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Computer Arts Projects

Learning new skills

by Dean on March 8, 2010

Post image for Learning new skills

This blog is now part of The Good Content Company. Thanks for stopping by!

Have you ever turned down a job because you didn’t have the necessary skills?

Clients are increasingly expecting more from freelancers as new design projects criss-cross different media platforms. It’s why many illustrators and designers are keen to boost their creative know-how by trying out new things such as animation, 3D modelling and web design.

This typically means jumping in at the deep-end with new software, such as Cinema 4D, Maya, 3dsMax, After Effects, HTML or Flash. But it’s not as hard as you might think and the long-term rewards usually outweigh any short-term pain.
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Kimou Meyer (aka Grotesk) interview

by Dean on November 5, 2009

grotesk kimou meyer interview Kimou Meyer (aka Grotesk) interview

New York-based graphic designer Kimou Meyer also goes by the name ‘Grotesk’.

Below is a snippet of an interview with Meyer written for Computer Arts Projects magazine. It talks about Meyer’s design philosophy, his tenure as Creative Director at Zoo York and his plans for the future.

The name [Grotesk] is perfect for Meyer, who was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland. He can trace his passion for art back to teenage days of spray-painting Genevan brick with local graffiti artist DEKA.

From there, he absorbed all that La Cambre art school in Brussels could teach him, before moving to New York to work for Base Design and Ecko Unlimited.

As a creative freelancer, he’s worked for big-hitters such as Nike, Uniqlo, Stussy and Virgin Records. Until recently he was the Creative Director of Zoo York, a feisty, East Coast streetwear brand heavily influenced by skateboarding, graffiti, hip-hop, punk and “everything inbetween.”

Like many graphic designers, the secret to Meyer’s success is a combination of raw talent and punishing hard work.

He describes his style as: “neo-retro sarcastic bold and minimal, with simple shapes and a straightforward message.” His work is edgy, urban and often provocative, featuring strong elements of satire and social commentary.

It’s an artistic approach that has its roots back in Switzerland, where Meyer says he grew up in a “socialist household with a mom heavily involved in politics.” But his inspiration oozes from New York (he currently lives in Brookyln), which Meyer describes as “like the entire planet in one city.”

The full article appears in Computer Arts Projects, issue 130.


British design pioneers

by Dean on September 28, 2009

british design British design pioneers

Here are excerpts from four profile pieces written for Computer Arts projects magazine (issue 129). The brief was to focus on designers whose work is recognisably and quintessentially British…

Profile #1: Banksy

Everybody knows British graffiti artist Banksy. And yet nobody really knows him. He may (or may not) have been born in Bristol in the mid-1970s. He may (or may not) be the son of a photocopier technician. Only a few people have ever met Banksy. The Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone has, describing him as a cross between “Jimmy Nail and British rapper Mike Skinner”. While some artists revel in their fame, Banksy’s anonymity is a refreshing diversion in a culture obsessed with celebrity.

Profile #2: Jonathan Ive

Jonathan Ive isn’t one for speaking out. Shy and quietly focused, the senior vice president of Industrial Design at Apple is rarely interviewed. And even when he is, the British-born designer rarely gives anything away. He lets his design portfolio do the talking – the candy-coloured iMacs, iPods, MacBooks, Powerbooks and, most recently, the iPhone. Ive’s imagination is steered by a simplicity and purity that sits perfectly with Apple’s commitment to invention and innovation…

Profile #3: Matthew Carter

The Design Museum has called Matthew Carter the “most important typography designer of our time” and it’s easy to see why. His typefaces have defined magazines including Time, Newsweek, Wired and National Geographic; and newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post and The Guardian. He also developed the Verdana font for Microsoft, which revolutionised text display on computer screens. With over 70 fonts to his name, Matthew Carter’s typographical work has been viewed by billions…

Profile #4: Jonathan Barnbrook

The Design Museum proclaims Jonathan Barnbrook as “one of the UK’s most active graphic designers.” It says that he has pioneered the notion of “graphic design with a social conscience” and “makes strong statements about corporate culture, consumerism, war and international politics.” Barnbrook Design was founded in 1990 and continues to produce a steady mix of print and film work including CD covers, motion graphics, corporate identities, typefaces, magazines and books…

The full text of these profiles appears in Computer Arts Projects magazine, issue 129.


