Dane Shitagi

I’ve just added Dane Shitagi to my list of favorite photographers.

His style is very subtle and elegant. He does a lot of black and white photography as well.

One of his projects is called the ballerina project and since I have grown up in that world/industry, I fell in love with it from the first few photos I saw.

Personal branding

Branding is very significant for any kind of product or service. We are all a certain kind of product/service ourselves and we brand ourselves everyday, with the way we talk, the clothes we wear, etc. And according to Dr. Gregory House, “We are who people think we are.”

Yesterday, we discussed personal branding and focused on how we brand our personal website.

You brand yourself and your website to get noticed, to say something unique about your personality, to personalize the website, and to display your strengths, skills, and values.

Firstly, you have to think about your brand name, as in what you will use as the title of the website: your first name, your full name, your initials, etc. Then you have to decide what to put after your name, which tells visitors what you do (art director, copywriter, graphic designer, etc.)

Personal branding can be one of the most difficult things you will have to do. (Probably a little more difficult than writing a personal statement for your CV.)

Once you have your personal brand/logo, you can apply it to your personal website, business card, blog, CV, etc.

Remember, how you brand yourself will be the representation of who you are.

In class, we looked at a number of graphic design student websites and discussed on whether the branding works or not. Here are some good and bad examples. (Click on the images to enter website.):

I personally think that this one’s beautiful. The handwriting is feminine and it adds character to the site. It also predicts the style of her work. The whole site is clean and easy to navigate.

Mark’s style is very different from Sophie’s but his website is also clean and easy to the eyes. It is also very simple and easy to navigate. I like how he sticks with the same blue color throughout the whole site. Color is pretty significant when it comes to branding. The only part I dislike is how you have to keep scrolling down to check out more information.

This website simply looks like a forum. The background looks like it’s a template he’s copied from somewhere. There is nothing there that hints that he’s a graphic designer.

When I first visited this website, I didn’t see the button at the bottom of the page due to the size of the screen. So I waited and waited for the site to finish loading. When I finally saw the button, I was confused that maybe that was a button for access from mobile phone. Once you’ve entered, things do not get better. There is no more reference to the iPhone, which is replaced by metal plates. There are a lot of mistakes due to carelessness (two “Home” buttons, for example).

The followings are examples of personal websites of some of my favorite photographers. I’ve grouped them together, since they have similar style.

Here are some examples of personal websites of illustrators/graphic designers. Notice how they implement their skills into the way they brand their website:

Andy Rudak’s personal website represents the style of his photography:

And lastly, here are some personal websites of typographers. Their design is very subtle and text-based; it doesn’t distract visitors’ attention from what they want them to see.:

This talk session really made me rethink about my personal website. I have always wanted it very clean and to focus on my work/profile than the design of the website itself. But maybe it’s a little too plain.

So I designed myself a logo:

I want to subtly show that I am interested in both visual and copy. I add a little femininity with the stroke on my name and the second part makes it look a little modern but not too modern.

After finally having my own logo, I pick a new font for my website. I wanted to use a special uncommon font, but the font only shows on computers with that particular font installed. So I picked a more common one that looks similar.

Then I applied the color orange to all the links for when the cursor hovers above them.

Typography in Advertising

We just had a talk session on the use of typography in advertising the other day in class.

Typography is basically a form of art; a design or an arrangement of text to enhance an idea and create visual impact.

Some say typography is “the clothes that words wear” or “painting with words”. It is also described as “an expressive art in which the emotional content of ideas is reflected in the manipulation of the form”.

When you decide to use typography in your ad, it has to extend the idea in some ways or else your ad is better off without it. Some typography works as a visual pun.

Each font/typeface gives you a certain feeling, so you should use that to your advantage when choosing one.

In class, we looked at some typographers.

My favorite is Alison Carmichael. She does a lot of good free-hand and beautiful pieces.

Another good one is Herb Lubalin.

Here’s an article David R. Brown wrote on him: www.aiga.org/content.cfm/medalist-herblubalin

Here are some examples of his work. Notice how he always has a good idea behind every piece of work that helps convey a message or mood.

Other typographers we talked about include Neville Brody (whose work is just design but has no idea/message), David Carson (whose style is mostly deconstruction of typefaces, texts, and grid), and Marian Bantjes (whose work is very delicate and detailed).

Experimental typography have explored ideas and experimented with materials using both 2D and 3D techniques.

“Temporary Type” by Oded Ezer

“Tortured Letters” by Oded Ezer

Then we looked at different examples of how typography is used in advertising and its effects. Here are some examples:

In this ad, the use of typography complements the idea. The target audience is parents, and with this typography, they can really relate to the ad. It will remind them of their kids’ homework. The colors contrast with the dark message the ad intends to send, which highlights the kids’ innocence. Reading this, the parents will be reminded that their kids really do copy everything they do because they view them as their role models. The drops of water signifies tears, which gives you the imagery of parents reading this ad after losing their own kid for this reason.

