Category:Assessment Topics

QR Codes

What times we live in. QR codes have gone from being something pretty fiddly that is a nuisance to use to becoming something that we see and need to scan every time we walk into somewhere new (track and trace anyone?)

Now the world is moving towards a new digital age, ushered in faster than we thought due to covid, QR codes are something we’ve all had to get used to.

As it turns out, QR codes are a fantastic way to allow people to view your content quickly. They don’t have to copy a webpage down, type anything out, photograph your card for later etc… All they have to do is to point their camera on their phone at the QR code and click the link that appears. Simple!

QR codes are so great because of their versatility. As mentioned before, we use them to check into locations, we can use them instead of physical menus, have our profiles linked to them or, as I saw the other day, just have a picture of a dog with a moustache linked to a QR code.

When designing my business card, I’ve decided that it was simpler and, in my eyes, more impressive, to have a QR code on the back with a small slogan, instead of trying to cramp everything onto the back of the card. The fact that QR codes work in any colour (provided the background has a high contrast) means that, for a designer, the options are limitless.

Some websites even provide you with different styles of QR codes to choose from. Ones with rounder edges, ones with logos in the middle and more ‘traditionally’ looking ones. There is a great deal of many websites that provide you with QR codes, but InDesign also has an inbuilt feature that you can use to link to your published work.

All you have to do to access the QR maker on InDesign is navigate to the menu then click object. On the submenu, click ‘Generate QR code’. From there, pick what type you want and then insert it into your document. You can choose colours, choose to update your code and many other things from within InDesign.

My favourite thing about InDesign is that if it links to a website, you can update and change the website and providing the URL doesn’t change, the code will always link to the most updated version of the site. A clear advantage over having anything in print.

Infographics

Infographics are a great way to present information and can be used in nearly all aspects of society, from school to business meetings. It helps breaks up the monotomy of date in a fun and visual way.

To make my infographic, I first decided on what it was that I wanted to talk about which was easy enough. I have a big thing for space and had been learning about a star called Betleguise recently so decided to make it about that.

I then decided what kind of layout I wanted, portrait or landscape, square, thin and long or fat and short. I opted for a long and thin layout as my vision was to have a rocket ship heading towards the star, with the star at the top and the rocket at the bottom.

For the background, I used the gradient tool in PaintShop to graduate from a. lighter colour to a darker colour (like when you leave earth to go to space), and then used a scatter painter brush to add effects to it.

The line that goes from the rocket to the star is modelled on what a light sabre looks like because of space.

My Font

Desigining a Font is much easier than I expected, although a good font takes time and hardwork and many follow specific mathmatical structures.

For my font, I used indesign, a tool that I’m still getting used too. This powerful application is great though and as I’ve got more comfortable using it, I’ve found making my font easier.

I decided that my font was going to be kina abstract as well as being relatively simple in that I chose to only use straight lines.

The font is based on an equalitrial triangle, as I think this is the best shape for reasons unknown. Each letter began life as a series of triangles. I slowly changed their size, added more triangles as needed, and eventually subtracted lines from the sides of the triangles that I didn’t need. The end result is something that I’m pretty happy with. Here is some of what I’ve been working on…

The Cost of Fashion: More Than Money

The 2020’s are proving  to be one of the most environmentally decisive decades that humanity has ever faced. The reality of climate change can no longer be ignored, and its impact is  felt across the globe, from stronger hurricanes in America, biblical rainfall in Europe, long-lasting dry spells for much of Africa and Asia and raging forest fires in Australia. Nobody is immune from these effects, but it is only a small part of the world that is responsible for the majority of the damage.

At the same time, the impact of documentaries such as 2014’s  Cowspiracy and it’s sister documentary Seaspiracy (2021) , have successfully focused the public’s attention on the environmental impact of the food industry. These documentaries are brilliant at bringing attention to the fact that our individual choices have a real impact on the environment. We can help the combined effort to reduce carbon emissions and destruction of natural resources by simply choosing different things to eat. 

The Facts – Environment 

Most people know that fashion is ‘bad’ for the environment, but how many people know the true cost of their fashion choices? The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry on the planet, second only to oil manufacturing, and accounts for 10% of all global emissions. That’s more than all planes and ship emissions combined. On average, a single European consumer will contribute 645kg of Co2 per year in their clothes purchases alone. 