Mogollon interview

by Dean on August 1, 2009

mogollonxv Mogollon interview

New York-based creative agency Mogollon has made a name for itself in the music business. I chatted to co-founder Monica Brand for this article in Computer Arts Projects.

Look up Mogollon on Google and the word describes a prehistoric desert people of the American south west, a spectacular mountain rim, a country rock band and a New Mexico ghost town. It’s also the name of the New York-based creative outfit founded by Monica Brand and Francisco Lopez. With a mission to “produce innovative visual work,” Mogollon has built up an enviable roster of clients that includes Madonna, VH1, Warner Bros. and Absolut Vodka.

By any definition, Mogollon can be considered to have ‘made it’.

Beyond their core music work, Mogollon has produced brand identies for CC SKYE, Lisa Linhardt and Vagabond; digital ads for Absolut Vodka; plus film production design for TM Productions.

Ask Monica Brand what her favourite project is and she’s faced with a huge choice. The Escher-inspired logo design on the Sounds of Om CD cover? The Japanese-style waves and dripping clouds that define the website for jeweller Stacy Nolan? Or how about the magazine work they’ve done for the likes of Blender, Tush and Hint? As far as we’re concerned, the art direction for Lisa Lindhardt’s jewellery studio (‘A village east’) is quite simply breathtaking.

“Honestly?” She says. “The covers that we do for our own music mixes are our favourites, and ironically enough, they are our clients favourites as well.” Francisco Lopez regularly puts together the streaming equivalent of the old mix tape for Mogollon FM and makes the collections available on their website. Each selection has its own virtual cover art. And while this might seem like an indulgence, each virtual album is a promo tool, an ongoing digital advert for Mogollon’s artistry.


whitevoid 1 Interactive design   Controlling clicks

Another feature for Computer Arts Projects magazine. This one looks at some innovative website experiments with outstanding graphical user interfaces (GUIs). It goes something like this…

According to web usability king Steve Krug, the first law of interface design should be: “don’t make me think.” He’s written a best-selling book about it, preaching that good web design should be simple, structured and obvious.

And he makes a strong case. He believes that the majority of Internet users crave a “reassuring sense of familiarity” when they visit a website. They like to know where the main menu is, what their options are and where they can click next. “Users like conventions,” says Krug, “even if designers find them constraining.”

Then again, some websites push the boundaries. On, photographer Senol Zorlu showcases his portfolio work on a stunning, scrollable photo-wall built in Flash. While Japanese clothing company Unicloq goes to town with a bold, fast-cutting combination of info-graphics and video footage.

Web design in 2009 is characterised by dramatic visuals – think Flash animation and bold artwork; oversized typography, 3D effects and full-screen video. But designers are also keen to develop fresh and innovative UIs to engage and interact with website visitors. By sidestepping conventional page furniture, sites like these can stop you dead in your tracks.

The guiding principle isn’t so much “Don’t make me think”. It’s “go on, surprise me!”.

There are some great websites on show here, including: Sour Sally, Thank You begins with a T and Barcinski JeanJean.

The full text of this feature appears in the ‘Interactive issue’ (#125) of Computer Arts Projects.

Oh, and for anybody wondering what the GUI depicted in the image here is, it’s WHITEvoid’s incredibly speedy (and Webby Award-winning) 3D portfolio system built in Papervision3D.

