This week I was fortunate enough to receive an email from Oscar at Behance to let me know that my work for Scotts had been selected by their curatorial team to feature on the front of their Adweek Talent Behance gallery.
Be sure to visit and check out the other great work on there if you've never done so, and if you want to follow me on Behance, check out my profile.
A few days ago I received an email from the good people at Creative Bloq about a follow-up piece to their wildy popular Designers and their tattoos article. This time the idea being 'Designers as you've never seen them before'.
We've featured a lot of designer interviews over the years on Creative Bloq, but a lot of the time we end up with very similar photographs. Here's a designer sitting at his Mac with Illustrator open and a bunch of vinyl toys on his desk! Here's a designer in her studio, with lots of inspiring artwork on display! Here's a designer leaning against a wall!
I sent over a few tales and the story they wanted to feature was from when I featured as part of the final of the BBC's Junior Apprentice TV show. If you want to read more about and also find out about what 9 other top creatives get upto in their spare time, head over to Creative Bloq.
2014 was the year I finally went premium on spotify, and pretty much ditched my dependence on iTunes. Below are my top 15 artists and tracks played last year as recorded by last.fm and some other interesting stats from the spotify round-up.
|1||Caribou – Can't Do Without You||22|
|2||Arcade Fire – Afterlife||20|
|3||White Denim – At Night in Dreams||19|
|4||Metronomy – I'm Aquarius||19|
|5||Todd Terje – Delorean Dynamite||19|
|6||alt-J – Hunger of the Pine||19|
|7||Caribou – Back Home||19|
|8||Bonobo – Sapphire||18|
|9||White Denim – Corsicana Lemonade||18|
|10||Arcade Fire – Normal Person||18|
|11||Metronomy – Monstrous||18|
|12||Metronomy – Love Letters||18|
|13||Grizzly Bear – Sleeping Ute||17|
|14||Bonobo – Jets||17|
|15||Bonobo – Know You||17|
Based on my 2014 listenings, spotify have created this for 2015. Play it forward.
Behance Portfolio Review week, is global event happening in hundreds of towns and cities across the world organised on behalf of the online portfolio service now owned by Adobe. Last night was the Manchester event, and Jonny Evans at Degree53, who was hosting the night was good enough to ask me to help out and take one of the feedback sessions.
The night started off with a talk from Brendan Dawes, which took us through his work and general search for serendipity (and chaos). Brendan’s work has been featured in numerous journals including idN, Creative Review, MacUser, Computer Arts, Create, Wired, Eye, The Guardian, The Times, Communications Arts and was interviewed by Computer Arts in December 2008 for their "Design Icon" series.
The whole group then split into groups 8 or 9 groups for the portfolio reviews. I lead one group, and it was an enjoyable experience. I was impressed with some of the work on display and it was great to meet so many people passionate about design, illustration and photography.
I would like to say a big thanks to Jonny at Degree53 for taking the time to organise the event. Hope you don’t mind but I’ve also pinched some of your photos from the night.
Mark Stringer, Managing Director at Ahoy Digital (@ahoymark)
David Newton, Creative Director at Ahoy Digital (@LetsNotPretend_)
Simon Vaughan, Exec Creative Director at Amaze (@amazeltd)
Paul Normington, Art Director at Amaze (@Norm_ski)
Jade Sahota, Head of Design at Degree 53 (@jadie0503)
Tash Willcocks, Programme Manager at Hyper Island (@tashwillcocks)
Michael Watson, Creative Director at Project Simply (@projectsimply)
Speaker - Brendan Dawes (@brendandawes)
Host – Jonny Evans (@jonnylikes2rant)
Wednesday 29 October
Manchester School of Art
Benzie Building, Higher Ormond Street, Manchester M15 6BR
Last night I attended, “North: The Great debate”, a discussion between prominent members of the Manchester and UK creative industries as part of the Design Manchester festival at the Stirling Prize shortlisted Benzie building. The debate was chaired by Robert Yates, Assistant Editor of The Observer, with a panel including Sir Richard Leese, the Leader of Manchester City Council; Lou Cordwell, founder and CEO of Magnetic North; Professor David Crow, the Dean and Pro Vice Chancellor of Manchester School of Art; and Caroline Norbury, the CEO of Creative England
It was billed as “Growing by Design: the role of the creative industries in building a northern powerhouse” taking place against the backdrop of a seemingly unstoppable movement towards more devolution between the cities and regions, with the recent publication of One North and the plan by the leaders of Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield; Design Manchester’s Great Debate looked at how the creative industries can stimulate and create a prosperous and successful northern economy.
There was strong discussion with several outspoken members of the audience being vocal in their opinions and whilst others had travelled from across the country to participate. The one area the debate was let down for me was the lack of an opposing voice in the panel with the members being predominantly Manchester based/focused. Although I suppose that is to be expected of a discussion happening in Manchester, with the main topic of conversation being Manchester.
