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January 3, 2013 - No Comments!

Top Ten: Music 2012

Most listened to albums.

[list icon="music"][list_item]The MaccabeesGiven To The Wild - 267 (individual track) plays[/list_item]

[list_item]M83Hurry Up, We're Dreaming - 247 (individual track) plays [/list_item]

[list_item]Field MusicPlumb - 231 (individual track) plays[/list_item]

[list_item]Django DjangoDjango Django - 208 (individual track) plays[/list_item]

[list_item]SBTRKTSBTRKT - 198  (individual track) plays[/list_item]

[list_item]Tame Impala – Lonerism - 138 (individual track) plays[/list_item]

[list_item]Arcade FireThe Suburbs - 121 (individual track) plays[/list_item]

[list_item]GrimesVisions - 108 (individual track) plays[/list_item]

[list_item]Beastie BoysTo The 5 Boroughs - 103 (individual track) plays[/list_item]

[list_item]OrbitalWonky (Deluxe Edition) - 90 (individual track) plays[/list_item][/list]


Most listened to artists.

[list icon="music"][list_item]The Maccabees  - 347 plays[/list_item]

[list_item]M83  - 314 plays[/list_item]

[list_item]Ladytron  - 238 plays[/list_item]

[list_item]Field Music  - 234 plays[/list_item]

[list_item]Django Django - 209 plays[/list_item]

[list_item]SBTRKT  - 198 plays[/list_item]

[list_item]Beastie Boys  - 176 plays[/list_item]

[list_item]Depeche Mode  - 171 plays[/list_item]

[list_item]Metronomy  - 167 plays[/list_item]

[list_item]Tame Impala  - 150 plays[/list_item][/list]


With this being my most listened to track of the year:


December 21, 2012 - 1 comment.

The Young Apprentice Final

Now in its third series, Sir Alan Sugars hunt for a Young Apprentice takes a group of “aspiring moguls which have been selected for their academic flair and burning passion for business” and tests them against each other in a series of tasks.

For their final task, the remaining competitors found themselves in Manchester needing to create a completely new sports brand from scratch. As it was the final all the original contestants came back to help and assist those still left in the competition, and we were asked to help the teams develop and design the core assets for their new brands.

I got the task of looking after one the teams, and this is my experience.

Filming happened over a sunny day at the beginning of August and my team, lead by feisty Maria had opted to go for a cycling brand as they felt that cycling wasn’t deemed very “cool” especially within the 18-30 market. At the beginning of the day before we started shooting, we were very clearly briefed that in no way were we allowed to offer them any advice or guidance and that we were just there to facilitate their ideas. Personally, I would say I don’t think cycling has ever been cooler especially within that age group, there are some great cycle clothing brands out there like Rapha and smaller outfits such as Milltag, style icon Bradley Wiggins had just become the first British man to win the Tour De France the week before, and later that day he was set to win Olympic gold (for the fourth time) in the men’s time trial.

Baring their main strategy maybe not being bang on as far as I was concerned, there is room in the market for a new brand and the way they went about the task when they were with me was quite impressive. They had some decent ideas and concepts and had a good grasp of what they wanted from the session.

It was quite a long day, I arrived at work early having set up the area we recorded in the day before. The contestants were due to arrive at about 10:30 and film outside the building before coming in, being briefed by me and having a couple of hours to brainstorm and design a brand marque and tagline.

Each team got the use of a logo book to help with the brainstorming ideas, a pantone swatch book and a selection of pads, pens and other stationary items.

After initially briefing the contestants to camera, the first half of the filming was pretty quiet for me whilst they brainstormed ideas amongst each other and made some phone calls like they do via speakerphone, which was pretty funny to watch live. Once they had decided on their idea, it was then my job to visualize their sketches help them select colours and typefaces. As none of them had any real knowledge of colours or type, they spent a long time getting hung up the tiny details and arguing over very similar shades of green in the pantone book we had provided! This wasted time later on made it tricky for me when we got word from the printer of minimum stroke width in the design.

