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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Make your own cosmetics and soap

We are about to enter a new era of people making their own cosmetics. Similar to how we all got involved in making our own dinners with herbs and spices throughout the 90's. We have all become more aware of what we are putting onto our bodies. Why not take control of what chemicals you put on your body by understanding what goes into making cosmetics. Tender Essence is a company that inspires everyone to make your own cosmetics. They have a range of articles on their blog. All articles use natural ingredients, especially essential oils.
They have a great starter guide for using essential oils here.
You can also learn how to make wonderful soaps using just kitchen ingredients like dried mint, paprika, oats and cling film to make gorgeous soaps.
Tender Essence advocates the use of essential oils and natural ingredients. They sell most of the ingredients you need and all items are vegan and vegetarian safe. Nothing is tested on animals, so they are one seriously ethical British company.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Art Spider

Art Spider is a website for learning disability arts and is part of Mencap. The gallery has visual arts, film and music made by artists with disabilities. Click here to visit the gallery of work.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Willard Wigan's Micro Sculptures

Willard Wigan is the creator of the smallest sculptors in the world. Wigan uses a tiny surgical blade to carve his microscopic figures out of rice, and fragments of grains of sand and sugar, which are then mounted on pinheads. Wigan, who has learning disabilities and is unable to read or write, describes his sculptures as a way to expressive himself. ABC news have just done an online video of him here. His tools include a microscope, dust and hairs to create his sculptors. His sculptors often take months to complete, he mentions that he has to work between heartbeats to avoid hand tremors.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

FedEx. The Optical Illusion.

Can you see what's hiding away in the logo? Read how and why the designer (Lindon Leader) decided to come up with the optical illusion of the forward-pointing arrow. Read the theory behond one of the most popular and interesting logo designs ever.
+click the title or here for the article+

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Make my logo bigger cream

A very funny parody on graphic design v's client requests. This fantastic video takes the mickey out of the annoying demands clients often put on graphic designers, such as 'make my logo bigger'. Well worth a visit if you are in the design industry.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Find Answers (to anything)

Ask Jeeves used to be the only place on the net to ask a random question and expect an answer (be it computer generated). It uses a search engine based system to do this. However, there are better ways to get answers to your questions. New 'answer' web sites use social networking tools to allow other people to answer your questions and so you end up all helping each other. Here's our favourites (starting with the best):
1. Yahoo Answer
2. WikiAnswers
3. AnswerBank (UK based)
4. Half Bakery (suggest inventions)
5. Qunu (technical experts answer you)
You need to join each of the sites to get answers.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Visual Thesaurus - For inspirational ideas

The Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus is a dictionary and thesaurus with an intuitive interface that encourages exploration and learning. It is an 'interactive visual database of words' giving you a different view on the links between words. It can be used in design research to find connecting subjects and ideas. The best thing is that you can try the software (online) for FREE on the site. Once you use it and get used to using it, you'll never want to be without it. Here it is searching for the word 'design' and it's related subjects, meanings and alternatives. We like how design can be related to 'excogitation' meaning 'thinking intensely'. Recommended for those in Marketing and Design Research.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Creative Writing on your Mac

TextEdit and Word are not the best solution when it comes to creative writing, they don't offer the tools you need to help you focus on the creative process of writing.
The first great program for Mac is WriteRoom, it offers a none distracting full screen mode for writers (a bit like the old word processors of the 80's) but with smoother graphics. This program is great if you have the need to just sit down and start churning out text but many of us need to plan and focus on our storyboards before we get going.
This is where Scrivener comes in, it's a storyboard management program with a great intuitive interface. It will help you write a short story to a full on thesis. It helps you manage your writing project by providing a corkboard for you to drop images, text, PDF's and generally organise your research. It also comes with a full screen mode for focussed writing.
I should also mention that there is an alternative to Scrivener costing $35 and that is Avenir for $30, it does not have as many features as Scrivener but does offer a more common user interface that feels easier to use (think iPhoto's interface). The best part is that they all offer a 30 day trial download.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

All The Google logos

It would be very hard not to have noticed the themed logos that the people at Google create for special occasions. We recently found the full collection on this page. Our favourite has got to be the Salvador Dali logo. Look at the effort put into that one.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Stock photos for all your design needs.

"what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures ..."

