Category Archives: work

Graphic recording – designing social enterprises

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to take part in a workshop organised by the Eco Design Centre and Llamau, a charity working with young homeless people in Wales. For some time now Llamau have been helping young people set up social enterprises and the idea of the workshop was to explore what design can do to help this process and give more confidence and focus for the young people to start making things happen.

My role was to harvest emerging ideas and highlight underlying meaning via graphic recording, a process that took place alongside the workshop activities. It never stops amazing me how effectively visualisation can clarify information in context and inspire deeper thought processes for people when they can see the big picture unravel. I also enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with Nathan Hallett, an illustrator with plenty of insight and humour in his expression.

It was fantastic to be involved in a workshop with an emphasis on cross-disciplinary collaboration  between designers, facilitators, consultants, researchers, youth workers, and of course the young people themselves. I was impressed and inspired by the energy in the workshop and hope these social enterprises have some more ideas and tools to help them on their way.

For more photos from the day, visit the Eco Design Centre Flickr page

ARK Cycling Consultation shop window

ARK Cycling Shop window

I spent a few hours today drawing window graphics for the ARK Cycling Consultation shop on Queen Street, Cardiff. Cardiff Council asked ARK to help with the public consultation process for improving the Cardiff Cycle Network.

The shop features and interactive survey (which you can also fill online here – but it’s much more fun in the shop!) and events like Dr Bike maintenance workshop and bike accessories making workshops.

Interested in having a say about the future of cycling in Cardiff? Visit the shop at 105-107 Queen Street (the old Lobster Bob shop opposite Capitol Centre) this Thursday 21 October or Saturday 23 October. I’ll be there all day Saturday to take people through the questions and have fun whilst doing so 🙂

More info: http://www.ark-lab.co.uk/survey

Do I have to paint you a picture?

In February I was asked to design the programme for Do I have to paint you a picture?, an international Polaroid exhibition and symposium. The brainchild of photographer Sam Perry, the exhibition and symposium had a good timing now that theoriginal Polaroid film is no longer being manufactured.*

This was one of those projects I can honestly say I enjoyed working on very much. Our meetings took place in a relaxed but productive atmosphere at an arts centre café/bar, usually over a coffee or a glass of wine. We had great conversations about the meaning of Polaroid and its unfortunate demise – and this shared interest formed the foundation for a good client-designer relationship. I actually saw myself as more of a consultant, advisor and collaborator in this project, which made the project run smoothly and the client feel more at ease. The more I work on freelance projects directly with a client, the I more I realise the importance of really listening to your client.

It was fantastic to take part in the symposium, listen to some inspiring talks by Polaroid photographer artists, researchers and journalists, and feel the shared connection in the space. Mark Arkless, a Welsh photographer with a passion for Polaroid, mentioned how the slowly disappearing Polaroid film stock has forced many photographers slow down and think through their process a bit more – the opposite of the effects of digital photography. He also talked about the preciousness and physical nature of Polaroids and how for him the colour variations of the classic SX-70 film express the Welsh concept of hiraeth, a kind of a deep longing for home. A real sense of ownership, care and curiosity was present both in the words of the speakers and the questions of the audience.

I agree with many who say Polaroids work best when they document everyday moments. The unexpected blurs, colour shifts and hues almost mimic the way our memory works – it’s not quite sharp in places and the tone of memories can change over time. For me it’s the size and weight of a Polaroid that makes the physical snapshot of a moment so much more precious – it becomes an object of desire.

*This does not mean the end of instant film – Fuji manufacture a peel-apart type film, and then there are the amazing people behind The Impossible Project who managed to salvage the last Polaroid production plant and who finally have succeeded in producing their own new instant film.

From there to here – update of recent activity

Rewind & Fastforward:

  • Last post in January – good vibes for the year
  • Go to to West Wales for research week on a film
  • Come back from West Wales & commence storyboard drawing (ideas stage)
  • In February, continue drawing for storyboards & characters (starting to lose bits of paper with sketches on)
  • Design the programme for Time Zero Polaroid photography symposium (it turned out very lovely – more on that soon)
  • Do a lot of dancing and busting some groovy moves, and then, at the height of contact improv dancing (it sounded like a good idea), injure my knee in five different ways
  • Get cabin fever after two days of immobilisation (patience building exercise can never hurt?)
  • Continue drawing a lot
  • In March, get back to walking again and realising I have a huge list of stuff to share here.

So, here we are. Lots of interesting little bits to come, here’s a snippet from December. After out improv gig at Chapter, which I mentioned in a previous post, me and the genius of Mr Nic Finch did some improv drawing.

Me and Nic Finch doing improvised drawing

Getting closer... what will become of the story?

Laura drawing lots of fishys.

I’d love to do this more, just unplanned, raw drawing out of the blue (well, the blue of the mind). Here’s the final drawing:

The final drawing

I love Nic’s animal collective! My style is more rough and ready, with pyramid-shaped fish, a crumbling tower with a crazy jazz cats blasting out notes enjoyed by deer, and two fairytale characters having tea. Oh, and Mr Moon with mushrooms growing out of his chin.

And also, I designed a poster for the event with an otter in it. Can’t go wrong.

Poster for Your appointment will be yesterday

Tickets please…

I’ve just finished doing some work for the brilliant artist, Matt Cook, on his Open Top Sound art event coming up in Colchester this Saturday. The work included both printed and email flyers and a bus ticket (as seen above); when boarding the bus the ticket will be rubber stamped with Matt’s logo.

Making the bus ticket made me think how much fun little bits of work like this can be, playing around with type and paying homage to the style conventions of the past. And the fun isn’t just in the work, it’s also in the process of working with the client: an evolving, sparky two-way interaction at it’s best.

So what was the project about?

Open Top Sound is a sound art event that took place – you guessed it – on top of an open top bus as it made a journey through Colchester.

Open Top Sound is composed of field recordings, sections of ambient noise recorded around the town, combined with recorded descriptions of places in Colchester by local Blue Badge Guides. Recorded noises blend with noises from beyond the bus to create an immersive experience.

If you want to see more of Matt’s work, check out his website.