The typography in this ad makes you feel busy and all crammed up, which helps convey the message and complements the idea. It makes you feel instead of just telling. The use of caps lock gives a sense of urgency which supports the message. The scribbled handwriting in the background also helps with the effect. The whole ad feels heavy and uncomfortable.

This is an example of a bad use of typography in an ad. It gives the ad an oriental feel, which makes it look like an ad for noodles. The big chunk of text, which is all crammed up together, is difficult to read and I personally wouldn’t sit through the whole thing. And if the audience does not read through the text, they will never understand the idea behind the ad. The typography also makes the text look like some add-on information that does not really matter. The original idea is pretty good but the art direction killed the idea completely.

Here are some more examples of typography in advertising:

To view more or for more information, visit: http://bestphotoshoptutorials.net/2009/03/19/40-examples-of-beautiful-typography-in-advertising-design/



http://www.fontshop.com/education/ (This website offers a pdf download of their booklet.)

RSS, Facebook and LinkedIn icons

Here are the icons I just made for my boyfriend’s new blog: www.catowg.com/blog.

He had very specific needs about what he wanted. He already had an icon for Twitter that says “follow me” so he wanted the whole collection to be on the same theme.

So I Googled up an image for RSS icon:

I opened that file in Adobe Illustrator and redrew the image and picked the color. Then I chose a new font for the icon to match with the existing Twitter icon. (Note: always do texts in Illustrator and not Photoshop, as the quality of texts done in Illustrator is much better than in Photoshop.)

After that, I opened that file in Photoshop to edit the gradient and embossment.

I really wasn’t sure of how I was supposed to edit it correctly but with my restricted knowledge of both programs, this is how I cheated.

Then I did the same for Facebook and LinkedIn.

10 updates from the creative industry

Here is a link to 10 most popular stories from Design Taxi this week:


It features:

1. Path – social networking for the exclusive

2. Google does fashion

3. Apple’s homepage claiming “Tomorrow is just another day. That you’ll never forget.”

4. A list of “most notorious” markets for pirated music

5. Reimagination of Facebook design

6. TIME’s top inventions of 2010

7. Graffiti on iPhone

8. Redesign of London bus

9. First videogame on YouTube

10. Finalists for NYC taxi redesign

Officers Club advert

I worked on it with my creative partner, Eugene Petrusenko.

This idea was inspired by a Russian standup.

The main idea is that: Which part of you really is you? You have genetically inherited most things from your parents. You can look into the mirror and get used to what you see, but that face is not yours by choice. So what you really are largely depends on how you think, how you live, and how you look

This is our first time working on a TV advert. I never knew it was this difficult to come up with an idea for television. I think I was so used to coming up with ideas for print that I had to change my mindset a little bit. It took a while though.

At first, I was really stressed out because we didn’t seem to be able to come up with a decent idea. We had ideas, but just those that didn’t work. I think most of our ideas were just us trying to say that Officers Club is a cool brand. But I remember Luke Sullivan suggesting in Hey Whipple, Squeeze This that we shouldn’t tell, but show. I think that the final idea that we picked is what he was talking about.

We had a lot of talks about the brand. We weren’t that impressed after visits at their stores. We also didn’t really like the t-shirts they sell (those with nasty quotes on them) because even though they are only 20-30% of all the things they offer but they are enough to destroy the brand image. So we try to focus on the ‘cool’ factors of the brand.

After we had the idea we both liked, things started to get better.

At first, Richard, the “music producer” took back his offer to help because we didn’t contact him back (but that was only because we didn’t have any idea). But I wrote a long and nice email to him apologizing and asking for his help, we received a positive reply. However, after sending him our storyboard and script, he disappeared for around a week. We tried emailing him, but only around three days before the due date, he replied that he was working on the music but couldn’t guarantee that it would be done on time. In the end, it turned out that the music he made for us was not what we wanted at all, we tried to explain to him what kind of music we were looking for and even gave him sample tracks, but he still couldn’t achieve our goal. So we only kept his voice as the voiceover, which was professionally recorded in a studio, and I decided to mix the music myself. I mixed tracks from the movie Requiem for a Dream together with The Prodigy’s Omen, and it turned out really satisfying. I used the program Garageband, which I have never used much before. Mostly, I learned it through experimenting and Googling up tutorials. And now I am quite a pro!

We went to the photography department in Mandella to borrow a tripod, but encountered some difficulties. They wouldn’t lend us anything unless we got a signature from our tutor. That was the week that we were off from class, so we weren’t sure where Neil and Kay would be. We tried emailing Neil (our tutor) but the email couldn’t be sent. So I decided to run to Blandford Square to check if anyone was in. And Kay (our other tutor) was, so we got the signature we needed and got the tripod, only to find out that the tripod Eugene had ordered earlier was just delivered in the mail.