It's often hard to find the right image for your design work. We find ourselves never having the right images to say what we need to say.
Choosing the right Stock for your creations is often important. There are many stock photography sites on the net. The best in our opinion is iStockphoto. Here you can buy credits and can purchase individual photos or design content with Royalty Free rights.
View My Portfolio
Alternatively, use Stock.XCHNG for free stock photography. The idea of Stock Xchng is to create a site where creative people can exchange their photos for inspiration or work. The site has only recently evolved into a massive community with about 1,000,000 registered users and more than 250,000 photos online. Under each image the photographer tells you what you can use the photographs for. A suprising number can be used for commercial work. It's a fantastic design resource that is worth visiting.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Buying Art - Online galleries

Online galleries are the best place to find undiscovered talent. Two of the best galleries for finding this talent are Deviantart and Etsy.com.
Etsy is like an online craft fair, with it's members selling a range of hand made items from sculptures to paintings. There is always something to buy that is within your budget and taste.
Deviantart is more of a social networking site for artists. Prints can be purchased of some of the work and others you can download at high resolution and print yourself. It's one of the most visited sites on the net and if you haven't visited already, it's well worth taking a look. The site is a gold mine of ideas and inspiration.

Friday, July 13, 2007

2007 Freelance Survey

Freelance Switch has set up a survey to gather information on those working in the freelance design market. The information will be used to help us all understand more about what our market is charging and an overall census of data on those freelancing. Help them complete the survey and you will be entered into a prize draw and get inside information on the census.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

London 2012 Olympic Logo Problems

The worst Olympic logo ever? Or a modern master piece?

How can we avoid the latest news hype around the new London 2012 Olympic logo. It seems every newspaper in the country wants to stress how horrible it is.

So the newspapers aren't into the new design, but what do you think?
Feel free to leave us your comments.

Some people have stressed concern that it doesn't show any London landmarks and the traditional attributes used in previous Olympic logos. However, design has move forward since the last London Olympics (see logo) in 1948.

Truthfully, it feels like this is a way for people to further vent their anger at the costs associated with London hosting the 2012 Olympics. The logo cost a whopping £400,000 to produce, alongside the £9.3 billion it will cost to host the games.

However, if we put aside these qualms and look at the actual design aspects of this logo, it might not be all that bad. Firstly, a lot of people are moaning about the visual impact this logo has on them. Logos aren't always about colour and shape. They can be about much deeper things and having spent £400,000 on the logo you'd expect design firm Wolff Olins to have considered the deeper meaning around what the Olympic games should be communicating (i.e. the branding). It's not about the logo but what we will do with the branding associated with it. The logo is modern and colourful and brings forward ideas of getting involved, the colours evoke excitement and infusion and for this reason it works with the branding that 'the London 2012 Olympics should be inviting so that everyone takes part and everyone is involved'. This message is conveyed in this video and article . We think it's a grower, feel free to leave your own comments.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tiny URL

Amazed we hadn't seen this already. This neat little site converts long URL's (web addresses) to short ones. So if you are writing about a site or adding a web address to your bibliography and it contains many variables in the name, this will shorten it for you and improve the presentation of your work.
Here is the site: http://tinyurl.com/

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Best of Photoshop tutorial sites

Getting ideas and creating great designs in Photoshop, can only come with years of practice and experience. Or can they?
Tutorial sites can offer, even those with no experience of Photoshop, the ability to create great looking designs for web and print. Tutorials can be used by both the elite and junior designer, to search for inspiration on one of those 'cloudy days'.

Here is a list of the best tutorial sites (these will be modified, as and when):

Photoshop Tutorial Site Links





http://www.vladstudio.com/photoshoptutorials/ (our favourite)

This tutorial shows you how to easily create a great looking nav bar, like the image shown.

http://www.flashperfection.com/ - for a flash tutorial site.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Web Designer's Success Guide (free ebook)

Web Designer's Success Guide is the definitive guide to starting your own freelance Web design business. The author, Kevin Airgid, grossed over $100,000 USD a year developing sites for various national level clients.
In this ebook he gives designers step-by-step instructions on how to become self employed, find clients and manage your projects.
Should I be telling you about this book? I found it so insightful that I felt like keeping it to myself (my precious).
It's FREE, yes free to download as a PDF by going here.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Apple Pro Site - Fuel for Creativity

Visit http://www.apple.com/uk/pro/ and discover some of the most cutting-edge work created by designers and artists on a Mac. Get tips, tricks, and techniques to make the most of your own creative projects.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

iPod Advert Parodies

Not many of us have missed the iPod advert parodies. They are popping up all over the place. Some examples can be seen above. You can also purchase the designs on Mugs and Hats at cafepress. They are many funky designs like the patience design available to buy on the bag shown.
If you also didn't know, cafepress allows designers and artists to sell their work on t-shirts and mugs, they do all the hardwork and you get a commission. So visit them even if you want to sell your own ipod adverts and clever ideas.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Statcounter.com (free invisible stats system)

