Earlier in the year we started our Design Placement scheme, and welcomed Sam Part as our very first willing guinea pig. Sam writes:
I recently spent three months as a design placement at W+K London, and I enjoyed every minute. I was given the opportunity to work on a self-initiated agency project about failure, as well as the 'InstaNapzzz' window installation during my time there. It's a fantastic agency full of very talented and welcoming people.
I learned a lot, but here are the top five things I came away with:
1. Asking questions is a good way to learn. Just make sure they are good ones.
2. Being confident in your ideas can pay off. I found that visualising the crazy ideas floating around my head helped others understand what I was thinking.
3. Crossing into different disciplines is surprisingly rewarding. I never had a way with words, but I had fun trying out copywriting, much to the amusement of my peers.
4. Talking about things I was doing outside of work helped shake up my thought process. It was refreshing, and I think it helped others understand the way I think.
5. I came across lots of amazing people with varying backgrounds at W+K. I learnt very quickly that anything is possible. You just have to talk and listen to the right people to help you make it happen.
After finishing my spell at W+K, I launched a dream project of mine in Selfridges in London, called ‘Candy Mechanics.' It's something I've been working on for some time and combines 3D scanning technology with good old fashioned sugar. For six weeks, my partner-in-crime Benjamin Redford and I will be making custom 3D-printed candy. Pop in and see us on the lower ground floor in the Ultra Lounge until the 7th of June, to have your own head replicated in lollipop format.
You can also see same examples of Sam's lollipops in the L Gallery here in our office, featuring a few familiar faces from the W+K London family.
Including these glorious candy versions of CDs Sanam and Anders:
This week, W+K designer Michael Bow popped down to Pick Me Up at Somerset House. He reported back with his thoughts on the event and the visual trends emerging from the industry in 2015.
Now in its sixth year, Pick Me Up, billed as a “Graphics Arts Festival” houses a range of work from new and established illustrators, designers, illustrative designers, and everything in between. It’s a pretty good way to gauge what’s trendy in the market that year.
Working at any agency like W+K, it’s important to keep an ear to the ground and know what’s going on; sometimes emerging styles influence our practice, and sometimes we actively go against what’s expected in current visual communications.
Despite the fact that the event is meant to support and showcase up-and-coming creatives, there has been a lot of criticism aimed at Pick Me Up over the past few years. The entry fee still seems hefty considering that you are bombarded with price tags and pay points (and a pop-up café?) from the minute you walk in, but the work is now increasingly presented in a more refined and digestible manner.
Previous years had resembled some sort of doodle-filled TK Maxx, but this year, the show has a nice pace to it, and each individual station is distinctive and well constructed. I would also highly recommend arriving early if possible, to avoid throngs of disapproving designers.
The show this year has a heavy focus on print specialists. Peckham Print Studio, Sope Studio, and Hato Press are all operating live printing stations for people to not only learn about, but create and buy their own specialist prints on site. We caught up with graphic artist, and my fellow Glasgow School of Art graduate, Gabriella Marcella, who was amongst other things showcasing her Glasgow-based riso print studio Risotto.
Alongside the talent showcase, Pick Me Up is now also home to an impressive programme of events in a new presentation area billed as Pick Me Up Platform, all available with free entry. So if there is someone you are particularly interested in, you may be able to see them speak in the flesh too. The impressive headline slot on Thursday is occupied by The Designers Republic’s Ian Anderson, Secret 7”‘s Kevin King, and some DJ sets(?!).
Rightly or wrongly, it feels as though there is less focus on concept and communication when designers and illustrators are left to play. Coming from a position and industry where design and Illustration is very much a commercial venture, and should be used as a tool for clear communication, I feel that a lot of the efforts in the work supported at the event are sometimes a little misplaced, along with the emerging area between graphic design and art.
However, this is a celebration of personal creative freedom, and I was personally drawn to the pieces which display a consistent, interesting and fun use of style. The show’s highlight, aptly titled ‘Pick Me Up Selects’, showcases 12 emerging artists selected by a panel of industry experts. I particularly loved the fantasy comic book/8-bit world seen in Peter Judson’s display. Other highpoints are Jack Cunningham’s Jurassic models, Gaurab Thakali’s jazzy prints and Hattie Newman’s amazing paper-cut micro-sets.