[There's currently no link to this article. But you can find issues of Computer Arts Projects at Want to know more? Find Computer Arts online at]


Mark Verhaagen interview

by Dean on May 14, 2009

monkey2 Mark Verhaagen interview

Rotterdam-based digital artist Mark Verhaagen defines his style as a “smooth digital gradient extravaganza”. I interviewed him for Computer Arts Projects magazine to find out exactly what that means…

Ask Dutch illustrator Mark Verhaagen about what inspires him and he’ll throw a bucket load of influences at you. Retro design, toys, pop culture, Sci-Fi and fantasy, childhood memories, nature, comics and old cartoons by Disney and Fleischer.

All of these have defined and shaped a distinctive look-and-feel that adds a hint of something alien to everything he creates – a bug-eyed monkey; flying robots; a group of white extraterrestrials praising Vodafone’s mighty Mobile Broadband and Email service.

Verhaagen describes his style as a “smooth digital gradient extravaganza with organic elements”. He regularly pulls in visual influences from retro science fiction and fantasy.

“I’ve always liked the work of Jim Henson,” he explains. “Unlike the hyper realistic special effects of today, Henson’s puppets were recognisable as puppets, but were so cool and human, and beautifully made, that you fully accepted them as characters telling a story…

“Director Michel Gondry [Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind] often works in the same way. He makes his special effects almost in a clumsy and childlike way. Most of the things I find visually attractive, such as old toys and old animation, have that same feel of imperfection.”

The full text of this feature appears in the ‘Illustration issue’ (#123) of Computer Arts Projects.

[There's currently no link to this article. But you can find issues of Computer Arts Projects at Want to know more? Find Computer Arts online at]


20 ways to get your site noticed today

by Dean on March 26, 2009

seo tips 20 ways to get your site noticed today

How can you make your website stand out on the web? In a recent feature for Computer Arts Projects magazine, I compiled 20 SEO and site promotion tips to help designers get noticed online.

With billions of blogs and websites vying for eyeballs on the Internet, how can you make yours stand out from the crowd? It’s no good putting up a portfolio website and hoping that people will just find you. You’ve got to market yourself.

This process starts with having a good, easy-to-navigate website and strong content. But it’s also about getting out there on the web – interacting, chatting, commenting, advertising, Twittering, Flickring and Facebooking…

The key thing to remember is that there is no magic bullet in terms of site promotion. Instead, boosting your web profile (and ultimately your visitor numbers) is a combination of several tactics that can have long-term benefits.

In short: you need to optimise your site so it can be found easily by search engines; you need to tell people where your site is; and you need to provide something good for visitors to read once they get there. What follows are 20 tips designed to help you get your site noticed.

1. Know your keywords

Most websites get their traffic through search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Windows Live. So what are the search keywords that you need to tap into? What might people type into Google to find your site or an article you’ve written? You can test out search terms by using tools such as Wordtracker and the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.

Type ‘illustrator’ into the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and you’ll be able to see an estimate of how many searches the term gets, along with related searches such as ‘illustration’, ‘illustrators’, ‘book illustration’ and ‘fashion illustration’. Type ‘graphic design’ into the same tool and you’ll see that the phrase ‘graphic design’ has a higher search volume than ‘graphic designer’.