We can't rave about this service more. If you need to monitor who's coming and going on your new site. Register at statcounter.com to get a free code that you can place on your web pages. This code then generates a stats system that can be accessed by logging in to their site. You can then view how many unique visitors and page views you've had. It doesn't end there, the service tells you a wide range of details about the visitor and where they have come from. It's a great way to monitor and track your sites marketing and promotion. We even use it on PaperClipping. It makes you feel like Big Brother. :-) It's also highly addictive, we monitor our statistics every day. Have fun.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Free Design Software

Save yourself some pennies this Christmas.
Designers' often find that the software tools we need for our work are expensive. If you are just starting out in design and you are keen to save money (who isn't?) then you need to investigate some of the free or low budget software that is available to download on the web.

You would assume that much of it wouldn't be worth your hard drive space, but suprisingly there's some great free software (for both Mac and PC) that you don't have to spend a penny acquiring. The following list will help you save some serious money:

Photo and Image editing programs:
It's hard to move away from Photoshop but there is a free alternative to this great graphics package, for those on a budget. GIMP which can be downloaded for free from http://www.gimp.org is a very powerful image editor with channels, levels and masking tools. The program comes with a basic set of graphic tools, but you will find hundreds of plug-ins for the program. It's not as good as photoshop but well worth it for those on a budget.
It's similar to GIMP and offers mask and layer editing for images. It seems a little more complicated to use. Both programs have their own benefits. Download from http://park18.wakwak.com/~pixia/ and watch out for people selling this software, it's supposed to be free.
Is a vector graphic drawing tool, it's suitable for a wide range of vector applications. In particular, it is widely used for creating images such as a logo, icons, flags, maps, diagrams, etc. A nice starter graphics program, before buying Illustrator. Download it here http://www.inkscape.org
We suggest that these 3 programs are the best freeware replacements for Photoshop and Illustrator. But they will never beat the capabilities of those 2 programs.

3D Programs:
Open source 3D modelling, rendering and animation program. It has a steep learning curve but it's very well made and can do almost any 3D work, from buildings to small objects. A really great value program and it can be downloaded from: http://www.blender3d.com/
Developed for the conceptual stages of design, SketchUp is powerful yet easy-to-learn 3D software, it's more focused on 3D scenes and landscapes. The basic version comes free from Google at http://www.sketchup.com/

Video Editing:
Jahshaka 2
Offers realtime video editing. It allows the user to add effects over the top of video. Download it for free from http://www.jahshaka.org

Web Design:
NVU (pronounced N-View) is a web design program using a WYSIWYG editor which will help you create your first web sites. It has a great interface and can be easy to use. It isn't the best at controlling databases but it can work with PHP. Download this free web design program here: http://www.nvu.com/index.php
Mozilla's Composer comes together in a free package called SeaMonkey. Composer allows you to edit your own web pages again in this WYSIWYG editor. It does not allow form management but offers many other features (such as source editing), it's worth downloading from http://www.mozilla.org/projects/seamonkey/
Also note that Mozilla produces Firefox (the increasingly popular free web browser) and Thunderbird (a mail application that allows HTML editing of emails, so you can make e-cards). Both can be downloaded from the same web site at http://www.mozilla.org
There are also times when a designer might need to record audio (i.e. for either a presentation or a web site). Audacity is a great free program for recording audio and saving it as multiple formats. It can be used on both MAC and PC and details and the download can be had here: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ or as we found the download isn't always working you can get the files from Sourceforge.net.

For more free graphics programs you can search for what you need at www.download.com or www.versiontracker.com (some of which require small payments for their use).

There are other options to free software for new start-ups. The big major companies are all offering (save enabled) 30 day trial versions of their software to download and use for free (most have no obligations but do read the small print). So our final recommendation would be to go to www.adobe.com for a free trail of their products which now also include all the Macromedia range (from Flash to Freehand). At least you can start work for free with all the above options, have a cost effective Christmas.

If you know of any free software programs that you think the design community might be interested in, then please add a comment to this post with a link.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Flash - Web and Interface Design

Flash has come a long way since 1996, when it was purchased by Macromedia. Back then you would use it for basic animation and website intros. It now boasts a range of uses through it's fully developed programming language 'Actionscript' (based around Javascript). You can produce anything from a website to an online application using Flash 8.