There are lots of amusing things to glance at and flick through as you wander through the different rooms. Other parts of the show I especially enjoyed were the prints by Italian studio La Tigre, and the displays set up by London’s animation collective Moth. Lazy Oaf also have a striking room featuring the results from their FUN project, in which they collaborated with a range of illustrious including Alexander Medel Calderón.
On Thursday 26th March, W+K designers Michael Bow and Kelly Satchell headed down to the coast to speak to Brighton University’s final year Design and Illustration students about life outside of education and life inside of W+K London.
Their background stories, design developments, processes and successes were shared, along with ‘embracing failure’ tales and agency anecdotes. All in the hope of giving the group a clear insight into how design remains at the very heart of many projects here at W+K London. Which is what makes it a pretty special place to work.
Michael and Kelly came away feeling hopeful that they managed to abolish some of the myths of working as a designer in advertising. As well as feeling pleased to spread word of what working life is like at W+K, as a designer, to a selection of young creative minds that might be considering a career in the industry.
The talk is one of many that the guys are hoping to make to students in the coming months, which coincides with the re-launch of our design placement scheme here. For more information please head here http://wklondon.com/careers/design-placements
Over the past few months, we've been working with our friends Nice and Serious, an ethically-driven creative agency, to create their new brand identity.
Designed to be an adaptable and sustainable identity that can react in response to new developments in the field and work across all brand communications, the rebrand reflects the agency’s nice and serious values: creating beautiful things to solve serious issues.
The new brand system, which encompasses a new logo and identity concept, will be applied across the company’s website, social media channels, end frames, signage and stationery, and carried through to the brand’s tone of voice.
The new brand identity system creates a simple and flexible visual connection between Nice and Serious’ values and each project’s narrative. This identity represents the nice and the serious, and the relationship between the two.
Whilst the typography stays constant, the central area, where the two elements overlap, is an ever-changing window, a live area allowing Nice and Serious to visually showcase what the company is all about. It’s a space to tell a story through illustration, showcase a piece of work, or educate people in the form of a beautiful infographic.
We’re also collaborating on a redesign of Nice and Serious’ offices – watch this space!
Finding themselves with a spare skateboard deck leftover from a shoot, our design department saw a creative opportunity. Rather than letting it go to waste, why not make something that the whole agency could enjoy?
Over the years, the agency has acquired a collection of sayings lovingly called "Wiedenisms" by its employees, phrases that capture W+K's philosophy; some Wiedenisms have become such a big part of everyday agency life, they can even be found emblazoned on our office walls.
W+K designers Michael Bow and Guy Featherstone wanted to create a permanent piece from a phrase that hadn't yet featured in the office but was close to the agency's heart: "Difficult is worth doing." Born from the early days of the our partnership with Honda, we've adopted this creative mantra and approach ever since.
Michael and Guy saw a similarity in the attitude also shared by skaters and skateboarding culture – that relentless persistence is what it takes in order to progress. In addition, the double stroke to the typography was inspired by the fluid lines of skating. The design neatly incorporates the existing truck holes of the board.
Michael says of the project, "Despite our limited experience with the process, we chose to laser etch the design on the board. We felt this would be a good opportunity to push our boundaries and learn new skills. There were a few issues that we encountered during production, especially with regards to etching on the curved ends of the board. After a number of failures we managed to make something we were proud of - and something that truly embodies the philosophy of 'difficult is worth doing'."
Our lead designer, Karen Jane, recently contributed to their piece on documenting your work. Her advice? “Your site is like a shop window so show off the work you want to do more of. Curate your project selection to be the finest reflection of you, your craft, and your judgement."
We live at 16 Hanbury Street. Just down the road, at number 68, you'll find the home of D&AD - the education-led organisation for the creative and design community. Last month they knocked on our door asking for a cup of sugar. We invited them in, put the kettle on and decided to collaborate on promoting their services.
This appointment sees us responsible for repackaging what D&AD stands for, boosting their membership, increasing interest and entries into their next awards scheme and building the D&AD brand around the world.
We're excited to get under the skin of what the brand is all about and to help as many people as possible fall in love with the organization for all it gives to the creative community, beyond just the awards.
Tim Lindsey, Chief Exec of D&AD, is excited to work with us: "Their smart strategic advice and brilliant creative will help D&AD continue to provide better and better services to our community."
And we're looking forward to discovering more about the formula to winning those black pencils of theirs…
A while back, KJ and Sophie had a vision for the WK window. After lots of graft, this afternoon that is an idea that has become reality.