2. Use your keywords effectively

Optimising your site by embedding relevant keywords in your content is an easy way to make it more visible to the search engines. At the very least, your site’s tag should include those keywords that best describe your skills – ‘illustrator’, ‘graphic designer’, ‘animator’, etc. </p> <p>Take a look at, for example. Not only has the site owner used the word ‘illustrator’ in the web URL, but the site’s <title> tag reads: “Ben The Illustrator! Illustration, Landscapes, Sunshine.” In addition to using keywords in your website’s <title> tag, you should also work them into your categories, URLs, post titles and subheadings where appropriate. Don’t overdo it, though. Search engines will penalise your site if you stuff it to the brim with keywords. Keep a natural balance.</p></blockquote> <p>For the remaining 18 SEO tips (including blogging, linkbaiting and site promotion), you’ll need to pick up a copy of Computer Arts Projects. </p> <p>[There's currently no link to this article. But you can find issues of Computer Arts Projects at Want to know more? Find Computer Arts online at]</p> <p class="to_comments"><span class="bracket">{</span> <a href="" rel="nofollow"><span>0</span> comments</a> <span class="bracket">}</span></p> </div> </div> <div class="post-480 post hentry category-blog tag-computer-arts-projects tag-freelance-writing post_box" id="post-480"> <div class="headline_area"> <h2 class="entry-title"><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent link to Benny Gold interview">Benny Gold interview</a></h2> <p class="headline_meta">by <span class="author vcard fn">Dean</span> on <abbr class="published" title="2009-03-16">March 16, 2009</abbr></p> </div> <div class="format_text entry-content"> <p><img style="border: 0pt none; float:left; padding-right:10px; padding-bottom:15px" width="500" src="" title="Freelance writer | Benny Gold interview" alt="benny gold sticker Benny Gold interview" /></p> <p>How do you go from an in-house designer to owning your own global brand? I interviewed Benny Gold for Computer Arts Projects magazine about self-promotion and pimping out portfolios… </p> <blockquote><p>Do a Google search for ‘Benny Gold’ and you’ll find that the San Francisco-based graphic designer is all over the web. </p> <p>Beyond maintaining his website at <a href=""></a>, he also writes various columns, runs an online shop, has a MySpace page, a Facebook profile and a Twitter ID. </p> <p>And it’s not just not high-tech promotional tools that help Benny Gold build his brand. “My friend Bryan spotted my sticker on a Mexican Mariachi band heading to work,” he remembers. “I have no idea how the sticker got there but it’s an honour greater than any press I could possibly get.” </p> <p>Gold is best known for his logo work. “My favourite type of projects are identity jobs. I really enjoy working on logos,” he says. “There is a lot of brainstorming and thought that goes into them and I find them extremely challenging and exciting… </p> <p>“I have had the pleasure of creating the original identities for Huf, Mash, Highsnobiety and many more. I’ve also worked with many notable clients, including: Stussy, Gravis, Carhart Europe, Nike, Adidas, Real Skateboards, Ipath and DVS footwear. In addition to freelancing I also run a signature clothing label – the Benny Gold brand.”</p></blockquote> <p>The article goes on to talk about Benny Gold’s identity/logo work for Mash, Huf and City Grounds, while exploring the various methods he uses to promote himself as a freelance designer. </p> <blockquote><p>“Promotion is important to keep your work fresh in people’s minds so when a job does come up you are their first thought,” Gold suggests. </p> <p>“The best way to stand out is to put out good work… Concepts are the strongest part of any design portfolio. Everyone knows how to use a computer and programs these days, so it’s not hard to make things look good.” </p> <p>But while strong concepts and ideas are the bedrock of good design, self promotion is vitally important. “In a weird way, promoting yourself is almost as important as the work itself,” Gold adds. “And the more tools you use the better.” </p></blockquote> <p>This feature appears in Computer Arts Projects, issue 122.