Macromedia developed the program to take full advantage of the, ever-increasing, interactive media market. The tool has come a long way and is now classed as a tool that most website designers should know how to use. The coding side can become very complex, as it's powerful enough to make games with the software. The program is unlike many other web design programs, it uses linear progression to plan out a website (much like a movie) unlike other web design programs that would use, the better, flow chart method (with multiple avenues for the user to take).
Despite its backward methods, the program is powerful now and can make nearly any GUI (Graphical User Interface). A free 30 day trial of the software can be had from the new owners (Adobe).

Click here for Flash free trial.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Love of Letterpress

Take a short visit to Firefly Press in Somerville Massachusetts. This wonderful little documentary speaks to the craftsmanship and love of traditional design that drew many of us into the world of graphic design, years ago. Take a moment to slow down and enjoy the video. Alternatively watch it on youtube here.
Further information on the love of letterpress can be found here on this blog; http://www.iloveletterpress.com

Sunday, September 24, 2006

An alternative view

It was the strange but wonderful Pet Camper doghouse that first drew our attention to straight line design. Judson Beaumont created a mini RV for dogs. The aluminium Pet Camper even comes with it's own license plate and laminate flooring. On seeing the camper shown in the picture we decided to investigate the company behind the idea. We found some astonishing furniture works that had to be showcased on the blog.
It was like the furniture from Disneys Beauty and the Beast, but of course actually made. Their work includes a naughty table that looks to be taking a wee and an accordian shaped chest of drawers (shown in the picture). Most of their work is aimed at children and they also produce sets for shopping malls and other events.
More information can be found on the website at http://www.straightlinedesigns.com

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Identity Design Research Project

It's an old project but well worth taking a look at. It's from the fantastic designers at IDEO. It looks at the future of identity and brand design and highlights a few issues.

Even if you don't find that particular project useful you can always explore IDEOs vast website for ideas and inspiration.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Five simple steps to better typography

It is our responsibility, as designers, to embrace the rules which are born of a craft which goes back hundreds of years.

Hopefully, this very useful series of quick, sure-fire ways of improving your typographic craft will help towards making sure computers and DTP don't kill off these skills.

This is the first installment of this "Simple Steps..." series.
You can also find these other sections at the site:

- Measure the measure
- Hanging punctuation
- Ligatures
- Typographic Hierarchy - size
- Typographic Hierarchy - weight

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Articles on the negative aspects of speculative work

All about the negative aspects of producing speculative work to win commissions. Their site mission statement is '...to unite those who support the notion that spec work devalues the potential of design and ultimately does a disservice to the client.' They give Ten Reasons for their theory. However the site is 'very' negative. They have good points, but it seems like a lot of designers getting on their soap box. Despite that, we would recommend taking a visit as some of the one liners used in the articles might come in handy for 'that' awkward client. In particular the article on 'Speculative Presentations', we would go as far as saying this was one of the best articles we've ever read on the pitfalls of doing speculative work or what we like to call 'try before you buy'. Hopefully someone will add a positive swing on speculative work for the site, so that they can see both sides of the fence.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Before and After

A great online/print magazine for graphic designers. Their site contains lots of links to ideas and articles in their current edition. Back editions can also be purchased.

It's a great looking site with many tutorials and PDF downloads to read. They describe themselves as 'Before & After is dedicated to making graphic design understandable, useful and even fun for everyone.' And they deliver.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Mandarin Design - Web + Blog Design & Development.

Thousands of secrets on typography and colour usage for web designers. Including methods to re-create magazine styling (pullquotes) on your website. Lots of archives, tips and tricks. Worth bookmarking.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Surprising Truth About Ugly Websites

A fantastic article about how ugly sites can deliver straight to the point content and still make money. Some very funny points made here. Well worth a read.
Also the host site is http://www.site-reference.com that has thousands of articles that provide advice, website tools and resources to website owners.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Fresh Talent and Creativity from Loughborough Uni.

You can view a great portfolio of last years graduates from Loughborough University School of Art and Design. The students have created their own 'collective portfolio' at http://www.refreshinggraphics.co.uk/
The work showcases mostly graphics and some package design. So if your studios looking for fresh talent then you wouldn't go far wrong looking at their site.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

ideasonideas.com - Communication in Design

ideasonideas is a blog that invites dialogue on issues relevant to communication designers and brand strategists. A recent article 'Designers must write' considers the way in which designers use different tools to communicate both ideas and the written word. It brings to debate the everyday tasks we do and questions attitudes towards our vocabulary and the benefits it can bring to our work.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Creative Archive Licence Group

The BBC, the bfi, Channel 4 and the Open University set up the Creative Archive Licence Group in April 2005 to make their content available for download under the terms of the Creative Archive Licence, a single, shared user licence scheme for the downloading of moving images, audio and stills.

