Archive for November, 2016

Communication Design Insights from the Creative Industries – book review

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Written by Derek Yates and Jessie Price

Published by Bloomsbury ISBN: 978147429257

Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster



This book will be useful for students of design, some academics and people interested in communication design. The insights come direct from the creative industries through a range of interviews, case studies and clear examples of creative outputs. The interviews are shaped as part of the editorial rather than in a Q&A format, and this is very effective at times, but perhaps the more conventional system would bear more fruit. The case studies come from Europe or US based companies in the main. However, hearing from voices further afield might have challenged some of the orthodoxy presented here. There is much stress on how communication design is increasingly a collaborative exercise, touching upon new areas of human innovation. Communication Designers are continuing to share in the discourse of where we are going next as a species.



The design of the book will appeal to undergraduate students who may try to emulate the look and feel of the publication. Both authors are fully aware of current academic disciplines and the look that appeals to undergrads. I have reviewed Bloomsbury publications before and the design hierarchy is a little off putting for me. Captions that look like body copy (the size of text used throughout the book is somewhat oversized) and the odd small image inserted into a page without clear reference or meaning attached to it.


Philosophical Stance

Using the currency of the terms ‘Conversation,’ ‘Participation’ and ‘Advocacy’ as chapter headings places this publication firmly in the worlds of social design and co-design. There is certainty on how design works right now, but less clarity about where it could be heading. The impression given is of forecasting through looking back at the last 15 years of communication design.


This book in its design and layout is reader friendly and seeks to inspire student readers in three main ways:

1. The top of each right hand page shows the navigation of the chapter indicating the flow of information to encourage the reader to continue reading with expectations

2. There is a really useful Search section next to each subheading showing links for further reading

3. The case studies and interviews are fun and have a light touch. There is a positive message coming from them despite the many challenges faced by some of the designers featured



This book can be used to guide design students through the arguments, practices and game changers in communication design. It will also help them to understand what is happening out in industry and provide them with inspiration for further reading and research. Yates and Price have written a useful book that attempts to go beneath the surface of a subject that is all too often the representative of surface. They are gauging the world as it is but also what it might someday become for future graduates.

You may also be interested in these book reviews:

Sustainable Graphic Design Principles & Practices

Thinking Visually for Illustrators

Stack magazines Awards

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Last night, the Stack Awards 2016 results were announced to a room full of magazine makers at our awards ceremony in London. AOI/Varoom’s Derek Brazell was co-judge with Cath Caldwell from Central St Martins for the Best Use of Illustration in an independent magazine, and they presented the award to their choice, Ladybeard, at the event.

Commended: Amuseum, The Ride Journal
Winner: Ladybeard


Ladybeard is a feminist title known for its surprising perspectives and honest narratives. One to watch for the year, they were commended for four categories including Magazine of the Year and Launch of the year. The whole seven-strong team came onto the stage to give their thanks and receive the award.

See Derek and Cath’s thoughts on the winner and commended titles here:

Stack Awards 2016: Best Use of Illustration from Steven Watson on Vimeo.

Narrative: Drawings, Prints and Paintings

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

2-4 December 2016

Solo exhibition of work by Chloe Regan

The Edwardian Cloakroom, Park Row, Bristol BS1


Pictures from Punch: A 175th Anniversary Exhibition

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

1 November 2016 – 22 January 2017

Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London, WC1A 2HH

An exhibition celebrating PUNCH’s 175th anniversary displaying some of its finest artists from John Tenniel to Mike Williams. Includes ‘Dropping the Pilot’, perhaps PUNCH’s most famous and most parodied cartoon.


Featuring original artwork from key artists and cartoonists from the 19th and 20th Centuries, the exhibition also includes the original woodblock used to produce the magazine’s iconic cover which appeared on every issue from 1841-1956.

World Illustration Awards 2016 – Private View

Monday, November 28th, 2016

We had a fantastic Private View night on 3 August at Somerset House launching the World Illustration Awards 2016 exhibition, in partnership with Directory of Illustration. Around 200 guests enjoyed drinks, nibbles and particularly the fantastic illustrations on display. A great night to mingle with the industry. A great night all around!

Our warmest thanks go to David Hughes for handing out the Awards to the Winners or their representatives so entertainingly.

Photos by Dan Weill Photography

Atlas of Animal Adventures – book review

Friday, November 25th, 2016

A collection of nature’s most Unmissable Events, Epic Migrations and Extraordinary Behaviours

Written By Rachel Williams and Emily Hawkins

Illustrated By Lucy Letherland

Published by Wide Eyed Editions ISBN 978-1-84780-792-2

Reviewed by Andy Robert Davies


This substantial book (in size and content), follows a tried and tested atlas format. Areas of the world are introduced to the reader with a double-page spread of a drawn map, covered with various native species, each acting out their own dramatic story.


A couple of these creatures are then explained in further detail within a complex composition that shows them excelling in their natural habitat. Letherland’s illustrations combine both controlled line work with textured ink washes, and she uses anthropomorphism selectively to provide humour and hidden detail that should entertain the reader. Lovesick bees, sledging penguins and sea lions making sandcastles can all be found in this atlas!


