Sunday, 24 June 2012


Some of you might remember my post on the creative duo known as Kai & Sunny, two of my favorite Illustrators and Designers. Recently I finished the novel 'Number 9 Dream' by David Mitchell, the cover of which designed by Kai & Sunny. I originally picked up the book purely based on the cover design because lets face it we all judge a book by its cover, as we should, and I am very glad I did so in this instance.

Now there's no need to worry, I'm not turning my blog into a source for book reviews. I've decided to dedicate a post to this book because it's one of the few books in which I feel the cover art perfectly matches the content. Most book covers I feel miss the mark when it comes to capturing the essence of the story but this is not the case with 'Number 9 Dream'.

The story is of a young man and his journey to Tokyo Japan in search of the father who abandoned him as a child. Having never lived in the city before he is very unfamiliar with how things work within the social order. Needless to say he stumbles into many little scenarios that make the book an interesting read (lets face it, it's how all stories go. If they didn't no one would be interested in them).

I believe the cover perfectly illustrates the vast size of the city and just how difficult the task is ahead of the central character. Not only do Kai & Sunny use the proportion and angles of the buildings to emphasize this but also the very creative design of the title. Hundreds of little dots form the title, which (I believe) represents the millions of people that live in Tokyo, going about their daily lives. Indicating that the main characters mission will be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

The use of colour and general style of the illustration is also very interesting as it is clearly linked to the style of writing used by Mitchell within the story. The modern and almost techno appearance links with several topics highlighted in the story, one of which includes Video (or computer) Games.

I am curious as to whether Kai & Sunny were given a copy of the book to read before designing the cover, or if the process was similar to my own experiences where the majority of information comes from the books synopsis. Perhaps they were lucky enough to have the opportunity to sit down and discuss the novel with the author themselves (since it would seem a strong friendship has formed between them). Either way I think Kai & Sunny did a fantastic job with the cover design and would say that this is what book design should be about; truly capturing the feel of the story as well as the viewers eye from a bookshelf.

While searching for an image of the books cover I stumbled across the below designs. I'm not sure who the designers are and take no credit myself for their work but felt they were interesting designs that came close to touching on what the book is about, however fell down when compared to Kai & Sunny's excellent design.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Comic Book Couples

Recently I was asked by a couple of extremely close friends to draw up some illustrations for their wedding. Both are big comic-book fans so asked me to draw five infamous hero couples which would then be used as part of the table centerpieces for the wedding, each table being represented by a different couple.

Below are the pencil sketches I initially started with. Can you guess which one was used for the Bride & Grooms table?

Mr Fantastic & The Invisible Woman

Superman & Louis Lane #1

Spiderman & Marry Jane

Superman & Louis Lane #2

Mr Incredible &  Mrs Incredible (aka Elasta Girl) 
Joker & Harley Quinn

In the end I wasn't totally happy with the designs (mainly due to my lack of skill in the area of comic-book illustrations), however thankfully the Bride & Groom were incredibly pleased with the images. I do however plan to continue redrawing them in my spare time as a challenge to both improve my skills and prove something to myself. I have a HND in 'Illustration' and feel that my drawing skills have gradually slipped over the years as I made the transition from Illustration to Graphic Design.

Please let it be known that these illustrations are based on already existing comic-book images found during research. I take no credit for the original compositions. I would have liked to have created original images but due to being out of practice with my illustration skills I didn't want to disappoint and ruining my friends big day.

Crash, Cancel, Reboot.

So for sometime now you may have noticed that I have been absent from my blog, twitter and so forth. Unfortunately this was due to a Hard-drive malfunction with my Mac. I have now replaced the damaged Hard-drive and been slowly trying to return my Mac to its former glory.

Now that I am back up and running I'll be posting again. I still haven't decided on a theme for a new series like I had previously been doing, so instead over the next few weeks I'll ease myself back into things by sharing with you all the different Design related subjects and objects that have kept me going.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Seasons Greetings

Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to you all. I hope you have had a wonderful holiday and were treated to lots of Graphic Goodies.

You may have noticed that I haven't posted anything over the past several weeks. I have been consumed with the holiday (it's my favorite time of year), while also battling Mac Malfunctions and an unruly Safari update. This has meant that I haven't really found the time to contribute anything worth while to my blog.

I have however been thinking to the future and what I hope to do and achieve. Many new ideas have came to me recently which I hope to make a start on very soon, and several friends and followers have had some great suggestions on new features I could add to the blog.

Over the next few weeks I will be considering and making a start on these projects, but in the meantime I will be keeping things quiet on the blogging front.

I wish you all the very best for 2012. Happy Holidays.

Sunday, 11 December 2011


"Eat to create, don't create to eat!" words all designers should live by. This is one of the cornerstone beliefs of Japanese Design Company Commune.

Some of you may already be familiar with the work of Commune, as I discovered them last week and felt the need to force them upon the world around me. So for those of you who have already perused their site and are sick of me forcing their work down your throat, I'm sorry. For the rest of you though you're in for a treat.

Commune are a small design group with big ideas. Not content on having a niche style or even profession (by which I mean being known solely as a packaging design company, etc) Commune's portfolio is vast and varied with an abundance of different projects. It would seem they take the opportunity to design whenever they can, no matter what the subject. Any chance to spread their creative wings, they take.

Unfortunately I know very little about the actual work of the company (because their site is in Japanese, and I'm too lazy to learn how to read it), so I will just showcase work of theirs I really like and talk about why.

My favorite pieces by Commune have to be their Identity Designs. As I mentioned they dable in many areas of Design but it would seem that they really enjoy creating logos and finding fun ways of using them. This is a playful company that create work that just makes you want to smile.

Below is a new business card they designed for themselves which not only informs the recpiriant of their recent relocation, but also shows a new approach and style they hope to bring forth in their work. Light hearted but still controlled in design Commune show with ease that they know 'how' to deisgn; it's the fun element they really like to focus on.

I absolutely love the Happy Tree & Co business cards. Commune have done their best here to create a business card that the recipient would want to keep by turning into a sort of sculpture. Having the tree pop out of the card may seem very simple and obvious but I know if I was given one of these cards it would be sitting on my desk for a long time. Something about the design just brings a smile to my face. I also really like the inclusion of photographs of the staff on the personal side of the card. I have never seen it done before but it makes a lot of sense as people are likely to forget who exactly gave them the card. This way the recipient will be able to assign the business to a memorable and friendly face. 

Commune have an abundance of projects on their website, so instead of have me rambling on I strongly suggest you go explore it yourselves (bare with it, it can take a while to load due to its format). The studio have worked for dozens of different companies from restaurants to football teams, and many more. If you're not a fan of the somewhat 'cute' work I have show here don't let that put you off looking at the rest of their work. I grantee there is something for everyone in there. 

Below I've included a few samples of some of my favorite projects of theirs. Enjoy.

Another innovative business card design.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Spreading the word

For everyone out there with a Facebook account (most likely aLL of you) you can now follow me via the North of The Border page. Please 'Like' it to keep up to date with all my work and posts.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Skint Now Online

I've now uploaded the Skint Festival project to my Portfolio website. The images unfortunately aren't anything you haven't seen before, but if you feel like stopping by to help increase the sites hits that would be ace.

Special mention and thank you to Sarah Knight who collaborated with me on this project. It was a blast and I hope we get to work together in the future.