Membership is available to major national collections, broadcasters, and commercial organisations who wish to share content with the public.
A large collection of files are available for download through this site.
Visit the downloads page

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Pixel Platformer - New Concept for pixel advertsing

Lets Design and Online Games HQ have just developed the first Flash pixel advertising system.
We have used it on a simple but effective platform game, that can be played here:

This game was developed to look at 'new methods' for games funding.
The game is getting lots of press due to its unique use of remote automated payment system and remote graphics linkage.

The game is free to distribute or post on your site by downloading the .zip file which contains all the instructions, .swf, thumbnails, press release for you to use or distribute.

If you provide a good press release please mail help@pixelplatformer.com with the link and we'll provide a link back through the 'press links' pages.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Satta Hashem, Painter and Muralist

Satta Hashem a fantastic UK based painter and muralist launches an online gallery of his fabulous works. The online flash interactive gallery presents over a thousand of his paintiings and can be viewed individually or as a slideshow. Also available on the site is his CV, which shows the full extent of the exhibitions and work he does in Leicestershire, UK.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Swopper ya chair - Designer's Choice

Sitting for hours on an office chair in the design studio, will no longer be the back-breaking chore it once was. Not if you get yourself a "swopper".
The "swopper" supports and encourages alternating postures and movements, ensuring the user is always sitting in the proper position, while strengthening their abdominal and back muscles. Keeping the spine and inter-vertebral discs fit, the "swopper" stimulates circulation and prevents wear of the joints.

Barefoot Studio, a body management company based in Wales, is now the sole UK agent of Aeris' the "swopper": the first seat of its kind designed to adapt to movement in every direction - forward, backward, sideways and vertically, virtually eliminating backache and tension.

The "swopper", designed by German engineer Josef Glockl and his Physical Therapist wife Dorothea Prodinger-Glock, has won awards for function and design, including the 'Seal of Quality' from the Healthy Back Action Committee and 'Best for Innovation and Gold Award' in the office chair category.

If you are interested in chair design, it's also worth visiting the swopper site, where you can find further technical details.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Answer Bank

The principle of the AnswerBank is simple - ask a question in any of their subject categories and fellow contributors will supply the answers.

The questions can be practical, like 'where can I find a webpage on improving clarity and readibility?' or they can be about something you have always wanted to ask but never dared. The options are endless.

The best sections for Designers would be Arts and Literature and Jobs. but the site can act as inspiration for many other things. We find it useful for tracking down a song from an advert you like and for doing design research. It's UK site that we are sharing with the world and you'll fiind it's UK orientated but still useful to the world wide web.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

PANTONE launch 125 new colours

PANTONE have just announced the availability of 125 new speciality colours. The new PANTONE metallic formula guide features 97 new metallic shades and the PANTONE pastel formula guide features 28 new pastel colours. Designers, printers and their clients now have more choice of colour.
It seems as though the 'painters' at PANTONE are busy developing many new products recently. It was only last month they announced 'Huey', a monitor calibration device. As many of us graphic designers know they are the biggest in colour and it's worth keeping an eye on their new product collections.

Think differently! Designers of the Month

A design Gallery that can be showcased as a great inspiration to all in the industry.
This 'furniture focused' Design Gallery showcase items of a difference. Established in 1983 with offices specialising in design research.
Some of the products are a treasure to view. Like the Catena Wall Clock from Designer Andrea Dober (pictured). The numbers are positioned along a chain that moves around the central gear to mark out what the time is.
They also showcase great jewellery and lighting designs.
The site and designs serve as great inspiration.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Chartered Society of Designers - Announces New Headquarters

As of 1st February 2006 the Chartered Society of Designers will be operating from its new offices at:

1 Cedar Court
Royal Oak Yard
Bermondsey Street

The expansion of the Society's activities over the past few years and the development of The Design Association made it necessary to seek new premises that offered more space.

CSD Chief Executive, Frank Peters, commented that "this is an important move in terms of our future development and the purchase of our own property for the first time in our history is testimony to the support and effort of our members.
It is a magnificent way to mark our 75th year of operation by building on the future."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Graphics Imperative

The Graphic Imperative website is now live. The Graphic Imperative is a select retrospective of forty years of international socio-political posters. Themes include dissent, liberation, racism, sexism, human rights, civil rights, environmental and health concerns, AIDS, war, literacy and tolerance - collectively providing a window to an age of great change. Focusing on the issues of our turbulent times, these 121 posters endeavour to show the social, political and aesthetic concerns of many cultures in a single exhibition through delineating themes and contrasting political realities. For more information and to order the 80-page colour catalogue for the exhibition, please visit: http://www.thegraphicimperative.org