</p> <p>[There's currently no link to this article. But you can find issues of Computer Arts Projects at Want to know more? Find Computer Arts online at]</p> <p class="to_comments"><span class="bracket">{</span> <a href="" rel="nofollow"><span>0</span> comments</a> <span class="bracket">}</span></p> </div> </div> <div class="post-475 post hentry category-blog tag-computer-arts-projects tag-freelance-writing post_box" id="post-475"> <div class="headline_area"> <h2 class="entry-title"><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent link to The future of games design">The future of games design</a></h2> <p class="headline_meta">by <span class="author vcard fn">Dean</span> on <abbr class="published" title="2009-03-14">March 14, 2009</abbr></p> </div> <div class="format_text entry-content"> <p><img style="border: 0pt none; float:left; padding-right:10px; padding-bottom:15px" width="500" src="" title="Freelance writer | The future of games design" alt="afro samurai1 The future of games design" /></p> <p>Does anybody take creative risks with video games any more? For this article in <a href="">Computer Arts Projects</a> magazine, I was commissioned to look at games that are pushing the boundaries of visual design.</p> <blockquote><p>Last year was a fantastic year for video game design. Thanks to the HD capabilities of the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, game characters, backgrounds and objects were sharper and far more detailed than ever before. </p> <p>Some games even stood out thanks to their striking visual design. Consider the ‘destroyed beauty’ of <em>Gears of War 2</em>; the sterile, high-contrast futurism of <em>Mirror’s Edge</em>; or <em>Braid</em>, which used the impressionistic artwork of David Hellman to memorable effect. </p> <p>PSP oddity <em>Echochrome</em>, meanwhile, challenged players to guide an artist’s mannequin through bleached, space-twisting M.C Escher puzzles. </p> <p>So what’s next? While today’s titles are powered by increasingly sophisticated middleware, it’s not the mathematical cleverness of Epic’s Unreal Engine or Havok Physics that will ultimately turn heads. </p> <p>It’s going to be the visuals. But in an increasingly crowded market, 2009’s wannabe classics need to do something different to catch the public eye. </p> <p>Take Namco Bandai’s <em>Afro Samurai</em>, for example. Based on a Manga comic by Takashi Okazaki, the game is a head-on collision between two distinctive styles – Japanese feudalism and African-American pop culture. </p> <p>Like the recent Afro Samurai animé series, the game draws upon the voice of Samuel L. Jackson and a hip-hop score by Wu Tang Clanner RZA in its pursuit of cold-blooded ‘cool’.</p></blockquote> <p>The article goes on to cover <em>MadWorld</em> for the Wii, <em>Bioshock 2</em>, <em>Resident Evil 5</em>, <em>Heavy Rain</em> and the stop-motion animation of <em>Cletus Clay</em>.</p> <p>[There's currently no link to this article. But you can find issues of Computer Arts Projects at Want to know more? Find Computer Arts online at]</p> <p class="to_comments"><span class="bracket">{</span> <a href="" rel="nofollow"><span>0</span> comments</a> <span class="bracket">}</span></p> </div> </div> <div class="post-345 post hentry category-blog tag-computer-arts-projects tag-freelance-writing post_box" id="post-345"> <div class="headline_area"> <h2 class="entry-title"><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent link to Logo redesigns – “Extreme Makeover”">Logo redesigns – “Extreme Makeover”</a></h2> <p class="headline_meta">by <span class="author vcard fn">Dean</span> on <abbr class="published" title="2009-01-20">January 20, 2009</abbr></p> </div> <div class="format_text entry-content"> <p><img style="border: 0pt none; float:left; padding-right:10px; padding-bottom:15px" width="500" src="" title="Freelance writer | Logo redesigns Extreme Makeover" alt="animal planet Logo redesigns Extreme Makeover" /></p> <p>This is another freelance feature that appears in issue 120 (February 2009) of <a href="">Computer Arts Projects</a> magazine. </p> <p>Titled “Extreme Makeover”, the article looks at how redesigning a logo can reinvigorate and modernise a fading brand. </p> <p>The brief called for mini-interviews with the client company or the design agency, looking at what Computer Arts Projects readers can learn from the featured redesigns, why companies decide to redesign and how they can improve their own branding work.