The design courses blog for BA (Hons)
and HND Vis Comm at Edinburgh College

Bob Is No Animal

18 December 2014

It's the last college day of 2014 for our final year students, and today they were presenting 'Make Your Mark', a self-branding project. We normally run this brief as part of their portfolio production in preparation for going out on work placement in February, but with the Berlin trip taking place in the last week in January, we decided to bring it forward.

Branding yourself and creating something that feels fresh but has longevity and catches your personality and working style is always tricky for a designer. This year the results are as good as we've ever had, with lots of impressive thinking, experimentation and careful execution.

You can view some of the presented work on our Pinterest board, and here is a taster from a standout effort by Craigh Roberston, who kicked off the presentations with his 'Bob Is No Animal' mark - a clever working of his initials into a memorable design. The full set of finished visuals are on Craigh's Behance, but here are a few samples showing the development of the mark -

Visiting Time

10 December 2014

As well as all our project activity, over the past few weeks we've enjoyed a number of visits from industry practitioners and supporters of the course.

Back in November, Michael Heins from Lewis came in and did a talk (which you can read about here), and we also had a visit from Terry Smith, a designer at Peach in Glasgow, who graduated in 2012 and is a recent recruit to our 'Design Buddy' scheme. Terry brought in three years' worth of sketchbooks for our archive and shared some of his thoughts on design with our NC group.

Terry Smith juggling his sketchbooks.

More recently Prof. Keith McIntyre, the Reader in Visual Art and Interdisciplinary Practices at Northumbria University was visiting the Dept and dropped into the studio to see what we were doing. We also had day-long visit from Garry Kane, a designer at Storm Ideas, an offshoot of the award-winning Leith-based digital agency Storm ID, who specialise in viral marketing and experimental social media strategies.

Garry Kane offering some advice in the studio.

Garry graduated HND Interactive Design in 2010, and prior to Storm Ideas,  was part of the design team at the Union, (coincidentally, alongside Terry Smith) and worked on digital campaigns for some of Scotland's top brands. He presented his portfolio and talked about the relationship between digital design and front-end development, and how he has managed to bridge that gap in his own career.

Also in for a short visit and a spot of lunch was Mike Donoghue, whose experience in marketing and advertising has included stints at Saachti & Saatchi, WWAV Rapp Collins, and most recently, StoryUK.  Mike has been a long-time supporter of the course, but this was the first time he had actually visited the college to see the studio and meet students whilst they worked.

Talking Soap

28 November 2014

Nice video shot by our in-house film team covering our recent employer-engagement project for Scottish Soapworks.

Semester Review

27 November 2014

On Thursday we hosted the second of three mentor sessions held during each academic year. In attendance this time around were designers Walter Hamilton (Whitespace), Kate George (Kate George Design), Iain Lauder (IL), Michael Heins (Lewis), Sheryl Newsome (Story), Gregor Matheson (Realise), Graham Neish (Neish) and Sean Kinnear and Scott Burns (both from Blonde).

As well as reviewing the year so far, including our successful Scottish Soapworks packaging project, the students got the chance to get some useful advice on their current project - the ISTD Typography brief - and the upcoming D&AD New Blood Awards. The tutors also managed to talk everyone into doing a 30 minute brief on one of the Roses projects. Finally, we also announced that our end-of-year show in May 2015 will be held at one of Edinburgh's foremost gallery spaces - the Fruitmarket Gallery.

Here's a short documentary shown on the night about the recent employer engagement project, the one week brief for G.F Smith papers.

#oneweek Teams

22 November 2014

Our resident photographer Derek Anderson caught up with the One Week teams midway through their project work for G.F Smith Paper. Derek visited Edinburgh agencies Story, Whitespace, Lewis and Neish, and you can check out the full set of photos on our flickr.

Team Neish l/r - Joanna Swieton, Rachel Cameron, Sarah Wilson, Jakob Sebanski

Team Story l/r - Linard Andins, Alisha Horn, Dan Plunkett, Craigh Robertson

Team Whitespace l/r - Adrianna Matecka, Ally Muir, Emily Hubbard, Simon Griffiths

Team Lewis l/r - Sarah Diver-Lang, Kris Kubicki, Saulius Stebulis, Kinga K., Steph Dalzell.