They had called their company “CYC”, as in cyc-ling, and wanted the logo to form a bicycle wheel with the second ‘C’ being flipped. I designed quite a delicate wheel with fine spokes emerging from the ‘Y’ which formed the axle in the centre of the wheel, but as I said above, the last minute print spec called for 50% of the spokes to be removed and thickened up considerably which made the final design look a little unrefined and chunkier than I would have liked. However given the time available (about 30 minutes), with a team of indecisive youngsters sitting on my shoulder and a camera crew filming the whole process I’m not sure I could have done much more.

Once the deadline was reached, work stopped and the final design was then fired off to a printer, who was with the other half of the team, and they were going to print the designs onto all the collateral required for their final presentation. The next step was to design a flyer and brand manifesto, before Nick was briefed on animating the logo, which would be used on a digital six sheet and in the final presentation, whilst then Alex artworked all the final files.

It was a pretty full on morning, a great incite into the making of the program and as a fan of the program it was just great to take part. The whole filming process was pretty fun, and by the end of it I was used to having a camera in my face. Fortunately it wasn’t focused on me too often, despite that I have been cringing at thought of watching myself back with every new episode of the series!

It has been pretty tough to keep it a secret since the beginning of August, especially meeting the legend that is Nick Hewer!

If you missed the final, it’s available to watch again on iplayer (for a limited period):


November 13, 2012 - No Comments!

TBWA Building type

During the summer, in downtime we redecorated the agency. Initially the design department and swiftly followed by all the other departments in the agency once they saw what we had achieved.

There where massive clear outs and tidying sessions and St Paul's has been transformed into an even more inspiring workplace. The transformation was finally completed a week ago with the installation of some wall vinyls placed around the building. I designed a couple of pieces, an organic and flowing welcome as you enter the front door and typographic treatment of a famous pangram in the studio.

I'm going to create a proper portfolio page for it all, but I'm still working on a colour version of the pangram statement, but in the meantime here are a couple of snaps.


Here are some more shots of the entire agency.

November 8, 2012 - 1 comment.

Re-branding Tesco

Along with most of the people at TBWA\Manchester, my summer was consumed pitching for Tesco. We were up against the great and the good of advertising, beating off competition including JWT, VCCP, McCann Erickson, SapientNitro and WCRS, before finally losing out to W+K..

Now that Wieden & Kennedy's work is starting to see the light of day, I thought I'd share the little case study I put together on the evolution of the Tesco marque, and its possible future evolution. Please bear in mind this was a single afternoons work, and it is nowhere near as comprehensive as the brilliant microsoft rebrand done by Andrew Kim. This is meant as more of an evolution in the style of recent high profile rebrands like Starbucks.

Please click on the images below to enlarge.

As you can see from the page above Tesco's branding early on was quite inconsistent, particularly with the advert from 1924 displaying 'Tesco' in 3 different faces and styles. On the image below from 1946, you can still see serious inconsistancies, with both serifs and sans being used in branding.

A branch of Tesco built inside the Hoover Building in Perivale, London (now a listed building)

As you can see on the above image, since the Tesco has gradually refined the logo over, moving from a slab-serif, with the most recent incarnation from 1996 becoming almost a sans-serif.

However, with Tesco's rapid expansion into many other areas and sectors, the various sub-brands lack a visual consistency and cohesion.

The blue stripes, which are reminiscent of the stripes on a butchers apron, made their debut in the 1980s on Tesco press ads, devised by Lowe Howard-Spink. It was so effective that over time, the bars appeared in other areas until they became a permanent element of the Tesco logo. But they are used differently by different parts of the business which I feel is confusing.

Exploring the best way to make that next refinement of the logo can be seen over the next few images.

Should the number of stripes be reduced, or the size of them modified? Looking at the options below, moving to a completely sans typeface seems like a step too far. Getting the level of compression in x-height right, is also a tricky so as with not enough compression it doesn't look like Tesco, and too much and the logotype just looks squashed. Until actually having a look at it, I hadn't fully appreciated just how squashed it actually is.

