Afterlife – Lee Fairbrother

Today we had the pleasure of having Lee Fairbrother come in to talk to us for this weeks afterlife session. Lee is the creative director at Accelerate, which is a digital agency based in Hammersmith, London.

As part of his talk, Lee gave us 25 tips which he though may be useful to us.

  1. Make a plan.
    What do you want to do?

    “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” – Mike Tyson

    However also be wary of the fact that plans can change also, so you should learn to move with your plans.

  2. Your portfolio is your life story.
    Your portfolio needs to be new, exciting, and have your personality all about it.
    Tony Cullingham says that portfolios should:
    Show craft skills, writing, design, art direction and photoshop skills
    Show ads, games and business ideas
    Show a surprise on every page
    Show that you are an enriched person who takes an interest in culture, creativity and humanity.
    It should say “You’ve got to meet me”
  3. Know the industry
    Their are lots of different types of agencies in the industry, however the big four are: Advertising, Brand, Digital, Print.
    Research the agencies, research the different types of roles, know their accounts and their work, know their creative directors, know who is winning the awards.
  4. Never stop learning
    Read everything, do tutorials, watch videos, go to meet ups, store your knowledge, share your knowledge.
  5. Understand the difference between idea and execution
    An idea is better described as the strategic driven concept in answer to a given brief. The execution is the creative output of the said concept (the ad/design/film/etc). You can’t have on without the other – if you do it’ll usually be rubbish.
    Always have a strategy and create with purpose.
  6. Focus on the benefit
    How is it going to change the end users life? Visually communicate that point as simply as possible.
    What is the purpose? What is the point?
  7. Never under estimate the power of simplicity
    Screen Shot 2017-02-19 at 22.43.09.png
  8. Scamping/Sketching = Strength – Attachment
    Through sketching you lose any attachment you have to specific ideas.
  9. Pretotype then prototype then build
    Pretotype: The art and science of faking it before making it. Where it refers to an innovative product or service. Fake door: put advert on internet, counted how many click that ad got. Mechanical turk: using a human to prove a product works. Impersonator: Elon Muss, taking a current product and editing it and using it as your own. Pinocchio: Creating the most creative version that proves it works, and then talking to people about it. One night stand: Stand that pops up for a day. MVP: Minimum viable product.
  10. Good is the enemy of great
    Too many people in the industry settle for great. Good is just a step away from average, you need to push to get to great and award winning.
  11. Build a network + meet other creatives.
    Go to meet ups
    Ask creative/design directors for their advice
    You can speed date – creatives
    Use Linked-in/Behance/Dribble
    Stay in touch with the people around you
  12. Find your mentor – today.
    They can offer your guidance.
    Who? Depends on what you want to do.
    Know when its not working.
    What do mentors get out of it? Creating a contact, tapping into the future mentees network.
    If you don’t ask, you won’t get.
  13. Get yourself out there.
    Brand yourself but remember taste and trend.
    You need a website – a great website. Squarespace as a recommendation.
    Get your foot in the door. There is no such thing as originality but you have to find the closest thing too it.
  14. When you find a job, make the role your own.
    Ask yourself honestly, do you want a job or a career?
    Push the boundaries of what is asked of you.
    Ask questions – lots of questions. Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions.
    Expect to hear no.
    Don’t be afraid of anyone, they’re just people.
    Hard work doesn’t often go unnoticed.
  15. Your biggest asset is your team around you
    Create thinking environments with purpose. An environment where everybody is able to feel comfortable coming up with new ideas, no stupid ideas.
    Change the scenery.
    Consider every idea.
    Never make fun of anyone who has an idea.
    Make notes/scamp/save all that thinking. Wait for them to finish.
  16. Present better than Don Draper
    You also work in sales. A great commercial creative is also a great client manager.
    Practise both selling and public speaking.
  17. Be resilient.
    Stay strong – Karma is a bitch.
  18. Radical Candour.
    Giving feedback to a person you know well enough to be honest with, and about understanding that feedback.
    Don’t take feedback personally.
  19. Choose when to take advice and when to leave it.
    Listen to advice – decide which parts of valuable and leave the rest behind.
  20. You should get paid in more than money.
    Knowledge, accounts, team, leaders, opportunities.
    Understand what else there is to offer.. Equity/shares/promotion/bonuses.
    Don’t sell yourself short.
  21. Know when it’s time to move on.
    Don’t hang around waiting for things to get better, they usually don’t.

