Friday, 22 September 2017

. . . I did it MY way . . .

On Thursday 30th March I closed the HE graphic design studio door at Wigan School for the Arts for the last time . . .

Having, just over 14 years earlier ventured into education - something I swore I'd never do - and during that period gained so much knowledge about the world of art and design - knowledge which I didn't even know existed  . . . the demands of education, the needless checks and double checks by those who knew little about the demands of the design business resulted in the final straw falling upon this camels back!

Along the way I met so many great people in the business [mentioned many times in the pages of this blog] had so much support from people I held as 'Gods' who became friends, being paid to take students to Paris and introduce them to culture beyond belief and to have worked with several very special individuals within the walls of WSA and battled against apathy from many others . . . I leave to others to evaluate if the job, the direction, the life skills, the humour and at times the brutal and yet caring hand that guided them was worthy of praise "there were times when I bit off more . . ." my own measure would always be how many made the business, how many look back with fondness at their time on HND / FdA / HND and still ask to be friends on FB.

Exciting times, some great design work from students, some amazing visits to those who we'd all like to be . . . great end of year shows, but too many times sat here at my ageing iMac until the wee-small hours assessing and brief writing took it's toll.

Design was my career, from the first double page spread in Sea Angler to the most amazing reception from this country's pre-eminent advertising agency the 38 year journey "travelling each and every highway" . . . has reached its terminus.

I've left my shoes for someone else to fill . . .

First Footings will remain as testament to ALL of those who travelled the road with me.

Monday, 23 November 2015

The Return of an Old Friend

Imagine it's 11.59pm on 31st December . . . and the cartoon wags in newspapers depict the frail old year coming to an end of his life, and his last action is to usher in the new [baby] year . . . well, we had something similar happen when on 9 September 2015 a brand new graphics course burst into life.

I say new . . . what I really mean is a graphics course 'returns'. I recall suggesting that back in 2010 with the departure of Jenny, Will, Kristian, Jayde, Ciara, James & Beth that it was the last HND, never to return . . .
Never say never as new for 2015 is the Higher National Diploma in Graphic Design. Same professional education - just a different title and the course still has the option of a single year Top-Up at the University of Salford as long as the quality is there.

So FD Lime is the last Foundation Degree with UoS for a while - but their 'antics' will still be on show here for the next several months.

The new HND group can be found on their own page [HND Graphics Returns : 2015] with their own graphic brand to boot!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015


STOP-PRESS . . . for the first time in the short history of FD we have been able to place two illustration students on to a final top-year at the University of Salford.

The editor was thrilled that Rachel Carter and Heather Holst delivered such excellent portfolios that Jo and Robert at the University were more than happy to offer the extraordinary places.

Both girls have arrived at the same place by two very different routes. Rachel was one of the few students who arrive at FD with an unconditional offer having completed a level 3 in Art & Design and created one of the most professional looking final projects calling on her love of nature seen for many a year. Heather on the other hand although exhibited at the same exhibition from the same course kept her potential ability under lock and key.
Rachel's illustrations for her vehicle, Christmas and Boots 'Hello Delightful'. 
From the off everything Rachel created as she came to understand the relationship between graphic design and illustration was of a quite unbelievable quality - her style ran through every piece of her art, from research to amazing workbooks into her final submissions.

She surrounded herself with hand lettering, patterns, cute illustrations of animals and flora. Her vehicle to secure placement was a work of art, all items contained within a giant strawberry tote bag.

Heather was less sure of her direction, lacked belief and didn't like much of what she produced. The editor first spotted signs of life in her Almanac design where her illustration style raised its creative head.

Although a 'cow-prod' was needed to make her her believe that her vehicle was good enough to deliver to industry . . . she ducked and dived and the finished design stayed firmly hidden in her college drawer.
Heather's FD illustrations
The second year saw both the girls team up with Hayley to form 'Three Peas' and to tackle The Shapers range of snacks at Boots. Their creative style delivered a fantastic solution [featured elsewhere in this blog] and was highly praised by Will Bentley of BD2.

Rachel's wrapping!
From their first project in year two Rachel and Heather have gone from strength to strength. Rachel securing placement at Tigerprint in Bradford working on greeting cards for M&S and Next, Heather secured placement at Creative Spark a Manchester based design consultancy.

As a bonus, Heather had submitted items of her work to Sarah Beetson a renowned artist at Illustration Limited. A week back she was contacted and at a meeting in June when the company considers new artists to represent Heather's designs are going forward to the board - fingers crossed.

For their FMP's Rachel is tackling her own line of greeting cards and wrapping paper, Heather has created a children's pack for Blue Planet.
Rachel's FMP greeting cards and wrapping paper illustrations
Heather's FMP Blue Planet children's guide
It'll be tough when they land at the University next September - but both are very talented young ladies . . . watch out for their work in the coming years.