In the end, we would recommend to lose the bars completely, as they don't actually represent anything. Black as a colour is then completely lost from the logo, with "every little helps" taking on the Tesco brand blue and thus aligning it closer to the master brand. Further to this "Every little helps" has been upweighted, with extra emphasis being placed on "helps", as this was one the core aspects of the pitch strategy.

Below you can see how this would be applied on an individual basis and across the various sub-brands, with each sector taking a slightly different colour.

 As I said at the beginning, this was only a quick brand overview and would have been great to get to delve deeper into the details and across the huge range of sub-brands. On a another note its interesting to see W+K's take on "every little helps" in their current ads, and how it wasn't too far away from our own.

August 22, 2012 - No Comments!

Generative drawing fun

I came across a generative drawing experiement earlier today, and got a little bit hooked over lunch.

Its pretty simple, there are 4 different brushes and several colour options. Drawing is quite intuitive, the faster you move your cursor the larger the brush stroke. It does take a little working out, but after a while you can drawing with an idea of the outcome, although at first glance it looks entirely random.

And at the end, you can watch your drawing redraw itself.

Looking into it a bit more know whilst writing this, and seeing as its done in html5/css3  and javascript I see it works on mobile devices and supports multi touch as well, although I've not tried it on my iphone.

Gwen Vanhee has done a great job and its well worth a little play.  Here is what I came up with:

August 7, 2012 - No Comments!

LomoWall, Manchester.

Over the weekend I happened to wander past the recently installed Manchester LomoWall. I'd been meaning to have a look for a while after submitting some shots a few months ago, and being unable to make the launch party.

I was secretly hoping that I'd been able to sneak a few shots in (as they needed 14000!), but I wasn't holding my breath.  Slowly moving up and down the wall, I was delighted to find 8 or 9 of my own photographs featured and with each one being used multiple times too. Here are some snaps from my iPhone.

Ben Topliss - LomoWall Manchester
Ben Topliss - LomoWall Manchester
Ben Topliss - LomoWall Manchester
Ben Topliss - LomoWall ManchesterBen Topliss - LomoWall ManchesterBen Topliss - LomoWall ManchesterBen Topliss - LomoWall ManchesterBen Topliss - LomoWall ManchesterBen Topliss - LomoWall ManchesterBen Topliss - LomoWall ManchesterBen Topliss - LomoWall ManchesterBen Topliss - LomoWall ManchesterBen Topliss - LomoWall ManchesterBen Topliss - LomoWall ManchesterBen Topliss - LomoWall Manchester

Check out the making of videos.

Billed as the “World’s first permanent LomoWall,” the Lomographic Society’s LomoWall Manchester was unveiled yesterday on Tariff Street. Now open to the public, the LomoWall Manchester is a 30m x 3m long artwork containing 14,000 individual “lomographs.” Alexandra King, Piccadilly Partnership Director said: “This is a new landmark on the Northern Quarter landscape, here in the heart of the Piccadilly Basin.  The LomoWall adds to the street art scene in this part of the city centre and will become a visitor attraction in its own right. We are very proud to host it and to have the world’s first permanent LomoWall is a real honour. It’s a welcome addition to the urban landscape.” Lomography Press Release

David Tester of Lomography Manchester said, ”The theme of water was chosen as it fits in well with the 2012 Canal Festival and also as it reflects the surrounding area of the wall. The photos were generated via our online community and through workshops taking place at Lomography Gallery Store Manchester. Every photo that has been used has been taken in and around Manchester.  We had a great response, as always, from our community”.

I was however disappointed to notice that the wall had already been vandalised in places, with a section of photographs being torn down and another area being graffitti'd.

If you want to go and have a look, free parking is available at the nearby Urban Exchange (Aldi, Go Outdoors, etc) retail development off Great Ancoats Street, or for more information on Lomography visit or check out shop at 20 Oldham Street.

July 11, 2012 - No Comments!