    “This is your life and its ending one minute at a time” – Chuck Palahniuk/Author fight club

  22. Procrastination will kill you.
    Take it head on. Know what your vices are and avoid them. Find a new environment. Get started. Ask for feedback on whatever it is you’re doing – good or bad, it will keep you going.
  23. No matter where your career takes you, don’t become a dick.
    Theres a lot in the industry. Break the cycle.
  24. Work hard + Be nice + be on time = success.
    People remember and with every project you work on you’ll leave more than just great work.
  25. Love it
    A designer solves problems by problems by blending art, science, math, psychology, and many other disciplines to create something for the world to use.

Lee also talked to use about how we can price ourselves when doing freelance work. He said to look online and see what other junior designers offer. Don’t price yourself against a agency though.

Good is the enemy of great – blog.

Lee’s talk was extremely useful and full of invaluable tips which I will definitely be referring back to in the future and also taking note of, and working on now. I feel extremely lucky that we got to have a talk from such an inspiring person and it made me feel extremely motivated for the future.


Google Digital Garage

Today, I had the opportunity to attend a lecture hosted by the Google Digital Garage team. The workshop is part of a series of workshops that I had the opportunity to sign up to, and aims to help you increase your online presence as part of your profession. I thought it would be really beneficial to attend.

The event was organised by the centre for entrepreneurship at the University, and was hosted Mike from the Google Digital Garage team. They offer free tips and advice to people through presentations and free one to one mentoring sessions during the week at the Tramshed in Cardiff.

Part One.


  1. Building an optimised and consumer friendly website
  2. Boost your social media presence and content
  3. Manage your online presence on google

The United Kingdoms online economy is booming, 77% of people in the UK have brought online in the last few months. On average, we each spend £2000 per person online shopping every single year. Therefor if you have a small business with a strong web presence, it can create twice the business growth and job creation, and could cause a 50% increase in sales.

Build an optimised and consumer friendly website

If you build your own website:

  • You will have full control over your brand.
  • You will also have the opportunity for advanced options.
  • However, the problem with building your own website is that they can be difficult to create and very costly.

If you use other web platforms, for example eBay and Not on the High Street, to advertise your brand:

  • The set up is really quick.
  • It’s often free, or low cost, to use.
  • However, its likely that you will have less control over customisation of your page

So the advice is to not put all your eggs in one basket, you can’t rely on just one platform. Advertise across many.

For a website, you need your own domain name, this is your URL web address. To get this you need to register online, this can be quite simple and easy to use and once its done you get storage for your website. However there is a cost associated with registering a domain name.

Best practices for building a successful website

  • Clean purpose and goal.
  • Clean layout and navigation. (What message do you want to convey to users?)
  • Strong call to action.
  • Fast page loading time (A good loading time on average is 3 to 5 seconds. Any more than this customers are likely to click off.)
  • Mobile first design. (Have a look at test my site.)

Mobile design for success

  • Prominent call to action.
  • Simple and clear navigation links.
  • Streamline form fills.
  • Optimised for small screens.

Maintaining digital presence

  • Use Facebook, twitter, linkedin, youtube, google plus.
  • There are 38 million social media users in the UK, who each spend 1 hour 29 minutes on average on social media each day.

Start with your audience

  • Where are they?
  • What do they do?
  • Who do they follow?
  • Take influences from the successes.

Write an effective social media bio

  • Keep it relevant,
  • Keep it clear & consistent,
  • Show your personality & have fun.