Many clothes are manufactured in developing nations where clean water is often a scarce resource.  Yet manufacturing a cotton t-shirt, t takes 2,700 litres of water,  the equivalent of what one person would consume in two and half years. Much of this water will be used in the cotton-growing process, combined with fertilisers and other chemicals that reduce pests; the rest will be used to wash and dye the fabric. These chemical compounds run off the cotton fields and find their way into the drinking water and ecosystem. These developing nations lack the political power and economic resilience to put hard regulations on industries that many people depend on for their livelihoods. Even more shocking is that of all the clothes imported to Europe, only around 1% of those thrown away end up being recycled. The rest are either sent to landfill or burnt at a rate of 1 truckload per second. 

Fast Fashion – Human Cost

In the ‘70s and  ‘80s, clothing brands used to release two seasonal lines per year;  in 2021 brands are releasing lines and sublines at an average rate of just under one per week. This constant churning out of textiles and clothes means that consumers have ever more choice whilst cheap overseas production costs keep prices low. . Industrial disasters  such as the 2013 Dkaka garment factory collapse, where 1,134 lost their lives due to poor working conditions, are not uncommon, but rarely make headlines in western countries. The cheap cost of clothing is paid for by poor working conditions, cheap labour, and a reduction in the quality of clothing people buy. This lack of quality creates a feedback loop, whereby after several washes, clothing loses its shape or colour, and people are forced to buy even more. In the UK, there are laws to protect workers:maximum hours, minimum wage, a right to safe working conditions – rights that more often than not are not enjoyed by the people producing the clothes on our backs. 

A Generation Apart

Susan Squire, 43 from Lichfield who works in Higher Education  grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s before fast fashion took off. She recalls being a teenager, window shopping for clothes that she knew she wouldn’t be able to afford without some serious saving. “Levis were the thing to be seen in. But it wasn’t something that you could pop into a shop and get, especially when you lived off pocket money! I saved up for around 2 months for a pair when I was 16 and then lived in them.” 

She compares her experience to shopping to what she sees today: “You go into shops like H&M, and some of the clothes look really good for the price, but the material is second class…” “What really shocks me is how cheap everything is – clothes cost so much less now. 30 years ago a top from a high street chain was usually around $30. The same item today would cost the same or less – someone, somewhere is paying the price for that  I try to only buy things I really like and will get wear out of and I don’t mind paying more for quality, but the high street is geared towards cheap and disposable. Things aren’t made with a view to lasting more than one season and people don’t care because it’s cheap and easily replaced.  Since 1980, yearly global emissions have nearly doubled, going from 19.7billion tonnes to 36.4 billion tonnes, and 350,000 tonnes of clothing gets sent to landfill each year in the UK alone. (Source: https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions)

NHS Nurse Poppy Taylor, 26 from Bloxwich is concerned about the environmental impact of fast fashion:  “I know things are bad, I eat less meat and try to  be more conscious with my shopping choices.” However, sometimes cheap and convenient wins out: “If it’s a big night out, then I’ll go into somewhere like Topshop and find a nice black dress. It’s cheap and looks nice, so I don’t mind that I’ll only get one use out of it.  I don’t throw things away very often. I always advertise the clothes online or if they don’t sell, I donate them to charity and it goes on to have another life”. Yet 25% of clothes donated to charity in the UK get sent to landfill.  A further 40% – 50% are  exported to developing nations and their thriving second-hand clothing markets. Ghana is one such country that receives Britain’s second-hand clothes, but the poor quality of clothing not made to last means that 40% is unsellable and sent straight to landfill.

What Can You Do?

There are a number of things consumers can do to reduce the environmental impact of your fashion choices. Charity shops have peaked in recent years, with 11,000 outlets  on the highstreets of Britain. The benefits of shopping in charity shops are enormous. Discounted designer garments are often found and are usually of great quality. This means that somebody could potentially cherish a charity shop find for years to come whilst helping support charities focusing on  causes such as homelessness, poverty and domestic violence. They also break the cycle of fast fashion by taking a step away from it. Accountant Jack O’Grady, 27, Cannock, says that he can’t remember the last time he bought new clothes and yet he’s constantly told he dresses really well, “Charity shops are great because you get to choose your own style. There’s only one of each item, so you know the chances of seeing someone wearing the same shirt as you in a club are pretty low. That actually used to happen a lot when I shopped at Topman and Primark.” 

Another great way to reduce the impact clothing choices have on the environment is to upcycle and mend clothes. With so many tutorials online for free, information has never been easier to access. Whilst some people may throw clothes that have been torn into the rubbish, it’s becoming more fashionable to make them into something new and unique. Instagram page @recycle_store_prague has over 10,000 followers. They take worn and tarnished clothes and make them into something wearable again.