Foster Huntington: The burning house, what would you take?

'The burning house: what would you take?' is a blog that has been turned into a book by Portland-based photographer Foster Huntington.
The project is a growing collection of images that people have curated of their belongings based on what they would bring with
them if their home was to be on fire. The selection is insightful and intimate, bringing attention to the things that are most important
to people in their lives.

This collection belongs to:
Alice Bernardo
Age: 31
Location: Minho, Portugal
Occupation: Finder of really good stuff

This collection belongs to:
Ben R.
Age: 28
Location: Germany

This collection belongs to:
Erin wallace
Age: 28
Location: Maine
Occupation: Photographer

This collection belongs to:
Joshua Lee Bacon
Age: 20
Location: Boone, Iowa
Occupation: Student

This collection belongs to:
Age: 36
Location: Porto
Occupation: Bike shop man

July 11, 2012 - No Comments!

Secret Gourmet Tea Shop In Sao Paulo Brazil

Pop-up shops seem to be all the rage as of late, and there have been many different types of businesses that are stepping up their game with creative storefronts. One of the most exciting– a gourmet tea shop in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Located in the Cidade Jardim shopping center in the Brazilian city, this tea shop doesn’t go unnoticed; even when it’s folded down into it’s hidden state.

The shop is a tiny little space, only about 10 square feet! But it unfolds piece by piece to reveal an all inclusive, exciting retailer that is sufficient in its tiny square footage. The exterior is painted in bright, bold colors and neons with all of the important elements being painted in neutral tones– even the store’s signage is hidden during hours of non use. It’s dynamic and ever evolving; a truly gorgeous space. Photos via: Chu e Kato

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March 13, 2012 - No Comments!

Olafur Eliasson – Your rainbow panorama

Olafur Eliasson’s  dazzling “Your Rainbow Panorama” is a permanent installation on the rooftop of the ARoS Museum in Aarhus, Denmark.  The spectacular work of art has a diameter of 52 metres and is mounted on slender columns 3.5 metres above the roof  of the museum. Visitors can literally walk through the entire color spectrum viewing the world for the first time in all pink, green, blue and yellow tones.

“Your rainbow panorama enters into a dialogue with the existing architecture and reinforces what is assured beforehand, that is to say the view of the city. I have created a space which virtually erases the boundaries between inside and outside – where people become a little uncertain as to whether they have stepped into a work or into part of the museum. This uncertainty is important to me, as it encourages people to think and sense beyond the limits within which they are accustomed to moving”.
- Olafur Eliasson

March 2, 2012 - No Comments!

Instameetmcr – #oneoff


To celebrate the ‘one off’ leap year day on Wednesday, four Manchester instagrammers (Kate Towey, James G Brown, Gina Hewitt and Fiona McGarva) organised a social media led collaborative art project to create ‘One Off’: a photography exhibition in Northern Quarter gift shop Incognito’s gallery space, an old bank vault.

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The ‘People’s Choice’ Vault – photo by instruct.

Entrants were asked to simply take a photo using the hugely popular iPhone photography app, instagram on the theme ‘One Off’ and tag it using the corresponding hashtag.  All submitted photos were displayed with the most popular 18 photos being framed and entered into the ‘people’s choice’ competition with the winner decided by those who attended. Checking the tag now, there were almost 350 submitted photos.

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I submitted a couple of images, with one being lucky enough to be selected for the ‘people’s choice’ award and being framed and displayed with 17 selected others inside the old vault. Unfortunately I didn’t win, but I think 13 votes was quite respectable (which put me in about 5th place, not that I was counting or anything!)

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My submission - bentopliss

The exhibition will run until to March 14th, so if you’re in the area its well worth having a look or feel free to follow me on instagram (@bentopliss).


The winning entry – photo by marklloyd68

Incognito, 5 Stevenson Square, M1 1DN. 0161 228 7999
Opening hours Mon - Sat 10am - 5.30pm, Sun 12pm - 4pm
Incognito / @Incognito_UK