December 09: Graphic Designs, Illustrations and looking back at 2009


December has been another hectic month but has produced some great graphic designs and illustrations that have really pleased me no end. I think I have ended the year on a particularly high note which is very satisfying for me when I have simply been doing something that I love.

Looking back at 2009

I only started creating self-initiated works in January of 2009 and had began the year with no master plan or real intention to push my work or get noticed in the design world.

I entered a competition at the end of December 2008 (I can’t believe that was just a year ago now) for a movie poster competition (New Dawn) and got rather carried away creating some really sweet designs. The feedback on Flickr and winning a prize in January for this was just awesome and without doubt gave me the first push to do my own design work – having always been unsure of what I could achieve coming from a mathematics / corporate design background as well as being completely self-taught in graphic design.

My initial designs were some that I had seen from tutorial sites but soon realised looking at other designer’s portfolios that I would end up having a portfolio that looks just like everyone else’s – using similar stock photos and techniques. This was not something I wanted and really wanted to define who I was as a designer and what made me different. I think making your mark is probably the hardest part of being a graphic designer at the beginning – but it is crucial.

For me and my mathematics background it was probably quite an obvious route to take in to creating geometric graphic designs and using this as a stepping stone to defining me as a designer. Some of my CUBEN works, which were my first proper self-initiated pieces, show obvious crossovers between design and geometry.

My first steps in to designing typography, that I took in February 2009, with the “Typography is Everything” series isn’t quite as obvious as to why – albeit I haven’t taken a standard route in to being a typographer. I don’t really class myself as a typographer, even now, as I think the work I do with my typography is more art than function. I think seeing some of the design work by the likes of Alex Trochut, for example, really opened my eyes to what could be done with typography and something I have embraced and totally fallen in love with.

My first big commissioned job came a few weeks after creating CUBEN and was for the company Emerce. They had seen my CUBEN designs on my website and wanted me to design the art concept for their large IT conference (based on one of the designs). I am lucky in a way that I don’t do graphic design as a full-time career and so I can be picky about what jobs I accept or not (having only a limited amount of time to work on them in the evenings). I don’t want to make any recommendations about whether I think self-employed graphic design / freelancing (either full-time or by night) or working for a studio is best and I think that is something you really need to decide on your own – but I have outlined below some tip I would follow if you are new to graphic design.

Top tips for new graphic designers

  • This is one that I have heard from a number of other designers, like James White for example, which is that you don’t need a client to create work. You should look around and get inspired to do something and just create it, this is a great way to expand your portfolio as well as expanding your skill set.
  • Try to think about a commercial element to your self-initiated works; for example see if the designs you are creating would work as a cover to a magazine or as a promotional poster.
  • If you stop experimenting you stop growing. For me experimentation is key to becoming a great designer and really helps you define who you are. Hours of experimentation has taught me more about what works with design and what doesn’t more than anything else. Never be afraid to try something different it’s what being creative is all about.
  • Always look around for inspiration don’t just use the usual graphic design inspiration and tutorial websites – inspiration is everywhere.
  • Create a website for your portfolio and designs and update it regular with your work and other snippets of inspiration. It shows that you are proactive, switched on and gives potential clients a good idea about what you have to offer.
  • Use sites like Behance and Flickr to promote your work – these are great for creating instant traffic. This year for Flickr I have had over 600,000 visits to my images and peaked at 5,000 visits a day. You would have a tough job beating those stats with a new site of your own without lots of content and SEO work. These sites are also great as a social tool for connecting with people, getting feedback and also as a source of inspiration seeing what other designers are creating.

My top moments of 2009

2009 has been a great year for me and I hope that I can show other new graphic designers that even being self-taught you can achieve alot in a year if you are willing to put in the hours. Here are my personal top moments:

Astronomy Prints

Over the month of December I again have had numerous press coverage and interest in my International Year of Astronomy prints from interior design magazines like Living Etc to the London Design Museum and even a competition feature on Abduzeedo (as well as inspiring a tutorial).

The astronomy prints have continued to sell strongly and it has been fantastic getting all the feedback and photos of framed prints from happy buyers! I will continue to offer a discount on the prints in to 2010, simply contact me for more information.

The Year Ahead – 2010

As I said I went in to 2009 with no real plans, 2010 is going to be exactly the same. I am going to continue to do what I love and hope others out there love it too.

Graphic Designs and Illustrations – December 09

Colours of Series

A new poster series based around colours and geometry.

Alphabattle Designs (Series)

Continuing the series of the Alphabattle series.

Typography Designs

Some of the random typography designs that I created over December.

Logo Designs

Decemeber has been quite quiet in logo design work but I a did manage to knock out some nice designs for AnyForty and they will be launching a limited edition hoodie of my design below. More info and photos soon.

Printed portfolio

Had the change to use a friends A3 printer to start making some prints. You can see the entire portfolio over at another post I did.

International Year of Astronomy Desktop

First desktop wallpaper design for the International Year of Astronomy. More sizes are available in another post.

The World we knew is gone (Series)

An environmental message poster series which I have started – I would like to work with Greenpeace in 2010 on a series of poster like this to help promote the effects of climate change.

Random – The Art of Chaos (Series)

This is a new set of designs that look like they are just random but are actually defined by a set number of rules – Chaos theory.

Futurism – An Odyssey of Continuity (Series)

My favourite work of the month. This is a set of retro designs entitled Futurism. They are my usual type of design work using geometry but I have tried to give them the feel of something retro and 70s. There is so much inspiration from this period and I just love being able to recreate something fresh but in fitting with that period.