Other ways include buying locally made clothes or even making your own clothes – an investment in a sewing machine and some youtube videos are all you need to get started.  Commit to buying fewer clothes and to wearing them more. The phrase “Buy cheap, buy twice” comes to mind.

As  individuals, the environmental challenges we face as a planet can feel overwhelming  and the actions we take may feel like they have little consequence. But it is important to remember that every purchase you make is a vote for that company. Shop ethically, vote with your wallet where you can, and you will already be contributing to the change you want to see in the world. 

“Be the change you want to see” Ghandi

Sources:

https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissionshttps://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2019/633143/EPRS_BRI(2019)633143_EN.pdf

https://www.itv.com/news/2020-02-14/how-the-uk-s-fast-fashion-habits-are-polluting-a-country-halfway-around-the-world

Digital Typography

Typography says everything you need to know about a brand. Next to the logo, it’s perhaps one of the most important decisions a brand can take as it will be one of the main ways a brand communicates with its customers.

A strong brand identity relies on careful thought and practice. A brand will usually have different fonts for different things, one for headers, another for text, another for quotes and maybe another for subheadings etc…

Sans Serif vs Serif


Fonts fall into two distinct categories with many other subcategories. These are serif and sans-serif.
Serifs are the little additional bits you get on the letters, such as The Times Headline. Those tine bits that decorate the letter, they’re serifs.
Sans is Latin for without, so naturally, sans serif, is a type without serif.

The use cases for these types of font vary. When reading font on a screen, it’s clearer to see letters without the serifs, allowing for better readability is key when using small screens.

Serifs are used to convey weight and grandeur, especially when used in big titles. If you look at brands that want to convey a sense of traditionalism, they’ll often use serifs as sans serif are relatively new to the scene. Conversely, more modern brands who want a cleaner look will often vouch for the sans serif.

Font Weight

Another thing to consider is the font-weight. Not all fonts have all weights, but most will have some. Something we’re all familiar with is the bold type, used by many to highlight certain words in a text and easy to use when in a word document. Weight can also go the other way though, making something lighter means to thin words out rather than have them heavy

Podcast

I’ve never made a podcast before and was much more interested in the production side of things rather than actually hosting it becuase I hate the sound of my own voice (who doesn’t, right?).

I watched somebody on youtube that shared his creative process for making sweepers and intros and I used his concept to apply it to my own podcast.

I first decided on what i wanted the podcast to be about and then went on a quick fact finding mission. I knew it was going to be about space and with so much news recently about the new missions to the moon and to Mars, and with the anniversay of the moon landing only a couple of years ago, that seemed like tha most logical place to start.

I went to Nasa’s website who have an absolute wealth of free to use digital media to use, ranging from winds on mars, to historic messages sent to and from command, to more abstract things like turning a deep space picture into sound. Some of the stuff their really is out of this world.

I found several sounds that i liked and layered them in Logic Pro with a beat behind it. I then added a fade to a boom that would then lead into me talking. I’m actually really happy with the result which you can find in my portfolio.

Once i had my intro and my sweepers sorted, I imported them into Final cut pro, which I find much easier to work and edit with (even if it just is voice).

I had some facts and a direction I wanted to go in but then winged the speech to allow it to flow more freely. I actually ended up speaking for more than 3 minutes and had to cut it down.

The end result was what I would call a really good first attempt and look forward to making more if given the opportunity.

Animated Banner Ad

The advert I made for my portfolio used many copyright-free things from nasa and other things that I had a licence for. I downloaded all the materials that I wanted and kept them in a folder, editing them to create the desired effect.

I knew I was going to have to edit this together on final cut pro, as photoshop is useful for GIFS, and I see it can be used for video, but I’d rather use a purpose-built tool rather than trying to get PS to be a video editor too.

I sized picked the banner size I wanted, created a quick mock-up of how I expected it to look on some paper, and then set to work. First, I opened several artboards up and sized them to double the size I was planning on having my finished product. This would enable me to have more space to work with whilst keeping the aspect ratio the same.

Once I had resized all my elements to the right size, I opened final cut and started adding everything in. I used the ken burns effect to create movement within the image, some brilliant title animations with some added drop shadows and some text beneath that.

I think it’s my favourite thing in my portfolio and it probably took me the least time. big shout out to nasa for all the royalty free images!

Business Cards

Why do people have business cards? What purpose do they serve and what does that card say about you and your brand? Designing a good business card will take into account many factors. Many times, it’s a person’s first impression of your brand, whether personal or professional and potential customers will hang on to it, coming back to it (hopefully) when they need it.

