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

Pitching to the Panel

27 November 2015

After a tough but exciting week, our design teams will be pitching to our creative panel from 1pm today.

The five teams worked for the week with Lewis, Realise, Teviot, the Union, and Whitespace, and took on 'Fortune Favours the Brave', D&AD's own brief in the 2016 New Blood Awards.

Team Whitespace - a late one last night getting their presentation finalised.

The panel - Sheryl Newsome, Gerry Farrell and Alan Ainsley - won't be aware which team worked at which agency during the presentations.  Some of our mentors and Partnership colleagues will also be attending and they'll get to sit in on every pitche, so we should have a really exciting piece of employer engagement.  And of course a bunch of brilliant ideas to look at and assess.

Fortune Favours The Brave

19 November 2015

Our final year students popped up to the rather awesome Whitespace studios today in central Edinburgh to get briefed on the new one week project.

This will be our 7th One Week, and this time around we have five teams of design students working alongside five of Edinburgh's top agencies - Lewis, Realise, Teviot, the Union and Whitespace.  The client this year is none other than D&AD, and the students will be tackling the brief which D&AD have included in the New Blood Awards for 2016 - 'Fortune Favours The Brave'.

Senior Designer at Whitespace Neil Walker and Creative Director Adam Smith did a couple of inspiring talks to the teams, and the project formally kicks off on Monday, with the presentations on Friday. As an added twist this year, we've assembled an independent panel of creatives to assess the results when the teams present.

Sheryl Newsome (Deputy Creative Director at Story), Alan Ainsley (a former Creative Director of the Leith Agency) and Leith Agency legend Gerry Farrell (now running Gerry Farrell Ink) will be the judging panel.  We've also got Greig Anderson from Freytag Anderson reviewing the presentations once the project is over to provide some extra feedback to our students.

You can follow the project on social media with the hashtag #oneweek7 and on Storify.

D&AD setting the tone for #oneweek7

One of the teams, happy to be here outside Whitespace.

Getting organised at Whitespace.

Neil Walker talking shop.

A team discussion already?!

Celebrity Spreads

15 November 2015

Some nice examples from 'Celebrity Spreads' - an HNC Graphics typography project focussing on print editorial design. The requirements - a celebrity photo, a full bleed layout, and a few hundred words.

Blonde - Christina Giannakou

Fassbender - Dora Bowman

Jaar - Ildiko Rohonka

Florence - Sarah Mary Macrae

Just Traditional Types

13 November 2015

Each year we make a pilgrimage to Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders to visit Robert Smail's Printing Works.

Founded in 1866, Robert Smail's Printing Works provided quality printed materials to Scotland for 120 years until its closure in1986, when the property was taken over by the National Trust for Scotland. It remains the only operational jobbing printer of its kind in country, and represents an important part of Scotland's industrial heritage.

This year we made two visits, one with our NC Graphics group, and a second visit with both HNC Graphics and HNC Interactive Design. The team at Robert Smail's gave each group a brilliant tour of the workshop, from the type specimens, printing press machinery and letterpress to the extensive and fascinating archive. The students also got a chance to typeset their own names in metal type and then letterpress print the results.

A visit to this amazing workshop is a bit like going back in time, and the traditional machinery, techniques and experience of working with real type is still a key ingredient in design education that we find inspires student designers and informs their the modern digitally-orientated typographical work in their projects.

All pics by Chris Radley, HNC Graphic Design

Buddy Nights

30 October 2015

Our first Buddy Night of the 2015/2016 session took place last night, with a full house in the studio and an inspirational vibe.

The Buddy concept is an additional to our Mentoring Programme, where designers who have graduated from the course come back to work with our Year One students on their projects, portfolio building and employable skills. Placements, networking and confidence-building are all part of the end result. This year our buddies include junior and middleweight designers from agencies such as Multiply, Primate, Skyscanner, RockStarNorth, Hookson, The Lane, and Whitespace.

