires depth in my work, if you played it you would see both visually stunning design as well as intense narrative and experimental methods of design.

Bierut, M. (2016). How to use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry, and (every once in a while) change the world. New York: Harper Design.
Michael previously worked under M. Vignelli, and then went on to head Pentagram New York, he is an inspiration in his style of writing.

Brandopus.com. (2018). Brand Opus: Strategy, Design, Production.. online Available at: http://www.brandopus.com/ Accessed 16 Jan. 2018.

Brand, R. Recovery. Blue Bird.
Russell Brand’s book is although not a design book, is still a book I take note of. It covers topics that need to be covered but often are overlooked. This is a point at which I can base my work.

Glaser, M., & Llic?, M. (2006). The design of dissent. Gloucester, Mass.: Rockport.
The Design of dissent is a bible for designers, written by Milton Glaser and his wife it guides me through my work.

Hannes von Döhren. (2016). Hvdfonts.com. Retrieved 3 October 2017, from http://www.hvdfonts.com/
Hannes is a german type maker, who has maintained a status as a heavy weight in the freelance type market, not falling to giants like monotype.

McNeil, P. (2017). The visual history of type. 1st ed. Laurence King.

Mott, T. (2017). Edge Magazine, (304).
The quality of the 304 issue is unbelievable, it was unveiling the new Zelda and the effort put into the print had me astounded, it sets a target of quality for my work.

Pentagram — The world’s largest independent design consultancy. (2017). Pentagram. Retrieved 2 October 2017, from https://www.pentagram.com/
Their audience and people they work with is what I aim for, they work with people who respect the trade and value knowledge

Post Projects — Creative Services. (2017). Post Projects. Retrieved 3 October 2017, from http://postprojects.com/
Simply put I love their style of design, fairly commercial but done with such attention to detail.

Startdesign.com. (2018). Start Design: Leading digital, retail and brand design consultancy. online Available at: http://www.startdesign.com/ Accessed 16 Jan. 2018.

The best in creativity – Creative Review. (2017). Creative Review. Retrieved 4 October 2017, from http://www.creativereview.co.uk
A source for me broadening my knowledge of current trends and design.

Vignelli, M., & Vignelli, L. (1981). Design: Vignelli. New York: Rizzoli.
The godfather of design, only ever using 6 types in his career is something to be marvelled at

Time & Type. (2017, September). Elephant, (32), 100-103.