Category: Blog

Blog, Design Ideas

Timeless Designs of the 20th Century

The 20th Century: A Bottomless Goldmine of Inspirational Design

What’s old is new.

We’ve seen a massive focus on innovation in the last two decades.

Mobile phones have seen a complete revision in their design and the advent of the internet has seen an explosion in the sharing of ideas. However, designers from every creative industry are still eager to plunder the timeless ideas of the 20th Century for inspiration. From classic watch styles to influential items of clothing, such as the bomber jacket, we’re still finding new and exciting ways to adapt the ideas of the past to the demands of the present.

Here are some examples of major design landmarks that refuse to go away:

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual

Often imitated but never equalled – the Rolex watch has been the go-to timepiece for discerning ladies and gentlemen for over a hundred years. Established in 1905, this London brand made a move over to Switzerland in 1919 and has since been known as one of the foremost luxury brands in the world.

Mercedes Glietze became the first celebrity sportswoman after swimming the English Channel in 1927. She was given this early Oyster Perpetual prototype by Rolex founder, Hans Wilsdorf, in honour of the occasion.

Priding themselves on pinpoint accuracy and industry innovations, many of Rolex’s current models are direct relations to models made deep into the 20th Century. The Oyster Perpetual was the first ever watch to be certified as waterproof to 100m, back in 1953. It features a self-winding mechanism which means that the watch needs no battery and does not need winding. The current model of the Perpetual looks more or less the same as it did over 50 years ago, but now features anti-magnetic parts that further protect the accuracy of this classic timepiece.

The American Bomber Jacket

Fashion is often referred to as moving in circles. Throughout modern history, trends and items have wormed their way in and out of vogue. However, every fashion, no matter how big or small, always has it’s epicentre. The bomber jacket (or flight jacket as it’s sometimes known) is one such piece that has been given the status of ‘timeless’. It’s a piece of clothing that is considered as iconic as a pair of denim jeans or Converse sneakers. Established by the US Army’s Aviation Clothing Board in 1917, these study windproof jackets were adopted by youth group movements in the 1970s and 1980s.

Although this garment may have changed in style over the years, the principles of design remain the same.

The design is still being toyed with, over a hundred years later. The recently released Amelia Jane Bomber Jacket, features the classic shape and style of the American flight jacket with the addition of a pronounced fur lining and embroidered sleeves – a modern reinvention of a truly iconic garment.

Alvar Aalto’s Armchair 406

The breakthroughs that Finnish designer Alvar Aalto made in the world of Architecture can still be seen in modern architecture today. Although he started out designing buildings in the style of Nordic Classicism, by the mid-thirties he was exploring the use of natural materials and organic forms – as opposed to the brutal lines and grey concretes that were being used at the time to speed up the production of new builds in other European countries. Amongst other design innovations (such as the Aalto Vase), Alvar Alto designed two armchairs that would go on to form the basis of one the highest-selling chairs of all time.

A living room staple for millions of people around the world, the Poang chair is one of Ikea’s most popular items.

Sweden’s Ikea recently celebrated the 40th Anniversary of it’s Poang Armchair. The smooth, self-supporting structure is a direct stylistic relation to Alto’s Armchairs, providing comfort as well as a timelessly modern design. The Swedish manufacturer has sold over 30 million of these chairs since their debut in the 70s and they’re still finding new ways to innovate upon this cutting edge design.

The Poster Art of Drew Stuzan

When people think of the movies that defined blockbuster entertainment as we know it today, they think: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future. Picture those films in your mind and its likely that you’ll think of the iconic posters, before you think of the movies themselves. What do all of these have in common? Favouring glossy lighting and dramatic shadows, the posters of Drew Struzan defined the look and feel of an entire era of movie making.

Critically acclaimed Netflix series Stranger Things successfully appropriated tropes from Action-Fantasy movies of the 1980s – Lambert’s poster did likewise with Struzan’s iconic style.

There are very few other designers that have had such a wide-reaching impact on their chosen industry. You can see his legacy in Kyle Lambert’s Stranger Things poster and even the alternate poster for recent release, Logan. Today, comic book artists and movie makers continue to pay homage to his work – a vast portfolio of work that hangs on the walls and rests in the DVD cases of millions of homes.…

Blog, Design Ideas, Productivity Pointers

How Social Media Can Get You Work

Time spent on Social Media isn’t always wasted time

(unless you’re watching cat videos)

Around ten years ago social networks were for insecure teenagers and jocks organising frat parties than business people.

But, things have definitely changed since then.