Photos by Helena, including the selfie.

Branding Gorebridge Beacon

29 October 2015

One of Scotland’s most striking new building projects took a big step  towards reality recently with the help of two of our student designers.

'Gorebridge Beacon' aims to provide a suite of affordable business space for rental on subsidised terms with meeting rooms, flexible conferencing and learning space, a community cafe, a Sure Start nursery and a youth space, giving the town of Gorebridge a major boost.

The volunteer-led charity behind the currently-under-construction £2.2m Gorebridge Beacon centre, set to open next year, worked with final-year design students Rhys McGeary and Liam Henderson to create a new brand identity for the centre. The brief was to create an identity that symbolised the mission of the new centre - to give people in the local area a new start and make their lives better.

The students worked on the project over the summer in collaboration with Stephen Fraser at Midlothian Council and the Gorebridge Community Development Trust. Stephanie Walker, co-chair of the Trust, praised the collaboration.

"By working together, we’ve got a really professional product and the students have got something really solid in their portfolios. Given all the Trust is doing, making this centre work is and continues to be a challenge for our small volunteer-led trust and that won’t get any easier when we open our doors as we will have difficult targets to reach. That’s where a good brand identity and excellent promotional work will pay off. The brand identity will now be used across the centre’s website, social media presence, signage and promotional material. "

The Brand

Rhys “The client brief was really interesting but challenging, because it offers so many different things, from the cafe to conference venues and offices for hire, the audiences are all ages, from school pupils, to teenagers right up to older people, from charities to professional businesses. The trust were also clear that they wanted something that reflected both the building, its name, and its ambitious social purpose. "

Liam “Getting a design right involved a lot of discussion while ensuring that the end product had purpose and meaning. We worked on four different creative routes and whittled that down to the final one after a number of meetings and presentations. Hopefully it will help the client achieve their purpose in helping people get more familiar with the centre and more likely to use it.”

The building of the £2.2m centre has been funded from grants provided by the Big Lottery Fund, Social Investment Scotland and Midlothian Council.

Multiply This

23 October 2015

Graphic Design student Alex De Sousa was fortunate enough to land a two-week summer placement at award-winning agency Multiply.  At the start of this term, Alex gave his thoughts on the experience and explained how two weeks turned into five.

Multiply's Charlie Boyle (left) with Alex De Sousa.

What was the creative task that won you the placement?

The brief was to create conceptual ideas for a viral video marketing campaign to launch a new Naturelly drink into the public’s eye. I worked alongside another student, Toni Gomez, and we presented an idea that would look to explode kids heads into fruit after a quick inhalation of the juice. The idea, as crazy as it sounds, ended up winning.

What did you know about the agency beforehand?

I had previously worked with Multiply on the Innis & Gunn One Week project so I knew Charlie Boyle, who is a mentor on our course.  Two graduates from the course, Emma Hart and Steph Dalzell, are also designers there.  A few hours in the agency and a look at the website revealed the massive success they have had with clients such as Heinz, Tennents and most of the Kimberly Clark family brands (Huggies, Pull Ups, Dry Nites etc).

What were your thoughts on the first day?

‘Holy shit this is real!’ was probably the first thing that ran through my head waiting in reception to be welcomed in. The place is impressive from the get go, a huge space which is misleading from the outside. After a quick introduction to the design team Toni and I were given the task to stretch our concept and then start piecing it back together into different scenarios. We were working towards a presentation at the end of the week to the managing partner of Multiply and owner of the product, Dean Dempsey.

How did the presentation go?

We had everything drawn up on a whiteboard in one of the meeting rooms and we basically took him through everything. The ideas that were presented on that day weren’t received as well as the originals. The idea had evolved into more storytelling, taking the children on an imagination journey through the world of Naturelly but Dean didn’t feel as if this was going to suit the product as well as the initial ideas. He felt that keeping it short and simple in a vine format would suit the playfulness of the product better.