'The cities of the North must have control of their own destinies' - @SirRichardLeese #northdebate
A recurrent theme was Manchester and its own (and often lack of a) narrative compared with other major hubs such as London. Personally I think Manchester has a pretty strong identity, and although creatively its reputation isn’t as strong globally as London, it however shouldn’t being trying to replicate that and instead play to its own strengths. Not that any of that really matters, for me if those in power want to turn ‘The North’ or Manchester into a globally renowned centre for the creative arts, its not about how to PR the region but rather to create a climate in which creative business want to setup in Manchester and can then operate successfully. This means having great infrastructure and office space at affordable rates to entice more business in, which then in turn creates more jobs and demand for talented individuals.
Further reading: Read Robert Yates’ article in The Observer.
I love a good iOS photography app, I use quite a few on a regular basis and have experimented with loads. I've recently come across Dubble, a new double exposure app that randomly pairs your image with that of a stranger. Often the outcome is a bit of a mess, but with a little bit of persistance and plenty of luck there are some really nice outcomes. It can be quite addictive once you get in the swing of things.
If you are feeling adventurous, try double dubbling.
The app is easy to use and free to download in the app store.
Check out my profile: dubble.me/bentopliss
You're starting at the bottom - but working as a designer, not just making tea. (Image: Sweaty Eskimo - www.sweatyeskimo.co.uk)
Design portal and sister publication to Computer Arts magazine, Creative Bloq recently asked me to give some career advice for those studying design or looking for their first jobs in the creative industries.
It covers everything from eduction, starting salaries, skills required, agency vs in-house and career progression.
Head over to the Creative Bloq site to read the full article, or read my story and advice below on what its like being the junior.
09. What it's actually like to do the job
Now a senior designer, Ben Topliss explains what it was like being a junior designer
Earlier this year, multi-disciplinary designer Ben Topliss started a new senior designer position at sports and fashion-wear retailer JD PLC that was created especially for him. Since graduating seven years ago, he's been busy honing his skills at the likes of international advertising agency TBWA and developing his freelance career. He explains how he got to here from his first junior designer position, and what it's really like being a junior designer...
Creative Bloq: Your first job out of uni was junior designer at an architectural practice called Prism. What did you study at uni, and how well did your course set you up for this role?
Ben Topliss: I studied product design at university, with a minor in interactive design. I didn't realise until I'd signed up to study for the interactive modules that graphic and digital design were things I was really passionate about and wanted to do after graduating.
The main thing I took from studying design at university was the process of design and problem-solving. I didn't do any placements or internships in agencies or studios, but I did as many jobs as I could get my hands on for local businesses, designing anything they'd let me including identities, branded stationery, websites, booklets, flyers and menus. Taking this also route taught me about the other side of design - dealing with clients, and managing my time and finances - which can be just as important as the actual work.
CB: What was the job market like after you graduated? How tricky was it to get your first job as a junior designer?
BT: It was a struggle to get a job after graduating. It's so competitive out there and it's hard to differentiate yourself, especially when competing against others with graphic design degrees. I wrote a lot of letters but didn't really get anywhere. I had a few interviews and finally got something in the September after graduating. It was great to finally get a job.
CB: Why did you decide to work in-house as a junior designer, rather than in a design studio or agency?
BT: Prism was a small design studio and I got to work on projects for clients including Sainsbury's, Cambridge University and Marks & Spencer. There were only four designers - two senior and two junior - so I got to work on some large projects straight away, as everyone had to get stuck in.
Ben is currently working at TBWA
CB: Talk us through a typical day - what were your responsibilities?
BT: As it was only a really small agency I'd have to do plenty of admin-type jobs like order the stationery, be the IT guy and make tea for everyone. But I'd also get to head out to client meetings and take ownership of projects, which was good as you might not necessarily get that level of trust working somewhere larger.
CB: What was the best part of the job?
BT: Actually doing work and getting paid for something I wanted to do was great. It wasn't groundbreaking stuff by any stretch of the imagination, but I was working in the industry I wanted to be in and gaining experience all the time. To me then, that was amazing.
CB: How long did you work in this position before taking the next step in your career, and what did it take to move up the ladder?
BT: I spent a year at Prism, and another year in my next job - both in small teams so I did get to take control of a lot of projects, but I maybe missed the guidance I would have got from larger organisations.
Stepping up to the next level in a much larger agency was fun: suddenly I was working with a large group of really talented creatives. I certainly had a feeling that I needed to up my game. That's how you improve though. You need to get out of your comfort zone, push yourself to be better and learn from those around you.
CB: How long did it take you to get to a senior designer position?
BT: I graduated about seven years ago, with the last three of those working at TBWA. There I had the opportunity to learn from lots of talented people and gain some good experience working on some great projects, big and small, for clients like Manchester United, EA Games and BP.
CB: What do you love most about your job now?
BT: Getting to work with talented and inspiring people. I've got a busy couple of months coming up, with the launch of at least two iOS apps and a couple of site redesigns on the horizon.
CB: What advice would you give a junior designer for becoming a senior designer?
BT: Work hard, ask questions and soak up as much as you can from more the experienced people you are working with, whatever their job role. Do the jobs no-one else wants to do - make yourself indispensable.
Also, it pays to be nice. The industry is smaller than you think - you never know when you'll come back into contact with someone you used to work with, met at an industry event or even slated on Twitter.
