Fig 1 Crocheted Hare                                              Fig 2 Crocheted Hare

In a small dingy looking room in Cank Street, Leicester stood what looked to be taxidermy animals back lit through a glass window. When you look closer it was actually an exhibition by contemporary Leicester based Artist Shauna Richardson of mimic crochet taxidermy, hence the title ‘Crochet-dermy’. The room itself was from a previously empty shop, turned into a 3 month Victorian style diorama of various life scale taxi-dermies that could be viewed through a glass screen 24 hours a day.


Fig 3 Crocheted artic rabbit                               Fig 4 Crocheted warthog

The highly realistic crocheted sculptures took over 6 years to create and were only noticeable when you looked closer. These uncanny hand crafted pieces are all mounted on wooden plaques and some even have glass eyes and real teeth to add to the alarmingly life like effect. This collection of curio brought a lot of attention to Leicesters art scene and was even featured on the BBC news.


Fig 5 Closeup of Warthogs teeth.

The exhibition differs to others I have seen because of the sheer scale of the pieces to life size and anatomically correct is incredible. There was a lot of thought and dedication towards the room itself to look less like a typical white walled art exhibition and an actual room, helping to believe the realism of the pieces themselves. At a first glance you aren’t quite sure whether you should be looking in, creating this sense of further mystery about the exhibition. This is following the ethos of Richardsons work that ‘anything can be art’.

I personally love this unique way of looking at a typical  and popular Victorian parlour past time/decor and refurbish such a traditional art form into something modern and accessible by simply using wool. I was fascinated with how much wool she must have used, all sourced from the Peak District in Derbyshire.

Being a Leicester based artist, she aimed to celebrate the rich textile heritage of the East Midlands. It is part of the drive of trying to revamp unused spaces, such as shops and factories, turning them in to places of interest again.

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Fig 6 33 Cank Street, the exhibtion space

Leicesters mayor, Peter Soulsby hopes that it will help the bid for Leicester to become the City of Culture in 2017 as  he quotes “this project is an example of how we are working to bring culture to the streets of Leicester and make art accessible to all.”. The bid is backed by many artists, including Shauna Richardson in the hopes of displaying Leicesters lively and vibrant art scenes.

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I love typography, and a lot of this comes from the various places that I have lived around the world as certain typefaces are synonymous with a particular country or culture. A strong example of this is the campaign by EF (Education First) a company with learning language centres across the globe.
The typographic artist behind this, Albin Holmqvist created separate typographic illustrations based on the feel of a word, often in a different language or slang from a particular country.

The are almost visual stylized dictionary definitions of a words specific to a culture or country.
For example the video ‘Paris’ uses typefaces that are very similar to ‘Didot’ by Francois Ambroise Didot and ‘Peignot’ by A.M Cassande in 1938. They often display similar traits to Art Nouveau typefaces of the ornate and organic detailing or those similar to Art Deco of the long, geometric look. The choice of typeface becomes extremely important in portraying not only a literal message but also a visual expression and perhaps even an identity of a country or culture.

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Fig 1 Screenshot from Live the Language- Paris video Fig 2 – Screenshot from Live the Language- Paris video

There is also an obvious reference to the Original London Underground logo by Edward Johnston in the ‘London’ video. The logo itself became a cultural icon and is synonymous with British culture.

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Fig 3 Original concept for London Underground by Edward Johnston’s c.1910’s.  Fig 4 Screenshot from Live the Language- London video


Fig 5 Eric Gills ‘Gill Sans’ 1926

Edward Johnstons logo design in turn lead to designer Eric Gill creating Gill Sans in 1926, a typeface which was inspired by the Underground logo. The typeface has since been used by the British rail, Penguin Books as well as the BBC.


Fig 6 Collection of Penguin books using Gill Sans

In the ‘Sydney’ video he uses the slang words of ‘Thong’, meaning flip flop and ‘Barbie’, a shortening of the word BBQ to highlight their importance in Australian culture. I also really like he begins bringing in other important cultural and historical references by drawing small icons of landmarks such as the Sydney opera house in Australia, crowns for British culture and multiple other icons surrounding certain cities around the typography.