Tell us about your extra weeks in the agency.

The week started by getting myself acquainted with an insanely-hard to use graphic tablet, quite a task if you have never touched one before! With that out of the way, a brief came onto my desk called a 'quickie' - a task that is intended to take no longer than half an hour focusing on amending existing work to the client's specification. It was probably one of the most basic things I have ever been asked to do in Photoshop, changing the copy of a web banner for Huggies. Even though it was easy it took me close to an hour to make sure I was doing it correctly. At the time the studio was extremely busy because some of the designers were on holiday, so the first task set off a domino effect of briefs coming my way, so I also had to manage workflow.

The work ranged from amends on all sorts of banners, web design layouts and brand guidelines from a range of clients. The first week passed in a flash, and before I knew it I was offered to stay on for an extra three weeks to help out. One of the biggest and most tedious briefs I worked on was amending 12 brand guideline booklets consisting on average of about 50 pages. All in all it took me about four days to complete, as draining as the project was the experience was invaluable in terms of learning my way around the shortcuts and advanced features of InDesign and Photoshop.

What did you take from the placement that will help you in the year ahead?

There was a lot of valuable insight into how an agency works that I will take into my practice, one of the biggest things is that work will never go into digital production without scamped visuals. It’s all too easy to jump onto the computer and start designing before you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. A really important thing is also how files are built and packaged, you don’t realise the importance of it until there are multiple people working on the same file.

Alex is currently completing his final year in HND Visual Communication and hopes to pursue a career in Creative Advertising and travel the world.

Huge Reads

21 October 2015

Recent sales figures in the US have confirmed that readers are returning to the printed word as ebook sales start to decline, so our annual book cover design project feels surprisingly relevant this year. This time around the project was 'Huge Reads' - a proposed Penguin initiative to persuade readers to tackle bigger books that might be challenging, time-consuming, difficult or perhaps just literally too heavy to carry around. The students had to select three titles from a series of seven classic novels of more than 700 pages, and design the covers purely in typography.

A good example that blends the literary themes with minimalism and a sense of 'huge' expanse and drama came from Hannah Bleck, who chose George Eliot's Middlemarch, Melville's Moby Dick, and Tolstoy's epic Anna Karenina.

The jacket blurbs on the back are left-ranged and spaced right across the page, whilst the front covers each feature subtle tweaks to typography with a classic-looking serif typeface and brooding colour scheme.  A bigger selection of work from this project will be going on our pinterest boards soon.

Kirsten On Mentoring

16 October 2015

Some nice words about the course from Kirsten Murray, who was interviewed during our Mentoring Evening recently.

Kirsten, a senior designer at Teviot, is a former graduate from our HND course and has been a mentor since 2010.  Teviot agreed this year to become one of our course sponsors through the Partnership Initiative, and no less than seven of their creatives have signed up to mentor our students.

Working in Partnership

2 October 2015

Creatives from some of Edinburgh's top agencies and studios - Skyscanner, Teviot, Realise, Multiply, The Union, Blonde, Lewis, Whitespace, Lennon, Neish and Edinburgh District Council - came along to the design studio at the Granton Campus last night to meet our new crop of final year students and kick off this years' Mentoring Programme.

The evening began with our new Partnership agencies meeting the College Principal Annette Bruton, and signing their Partnership posters down in the Hub area. We'll post up official photos and a short film of this soon.

Up in the studio Design Tutor Helena Good gave a talk on the history of the Mentoring Programme, and presented some project-work related to our successful end-of-year show back in May, at the Fruitmarket Gallery. Founding Mentor Ian Farmer then spoke about the development of the programme from its inception in 2009.  The mentors then got a chance to meet their students, and look over examples from the most recent brief, the DMA Breakthrough Award project for East of England Co-Op.

A 2013 graduate Luke Milne, wasn't able to attend on the night, but sent through an inspirational message about the merits of our programme, along with a short film about motivation.