‘Social Networks’ have morphed into ‘Social Media’ and now entire industries have risen out of the ground in response to the new giants of advertising. If you’re not making use of Social Media as a Creative or Graphic Designer, then I’m not quite sure how you’re still making a living.

For the uninitiated, here’s a quick rundown on how to best use the major platforms of Social Media to your advantage, so that you can start increasing your streams of revenue:


Although it might have started out as a way for image conscious men and women to affirm their ‘cool’ status, Instagram is now so much more than that. This is a perfect platform for us designers. Within minutes of setting up your account, you can start following all your favourite designers and quickly make yourself known to your existing network on Facebook, so you can quickly amass a small following with minimum fuss.


A post shared by Seb Lester (@seblester) on

From then on, it’s all about keeping a constant rhythm of posting and making sure that the style of content you post is consistent. By all means, include personal pictures, just as long as they’re on brand with your business (ie. No hot-dog leg snaps from your holidays).


This is a must-have for any company hoping to make inroads into online advertising. As much as Google have made huge progress with their AdWords scheme, Facebook have made it even easier for businesses to produce targeted advertisements to their huge database of around 1.86 billion active users.

For many people, Facebook is their go-to App on their mobile device. and their homepage on their browsers. Using Facebook’s Ad Tools, you can set a budget, demographic, location and schedule a time, so that the right people see your advert at the right time.

If you’re not comfortable with setting up your own advertising, you can pay a marketing company to do it for you, or just settle for a bog-standard page. Either way, it’s imperative that you have a presence on the biggest social platform in the world.


It’s the dull cousin of the Social Media family but, unfortunately, a necessity if you want to make yourself known in your industry. Its dry, uninteresting to look at and completely packed with industry jargon and buzz words, however it could be the platform that makes your career. LinkedIn is, at the very least, quick and painless to set up. Throw in your details, as well as your Facebook logins, and you can quickly reach out to your entire network and email address book, making hundreds of possible connections in an instant.

Once you’re up and running, you can use the native Advertising tools to put your name in company’s faces, or you can reach out to past employers to write you a quick endorsement that will make your profile irresistible to a potential client.


In every litter you’re bound to find at least one runt.

Twitter might have made a big splash when it first released but it’s lost it’s way over the years, with significantly less people joining it each year. That being said, it still has it’s uses. By using an app like Hoostsuite, you can synchronise and schedule your posts, so that your Twitter followers get a heads up when you’re posting to other networks.

Pinterest can be a great source of inspiration for designers or anyone in creative industries. It’s pretty much a giant pin board where users upload ideas, pictures and designs. You can find some neat ideas on here, but it won’t further your career in any significant way.

Finally, Fiverr is not a social network in any way. Its more of an online marketplace, where freelancers can advertise their services to pretty much anyone who’ll pay for them. The company itself has had some bad rep this year, with a bizarre advertising campaign, as well as YouTuber PewDiePie making use of the platform in a morally dubious fashion. It’s worth a punt if you’re looking for some quick work though.

These are just the basic platforms that most small-time businesses should already be making use of. For each major industry, there is a particular network that will be suited to your business, it’s just about finding the right one and getting involved!

Blog, Development Diary

A Weekend In The Wild

From time to time, its good to get some distance from Somerset.

I may have escaped London to return to the country, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t get a little bit tired of the same old landscape everyday.

Although there are some truly spectacular views to take in around the area, if you’ve lived here for the majority of your life the novelty starts to wear off, especially after you’ve done the same forest circuit for the 30th time. I’d like to say that my collie feels the same way, but I’m afraid that would be affording him a mite too much intelligence and memory.

Every time we set off on our usual morning walk across the fields, opposite to the cottage, I’m always amazed at the boundless enthusiasm and excitement with which he runs through each and every gate. Its as if each walk he takes is his very first and each field he dives into is an unexplored world of endless possibilities. Sometimes I wish I could adopt my dog’s mental stance on the world, but it can be difficult to do so when you wake up to the same view every day.

Whenever I find myself getting into a morose mood, much like the one that I found myself in a few days ago.

I try and get the upper hand on it straight away and take myself off to a distant land. Last time this happened, I spent 6 hours driving up to the Lake District – this time around, I thought I’d do a little less driving.

The Snowdonia National Park in Wales is just a 3 hour drive away from my home in Somerset, close enough to make a day trip out of and epic enough to feel like I’ve travelled further than the 130 or so miles I’ve actually driven. With the forecast warning of cold, windy weather I thought it best to pack two things: 1) My brand new Amelia Jane Black Fur Gilet, to keep me snug under my waterproof , and 2) A friend with an IQ higher than a toddlers, so that I could avoid any kind of accidental injury that usually comes along with my participation in any kind of physical activity.