The text flows around the composition in short paragraphs, delivering intriguing facts and figures about the featured animal. Cut-away sections give further explanation and add to the intricate page design. It will probably take a child several sittings to read this suitably large book, as it introduces a wide range of animals, and countries. Children are shown that the humpback whales off the coast of Chile and the British honeybee are both magnificent creatures in their own way, and hopefully this book will help to encourage an appreciation of the world’s wildlife and lead to further investigation.


You may be interested in these reviews:

Natural World

What Do Grown Ups Do?


Edinburgh Comic Arts Festival

Friday, November 25th, 2016


OFFSET Dublin 2017

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

3 days, 60 speakers… a lifetime of inspiration

17 – 19 Feburary 2017
The Crucible Theatre, 55 Norfolk St, Sheffield, S1 1DA


Following a short break after OFFSET Sheffield this last October, OFFSET returns to Bord Gáis Energy Theatre this year with a stellar line up and will host a weekend packed with presentations, interview panel discussions and debates live on stage running from Friday the 17th to Sunday the 19th of February 2017.

With over 2,500 attendees to its Dublin event each year, OFFSET has fast become one of the worlds most inspirational, educational and vocational conferences for the design and creative industries. Representing industry at all levels, speakers are key disruptors and influencers in their fields, driving everything from huge global campaigns to awe inspiring personal projects and will speak about their work, ideas and inspirations, giving audiences an insight into their practices and personal perspectives on their careers over the course of the three-day event.

Illustration speakers include AOI Patron Marion Deuchars, Laura Carlin, Rod Hunt, Yasmeen Ismail and The Project Twins.

Tickets range from €115 to €200. OFFSET have an early bird offer going until this Wednesday November 30th. Ticket prices €195 or €165 for professional group, a 40% discount off full priced tickets! Get yours here now.

For more information on OFFSET visit their website.

Pictoplasma NYC 2016 – report from Yinfan Huang

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Five things I learned from Pictoplasma NYC 2016

This November, I was lucky enough to be given tickets from The Association of Illustrators (AOI) to attend the contemporary character design conference Pictoplasma in NYC. Originating in Berlin, this year marks the 13th consecutive Pictoplasma festival in Germany and 5th year visiting NYC since its inception. It was a full day of in-depth lectures, artists talks and animation screenings hosted by Parsons School of Design at The New School.


As an illustrator who works with both characters and sculptures, I was so thrilled to hear from some of the finest character-based artists working today, such as Jean Jullien, Ben Bocquelet, Julian Glander, Kirsten Lepore, Mr Kat, Martina Paukova, Motomichi Nakamura and You Jung Byun. I came away with countless pages of notes, inspiration, and thoughts to incorporate into my own work.


Below are the five key things among many others I learned from Pictoplasma NYC this year.

1. Minimalism is essential in character design; Most artists use simple shapes and limited colors to make their work come to life. Japanese-born artist Motomichi Nakamura relies on three colors (red, black and white) in his work to communicate a universal language. From there, he experiments with a variety of color effects, carefully balancing the color and compositions of his work.

2. Turn your weakness into your strength. I was surprised to hear more than one speaker said they “couldn’t draw”! One great example is French graphic artist Jean Jullien, who never studied illustration, claimed to have “a limited skill set,” but decided not to bother and instead chooses to focus on the graphic language and communication goals of his work. He also stressed that he kept experimenting and playing with different media until he found his signature style, a practice he continues to use today.

3. Travel and relocation also play a big part in an artist’s career – as someone who moved from China to New York, I can’t agree more with this one! Almost every speaker moved away from their home country in order to pursue their career. Illustrator Martina Paukova said moving from Slovakia to London shaped and pushed her to the top of her game. Spanish-born artist Jaime Alvarez (Mr Kat) has been living in Peru for many years and cited his cross-continental move for the changes in his thought process, as well as the fresh influences in the development of his work.

4. Social Media is the best and most helpful new way of getting work.

5. Make the work that is you. 3D artist Julian Glander, known for his vivid, colorful animated gifs, shared a story about making an editorial illustration for MIT Technology Review magazine; He submitted an illustration with color schemes he considered more “magazine-friendly,” only to have the art director reject it in favor of a color scheme truer to himself. Julian did, and they agreed that the result was all the better for it!


Thank you The Association of Illustrators and Pictoplasma for the amazing opportunity and great experience. I can’t wait to attend Pictoplasma festival in Berlin someday!

Yinfan Huang, illustrator twitter/instagram: @yinfanhuang


21st Annual Winter Exhibition

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

23 November 2016 – 31 January 2017

Illustration Cupboard 22 Bury St., St. James’s, London, SW1Y 6AL

Opening Night Reception Wednesday 23 November 4.00 – 8.00pm

The 21st Annual Winter Exhibition is a collection of modern and contemporary book illustration, and film animation artwork.

Angela Barrett - Beauty and the Beast

Angela Barrett - Beauty and the Beast

This year’s highlights include original artwork by the most talented and collectable illustrators in the world, including household names such as Quentin Blake, Anita Jeram, Anthony Browne, Maurice Sendak, Shirley Hughes, Judith Kerr, David McKee, Nick Park, Angela Barrett, Jane Hissey, Lauren Child, Axel Scheffler, John Lawrence, Shaun Tan, Angel Barrett, Edward Ardizzone, Jill Murphy and many other world-class illustrators.