For many a long year the editor has been asking the University for the opportunity to just hang-out at Mediacity and experience life as an undergraduate.

Discussed at a very recent Joint Board of Study as one of the actions was to get the group in for some feet-finding and the chair was thrilled that an event had been organised.

So last week under the excellent guidance of the level 5 leader, Darren Raven FD Magenta arrived at Mediacity and were thrown straight into the deep end in small groups to work through concept thinking . . . it was great to hear the chatter, laughter and for the groups to come up with some real off-the-wall ideas.
The flip-chart sheets were filled with associated words, ideas and creative directions and for most of the group heading to the University they are safe in the knowledge that as their level 5 lecturer they had connected with Darren instantly.

Once the brainstorming was over the editors daughter acted as a chaperone to point the group in the right direction for the stop-frame animation studio, the mac rooms, the break-out rooms and the best places to grab lunch.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Pour Tu

Have you ever bought coffee from a vending machine? Mmm, it’s not always pleasant experience. Did you know that the coffee industry in this country is worth £5.8bn?

The editor has sampled ‘instant’ coffee in many a service station and even when travelling on the French motorways . . . it’s never a highlight. So it came as a little of a surprise when a ‘live’ brief arrived in the department from a local food company.

Aimia Foods have a coffee product delivered in very graphic cups from really stylish machines [although they are mainly situated in Scotland and the SW] and go under the banner of Pour Moi.

The brief was to create a new design that must not date, must not be tied to a specific event this year or next. The design cannot be tied for copyright reasons to specific events e.g. World Cup / Commonwealth Games.

The students had to work to a specific size and a limited number of colours. The designs had to tell a story of some sort but what that was, was up to the designer.

Although a FD1 student had already had a look at the brief when it arrived during the summer, the FD2 group took the challenge onboard as one of their professional practice module live briefs.

One of the massive benefits of the FD course is that you get to meet really nice people ‘out-there’ doing the business. People like Domenic Lippa [Pentagram], Trevor Beattie [BMB], John Winnard [Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls], Brian Cannon [of Oasis and Verve design fame] and working with Aimia Foods brand manager George Thomas.

For a couple of weeks George fielded questions from the editor and the students so that the final product fitted the requirements of the brief. The first stage was to provide initial concepts to be considered by the company and then feedback would be given to the group.

George came to the FD studio and explained the reasons behind a design being or considered or rejected. Three designs made the podium and Danny, Hayley and Dean were asked to develop their themes further with direction from Aimia.

A couple of weeks later the final designs were in and a decision had been made. George returned to the studio to announce the winning theme. All three solutions were strong and fitted in with the Pour Moi tradition  . . . but as always there can only be one winner – and the prize which was a hefty sum, a visit to the print works to see the designs in production and a box-full of finished cups went to Dean.      

FD2Magenta : from the right : Chris / Rachel / Billy / Hayley / Dec / Ben / Chris / The Winner Dean / George / Megan / Mel / Emma
and below the winning designs.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Doctors Surgery

Foundation Degree had an unexpected visit from the GP. Messer’s Golpys and Page popped by the studio to talk about their work, their expectancies, their approach to two very different but very similar disciplines within the design industry.

Both are former students of graphic design courses at Wigan & Leigh college, both had an insatiable desire to succeed and both have the business acumen required to make it ‘BIG’ in the industry.

First to visit was Andy Golpys from Shape [top] who recently employed one of FDpurples graduates and also lectures at the University of Salford. He spoke about his journey, which led to him pitching design solutions to a huge, well know Knight of the Realm and Shape won! As Andy said “It really will be a life changing moment” for the company and those lucky enough to impress as he adds to his creative team.

A couple of days later Matt Page arrived on the eve of being offered his first ‘desk-bound’ position having travelled many-a-mile working freelance in London and up north and creating some amazing websites and inter-active multimedia presentations – in fact it was difficult to know how to describe what Matt actually specializes at as he seems to lend his hand to just about everything and anything graphic – and does a fantastic job too!

Having been a member of the very first FD course, having gained a First at the University of Salford and then created some amazing work – by in the first place experimenting and then mastering new digital art he was about to take a giant leap up to the stratosphere.

It’s a brilliant experience for the students to be able to pin down the guests and pick their brains or relive their experiences and hopefully follow in their footsteps so even those who from time to time are under the ‘weather’ their arrival was just what the [design] doctor ordered. 

Monday, 5 January 2015

Buried Treasure

While wandering through a few blog links the editor came across this image of some of FDPurple in the Mortar Boards accepting their BA [Hons] in Graphic Design from the University of Salford back in June 2014.
From the left : Danny Humphreys, Chris Wordley, Adam Ascroft, Josh Hurst, Dec Woodward and Tom Saunders . . . all very smart too!