So not only an eye-catching design but you also want to make sure all the information a person needs to contact you is there too. However, with ever-evolving technology, a QR code can be just as powerful, but audience considerations must be thought of. QR codes probably won’t go down so well if you’re target market is older generations but would go down great if you’re looking to break into a tech market. I’ve written about QR codes in another post so I won’t go too in-depth here, but know they’re great.

I thought long and hard about my card and what I wanted it to say about me.
I looked at different designs on google images and found out what stood out to me and those cards that just seemed to corporate.

I wanted my card to represent my personal brand, something I’m growing throughout uni. Making notes of what I wanted my brand to be like, I kept coming back to the idea of honesty, simplicity and calmness. I want people to have the impression of openness and for it to seem approachable.

Drawing from the inspiration of the cards I had favourited, I started to build. I first built my card in Canva as it’s simple and easy to use for mock-ups. I got a great idea of what I wanted everything to look like and booted up InDesign.

I had chosen a photo from a Magnolia tree I had climbed earlier that day, tweaked it until I was happy with it in photoshop and imported it into my InDesign project. Next, I added a second artboard so I could design the back as well as the front.

Once my background picture was in place, I added a white border to both artboards. This is to create to the illusion of space and calmness. I next added two rectangles, one inside of each other, bought down the opacity a little and added my text to the front.

I toyed around with many different fonts and finally settled on one I liked the look of. I also thought alot about my brand name. I played with acronyms of my middle names, mixed and matched names and a bunch of other stuff, but I thought that simply THOMAS would be great. Not only it enphaises the stripped back nature I want to portray but it’s also my name. Bonus.

On the reverse side of the card, I created a square place holder that I’ll be putting my QR code on when I have it ready. This will allow the potential customer to easily access all the information they need and also allow them to easily contact me.

I felt like I didn’t need much text on the back as the QR code will offer all the information. I get that if they don’t have their phone, they wouldn’t be able to access my details, but without a phone, they wouldn’t be able to call me either and I’d prefer emails or PMs over phone calls as you can be more professional and curate answers better.

here’s the result…

thomas busniess cards

For presentation, I used colour theory to pick the two gradient colours and added a drop shadow to provide a little depth to the cards.

Moodboard

Mood boards help creative people convey an idea of how they want their piece, whether it a film, a fabric design or a magazine layout, to feel. This can be as simple as looking for images online that suit your need and making a collage out of it, or more complex, such as finding fabrics and magazine cut-outs to bind them together on a board that is tangible.

They’re really important when pitching the new idea for a project so that you can ensure everybody working has an understanding of what direction they’re heading. This creates a clear start for everybody and it can easily be modified to make sure you get the feeling you want. Moodboards will usually feature the kind of tone you want your project to have, shown sometimes as a colour card.

If you wanted something to feel luxury, you’d be thinking of the colour black, maybe something shiny, expensive cars, cigars in ashtrays. If you were making a film about your wedding, you’d perhaps think of the colour white, some netting, rings, doves maybe. You can see just from these descriptions what kind of feelings these object and colours convey

Here’s a mood board that I made for this blog post. What does it say to you? How does it make you feel? Is it happy, menacing, creepy? It’s interesting to see what kind of feelings people take from mood boards, and it just goes to show that it’s all subjective. These valuable insights will help the creators curate their content from a very early stage.

I created this with a relaxed feeling in mind. Friends at the beach, calming colours, gentle sea at sun set.



black and white picture of thomas Hughes

“So What About You?”

Male. Late 20’s (just). 6ft. Brown hair and blue eyes. 1 chickenpox scar in my left eye. 4 tattoos and counting. Shoe size 11. 4 bones that haven’t healed as good as they used to be. Occasional smoker of both cigarettes and pot, I drink even less. I have wonderful/bizarre dreams every night. I used to prefer the night but now I have no preference. I have 3 younger sisters and no brothers. I briefly knew my biological father but haven’t seen him in over 20 years. I have two grandparents that I love very much. I’m very fond of dogs and also know how to make a mean coffee. I grew up on a council estate in Bloxwich, near Walsall, but have moved around a lot since then.

My and my Family

Those are some of the facts that I cannot escape. The facts that sketch an outline of a human but leave the detail out. Those are the things that help a person realise their sense of identity, giving them a history, a context of which to see the world from, something that which without, life can seem lonely and cold. I’ve had a bumpy ride to get to where I am, a ride that once upon a time I believed had meaning and a bigger purpose. A ride that was going to take me to the places I needed to be and bought me into the lives of the people I was destined to meet. As I grow older, I leave this childhood fantasy behind and face the cold truth about life, the truth that says there is no meaning, there is no bigger plan, nothing is preordained and whatever anybody does is half luck and half effort.