Pitching #oneweek5

19 November 2014

Today the five design teams who worked on the 'One Week' agency project will present to the client, Paul Scharf of GF Smith papers. Paul set the brief two weeks ago, and along with one of our longest serving mentors, Iain Lauder, and Art Director Sheryl Newsome from Story, we'll see what each team came up with during their week. After the pitches the work will be exhibited in the college. Check out our flickr account for photos from the week, taken by Derek Anderson. You can also read our storify stream. Artwork samples from the project are also on our pinterest boards.

Re-imagining The FACE

7 November 2014

It's a tradition on our HND course to set the editorial project during October, and for the last couple of years we've concentrated on digital publishing.  This year the brief was to design a contemporary treatment for a relaunch of the FACE, the seminal 80s/90s culture magazine created by Nick Logan and designed by Neville Brody.

The assessment criteria for the project combined typography, art direction, user experience and digital imaging, plus a strong concept behind the styling, theme and tone which would meet the client requirements - a big challenge given the iconic provenance of the title.

Saulius Stebulis

Dan Plunkett

As well as a new masthead and cover, each student had to design a range of articles featuring interactive content such as animation, audio, video and kinetic type.  The work was then published using Adobe's Digital Publishing Suite for the iPad. The results look a little bit like this -

Sarah Diver-Lang - The FACE 

Alasdair Muir - The FACE 

Zsusi Slezak - The FACE 

Simon Griffiths - The FACE 

You can check out a selection of the covers on our Pinterest boards.  The full set of designs are published to the Adobe cloud and each student can share their publication on request.

One Week #5

5 November 2014

Our fifth 'One Week' project kicks of next Monday, and four Edinburgh based agencies - Lewis, Neish, Whitespace, and for the first time, Story - will each be taking a team of student designers into their studios for the week.

The client this year is GF Smith, the  Hull-based independent British company which has provided the creative community with quality paper since 1885.  GF Smith have sponsored our Visual Communication course in the past, (including the supply of Colorplan for our award-winning graduate show Say 2014), and the company's Specification Sales Manager Paul Scharf visited the studio today to meet the student teams, show off some samples from an amazing new line of paper, and of course set the brief.

We'll be documenting the student experience over the course of the week, and all the teams will pitch their solutions to Paul the following week.  We can't hardly wait.

Heins Sight

3 November 2014

Michael Heins, one of our mentors and a digital designer at Lewis, popped in to the studio on Friday to talk to our HND students. Lewis has been one of the key employers we've been lucky to worth with over the past six years that the mentor programme has been running, and a number of their team are regular mentors to our final year students. Originally we'd asked Michael to come in to talk about workflow, but on the day he delivered a much broader talk called  'Things I Would Have Liked Somebody To Tell Me When I Was A Student'.

Slide - Michael I. Heins

Michael, who has studied in Bremen, Istanbul and Edinburgh’s ECA and was lucky to benefit from a wide range of great teachers such as Erik Spiekermann, focussed on the key areas around the everyday activities of a designer. A central theme running through all of the points in his talk was the concept of 'Mise-en-place', a French phrase meaning literally 'putting in place', and referring to the set up a chef uses in the kitchen - selecting and sharpening their tools and organising the workspace, ingredients and resources. Michael sees this the perfect metaphor for the various strategies a designer should employ to get organised, to be able to eliminate distractions, and to allow multi-tasking, version control and time management, so that the creative process can flow unhindered but efficiently and to a given deadline.

Slide - Michael I. Heins

After the presentation, Michael took questions and really personalised the session with honest insightful answers that the students clearly found inspirational. He also talked at length about his extra-curricular activities, which include experimental digital media art, typeface design, running, and of course cooking.

Doing It Clean - Scottish Soapworks

30 October 2014

HND Graphic Design final year students pitched today to Jenny Smith and Rebecca Huntley from Scottish Soapworks, an Edinburgh-based company specialising in high quality handmade soaps, bath and body products. The brief was to come up with inventive packaging and promotional ideas for the company's handmade and organically-flavoured soap collection.

The class was organised into five teams of four, and each team had input and art direction from mentors at five of Edinburgh design agencies - Lewis, Multiply, Blonde, Family and Neish.  Each group was allocated 20 minutes to pitch in the studio, and then answer questions.  After the presentations, the work was exhibited in the college hub, where the tutors held a reception that included interviews, a photo-shoot, product sampling, and a marketing surveys carried out by our very helpful and enthusiastic first year students. Jenny then gave detailed feedback on each presentation, and was full of praise both for the ideas and the professional approach which external clients have come to expect from our student designers.