Finally, we gave the groups one of our traditional 20-minute briefs.  This year we set them the gargantuan task of trying to 'Save Volkswagen'.  All the solutions were clever, amusing and in some cases probably worth sharing with the client. Well done to all.

Aiste Plechaviciute and Mentor Conan Johnstone (Whitespace).

Mat Chojnowski (Whitespace) and Ignacy Nawroki hard at work saving a famous brand.

Alex De Sousa and Teviot's Creative Director Kristian Labak deep in thought.

Kristian and Alex's solution was an interesting tweak to the client mark.

Kiera Winfield and Kat Summers (Teviot).

Rhys McGeary, Skyscanner's Judson Cowan, and the Union's Neven Crljenal (reading the brief).

Alan Lennon, one of our longest-serving Mentors, with student Sarah Tucker.

Not Another Mentor Evening

30 September 2015

Tomorrow we are hosting the first Mentor evening of the new session. Our final year students will get to meet their assigned mentors and show them some of their current work, including the DMA Breakthrough Award brief which they've almost finished.

This year we've got mentors from the likes of Realise, Lewis, Story, Whitespace, Teviot, Multiply, Blonde, Equator,  IL Design, Neish, Lennon Design and the Union.

The evening will also see the launch of our Partnership Initiative, where a number of those aforementioned agencies are signing up as official sponsors of the course. This is the latest development in our award-winning Mentoring Programme, and it represents a new way to look at employer engagement in Further Education. Affiliated agencies and studios will share in our curricular objectives, working alongside our students as buddies, mentors, project directors and placement liaisons.

The event runs from 6-9pm and the format for the evening is -

6.00-6.30pm Reception in Hub, launch of the Partnership Initiative
6.30-7.00pm Mentoring presentation and discussion in R310
7.00-8.00pm Presentation/feedback on the DMA brief with individual mentors
8.00-8.30pm 30 minute brief
8.30-8.45pm Review

We're exhibiting samples of past final projects in the Hub, and recent graduate Alasdair Muir also provided the identity for the project.

Talkin' About Our Work

29 September 2015

During our end-of-year Show at the Fruitmarket Gallery, we interviewed industry leaders Iain Valentine (Whitespace), Judson Cowan (Skyscanner), James Jefferson & Patrick Bjorkman (Equator), and graduating student Dan Plunkett (now a designer at Equator). We loved what they had to say about our students, the course, and the event, so over the summer our students took some of the quotes from those interviews and turned them into short typographic films.  The one featured here, by Kiera Winfield, is a great piece of work and will be shown later this week at our Mentoring Event.

You can also watch the interviews here.

Class of 2015

28 September 2015

Our class of 2015 graduated on Friday at the Usher Hall!

Techshare 2015

14 September 2015

On Thursday and Friday of last week, four of our HND students attended the Techshare Europe 2015 event at the Glasgow Science Centre.

The conference, now in its 4th year, attracts a wide range of international speakers and industry experts and promotes discussion and debate on wearable technology and digital access and engagement.

The speaker lineup featured Nick Cain and Kiran Kaja (Google), Daniel Hubble (Microsoft), Richard Moreton (Samsung), Steve Bennett (Dolphin), Thibault PĂ©ant (Claria), Chris Yiu (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations), Jamie Chen-Pensley (Catapult Transport Systems) and Gary O'Donaghue (BBC Washington Correspondent).

Student teams from Duncan of Jordanstone, Glasgow Caledonian University, Napier University, Glasgow School of Art, Abertay University and Edinburgh College were involved in the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) Innovation Challenge. The students worked on a brief for the RNIB Group, producing ideas in digital experience to tackle the challenges facing blind and partially sighted people and pitched their solutions at the end of the conference.  You can check out how Techshare happened on their Storify board.

Tutor Helena Good with our Techshare team - Hannah Johnson, Rumana Sayed, Liam Henderson, Rhys McGeary.