Category Archives: Design

“Homegrown” design – What impact does it have on the graphic design industry?

I am currently taking a course in Discourse & Reflection (graphic design) at Hertfordshire University. This module focuses on the sense of landscape that we work within.

For this course I have decided to research the increasingly debated topic of “home-grown designers” and the impact they have on the graphic design industry. Are you a graphic designer just because you know Photoshop? There are millions of home-grown designers out there. Most of them are self-taught. You have to admire them. But what about the core disciplines of graphic design? Most online help sites seems to give examples of how to use softwares but very little is being taught about the history of graphic design. Are we increasingly ignore these disciplines? What impact will this have on the future and the designs that are being produced? Is “home-grown” design contributing to fee hammering?

Perhaps the future forces and trends don’t paint a pretty picture, but surely in an industry undergoing such stresses and changes, it can’t only be threats! There must be lot’s of opportunities out there too!

With my research I am hoping to identify these opportunities and to take a closer look at what “home-grown” designers are actually doing to the design industry. What are they bringing in terms of innovation?

Discourse and Reflection




Saint Valentine’s Day, commonly shortened to Valentine’s Day, is a holiday observed on February 14 honoring one or more early Christian martyrs named named Saint Valentine. It is traditionally a day on which lovers express their love for each other. The day first became associated with romantic lovein the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the high middle ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. It was first established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD, and was later deleted from the Romain Calendar of saints in 1969 by Pope Paul VI.

Modern Valentine’s Day symbols include the heart-shpaed outline, doves, and the figure of the winged cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting card.

Here is a Photographic copy of an early 20th Century Valentine card from the author’s collection, mounted on Basic Grey scrapbook paper, with hand-sewn ribbon around the edge.

Below is a small collection of my own Valentine cards.


I have started the rework of my second design for Dyslexia. For the moment I am still using the same letter’s as in the initial design. (Please see the earlier post <strong><a title=”Edit “MY OWN LETTER MESS”” href=”;action=edit”>MY OWN LETTER MESS</a>).</strong> In my first attempt I have copied the letters from the initial design a multiple times and placed them all in a random way. I have placed 2 pt black outline on all letters to give a stronger feel of layers. I am not quite sure how to advance it further. I need to place the text about Dyslexia somehow without making a clutter.


In this second attempt I have drawn a typical “pop-corn” carton (to make the message more child oriented) and placed a mountain of letters on top/inside the carton. Some  letters are hanging out of the carton to create an overflow feel. I have also made some letters fall to the ground. After evaluating my work for this one, I have made the decision not to continue the development as it doesn’t communicate a relationship with Dyslexia.























Adobe’s new Web publishing and design tool Muse promises to enable creatives to design and publish Web sites without writing HTML codes. Something that a lot of non-web designers have been waiting for, me included. After two certified Dreamweaver courses I am still struggling to get it right, most likely because I lack the hours of practising. My future plan is to get it right with Dreamweaver. However, right now I am lacking the time needed for practicing so in the meantime I am curious to find out what Adobe Muse can do for me. I need to start redesigning my own website and if Adobe Muse is as easy as Adobe says it is, it might just be what I am looking for right now. According to Adobe, Muse defines four steps of the Web site production process: Plan, Design, Preview, and Publish. The first step—Plan—has designers define every page on a site, including “master” pages that will serve as templates for different areas of a site that can share common logos, footers, and headers. The Design view borrows the most from InDesign, enabling users to select and layout images, text, and other content—specializes widgets enable designers to set up slide shows and bring in content from sites like YouTube and social networking services without having to think about markup. Preview enables users to test their site, while Publish—available only to folks with an Adobe Business Catalyst account*—will push a version of the site to Adobe, where users can show it around to coworkers. Adobe says once Muse’s trial phase is over, creators will be able to pay Adobe to host their site, or choose to host sites at other providers.

Adobe Muse is available in beta form right now from Adobe for Windows XP or newer and Mac OS X 10.6 or newer. Adobe has not announced any definitive schedule or pricing for a release version of the software. Rumours say they expect a 1.0 release in “early 2012″. Is Adobe Muse going to be as expensive as the rest of their products?