Blonde Digital, one of the agencies involved, also popped in to see the exhibition and lend some support to the students, and we've included samples from the Blonde teams' pitch.  Work from all five teams will soon be available on our pinterest boards, and the winning team will be announced next Wednesday.  Their ideas will then be put into production.

Team Blonde - 'Pick n Mix' - packaging, digital, outdoor.
Rachel Cameron, Craigh Roberston, Saulius Stebulis, Eweline Egbert, mentor Vicky Sinclair (Blonde Digital)

Design Success at the Scottish Digital Awards

24 October 2014

Jordan(left) and Mark receive their award from Metadigital Director John MacFarlane. Pic @Herald DBA.

We're celebrating a second national award in the space of week after three of our 2014 graduates lifted the student award at the 2014 Herald Scottish Digital Business Awards last night.

The event, held in Glasgow's Grand Central Hotel, gathered together more than 250 industry professionals as the industry recognised commercial success across Scotland in digital technologies and strategies. The evening was hosted by BBC Scotland's Catriona Shearer and featured talks from Mike Neilson (Head of Digital for the Scottish Government) and John Maxwell Hobbs (Head of Digital at BBC Scotland).

The student award, sponsored by metadigital, went jointly to our HND Visual Communication graduates Ryan Allan, Mark Phillips and Jordan Pollock for their Lockdown campaign at The Royal Albert Hall, a YCN project which "impressed the judges with its innovative, creative and distinctive branding."

This year the awards had a record entry, and the other shortlisted teams in the category came from Glasgow Caledonian University and Glasgow University.  Tutors Helena Good and Chris Hughes were there to celebrate the occasion, but unfortunately one of the winning trio, Ryan Allan, was on holiday in Tenerife. Thankfully, social media meant that he didn't have to wait long to find out the result!  The other shortlisted teams in the category came from Glasgow Caledonian University and Glasgow University.

David Craik, Partner at Bright Solutions and a judge on the panel, commented "This was an outstanding submission. It's unusual to see such strong conceptual work as well as a professional level of execution from such young designers."

We had some extra news to celebrate on the night as digital professional of the year award went to Scott Walker, of Edinburgh agency LEWIS, one of our longest serving mentoring agencies and supporters of the course.

- Full list of winners and gallery at the Digital Awards website
- Check out some of the visuals from the Lockdown submission here
- Read a report of the awards night in the Glasgow Herald

Dystopia - Penguin Book Covers

23 October 2014

The HNC recently presented their book cover project 'Dystopia'. They had to select three titles from a series of eight famous Dystopian-themed novels, and design the covers purely in typography. As part of the project, they also received useful input from our 'Design Buddies' - a pool of 10 of our recent graduates all working in industry.

Although the class came up with a wide range of great ideas, during the assessment we noticed that they all shared a common approach, fusing swiss style typographic rigour with a stripped down colour palette and a 90's-era grunge aesthetic.  This stylistic approach perfectly echoed the theme of the books. Two good examples of this messy minimalism came from Rumana Sayed and Kim Louden, both shown below. You can check out more of the work on Pinterest.

Rumana Sayed

Kim Louden

Best Educational Event 2014

9 October 2014

Class of 2014. Photo by Derek Anderson.

Edinburgh College, the design team and the class of 2014 are celebrating this week after picking up the award for Best Educational Event at the Scottish Event Awards 2014. Details of all the results are on the Scottish Events Awards website.

Mentor and Art Director on the project Alan Lennon accompanied tutor Chris Hughes and design students Dan Plunkett, Adriana Matecka and Saul Stebulis to the event at the Glasgow Marriott. The award recognised the quality and success of Say 2014  - our graduate show and industry night event held in May at Creative Exchange in Leith. The event attracted more than 100 creative industry professionals and showcased an amazing selection of design work by our graduating HND students.

Alan, one of our longest serving mentors, commented "It's been a privilege to work with these talented students in the planning and execution of  Say 2014. The process, discipline and professionalism they demonstrated is a testament to the quality of the design course and high level of tuition they receive. This prestigious award is a fitting recognition."

Say 2014 required a huge amount of support from all our mentors, industry supporters, colleagues and technical staff, and some amazing dedication and hard work by all of the class of 2014. Here's a reminder of the event -

Inspire CD Cover

6 October 2014

Our NC class gave their first full presentation today in the studio for 'Inspire' - a CD cover project we like to set every year for this class. NC Graphics is the foundation and entry year to our HN programme, and the focus is on process rather than product in the early stages.

