The art of hand-lettering

Typography is an essential skill for any designer to possess. The trouble these days is that it’s so readily at hand – a tap away on a keyboard in your favourite font and Bob’s your Uncle! Typography can have a habit of losing its personal touch and, with this in mind, I took part (alongside Simon and David of Naked Marketing) in a short course in hand-drawn lettering at Print to the People to inject some personality into our typography.

Our tutor, illustrator and hand-drawn typographer Beverley Gene Coraldean of Geneality Art, began with a brief introduction to typography; its origins, the basic rules and all the different formats and styles which can be created. Then, taking our newly provided brush-tipped pens in hand, we embarked on practicing the basic strokes required when drawing type. Holding the pen to its side and pressing down hard created thicker down strokes, followed by bringing the pen slightly away from the page, so that the tip is only just in contact with the paper, for the thinner up strokes. Sounds easy doesn’t it… it was surprisingly hard to get it right!

Next we progressed to drawing individual letterforms shortly followed by whole words with joined up characters. Once we’d mastered this (well sort of!) we where then encouraged to create extra flourishes and curves in-between the letters – this is where the character and artistic nature of hand-lettering could really be explored.

Above: Try out my brush pen to create some hand lettering

The afternoon session is where we advanced to the bit we were all really there for… creating hand-drawn postcards developed from our skills gained in the morning. We had use of layout paper (semi-translucent paper, perfect for tracing), allowing us to retrace our favourite lettering and refine curves and lines, and a photocopier in case we needed to enlarge anything. Once we were ready it was time to be brave and take pen to postcard! This is where the lightbox came in very handy as we could use it to trace our lettering onto the thicker A6 card.

It’s fair to say that myself, Simon and David loved the course and now feel fully prepped, armed with their brush-tipped pens, should the opportunity come along to add a personal touch to our clients’ work.

Reposted from Naked Marketing


How competitive are you?

I can’t help myself – I love to be a little competitive. Infact I think it’s a very healthy disposition to have. It helps you learn and strive forward – for something more, for something better.

It’s what makes me tick to some degree. Whilst i’m guilty of occasionally getting stuck in my own comfortable little bubble (aren’t we all?), it only takes someone to say something, or for me to snap out of it and engage the brain, to get right back on it again – to keep that yearning for something more.

“How competitive are you? How does it fit into your day-to-day life? I seem to use competitiveness quite a lot…”

In the design studio…

Graphic design in my opinion is incredibly competitive. On an individual basis, creatives are always searching for that really clever concept. The one where others go ‘I wish i’d thought of that’. This in itself can be a challenge, however it’s what drives us and keeps us on top of our game. It gains you respect from colleagues, from other agencies and of course from clients.

In a broader sense, design agencies as a collective often have to tender/pitch for work against each other too. It is a competitive market out there and, lets face it, it’s always really nice when your design work, knowledge and business/work ethics are enough to win over a client.

Working out at the gym…

I like to exercise, be that in the gym, running around the park, or cycling! Using competitiveness is a great tool, infact it’s the perfect tool for testing yourself against your last best time. Who doesn’t want to be on top form? Yes its hard, tough and very exhausting, but what a great sense of achievement when you’ve beaten your last PB. Even my personal trainer has cottoned onto my competitive streak and often sets me a gym challenge with a time to beat.

Away from the gym there’s the ParkRuns – I’m yet to do one where I haven’t beaten my last PB, which is great. This often comes down to the fact that on the day I always pick someone at my pace or slightly faster to try and keep up with. I just can’t help it!

And of course, I do compete in MTB races. This is where my competitiveness to be fitter in the gym pays off on the race track – though I do tend to measure my results over a season rather than just a couple of races due to the many factors that can make such a difference on race day. Sometimes it really can be about being the tortoise, not the hare!

…and even at home!

Ha ha, who doesn’t like beating your better half at something? Just this weekend I enjoyed a little gloating having beaten my partner at a game of table hockey in the seaside arcades. What great fun.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s good to be competitive – whether that’s for self improvement at work, getting fitter at the gym, or indeed for a little jovial fun at the seaside. It leaves you with a sense of achievement, confidence and best of all, happiness.


Go on, you know you want too

I’ve been thinking about it for ages. What’s stopping me? Life’s too short isn’t it? Go on, make it happen – bite the bullet!

It’s new years day 2017. My social feed is full of stuff about new beginnings, new years resolutions, fresh starts. There I am sat with the webpage open, daring myself to do it. To move my mouse over the button and hit submit. Click!

“Oh my goodness, I’ve done it! I feel so pleased with myself! I’ve just entered my first ever Spartan race.”

Obstacle races have gained immense popularity over the past couple of years. Tougher Mudder… Spartan… Bear Grills… all there to test your fitness, strength, resilience and most of all, your ability to get muddy… very muddy!

Setting the challenge

I’d been thinking of doing a Tougher Mudder or Spartan race for quite sometime (like two years!!) Having done some research on what each race was about, the levels of difficulty and seeing peoples feedback – I choose to enter a Spartan Beast race. The toughest of the Spartan races available, I’d read that the races themselves were more challenging than Tougher Mudder with trickier obstacles and often further distances. This would be a real challenge and something to set my mind on for developing my fitness over the coming months (mixed in with my MTB racing of course!) It wasn’t until I saw my personal trainer a couple of days later that she made me realise that I’d entered a half marathon with 30+ obstacles mixed in for good measure! Gulp!


