Last month I graduated from the University of Ulster, Belfast in BDes (Hons) Design for Visual Communication. Including foundation and placement year, it’s been five years; a lot of work but a lot of fun too. It’s time to enter the real world now.


New Blood is D&AD’s annual exhibition of the best graduating talent from across the UK. Five of us from uni traveled to London and exhibited our work; Chris Dunlop, Ronan Lunney, Heather Browne, Winnie Shek and myself.

With around 100 booths, and a lot of amazing work on show, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. Our booth had a minimal approach, playing with the theme of miniature. We each created separate mini exhibitions, within card boxes, to showcase our work. This invites the viewer to peep in and engage with our work at a close level. We were really excited to hear we were nominated for ‘Best Stand’.

Some close up shots of my box. The top ‘gallery’ shows my RAP N RECIPE project.

   The bottom peep holes show the ‘cinema room’ where my ‘Time Well Spent’ animation played on a constant loop. Check it out here, if you weren’t able to catch the peepshow in London.

OffsetOffset Ji Lee At the weekend, I went to Offset in Dublin! I wasn’t as fortunate as last year when I went for the 3 days but I had a pretty full Saturday with the day ticket. An early wake up at 5:30AM and a late return at 11:30PM, sandwiched with 8 hours of talks… it was a busy day. There were usually two talks happening at the one time so you would have to pick and choose who you would like to see.


Ben Newman

I hear Hvass & Hannibal gave a really great talk, but I missed it to attend ‘Routes Into Illustration with Ben Newman’ in the second room. It was a casual and informal conversation with Steve Simpson, where the small audience got to ask questions. He spoke of the start of his career and the importance of creating the right environment for work when you are self employed, recommending surrounding yourself with creatives, and people whose opinion you can trust.

Ben Newman and Steve Simpson both agreed that separation is needed between your work and your personal life. They both work in studios, some distance from their homes, citing that it’s a much more healthy way to work. He also talked about what it was like having an agent; it allows him to focus more on what he likes to do. Seeing as they get perhaps a 30% cut on any jobs, you need to make them work for that money, he urged us, don’t be feeling obliged to have a lot of back and forth with the client yourself or deal with the finances as that’s what they’re for. He also advocated pumping your agent with new work constantly to keep yourself at the forefront of their minds as they do have a lot of other illustrators as well.

He has had a lot of success with Nobrow, and this started initially as an unpaid job. When they first contacted him, they were a smaller start-up and he could easily have missed this opportunity.

“Working for free can sometimes be beneficial, especially if you can have a lot of the control.”

Nobrow Press

The Stone Twins

Declan and Garech Stone presented their innovative approach to branding, showing their work for MassiveMusic, as well as Usual Suspects.

MassiveMusicUsual Suspects

They also talked about the revised edition of their book LOGO: R.I.P – A Commemoration of Dead Logotypes. They say it’s unlike most design books as there’s actual reading in it. This book pays tribute to the logotypes which are no more due to rebranding, bankruptcy or mergers, as well as providing a detailed back story. If this is your cup of tea, you can buy it here.

Logo RIP

Ji Lee

Ji Lee was one of my favourite speakers of the day, and I wouldn’t be alone with this view. His uplifting talk about the power of personal projects would inspire anyone. Once he realised “I can make anything happen” he has really made it happen. His personal projects have transformed his life, informing and complementing his professional work.

The impressive ‘Word as Image’ project began as a college project which Lee continued to add to over the years from graduating. Creating an image out of a word, using only the letters, he has created dozens which are showcased in the book, available here.

To give you a taste of this project, this beautiful short animation shows off the words well.

Another interesting project he spoke of, which you may have seen, was The Bubble Project. Lee printed off 50,000 stickers in the shape of speech-bubbles and started placing them on top of ads on the streets. Left blank, anyone could fill them in.

Our communal spaces are being overrun with ads. Train stations, streets, squares, buses and subways now scream one message after another at us. Once considered “public” these spaces are increasingly being seized by corporations to propagate their messages. We the public, are both target and victim of this media attack.

The Bubble Project instantly transform these annoying corporate monologues into open public dialogues. They encourage anyone to fill them in with any expression, free from censorship. More Bubbles mean more freed spaces, more sharing of personal thoughts, more reactions to current events, and most importantly, more imagination and fun.


Some words of wisdom he left us with:

Never make a career decision based on money
Only work with people you respect
Don’t feel precious about any idea

Louise Fili

Eagerly anticipated, Louise Fili had a full and vibrant talk, packed full of beautiful artwork and great descriptions. She would talk us through her approach. If creating a logo and packaging for food, she would learn how it is made and this would help inform her design. The rebrand for American Spoon reflects how they pick only the best berries in this lovely wood engraved logo.



As well as packaging, Fili designs A LOT for restaurants, creating the brand. A perk of this is apparently always having a table. I really liked her work for the Metro Grill. She described their name as being one of those nondescript names, but nevertheless she created something very special. As this restaurant is located in the garment district of New York, the logo is created from an actual stitched clothing label. This is then also used on the menus, and the staff shirts and caps.

metro_detail2 metrogrill_menus

The first monograph on her work Elegantissima is sure to be a beautiful and inspiring read.
Available here.


Drive Productions

Next we had a talk by Ben Fender & Imogen Hammond from Drive Productions. They describe themselves as digital pioneers, working in 3D and 4D video projection mapping. This involves transforming buildings and complex structures into social objects. Watch it for yourself.

This was to mark the launch of the Nokia Lumia 800. Millbank Tower in London became the platform for a series of animated sequences accompanied by musician Deadmau5. As well as the massive crowd attending the event, 145,000 logged in to watch live from Nokia’s Facebook page, and the video has attracted around 4 million hits on youtube since. Engaging!


The final talk of the day was from the mysterious JR. JR calls himself a “photograffeur” – taking photographs and flyposting them on the streets. He started the talk showing his early work, what he did as a teenager and it’s fascinating to see the transition to his projects now. One of his photographs was initially pasted on the wall, illegally but then eventually got commissioned to be exhibited on the side of the Tate gallery.


The most interesting part of the talk though was undeniably the women are heroes project.

In order to pay tribute to those who play an essential role in society but who are the primary victims of war, crime, rape and political or religious fanaticism, JR pasted huge photos of the faces and eyes of local women all over the outside of the favela, suddenly giving a female gaze to both the hill and the favela.

If there’s one video you are going to watch today, it should be this one.
It received the largest applause of the day.

I’m a movie star! Not quite, but I’m a pointing, walking, app user in my friend Winnie‘s video. Directed by Winnie and shot by Jonathan, this video is being entered into the D&AD student awards 2013 for the It’s Nice That Brief. Fingers crossed she does well.

For the next two weeks, two of my illustrations are available to buy printed on cushions! This is part of a competition being held by ohh deer. A small handful of the best selling cushions will be added to the shop’s permanent collection. Buy them while you can, if you’re interested. I think they could make lovely Christmas presents…

Click here to view the Time to Relax cushion in the ohh deer shop.Click here to view the Only The Boring Get Bored cushion in the ohh deer shop.