The project produced lots or original thinking and some great artwork, as well as giving us an insight into the musical tastes of our fledgling designers. This effort by David Buchanan was suitably inspiring - an imagined compilation album by Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Ros, called 'Vonlenska' (the name of the invented language which the band write and sing in). The cover came wrapped in brown paper and contained a cover wallet plus a 16-page stitched booklet.  More examples will appear soon on our Pinterest boards.

Herald Scottish Digital Business Awards

26 September 2014

We're only a few weeks into the new session but we are already celebrating an award nomination. HND Graphic Design students Ryan Allan, Mark Phillips and Jordan Pollock, who graduated today at the Usher Hall in the College's annual ceremony, have had an entry shortlisted at the prestigious Herald Scottish Digital Business Awards, in the Student category.

Back in July, towards the end of their studies, the trio submitted 'Lockdown', a YCN project to encourage donations to the Royal Albert Hall.  The solution was an experimental guerilla campaign and event promotion, featuring some striking visual styling, an original events-driven idea, and some awesome UX design.

Lockdown promo visual

All three graduates have already successfully entered industry - Mark is currently working at Blonde Digital,  Jordan is a junior designer at Whitespace, and Ryan is a graphic designer at Mywebcare.  You can check out their Lockdown project sampler here.

About the Awards
Launched in 2009, the awards recognise the success of businesses large and small across Scotland producing commercial and creative work in digital technologies, design and media channels.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Thursday, October 23, 2014 at the Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow when Scotland’s most innovative businesses will come together in celebration of their achievements, so good luck to the guys.

Mentoring & Motivation

25 September 2014

Two excellent examples from the HND Motivation project, which students presented last night in the Studio at our first mentoring event of the 2014-2015 session.

Dystopian Design Buddies

23 September 2014

As if we aren't busy enough getting our HND class ready for the first Mentoring Evening of the session (Wed 24th), we're about to launch a new employer engagement strategy for the HNC group.

This new idea is the 'Design Buddies' programme, where students get to buddy-up with some of our recent graduates, who will then form a mentor-student relationship, popping into college to do crits and providing feedback and art direction on various projects. The idea is to get our HNC class acclimatised to working with industry people so that when they move into the final year and join the mentoring programme, the transition is less daunting and smoother. Initially we've asked ten of our former grads, all working in agencies across Edinburgh and Glasgow, to sign up to be a Design Buddy. First up for them to get their teeth into will be a book cover design project.

This project is set every year at HNC, and covers a lot of the techniques, ideas and process required for the Typography and Design in Context units at SCQF level 7.  Last year the project brief was to design covers for four classic Raymond Chandler novels.  This time around, we've decided to go with the theme of 'Dystopia'.  The brief asks the students to design three covers from list of eight titles suggested by the client, Penguin.  The solution needs to be purely typographic, and the titles must be part of a collectable series. The list includes works by the likes of George Orwell, Philip K. Dick, Marge Piercy and William Gibson.

The Design Buddies can expect a sizeable PDF in their inbox soon containing sketchbook ideas and early versions of design work for Dystopia.

Two Truths One Lie

22 September 2014

A couple of excellent examples today from the recent NC project 'Two Truths, One Lie' - based around exploring true and false personal statements and how these messages can be used to manipulate the emotional response of the target audience.

Adam Rauch - 'I Pay For'

Matthew White - 'I Have Never Watched Groundhog Day'

We Love Collaboration

29 August 2014

It was a busy induction week for all three of our Graphic Design groups. The HND and HNC classes (totalling 40 students) collaborated on a project which included a day-long workshop in screen-printing, led by one of our final-year students, Sarah Diver-Lang, who teaches printmaking and booking binding at Edinburgh Contemporary Crafts.

Sarah Diver-Lang demonstrates screen printing in R310.

With some screen-printing skills under their belts, in teams of four, the students explored a word or phrase and then produced a set of scamps and a bunch of A3 posters showing off their concepts. For many it was their first introduction to a more traditional approach to design execution - and certainly a messier one than we normally see in the studio. We'll put some of the work up from the project on Pinterest later this week.

Studio pics by Tanis Grandison

Our new NC class also got in on the activities by exhibiting a series of 16 A2 moodboards which they'd worked on during the week as part of their 'Colour Me Impressed' project. These samples give a pretty good indication of some great exploration of colour, mood and tone :

Red by Adam Rauch

Spectrum by Lindsay Walker 

Orange by Hannah Lark
There are more moodboard samples on our Pinterest Boards.