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Fig 7 Screenshot from Live the Language- Sydney video     Fig 8 Screenshot from Live the Language- Sydney video

typefaces help to evoke a certain feeling and some are synonymous to cultures and countries, helping to make these campaign videos so effective. Holmqvist uses typography to explore the interaction between the look of type and what type actually says (its definition). By exploring both the visual and verbal sense of the word, he has encapsulated parts of each countrys culture and identity. Being that EF are a company that are a focused on language learning, it seems only appropriate that the visual language is as important as the verbal language, demonstrated in their video series campaign.

To me it really enforces Twemlows idea on how graphic design is not just an artform but is a language itself for different culutres, actively saying something about identity: ‘Activities such as graphic design are expressions that indicate the diversity and richness of any given culture’ – Alice Twemlow

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Fig 1,2,4, 7,8 Screenshots from  videos  found here

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TWEMLOW, A. (2006) Being here: local tendencies in graphic design. What is graphic design for?Hove: Rotovision: pg. 23

In recent years, there has been a large effort to improve the quality of food packaging to help consumers understand more about what they are putting into their bodies to fit their daily nutrient requirement.  The GDA label [Fig2] introduced in 1998 as well as the ‘traffic light’ system [Fig 1] that features on food labels to give an indication on how ‘healthy’ a certain product is.

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Fig 1 an example of a traffic light label c.2013  Fig 2 An example of a modern GDA label c.2013

More recently, packaging is being developed that has been dubbed ‘intelligent’ or ‘smart’ as it is active in showing the freshness of its content. It does this by analysing the volume of oxygen in the package and the indicator dye changes colour as a result, helping to warn the consumer. Similarly, the amount of ammonia in meat packaging helps to suggests its freshness. This certainly gets rid of the awful ‘sniff test’ ritual that people endure on a regular basis, if not daily being a student. Scottish company ‘Insignia’ has been working on existing ‘smart pigment’ technologies’ to change the way consumers, producers and packagers work around packaging.

With UK households throwing away over 560 tonnes of food waste per year, smart packaging would be a clear benefit in removing the confusion surrounding sell by dates, making it easier for the consumer to use and potentially reduce the amount of food waste produced in the UK. This is a major concern, especially to designers in the industry such as Steven Heller; “Paper production and printing are among the largest polluting industries in the world, affecting not only trees and land use but alos air quality and water resources”.

In the medical and pharmaceutical world ‘smart packaging’ is being developed to help not only extending the shelf life of many products, but ensuring safer use by consumers as the printed pigments change colour as they near going out of date.

packaging   syringe

Fig 3  An example of active prescription packaging Fig 4 an example of ‘smart syringes’

Both the behavior changing syringes [Fig4] being developed as well as self-expiring packaging [Fig3]. This would certainly help in leaps and bounds and have far reaching impacts globally in which consumers would not have to guess whether their medicine is safe to use or not.

But what does this all mean for graphic designers? Packaging has indeed become more simpler, attempting to appeal to target audiences. This can be seen by the kinds of value ranges from different supermarkets aiming for simple packaging connoting a lower price compared to other products. For graphic designers, there would be the obvious challenge of keeping packaging exciting and attention grabbing for consumers, based around the changes of pigments used for printing.

Designers like Ko Yang and design company TO-GENKYO have worked to show two very different approaches the the graphic design conundrum designers may face in the near future. TO-GENKYO use the idea of an hourglass, a symbol of time to reflect when the food is no longer edible, according to the changes in the dye [Fig 5-7] . Similalry Ko Yang, takes a more vibrant approach showing a milk carton turning from a liquid to a solid through a very ‘cheesy’ looking design [Fig 8]

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Fig 5-7 TO-GENKYO’s smart labels c.2008


Fig 8 Ko Yangs self expiring milk packaging c.2008

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Fig 5- 7 Screenshots from TO-GENKYO’s website

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HELLER,S. and VIENNE, V. 100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design. Lawrence King Publishing: London (2012) PP.136- 137


I particularly love Christmas, not only just for the presents but for the atmosphere created by various aspects of design that floods into shops through different kinds of packaging, advertising and shop dressing.
One of my particular favourites was the work of Sanna Annukka for Marks and Spencers in 2010. Being a half British and  a half Finnish designer, she uses  a strong nordic identity seen throughout her body of work of which her whimsical folk style works well around the Christmas  period.