I was fortunate to enough to be interviewed for this months edition of Computer Arts magazine regarding my new job. I have subscribed to the magazine for a number of years I feel pretty honored to grace a full page of the newly redesigned and industry renowned magazine.
Go check it out, available at all good stockists...
Yesterday afternoon I received a random request from someone on twitter that I follow them so they could DM, curious for more details I followed away. A couple of DMs followed before I received a phone call from Kirsty at the BBC, wanting to know if I'd be up for being interviewed on the radio about cycling to work.
It turns out the tweet she found was 14 months old, but nevertheless the next morning at 7:50 is was interviewed for 5 minutes or so on the perils and benefits or cycling verses driving to work.
A bit of random start to the day, but if you want to listen to the show again its on iplayer for the next 7 days: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0195vtk
Fontsmith have designed a new face FS Emeric, and a copy of the type specimen booklet (printed beautifully in four spot colours with two foils on GF Smith paper), landed on my desk today. Designed by Believe In, it does a great job of showing off the typeface in various situations from online and in iPhone apps, to print spreads and wayfinding. Its a really versatile typeface made up of eleven weights - Thin, Extra Light, Light, Book, Regular, Core, Medium, Semi Bold, Bold, Extra Bold and Heavy - each with a corresponding italic.
“Emeric is a kinetic type. An optimistic typeface which marries precision with expression, geometry with movement and functionality with humanity — a classic working sans serif with a distinct and individual character, open to whatever shape the future may take.”
FS Emeric is the result of over two years work by Fontsmith's type design director, Phil Garnham, who set out to create a humanist alternative to classic modernist fonts. "The timeless alphabets of the fifties have a deliberate neutrality born out of an unfaltering mechanical solidity in each line and curve," he says. "FS Emeric has been designed to share this sense of structure and universality but it also introduces a new approach, intuitively informed by a sense of today, one of progress and optimism."
Phil also asked eleven of his heroes to create a poster, each using a different weight of the typeface. Contributors include Build, Studio Dumbar, Pentagram, Non-Format, Manual and Bibliothèque, all screen-printed on Colorplan by Dan Mather in a limited run of 50. You can see the whole set here. Lucky customers buying two or more weights of FS Emeric will receive one randomly selected poster (while stocks last).
Having never got round to going on the London Eye, and generally doing my best to visit the viewing platforms of the tallest buildings whenever I visit new cities I had been desperate to visit the viewing platform at the top of the Shard. And it didn't disappoint, on a clear day you can apparently see for 40 miles from the 72nd floor and with London's skyline still relatively low in comparison to other major cities you get a great vantage of all the major landmarks.
Whilst on the outside viewing platform, two guys on harnesses put on a bit of a show. I'm not entirely sure what they were up to, but I'm not sure I fancy his job.
The view from lunch was pretty decent.
After a spot of dinner we talk a walk along the south bank to the Tate Modern to check out the Roy Lichtenstein retrospective exhibition. "Lichtenstein: A Retrospective is the first full-scale retrospective of this important artist in over twenty years. This momentous show brings together 125 of his most definitive paintings and sculptures and reassesses his enduring legacy."
Roy Lichtenstein Whaam! 1963
Acrylic and oil on canvas support: 1727 x 4064 mm frame: 1747 x 4084 x 60 mm
Purchased 1966© Estate of Roy Lichtenstein
Finally, I had not been to Kings Cross station since it had been redeveloped, and it is so much nicer. The new ceiling is incredible and the Fullers pub, the Parcel Yardputs all other train station pubs to shame. Pro-tip if you need the loo, go upstairs into the pub and use the ones there and save yourself 30p!
Over the weekend I received my copy of 'One Thing I Know' published by Creative England, and featuring original articles and illustration pieces from some of the UK’s top creatives. Compiling hard-earned insights from creative entrepreneurs from across the UK, the series of articles interspersed with beautiful illustrations is aimed at passing their experience down to the next generation. This is first-hand advice from those who have experienced it - and overcome it - themselves.
The printed version of One Thing I Know is available now for free, all you have to do is pay the cost of the postage. Alternatively head over to onethingiknow.co.uk to check out some of the articles and illustrations online.
It was good to see the ad I designed (concept by Adam & Becci) win a silver in the '6, 4 or Smaller Sheet' category at the Roses Creative Awards last night. This was amongst several awards scooped by TBWA\Manchester which included: two golds, three silver and three bronze. Well done everyone involved.
Client: Manchester United
Art Director: Adam Richardson
Copywriter: Becci Tyrell
Designer: Ben Topliss
Speed of Light was a centrepiece of the Edinburgh International Festival and recently staged an event in Yokohama Japan. The night-time work uses light, intentional movement and sound to change the way we see and feel about a chosen environment.
Speed of Light Salford features one hundred runners in specially commissioned LED light suits will create beautiful, choreographed patterns of light flowing through streets, over bridges and around public spaces and buildings. Free and non-ticketed for the watching audience, it can be seen as a piece of abstract art on the grandest scale: monumental but surprisingly quiet and reflective.
The most important part of taking part as a runner was to maintain an even gap between the participant in front and behind you especially as gaps were extended and reduced on the fly.