So my main challenge for the event is learning to running – I’ve never (ever!) been a fan. With that in mind I joined the running club at the gym which meets every Wednesday evening, and when I’m not MTBing on a Saturday I do the local 5k ParkRun. Having other people to meet and run with is a real incentive for me. I’m pleased to say that to date, my longest run has been 7 miles, and i’ve achieved a PB at every ParkRun I’ve done… though I’m sure I can’t maintain that forever! My personal trainer has, rather sneakily, been slipping in sprints into my sessions most weeks too. It all helps I guess!

Over the next couple of months I need to be getting the distance in – to be running those 10k’s, and more if I can – to build up my endurance. I know I can do it, my head just need’s convincing.

Anyway, that’s enough about running! The moral of this story is to go out there and do it! Take the plunge and make it happen. Stop thinking about it, free your mind and push (or click) that button! It’ll make you feel elated I promise!

Go on, you know you want too…


National Apprenticeship Week 2017

The 10th National Apprenticeship Week landed this March and I was honored to play my part by volunteering to conduct mock interviews for the design students at Develop.

Develop is a not-for-profit organisation based in Norwich which delivers a comprehensive range of education and training programmes across the Eastern region for young people from ages 14-19.

The purpose of the week is to encourage more people to choose apprenticeships as a fast-track pass to a great career.

The role I was interviewing the students for was a graphic design position which required a highly motivated individual with creative flair, good computer skills and a strong knowledge of the industry standard design software.

The feedback from the five students interviewed was very positive. They found the process very useful with half of them saying that they would strongly consider an apprenticeship as their preferred progression following education. That sounds like great feedback to me!

“We all know job interviews can be incredibly scary, especially to those yet to step into the world of employment. To be able to help the students learn and gain the skills required was a great privileged.”

Ellis, one of the students taking part commented: “I felt nervous going into the interview, but once I got into the interview and starting talking to Jodie it became more easier to be myself and to come out of my shell. The experience was great and I really enjoyed It. Overall, the interview has given me an insight into what an interview is like and has helped me for when I will have an interview for a job one day.”

Reposted from Naked Marketing


Big Book Crit at Norwich University of the Arts

Myself and colleague David had the pleasure of taking part in the second ‘Big Book Crit’ for Norwich University of the Arts in October.

The event, which is free to attend for students, is run across different regions within the UK and gives degree level students a unique opportunity to show their work to leading creative industry professionals.

Throughout the evening, both David and myself spent time with a mixture of design, photography and illustration students conducting portfolio crits on a one-to-one basis, allowing them to gain valuable skills in presenting their work effectively.

It’s fair to say that there was an exceptionally high standard of work and the students were all very forthcoming in explaining their ideas and thought processes.

Naked Marketing look forward to being involved with the next Big Book Crit taking place in April 2017.

Reposted from Naked Marketing


Alan Kitching – A life in Letterpress

World renowned typographer, designer and letterpress practitioner Alan Kitching is currently exhibiting at Snape Maltings, Suffolk where I was lucky to have the opportunity to see the man himself give a talk. Here I reflect on my visit.

Alan looked like a designer – well dressed, hair and moustache just so, and those thick rimmed glasses that’s so characteristic of a designer. His work is just amazing and I was quite in awe. With my educational background having a more hand rendered and print making approach I already had an understanding of the time and effort involved with creating each of the artworks on display. Each piece has its own story, its own concept and, most importantly to Alan, a logic. You can’t just make things up after all!

Explaining his Hamlet poster you could clearly see that Alan took inspiration from the film, with the red letterforms representing the young Hamlet, whilst the smaller white lettering represents the ghost of Hamlets late father. As is the nature of letterpress – it can take a few attempts to get the print just right. When asked: How do you know when a ‘happy accident’ is a mistake or a piece of art? Alan replied with: “Acceptance is key, you don’t interfere with the art or the pieces of type”.

Above: Me with the amazing man himself

I had the pleasure of asking Alan what had been the most challenging commission he’s worked on to date and he spoke of a recent project involving a large hoarding around a London building. “The challenge was working with local school children to create the artwork. Whilst they were so sweet, the workshops were complete chaos – it took three months in total to complete”.

To have an insight into Alan’s background, design theory on particular pieces and an understanding of the processes involved with particularly technical artwork was truly inspiring. “Even with a limited amount of letters, you can create a wonderful thing.”

With thanks to Chris Skinner for the use of his photos


Guest Lecture at Norwich City College

Norwich City College invited our me to speak to UAL level 3 Graphic Design students in the newly built creative arts building on the southern end of the campus.

Students had the opportunity to learn about my educational background, studio life at Naked Marketing and the steps involved with producing a new brand.

Later in the session I set the students a personal branding task to help them with the initial ideas stage of producing an identity for themselves. Students were asked to fill out a questionnaire which asked them to explore their own personality and traits. The questions ranged from what word best described them, and what energises and ignites them.

From this the students where able to pick two or three key concepts to base their identity on. Next the students got drawing – the exciting bit! During this, students had the opportunity to question me about my role on a more 1-2-1 basis.

At the end of the session a handful of students were asked to show the initial sketches to the group whilst I offered a creative critique. One had explored creating type from geometric shapes to communicate his perfectionism, whilst another had a great little ‘evolution’ concept running through his design, shown through the shapes and colouring/shading of his identity. A music loving student explored a iconographic approach and my favourite, Dan, had created an illustration for each letterform which depict a different trait about him – from his curly hair to his love of sport.

Overall it seemed that students (and myself included!) enjoyed the experience. The students hopefully benefitted from an insight into the ‘real world’ of graphic design and the branding task helped towards the unit they are currently studying for their grade at the end of the year.

Reposted from Naked Marketing