Here are some examples of websites built by using Adobe Muse;

Example 1
As you review the muse file for this site, notice the following:
In the Master Page, a series of gradient filled rectangles provide the backdrop for longer page content. The Home page includes a footer graphic with horizontal tiling background image set to span 100% width that is pinned to the bottom of the browser window. A second footer graphic (the mountain peak) is centered and also pinned to the bottom of the browser, and is arranged to display above the other tiled footer graphic by choosing Arrange > Bring to Front. This strategy accommodates any monitor size.The navigation links on the left side jump to anchor tags that are added to the long vertically oriented page. As visitors click the links, the page scrolls to display the corresponding content.







Example 2
This site incorporates two similar Master Pages: the Master Page without the Flash media is applied to most of the site pages and a second Master Page with the Flash movie is applied only to the Home page. Both Master Pages have 100% width footers with transparent design borders and use the same Menu widget for consistency.








Example 3
In this example, almost all of the common page elements are in the Master Page. This strategy makes it easier to update the site and make changes to the individual page content. The Master Page contains a non-scrolling background graphic for the footer image, which is pinned to the bottom left side of the browser. The Master Page also contains the rounded corner, semi-transparent page design with the site navigation. All of the site pages have a pinned graphic in the top right corner that is arranged to display in front of the page content to create the illusion of perspective that is carried through the angles of the building images.








My example
This is my example. I spent 30 minutes on developing this first master page, to get to know Muse functions and possibilities. My first verdict is that Muse is very similar to InDesign and Illustrator. It is easy to get started. I have not tried to upload my page yet so I can not make any comments on this. I will make another post once this is done.

*Business Catalyst is a hosted (SaaS) all-in-one solution for building and managing business websites. The company uses the term “Online Businesses” to represent a new approach to building and running websites. An online business differs from an ordinary website in that it has greater awareness of its visitors and customers. At its core, it has a built-in customer relationship management framework and is complemented with rich sales, service and marketing features such as eCommerce and Email Marketing tools.



In the article about “Why branding’s future is In-House”, Andy Epstein talks to Julia Hoffmann, who is the Creative Director of Advertising and Graphic Design at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York where she oversees brand identity and design for exhibition graphics, advertising, signage, and collateral projects for all of MoMA’s exhibitions and programs.

In this article Julia talks about the differences between the work at agencies and within in-house groups. This is very interesting as there is an increased demand on the market for in-house design people. This new trend is very interesting. It gives a complete different dimension to the way a project is being handled. Companies are going high-tech and with that comes the in-house design department. Julia states that one of the main benefits for the clients is that you as a designer becomes part of “the” team. Working “in-house” automatically gives the designer a closer look at the needs and philosophies of the company. The communication channel is direct, therefore less loss of important information. There is a better overall quality control. She says that working in-house eliminates the individual ego, you become your own client, who you truly care about.  While you work in-house, everyone is in the same boat for the long run. Working at an agency, you quickly dive in and out of a project, it’s fast and intense, and then you move on to other projects and clients. Both have of course pros and cons. But from a company’s perspective, an “in-house” design team would surely provide the company with a better control and quality. Today, a lot of professionals agree that in-house design studios are the future of successful branding. However it’s important for an “in-house” design team to get an outside perspective once in a while, to stay fresh. As an “in-house” you can get blinded by the closeness of the brand and therefore slow down the progressive path.

In the  summer of 2011, The Creative Group partnered with Graphic Design USA and polled hundreds of GDUSA’s American In-House Design Awards winners, gathering perspectives on what lies on the horizon for this group of creatives. Respondents to The Creative Group Survey of 230 Graphic Design USA American In-house Design Awards Winners provides valuable insight on a wide range of topics, including the implementation and influence of technology in the workplace, collaboration and also how in-house designers are influencing organizations’ business decisions and directions.

In summary, The Creative Group’s Survey of 230 Graphic Design USA American In-house Design Awards Winners shows us that the influence, role and expectations for in-house design departments are all expected to rapidly increase in the next three to five years. In addition, as technology continues to change the face of communication, marketing and advertising, in-house design departments will be expected to stay ahead of the curve while also lending valuable insight and problem-solving skills to the decision-making process.