The power of youtube:

By 2019 of data online could well be video data, greater than 50% of data is viewed through mobiles.
Creating great youtube content: Be a thought leader, create sharable content, identity potential collaborators.

  • Be creative,
  • Build an audience,
  • Interact with the audience,
  • Passion,
  • What do your audience want to see?
  • You are only limited by your imagination.

Managing your online presence on google

Google my business –  this is where business owners claim there business and form the knowledge panel on right of screen when you google a business.

link to slide


Part 2: Reach new customers online.


  1. Optimise your presence on google for search.
  2. Gain consumer insights and find new customers
  3. Understand the benefit of advertising online.

Optimise your presence on google for search

Why search is important?

  • Google is the biggest search engine online
  • New consumer purchase journey: Stimulus > research> purchase> experience (online feedback etc)
  • Search is at the heart of the purchase journey
  • When you do a google search you are searching googles index of the web
  • 4 out of 5 consumers use the web to find local information
  • 50% of consumers visited a store within a day of their local search

What is search engine optimisation?

  • improve your websites visibility of organic

Optimise your movie SEO

  • avoid uncommon mobile software
  • optimise your content to the screen
  • create easy clickable links
  • avoid pop-ups if possible

What are your customers searching for?

You can view what your customers are searching for on websites like Google Trends and Google Analytics:

  • Who is coming to my website?
  • How did they find me?
  • What are they doing on my site?
  • What are they worth to me?

Overall I really benefited from going to this lecture and it was definitely worth taking time out of my evening to go. It helped me realised the benefits of the internet and social media, and the points made will definitely be ones I will be thinking back to throughout my career.

After Life – Stephen McCarthy

Today we had the pleasure of having Stephen McCarthy come into the studio for todays after life session. Stephen is head of design at the Government Digital Services. Because of this, it makes him part of the cabinet office, therefor so is part of the government. This means he is essentially designing for everybody in the country.  The Government digital services were set up in 2011.

What they do?

The Government Digital services work with the Government to make all the digital services that the Government offer better. In a sense, they work on the relationships between the citizens and the Government. The Government Digital Services designed the website with the aim of helping people to do something.
The Government websites used to be a mess. This is because there was over 300 different departments that were part of the government, in turn there were loads of different websites, this made it hard to correlate between all the departments. So the government digital services replaced all the  websites with Steven said the the websites is not finished and it never will be finished. They have an in house design team updating and fixing it on a daily basis, trying to understand user needs by researching every day. Everything that the Government Digital Services do has a consequence on people’s lives.

Other designs for the UK public services.

  • London underground map – uk was leading the way
  • Margret Colbert – first standardised system for road signs – in the 1950’s
  • Typeface used on roadsigns is used on the website – Transport
  • Offical war artist
  • Toms ecersly – designed for the ministry of labour
  • Design research unit – british rail identity. Decided in the 50’s to have one identity for the national rail.

Design in the government today.

There are now 300 designers working for the Government now all over the country. They work in multi-displiniary teams, this means that the design is evolved from the very start of the process. They build things and work collaboratively in the open. They have the GDS blog which explains the processes, what they do, why they make certain decisions, and why something work and why other things don’t work. All the designers at GDS can code, to the extent that other countries have taken the code they have developed and used it for their own countries, however Stephen actually came out of university and couldn’t code.
In the GDS, user research is a separate area of expertise to designers, however the two work closely together. This means that the research done isn’t biased by the designer resulting in accurate feedback.
At GDS all designers are expected to spot problems and fix them, to ask questions and question why you are doing that certain thing. Their ultimate goal is to make this thing the best it can be.

Design principles at the Government Design Services.