Today we launch HELLO NEIGHBOUR, a creative initiative which sees us partner with local talent. The concept is simple: W+K works together with creative people who live, work or operate within a one mile radius of the agency. We collaborate on something to display in our window. This could mean working with local businesses or individual craftsmen from the area; whoever we would like to showcase in our space.
This afternoon's launch sees the first in the series of HELLO NEIGHBOUR projects. 'A little piece of the kingdom' is a mass collaboration between us and 15 talented artists from the local area, three of whom we call our own: Joe, Bowtox and Anders. The wooden Union jack installation sees each of the 15 artists own a slice of the flag that they have customized in their own way, building on the topical Jubilee moment.
A word from Hello Neighbour curators Sophie Bodoh and Karen Jane: “We want to maximise the use of this agency space and share it with the wider community. It shouldn’t just be a window into our day-to-day world, but also a display of the great creativity in our local area. There’s no better moment to spark collaboration in the East End than when the eyes of the world look to us for Jubilee and Olympic celebrations.”
With very special thank you to David Samuel for his huge effort on coordination of talent.Oh, and Matt Harriman for the hours of build and install.
If you’re in the area, do pop by and take a look at the work. And if you comment online, don’t forget to say #helloneighbour.
Future projects are already in the making but we are always open to new ideas. So if you work or live within one mile's radius of the agency and want to collaborate with us, Sophie and KJ invite you in for a cup of tea and a chat. Just email them first on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Jubilee from Team HELLO NEIGHBOUR (KJ, Sophie, Ali Bobbe, Rory and Alex).
Last Friday myself (Ben, hello) and a few other people from the design team headed to Brighton for the Ampersand web typography conference.
Organised by Clearleft (who also organise the brilliant dConstruct where our own Dan Hon is speaking in Spetember) this conference this was one of the first conferences in the UK to pull together developers and designers to talk about the increasingly important area of typography on the web.
Your typical conference scene.
A little history for the non font obsessed out there.
When HTML was first created fonts were controlled by the settings of each web browser. There were very few fonts and designers had almost no control over over typography. The <font> tag was introduced in 1995 and was closely followed by Cascading Style Sheets in 1996 which allowed you to do crazy things like bold and italic. Around the same time Microsoft released a group of of now infamous fonts (Arial, Courier New, Times New Roman, Georgia, Trebuchet and Verdana) under it's Core Fonts for the Web initiative.
To cut a long story short nothing much changed until a year or two ago. (I say nothing much, there was of course Scalable Inman Flash Replacement and other such experiments but we'll skip over those in case you're getting a bit bored.)
Now there are various services that allow designers to use almost any font on the web as actual selectable text rather than as an image. This is big news. Big news for visual presentation and big news for accessibility and usability. And it's also big news as more screens become connected to the web, it's no longer just PC monitors, whose characteristics are quite easy to predict, it's also mobiles, tablets and out of home screens.
All the big players were there. Font Deck, typekit, Webtype, MyFonts and Hoefler & Frere-Jones. This is a fascinating area and vitally important for designers to understand. Making things look great is one aspect of design, understanding the technology used to reproduce your designs is another. It's as important to understand web fonts as it is to understand how ink hits a paper page.
Wooden type for sale in the breaks.
To be honest, many of the talks were either a little too heavy on the technical or a little too light on the typographic craft. That's not really a criticism - it's mainly a product of the period we're in. There are lots of "art school educated" designers who don't know much about the web and lots of web developers who don't know much about classic typography. To give you an example Tim Brown talked at length about the Golden Section and John Daggett talked at length about the code behind font embedding in Firefox.
For us there were two highlights. Vincent Connare is famous for designing Comic Sans but he also helped designed all those now famous fonts I mentioned earlier including Trebuchet and Webdings. A warm, funny speaker Vincent explained the thinking behind Comic Sans (actually very interesting) and the evolution of web typography from way, way back in 1997. Fascinating.
The amazing Jonathan Hoefler
The stand out speaker was the brilliant Jonathan Hoefler-Jones. A legend among the design community he created Gotham famously used in Obama's Election Campaign as well as many other great fonts. Johnathan spoke with an infectious passion about his own work. The craft oozed from every word. He crammed so much incredible stuff into every slide (90m hints in 665 fonts since 2007) I was just hoping some if it would stick. He was funny, humble, interesting and talented. A great talk by a great designer. He finished off by announcing that very soon all Hoefler & Frere-Jones fonts will be available as web fonts.