The Gilet went straight on before I even packed any food, there’s nothing quite like cracking out a new piece of clothing that’s been lying in wait for some time.

This beauty was a Christmas present from my Mum; trust her to give me something so comfy yet practical. As I’ve mentioned before, it can be extremely challenging coaxing freelance creatives out of their comfortable caves, especially in the midst of Winter. Thankfully, I’ve developed a few tricks to help with the process, one of which involves baking goods and essentially using them as payment for a companionship. I’m not proud, but I’m not ashamed either – sometimes you’ve just got to do what you have got to do.

After setting out early in the morning, the dog (he doesn’t have a name, I know it’s weird but there you go) and I picked up James, a programmer, from his place in Street and we set out on our merry way to Snowdonia.

It was a long day of unbroken silences and thoughtful cake-eating sessions. James won’t mind me saying that he’s one of the quieter members of our clan, however he balances that out by being an exceptionally well prepared hiker. I may have brought cake by the kilo, but I overlooked bringing any kind of water, map or compass. Three things that are apparently kind of essential when it comes to hiking in the wilderness.

Losing ourselves in Snowdonia might have been fun, but I was glad to be able to navigate us safely back to the car. James seemed pleased with his payment of cake. Dog seemed as happy as if we’d walked across the field, but I guess it was my well being that we were really making the trip for anyway. When we returned back to the folding hills of Somerset, everything appeared much as we had left it and I was surprised to notice that I was OK with that.

Here’s to being OK!

Blog, Development Diary, Productivity Pointers

Taxes Can Take A Hike

There’s nothing worse than doing your own taxes.

Any self-employed person will tell you that crunching your own numbers is simply one of the most galling processes in being a freelancer.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a plasterer, a programmer or a part-time baker (yes, I couldn’t think of any more jobs beginning with ‘p’) if you are your own boss then you need to account for every single expense, cost and incoming for the entire tax year. Of course, sensible business owners keep track of their financials as the days, weeks and months go by. Graphic Designers in their twenties, however, are not all that sensible.

The months leading up to April are always busy ones for me. Thanks to a tonne of advertising, I’ve managed to rake in a few one-off jobs, as well as some more regular work, so I’ve got plenty to keep myself busy with. Socially though, I find myself drifting into a slightly disconcerting dead zone, leaving me with very little to do to distract myself from my taxes. My fellow designers and freelancers are a curious bunch. Mostly living in the neighbouring towns of my village, they’re not far away, but during the winter months they can be hard to rouse from their cave-like homes.

With the dreaded threat of unfinished tax returns looming over all our heads, you’d think that this would be a perfect time for us all to start seeing a lot more of each other – but you would be wrong.

The modern self-employed person has an endless amount of distractions to draw them away from their purpose. Perhaps there’s a new Netflix series that simply everyone is talking about – there goes 13 hours of your life. Maybe you’ve just remembered that there was that book you were given by your Aunt for Christmas that’s still sitting on the dining room table, you could struggle through that for another 30 hours. Then, of course, there’s always video games. Lovely video games. Time sucking video games that steal your evenings, weekends and your sleep. Whatever you choose to do, when attempting to erase the thought of doing any kind of Tax-based work, you must ensure that you never leave the house.

The house, to the self-employed person is both the work-house and the holiday lodge. As long as you’re inside the house, there’s always the possibility of you doing some kind of work. You may just stay in reading comics, but there’s still a chance of some work getting done. As soon as you step outside the front door that possibility dive bombs to an absolute zero. The game of Procrastination is a delicate one, it involves walking a fine mental tight rope that could snap at any moment, leaving you hanging by one hand staring down at the bottomless pit of despair that you have been pretending does exist for the past 10 weeks.

Come April things will be different though. Our tax returns will be handed in, we’ll know where we stand financially and the sun will have returned to England, banishing the grey rain clouds of Winter.

Then, and only then, will we freelancers think of leaving the house and rejoining society once more.

Blog, Development Diary

One Month Down: Making Marketing Plans

We’re one month into the New Year already.

It’s always the way isn’t it?

You come back from the Christmas break, still feeling a little groggy after the New Years’ celebrations, and you stumble back into the working week, bleary eyed and confused. If you’re a self-employed monkey like me, then this can be a dangerous position to be in. Working by yourself means that you can’t rely on anyone else to pick up the slack – it’s all on you. Every day matters and if you drift through a fortnight of work (like I did at the start of this year) then you’ll be in a sorry state come the end of the month (like I am now).