  1. Start with needs (user needs)
  2. Do less – Only do what needs to be done, don’t need to make a government version of twitter, can use things that are out there
  3. Design with data. Design with feedback e.g. from google analytics
  4. Do the hard work to make it simple – Makes it easier for the user to use
  5. Iterate. Then Iterate again – Constantly improving and making it better
  6. This is for everyone – Designing for people with access needs, bad internet connection etc. Bad eyesight, struggling with big cognitive loads, dsylexia
  7. Understand context. – How do people use these things, iPad, iPhone etc
  8. Build digital services not websites – Building how people interact with government services.
  9. Be consistent, not uniform. Made easier by websites, should be a similar experience on all services
  10. Make things open: it makes thing better.

What sort of designers do they employ?

  • No one person can be good at everything,
  • There are 4 different roles at GDS:
    Service designers – Backend of the services e.g. application and how it is handled at the other end
    Interaction designers – Designs detail interaction that the user needs to make – refine the shape of the user journey
    Graphic designers – enabler for content and interaction design – simple information and hierarchies
    Content designers – deal with words, background of writer – complex government words they translate into words that users will understand.
  • No UX designers – the user experience is everyones responsibility.

Being a graphic designer in the government

  • Graphic design in the context of government services mainly involves communicating information in the most legible and sensible manner. Its all about understanding.
  • Design should never get in the way of the content, except for when the user needs it too.
  • Design should almost be invisible
  • Every element on the page should have a clear purpose – keep it simple let content shine.
  • We are happy when people says thing are simple or even boring.
  • The Crystal Goblet – an essay on typography by beatrice warde from 1932
  • Don’t ask: how should it look? Ask: what should it do?
  • The context in which users interact with our services should always be considered
  • Graphic design is not something thrown in at the end of the process – considered right from the start and work hand in hand with content designers etc.
  • Challenge what is being communicated

Some of the things they care about:

  • Words and typography:
    Words are the most important thing on the page, words are the service. Never use Lorem Ipsum, you can’t tell if the design is going to work with this, you need to understand the content.

    “Make your words count”

    Typography – New transport. Set sizes for body copy etc. Set by user research over the years. Most utilised element of the design tool, needs to be considered. Henric Cogle worked on new typeface. Legible easy to understand but iconic.
    Avoid long lines of copy – mac 75 characters or 2/3 of the page for body copy.
    Fewest number of typographic styles.
    Be consistent.

  • Layout:
    Grids give structure to your content , when used effectively they enable clear hierarchies and groupings, grids should be responsive across al devices, keep it simple.
    Page furniture – key lines boxes and panels, try using whitespace first.
    Space between elements give structure, helps group content and form hierachies. Enhance clarity legibility and readability, relives cognitive load on user
    Hierachy – what do we want the user to read first?
    Tempo – Aid easy reading, don’t use too much information.
    Affordance – easy to know what to do next.
    Don’t use UI to explain UI “click the button to do UI”.
  • Visuals
    Only use when there is a need
    Why is it on the page?
    Iconography – only when they need to help aid a person e.g. passport photo application page.
  • Physical space
  • Time behaviour
    Respect people’s time – pacing can be more important than overall time spent. Small bite sized chunks can feel quicker than one long page.
    “you are not your user” the user may behave differently to you
    Low frequency use, novice users, little or no learning, broad range of devices.

Tips for design in the goverment

  • start with less
  • mobile first
  • keep asking why
  • remember the big picture



Publish! Week 3

This week in field we began creating our main piece of work for the project. The brief is simply to make a journal of our choosing, individually or in groups. For it we have to create our own brief to help decide the purpose and content of our journal. It could be:

  • Image based or text based or a mixture of the two
  • A catalogue that records our creative practice or somebody else’s creative practice
  • A catalogue that records/promotes outcomes of a creative practice
  • A celebration of an enthusiasm
  • An expansion of our work in constellation
  • A piece of social commentary
  • An expression of identity
  • Or a story

Me, Abbi and Amber decided to work on this project as team, partially because we believe that we work as a team and partially because we felt we could create something more substantial as a team in the time that we have been given. We decide to create a new prospectus for students joining the Graphic Communication course at Cardiff Met. We did this because we feel that the course is something that we are all passionate about as a team and we wanted to create something creative and new to represent this passion.