We also went to Dance City to ask if we could film some of their dancers and one lady at the reception said that would be no problem and told me to contact the manager of Dance City. I did and she was a massive help but due to the bad timing, things didn’t work out as I had hoped. We had to sign some forms in order to film on their property, but the manager said that the forms would be ready on Monday the 15th, which we thought would be too late. So we went in to Dance City anyway and planned to ask whether the dancers could meet us outside for us to film. We met a really nice dance crew who agreed to be filmed, but they lived far away so it wouldn’t be convenient for us to meet outside of Dance City some other day. We couldn’t film outside on that day we met them because it was already getting dark. So we decided to film them inside of Dance City anyway because we didn’t see any “office people” around. Everything turned out well. All the dancers were really eager to please the camera. Even one young dancer’s father joined in.

We had been trying to contact the parkour society in Newcastle but never received a reply. Luckily, one “bboy” at Dance City knew one of them, so he told us where and when they usually train. We went there and found them pretty easily. They agreed to help without hesitation and were very helpful.

In the beginning, we had one person in mind to do Kung Fu for us, but he quit the class he used to go to with Eugene before we could talk to him. So we asked someone else to do it for us. His style might not be as cool as the first guy but he was good nonetheless. He was a student at Newcastle College as well, and was terribly nice about everything.

For the clubbing scene, Eugene was afraid it might be difficult to ask someone at the club to dance for the camera but I thought it was worth a try. Eugene was sick that night so I went without him. It turned out that people loved cameras. The only problem I had was that there wasn’t enough light (in the room where there was enough light there wasn’t enough people).

At first we planned to use iMovie but it turned out that iMovie didn’t have the features/techniques we wanted in our video. So we decided to use Adobe Premiere Pro instead. The program is amazing, even though it’s much more difficult to use than iMovie, but the features it provides are worth it.

I think I have had the most fun with this project because of the production process. I have learned how to get what I want simply by being nice and asking people for it; to communicate and keep relationships with “useful” people.

The video editing is one of the most stressful parts of the whole process. There are some disagreements on what we wanted. Also, it was difficult to match the music, voiceover and video together. The results are pretty satisfying though.

The presentation went really well (even though I stuttered a little) but the clients loved the advert, which is what’s most important!

How to write a covering letter

Last week, for PPD we had a session on how to write a covering letter.

A covering letter what what the companies will read before your CV. It’s to explain the purpose of your writing to them. If you’re contacting them via email, the covering letter is preferably in the email and not an attachment sent along with a blank email. (Yes, people do actually do that.)

In the covering letter, you will introduce yourself, your interest in the company, and what you’re looking for (placement/portfolio viewing and advice/freelance work/job).

There are basically three paragraphs: 1. telling who you are and what you do, 2. telling what you can do for them, and 3. what you want.

In the first paragraph, don’t forget to give your unique selling points.

In the second paragraph, you should show your knowledge and interest in the company. Talk about recent campaigns they’ve done, recent TV commercials, etc. Be open and honest. And don’t talk about every single thing you can find on their website. Pick a couple of things that you’re really interested in. This will be a good chance to give examples of why you think you’d be perfect for the job.

At the end of the email/letter, you need to seek to gain a response. Invite them to contact you back, tell them when you’ll be available to work, when it is best to contact you, and mention the CV you have attached with the email.

Here are some tips for when you write:

  • Get to the point
  • Be original
  • Cut out unnecessary or generic things
  • Use active voice
  • Be quick and simple
  • Check spelling
  • Find out who you are writing to and their title

The tone of voice has to be more professional than a regular email you’d send to your friends. But it doesn’t have to be too formal.

After you’ve sent in your covering letter and CV, make sure you follow up on it. Make sure they get it and respond.

Here’s an example of a covering letter:

Covering letter example 1

The person begins the letter by mentioning to a placement that the company has advertised and at the same time introduces how he/she can offer to the company. In the same paragraph, they introduce what they do and their attributes. They also mention their education background and work experience (which will probably be further explained in their CV). However, I notice that they didn’t include their name.

In the second paragraph, they continue to speak about their personal attributes but this time they apply those attributes to how they’re going to help/offer the company. Notice they mention a type of work from the company that they like and they use that to say how they’d fit in because it is of their interest.

In the third paragraph, they mention again their education background and explain their time schedule. They also summarize the whole letter in that paragraph.

Then they mention the attached CV and invite the company to contact them back.

However, they end the letter with “Yours faithfully” which should be used when you don’t know the name of the person you’re writing to. In this case, they do, so it should have been “Yours sincerely” instead.

Personally, I think it is pretty well written and sounds enthusiastic, but it is way too long. I don’t think the companies will have enough time and patience to sit through the whole letter. I think they can still cut the words down a bit more.