Thankfully, if the only standing engagement you have at the weekend is with your dog, there’s always time to catch up with work at the weekend.

As we slide out of the first month of 2017 and into the next one, I’m looking forward to an action-packed week followed by an even busier weekend.

Yes I am thoroughly guilty of having over-indulged over the holiday season. However, I was also in the rather worrying position of not having any new projects on the horizon (hence, my previous post on What To Do When You Can’t Find Any Design Work). Thanks to a couple of quick leaflet jobs, I can’t say that I’m completely out of work still, but I have got significantly more time on my hands than I’m used to. So throughout this next week, I’m going to be following through on some of my own advice and getting proactive.

The first thing on my agenda is to start aggressively marketing this website. We’re well and truly in the 21st Century now and lone professionals like myself can’t afford to not have a decent online presence. So the time’s come for me to enlist some outside help.

Starting next week, I’m going to be having the assistance of an SEO company to help boost my ‘rankings’.

In one conversation I had with the team there, I was blasted with more technical terms than I knew how to deal with, but luckily the basics of how they work are relatively simple to grasp. By pushing my website through social media feeds and reaching out to other websites, they are going to raise the profile of my site and hopefully increase traffic to my site, which should (theoretically) increase the amount of enquiries that I get.

This is the first time I’ve had other people working to help me out and I must admit that the thought of it is somewhat comforting. It feels good to know that I’m not completely on my own in the battle for custom and that I’ve got a few other people working on my side of the war.

For now though, I’m just going to focus on designing the heck out of this leaflet and hope I’m going to have enough time to walk the dog on the weekend.

Blog, Design Ideas, Productivity Pointers

What To Do When You Can’t Find Any Design Work

Every now and again we all hit a dry patch…

There’s no shame in admitting it.

All businesses, small and large, go through fallow seasons. It’s part of the the ebb and flow of running a company – the most important thing is that you’re prepared for it when it finally arrives.

So you’ve just finished the last project on your slate. You’ve sent off the files and invoiced your client, then a sickening feel drops in your stomach. You look to your email inbox: empty. You search your feeds for any social messages that  might have fallen through the cracks: nothing. Finally, you resort to the unlikeliest of eventualities – maybe someone’s dropped a message on your answer machine and you’ve somehow missed it? Nope.

The most important to do in this situation? Don’t panic.

If you’re a freelance designer, like me, you’re bound to run into this issue at one point or another. We try to keep a constant stream of work coming our way, but sometimes fate works against us. As soon as you’ve calmed yourself down with a stiff caffeinated drink – take a sit down and run through these ideas of what to do, when there’s no work to do:

Spam Your Email List HARD

Your email contacts, collected through your website and previous jobs, are the absolute best chance you have of picking up more work in the future. As long as you’ve done solid work for these people, they should remember you fondly and want to give you the work.

It might well be the case that they have no jobs for you, but the creative world is one that is always talking to each other and if you contact enough people, your name will get passed into the right hands.

Re-Evaluate Your Portfolio

Whilst you’ve got some spare time on your hands, it never hurts to have an honest, disparaging look at the work in your portfolio. Both online and off, this is the document that best represents your work as a designer.

Are there some designs in there that look a little outdated? Does some of this work put you in a bad light? Be honest with yourself and make edits where needed.

Touch Base With Old Clients

Sometimes an email just doesn’t cut it. Have a flick through your contacts, preferably ones you’ve dealt with in the past year and call up for a chat. Create some kind of pretext – it could be an upcoming conference or even an article in a magazine you want to recommend – then pull the conversation over to your work.

There’s nothing wrong with acting a little shadily. Your business should come first – so swallow your pride and get on the phone.

Work On New Ideas

Don’t spend 10 hours a day pulling your hair out over finding new jobs. Its ironic that having all this free time is causing you so much stress, but there are some upsides to this. Take a few hours each day for personal development. Do some research, look for companies that are in need of a re-brand and take it upon yourself to prepare a theoretical tender.

By keeping your designing skills sharp, you’ll be best prepared for when you’re back working again. The work that you end up with might even be good for later projects.

Don’t Get Lazy

This perhaps the most important tip of all. You might feel like you can survive for the next few weeks on the modest invoices that are coming your way, but you need to stay proactive to make sure that you don’t end up in the breadline

Set your alarm clock every day, as if you had a whole day of work ahead of you. Stay off the hooch mid-week and stay focused.

If in doubt – just think what Shia would do.