This way of thinking started to seep into my bright and innocent mind when I was 24. I had moved to Glasgow off the back of travelling around Europe and my 28th-floor apartment sitting on the highest ground point in the whole of Glasgow was the perfect place for me to have my very first existential crisis. From my watchtower I could see for miles, the mountain ranges in the distance, the river cutting the city in half, the weather that was yet to reach the city, the junkies in the park shouting endlessly “is there anybody out there?”, it was this sense of detachment from the people below that allowed for the mental space to delve deeper into my mind than I had ever gone before. In that room of mine, I stayed up late, meditated frequently, ate healthily and taught myself coding. Amongst all of that, my personal studies led me to discover 19th-century German Philosopher, Frederik Nietzche. I can’t put all the blame on Frederick for my descent into Nihilism, but he helped to articulate the things I was feeling. My search for meaning was now over. My steadfast belief that everything in life happens for a reason diminished. My sense of self was thrown out the window and for the first time in my life, I felt truly alone. The cold, dark universe doesn’t care about me, about us, or about our planet, its indifference towards me became deafening. I felt that this was a milestone in my life, one that deep down I always knew I had to reach. One that I put off for as long as necessary so I could live in happy ignorance for as long as I could allow myself too.

A view of frozen fog rolling over the city. Glasgow

I could start my story in Exmouth, the place I moved to when I first left home that had a huge lasting impact on my life, in Portugal where I fell in love with culture or way back when I was just a wee lad living with a single mom and my sister. But Glasgow, that’s where I feel that I truly turned a new page. Everything up to that point was painted in artificial colours, fake meanings and conclusions applied to defining moments, moments that, since Glasgow, I’ve revisited with a new perspective. You could say that Glasgow gave me a new framework, rooted in reality rather than fiction, that I could use to approach the world, one that breathes life into the phrase “ignorance is bliss”.

Fast forward to 2020 and I’ve moved back to the midlands, set up my first business, helped to start a coffee shop and become a trustee of a charity. However, the cloud of Nihilism still hung over me, how are we meant to find meaning in a world that is meaningless? why should I try at anything when in 100 years we’ll be lucky if anybody remembers our name? What is it to ‘reach my potential’ and ‘self actualise’? I knew that these questions and more needed to be answered, but finding the time and the space needed to investigate them was in short supply. Glasgow provided both of these, my rent was cheap meaning I didn’t have to work so much and my castle in the sky kept me from the hustle and bustle of the crowds. Then covid happened and space was gifted to me in the form of a government lockdown.

Look at that ‘tasche!

These times come few and far between, so I knew I had to make the most of it. I cut contact down to a minimum with my friends and family, deactivated my social media accounts and delved right into the pandora’s box of my mind once again. I believed that Nihilism, although described as an “illness” by Nietzche, was the final destination of philosophy and, perhaps pessimistically believed that there was no way out of the nihilistic hole I had found myself in for the last 4 years. But I was so tired of it, so tired of waking up and feeling as though I’m distracting myself with the mundane in order to get on with my day to day living, it felt as though I was living a lie. Common Google searches included “how to cure nihilism” “how to get out of nihilism”, sadly, these results only confounded my view that nihilism was final, there’s something to be said here about how google and youtube rate the information they show you.

I thought that I’d be destined to live a life as a nihilist for the rest of my days, I’ve never suffered with my mental health, but when you see that Niezche defends suicide as a morally acceptable, justified act that is entirely rational, it does cross one’s mind. Then out of nowhere, Camus came into being. He stood entirely with Niezche when it came to the meaningless on life and the universe, but he had an entirely fresh way of looking at things. Whilst he sees life as being absurd, void of meaning, he says that we should rage against it. He sees it as an opportunity to be entirely free of anything that came before us, encouraging us to forge our own way of being whilst laughing all the way to the grave at how insane the world is.

I’m yet to fully internalise everything Camus speaks of, but have absorbed existentialism into my way of being. Camus has been the door that has allowed me to escape the depression that nihilism brings with it and has allowed me to approach life with a newfound sense of vigour and enthusiasm. Thanks to this Algerian born Frenchman, I believed it was worth applying for uni and here I am right now. Although I’m vocal in my challenges when I see injustice, oppression or ignorance, Camus has taught me to be less serious about life as a whole. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I feel much more optimistic about the future.

Me with my favourite customer, Arnie