</p> <p>Here’s an excerpt from the article itself:</p> <blockquote><p>Appearance is everything and a strong logo is a powerful way to make a brand stand out from the crowd. Consider the red, white and blue of the Pepsi emblem, the BBC’s solemn multi-platform typography or the classic Mercedes Benz badge. </p> <p>Yet even these global brands have needed to freshen up their image to stay in touch with their target markets. Only a few logos, such as Nike’s iconic ’swoosh’ and McDonald’s ‘golden arches’ have stood the test of time.</p> <p>A logo redesign can reinvigorate a tired or fading brand. On the one hand, this could involve simply tweaking the logo or updating the typeface. </p> <p>For example, when Xerox rebranded in January 2008, it kept faith with its recognisable red palette, but updated its 40-year old logo by changing the font (to FS Albert) and adding a red sphere (to convey the idea of a global company). </p> <p>The result is a softer, round-edged wordmark and a new brand icon that is more relevant and less formal.</p> <h3>The brand bond</h3> <p>Logos are a key factor in our bond with an individual brand. So it’s hardly surprising that some companies don’t want to risk a well-developed identity with a wholesale logo redesign. </p> <p>There’s something in the old “if it ‘aint broke…” mantra. Instead, they opt for smaller, more subtle changes to their logos. </p> <p>You can see this sort of logo-modding going on everywhere. For example, MSNBC swapped its austere uppercase type for a lowercase sans serif font. </p> <p>US airline Delta revamped its iconic pyramid (now red, instead of blue/red) and chose a more sophisticated uppercase font. </p> <p>Pepsi is also tweaking its brand image, updating its iconic Pepsi emblem to feature a series of so-called ’smiles’. Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max will also use a minimalist lowercase font.</p></blockquote> <p>You get the idea. The rest of the feature covered logos including: Mapquest, Dolby, The Museum of London, Animal Planet, Five and Quantas.</p> <p>[There's currently no link to this article. But you can find issues of Computer Arts Projects at <a href=""></a>. Want to know more? Find Computer Arts online at <a href=""></a>.]</p> <p class="to_comments"><span class="bracket">{</span> <a href="" rel="nofollow"><span>0</span> comments</a> <span class="bracket">}</span></p> </div> </div> <div class="prev_next"> <p class="previous"><a href="" >← Previous Entries</a></p> </div> </div> <div id="sidebars"> <div id="sidebar_1" class="sidebar"> <ul class="sidebar_list"> <li class="widget widget_pages" id="pages-3"><h3>What I do</h3> <ul> <li class="page_item page-item-857"><a href="" title="Copywriting services">Copywriting services</a></li> <li class="page_item page-item-848"><a href="" title="Freelance editing services">Freelance editing services</a></li> <li class="page_item page-item-494"><a href="" title="Freelance writing services">Freelance writing services</a></li> <li class="page_item page-item-895"><a href="" title="Web content services">Web content services</a></li> </ul> </li><li class="widget widget_text" id="text-4"><h3>Testimonials</h3> <div class="textwidget"><a href="">See what people say about me</a></div> </li><li class="widget Social_Widget" id="social-widget-3"><h3>Follow me</h3><div class="socialmedia-buttons"> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"> <img class="subscribes" src="" alt="Follow me on Facebook" title="Follow me on Facebook" style="opacity: 0.8; -moz-opacity: 0.8;"/></a> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="subscribes" src="" alt="Follow me on Twitter" title="Follow me on Twitter" style="opacity: 0.8; -moz-opacity: 0.8;" /></a><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="subscribes" src="" alt="Follow me on LinkedIn" title="Follow me on LinkedIn" style="opacity: 0.8; -moz-opacity: 0.8;" /></a><a href="" rel="nofollow"><img class="subscribes" src="" alt="Subscribe to our RSS Feeds" title="Subscribe to our RSS Feeds" style="opacity: 0.8; -moz-opacity: 0.8;" /></a></div></li><li class="widget widget_rss" id="rss-3"><h3><a class='rsswidget' href='' title='Syndicate this content'><img style='background:orange;color:white;border:none;' width='14' height='14' src='' alt='RSS' /></a> <a class='rsswidget' href='' title='A freelance writer for all your editing, blogging, reviewing, copywriting and subbing needs'>Feed</a></h3><ul><li><a class='rsswidget' href='' title='I’ve recently been doing some work on ActiveDad, a new blog by Republic Publishing. 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