Off Topic


Above: Sandra’s work at Penpushers

Last year I had signed myself up to a 1 to 1 intensive course of calligraphy. I’ve recently become more aware of lettering and how you can make absolutely stunning work with traditional techniques — so naturally I turned to calligraphy first as I felt it was the best place to start when trying to understand hand lettering.

On Saturday I ventured North (well of Essex anyway) and visit Sandra at Pen Pushers in Epping. I met Sandra previously at Hobby Craft in Romford, I was totally unaware that Hobby Craft had in-store lessons such as Calligraphy. Due to working full time I just couldn’t get to the classes on a weekday evening so decided to just book a one day intensive lesson.

Sandra has a spacious studio and instantly makes you feel at home! We started the lesson at 10am and began with the basics and the general rules of calligraphy.

After I completed the day lesson I can honestly say that I feel so much more confident. I feel that now I can go off on my own and practice as I now know the technique as well as what I should be aiming for. You literally can’t beat having someone there who has a wealth of experience to sit down with you and go through the work with you. Watching youtube videos are all well and good but you can’t get the live feedback and encouragement.

I would recommend Sandra’s workshop fully! You can find out more information here at or head over to the facebook page Here



Above are my letters produced on the day – Caps are so much harder than lower case! Also my sunday practice sheets below!

IMG-20150118-WA0005IMG-20150118-WA0007  Also found this fab calligraphy beginners set in the charity shop! Brand new!



1. Judgement

The judgement of your work is never a personal critique, it is about helping you become more knowledgeable about design as a practice. Subjectivity within graphic design means that there is a discussion between you and your peers. Having a perspective allows you to form a set of opinions and eventually go on to understand why you in believe them. By discussing work in a critical and analytical way, it forces you to be engaged with the subject as well as aiding you in becoming better at communicating ideas and thoughts.

2. Reasoning

Art Is Interpreted. Design Is Understood. 
There has been a long debate as towards the difference between Graphic Design and Art. Art is created to satisfy the artists needs. Design is to communicate an intention, aim or purpose for it to be design. When discussing design work there is nothing more satisfying than when you are asked “Why did you do that” and you are able to respond with a solid reason. Conscious design decisions are what set apart those from general designers. Originality comes from reason. Confident decisions with justification means that the visual outcome of any design project should connect fluidly with the concept.

3. Forced Creativity

If you are not pushing the boundaries, then you are most likely not pushing yourself to the full potential. Being told what to do is never a pleasant thing, but it is being said with good intention. Creativity is about doing things that you would not normally do. It is about taking risks and seeing what happens. University is the perfect place to make these Happy Accidents, there are no financial commitments, no clients with high expectations. Happy Accidents are the equivalent to the light bulb moment. But are more likely to have a Happy Accident from experimenting and doing things outside your comfort zone than an amazing idea popping into your head. Doing and not thinking allows creativity to self generate.

4. Self Initiated Projects

Graphic Design is changing. Designers are no longer people sitting at their mac visualising other peoples thoughts, opinions and ideas. Designers are people have their own voice, interests and outlook. Self initiated projects are a great opportunity to refine your communication skills. It also allows you to consider what kind of designer you are, how your design values connect with your day to day life and via versa. Self initiated projects are a chance to do what you enjoy before graduating. Once in the real world the opportunities to create your own work because you want to become smaller.

5. Resentment

After all the judging, reasoning, forced creativity through self initiated projects comes a long the feeling of resentment. But this is not really resentment. It is an experience that comes from over thinking and pushing yourself creatively as well as conceptually. Design is going to be annoying, frustrating, disappointing etc. Feeling this way towards design means that you are really questioning your practice and opinions. By understanding what you are resenting will enable you to counteract the issues. Pushing passed the feelings of resentment will eventually lead to gratification.

1. Judgement

Creative subjects are subjective. Therefore the idea that design can be graded is wrong. What I think constitutes as good design will most likely differ from someone else’s opinion. Having a marking system in graphic design is accurate. If someones work does not fit into a generic category it does not mean it is wrong or not of worth. This judgement system leads onto self doubt and questioning, therefore lack of confidence which hinders creativity and enjoyment.

2. Reasoning

From the first year you are brainwashed with the idea that content is king, and that every project must have a solid concept for it to be deemed successful. This concern with meaning and concept is utterly draining. It is mentally draining when you end up spending a week of your project trying to understand, consider and define what you are doing, why and what is the value of it. Focusing on content and concept will sooner or later prevent you from creating anything. This point links heavily with Judgement. Some times it would be great if “Because I want to” was a good enough reason to be able to do something. The brainwashing of concept is ultimately crippling.

3. Forced Creativity

Within a design degree  you are expected to push the boundaries. This is fair enough if this is the individuals intent, however if it is not then you creating a level of expectation which is effectively a judgement system. Telling someone to be creative or experimental causes them to question their process. This means that the person will decide to be creative, however what this really causes, is the idea to conform to someone else’s idea of what is creative. It’s a known that you tend to get ideas at the most unlikely times, this is because you are not pressuring yourself to think. Trying to be creative constantly is not the right mindset.

4. Self Initiated Projects

In the last year of study there is a big emphasis on you as a designer being also an author. For some students this idea of creating whatever they wish is great, until all the elements of Judgement and Reasoning filter in after the initial excitement of freedom. The reasoning plays a huge part within these projects. Being an author of a project means that the projects are 100% you. Nothing to do with your tutors, or any lecturers, its all you. Therefore there is a lot of pressure surrounding this projects, as they tell a lot about an individual. Even though these projects are quite different from those set by tutors, you are still contained within a marking system. Hence the project will be deemed of value if it ticks the right generic boxes.

5. Resentment

After all the judging, reasoning, forced creativity through self initiated projects comes a long the feeling of resentment. What seemed exciting in the first few weeks of first year eventually changes and it becomes increasingly hard to understand why you chose the subject in the first place. By being over analytical of something eventually drains the interest and enjoyment from the subject.

Yesterday when I was at work with my dad, we had a conversation with the owner/salesman of a Firm. We were talking about his trip to devon last week as he has a home there too.
He was telling us how he took the tube from New Spiterlfields Market – So Leyton Stone to get to Paddington, however for some reason or another he was unable to take the route that he is used to. This caused some issues. The owner is coloured blind. He really struggles with seeing browns and blues, they end up just looking grey. Therefore when he was attempting to figure out which line was the Bakerloo line using the key, he was unable to do so. He said that he had to ask a stranger to show him which line it was, and that he felt quite embarrassed, as if people might think he was stupid.

We was talking and thought it would be a great idea if there was a tube map for those who are colour blind. After a quick google search, there is one – see below.

However, this map is only online, here is what the TFL states

We produce a range of guides in alternative formats to help you plan and make journeys. All of the guides can be obtained free of charge by completing the order form below.

I feel that this isn’t right, why can’t these maps be available within the station incase a situation like above occurred. I guess it could be seen a discrimination against those with a visual disability.

So I could for my self directed brief, propose a new map that is multifunctional. It caters for those who have trouble seeing different colours as well as remaining an iconic visual piece that uses colour for those who can see it well.