Fig 1 Marks &spencers Christmas Biscuit tins


Fig 2 side view of Biscuit tin by Sanna Annukka


Fig 3 Another Biscuit tin designed by Sanna Annukka

She predominantly uses the typical colours of green and red for the tins but also uses cold tones of blues to represent winter.

Her work is very playful and the organic shapes and her use of hand, screen and wood printing gives it a certain aesthetic. The work often contains a mixture of earthy tones, very reminiscent of the 1960’s and 1970’s contrasted with the brighter  more saturated colours for her packaging for Marks and Spencers. She uses a white or a neutral colour as a highlight, giving it quite a simple and  clean look, complimenting her heavy use of organic geometric shapes. I also noticed how symmetrical her work is as her work often seems to mirror. This can be seen through all the small intricate shapes, placed with other shapes to create more complexity.

Her vibrant work is very reminiscent of Marimekko design and printmaking. Finnish folk art typically is heavily inspired by nature and animals and contains many references to the natural world such as woodland creatures, leaves and intricate organic shapes.
In a way, this can be seen as ironic as ‘Marks and Spencers’ is known for its “British-ness” and its Christmas packaging takes point from an entirely different culture of Scandinavian folk art and typical Finnish Design.

All be it pretty to look at, packaging, especially at Christmas produces around 125,000 tonnes of waste in Britain alone. We collectively would be able to wrap the world nine times over with our 226,800 miles of wrapping paper.

Her body of work also extends to other packaging such as pop artists Keane album cover for ‘Under the Iron Sea’ in 2006. She created both the CD packaging as well as fold out storybook style digipak.

Again she uses quite a limited colour palette, of blue and green tones against the contrast of white of the background and the highlights. I also noticed how she uses the complimentary colour of orange to create a fitting contrast details on the digipak.


Fig 4 Digipak design for Keane


Fig 5 CD cover Design for Keane
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For the majority of my life, I have been surrounded by design from packaging of the food  I eat or branding of the clothes I wear. So it comes as no surprise that all these elements have molded who I am as a designer and my physical approach to design.

Fig 1 ‘History of the Title sequence’ by From Form 2011

I have always had a strong love for the cinema, mostly in the title sequences before or a film as the typography to me, sets the whole mood and creates the right atmosphere for the audience. One of my favourite designers for this being Saul Bass (1920-1966) who was responsible for some of the greatest and  title sequences such as ‘Psycho’ (Fig 4) , ‘Vertigo’ (Fig 2) and ‘North by Northwest'(Fig 3) . His use of kinetic typography (moving text or type) was innovative of the time and has inspired many homages such as the opening sequences for ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Catch me if you Can’. I elected to take animation for my second year at University inspired by title sequences of films. I highly admire not only his motion design, but his logo work and his ability to create a strong brand identity through simple means.

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Fig2    Screenshot from the title sequence of ‘Vertigo’   1958   Fig 3 Screenshot from the title sequence of ‘North by Northwest’ 1959


Fig 4   Screenshot from the title sequence of ‘Psycho’ 1960

This in turn has created an obsession of Graphic Design and illustration from the 1960’s. I am heavily influenced with this design period as designers and illustrators were trying to find new ways of showing things in more minimalistic way through limited colour palettes and bold graphic shapes. America was at the height of its consumerism and this can be seen through its advertising. The market was flooded a variety of products and advertisers had the hard task of being able to communicate its worth effectively to an audience. This is most prevalent by the work of Bill Bernbach who most famously did the Volkswagen campaign titled ‘The lemon’ (Fig 5) and ‘Think Small’ c.1960’s.

Not only is the advert amusingly well written, but it shows clever advertising as Americas car market was heavily dominated by large American cars. Who would have wanted to buy a funny little German car before this?


Fig 5 ‘The Lemon Advert’ c.1960’s by DDB

My adoration for typography has influenced my field of study to animation and packaging in my Graphic Design degree. Both of which I hope that I can create design with elements strong graphic identity, inspired by Saul Bass, and a more humourous approach to design like Bill Bernbach.

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Jennifer Bass, Pat Kirkham (2011) Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design. Laurence King.

Jim Heimann (2012) Advertising from the Mad Men Era. Taschen.