Wednesday, 18 July 2007


By Imran Ahmad

“A Muslim Boy meet the West”

“Part White Teeth, part Adrian Mole, Unimagined is the hilarious and captivating memoir of a Muslim boy born in Pakistan, who moves to London aged one and grows up torn between his Islamic identity and his desire to embrace the West.”

This book is a year by year narration of the authors life, up until age 25. It was a beautifully written book, painfully honest and funny. One of the crucial reasons as to why I like this book so much is my ability to empathise with the author, for I too am an Asian, Muslim and growing up in the West. As a first generation Asian Muslim growing up in England during the 1970/80’s he discusses topics such as racism, cultural expectations and boundaries, and religious discovery. One of the key features of this book was his struggle with his Identity. Throughout his life, Ahmad sought to be the “quintessential English gentleman”, however could never fully assimilate into British culture. The author who is now 45 has left me wishing I could have Unimagined; Part2, filling me in on the next 20 years of his life. It is his unquestionable honesty that makes this book such a pleasure to read and I would love to have know his thoughts and feelings on topics such a arranged marriages, fatherhood and his job, which were beginning to be touched upon before the end of the book. I can only hope Imran Ahmad realises the art of blogging, if only for my own personal curiosity.

When returning to University in September we begin to research and write our dissertations. My chosen topic is to question the lack of Asian people used within the advertising and marketing. This book merely emphasises that even 30 years on, minority cultures are still, perhaps, are being ignored, or neglected somewhat in mainstream advertising, questioning further whether we are still not seen as fully integrated into British culture and society.

Monday, 16 July 2007

D&AD Packaging Design 2007; Warburtons

Being nominated for a D&AD award was one of the craziest experiences I have ever been through. One of the most exciting things about the whole saga was actually checking out the competition. It was really interesting to see the different concepts people adopted to deal with the same brief.

I, along with another nominee was awarded a Commendation, there was no second prize, and the first prize was awarded to a well-deserved Sophie Towler from The University College Falmouth. When I first saw the other nominees, Sophie’s work stood out, playing on the popular notion that ‘sex sells’. Below are a few photos I took on my phone of her work.

Playing on the idea that Warburtons were selling a “delicious Italian” the copy fully supported this cheeky concept, with each of the breads having its own saucy line on the back, like “I want you to rub oil on me”, or “I want you to nibble me all over”. This was a fantastically well thought out piece of work, with each element fully supporting and complimenting the strong concept. Where I think my work and Andy’s (the other nominee) may have lacked was the direct appeal to the target market which was women in their 30’s. Both our designs were sophisticated and perhaps more ‘visually interesting’ with the use of photography, but both had a more all round appeal whereas Sophie’s encompassed the specific market so well. According to the D&AD website, first prize winners is awarded “the one outstanding entry; Bang on brief, brilliantly crafted or executed and with that 'I wish I'd done that!' appeal” and Sophie’s work certainly oozed in humour, simplicity and that all important ability to put a smile on someone’s face – basically, a designers dream.

Just on a small note, after looking at other nominees, and especially in my own category, I know I have said it before but the quality of execution was amazing. The other two students had produced real mock ups, something you can go straight into Tesco’s and pick up off a shelf, whereas for my mock ups, I had simply wrapped sheets over pre-made bread packaging, through pure naivety perhaps, thinking this would stand up next to the quality of the other entrants. Sophie had even pushed the brief further, something I noticed with a lot of other entrants, and produced more work in an extension of their brief, in her case she all produced a small ad campaign that could be used in line with her ‘delicious Italian’ concept, which just goes to show that doing extra could potentially be the difference between second prize and first, or an award or no award at all. I guess these are all lessons that you learn with experience, as I now know that I need to pick my game up as I have seen the other competition out there, and its tough.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

D&AD New Blood

26-27th June, Old Billingsgate, London

Bombarded by what I’m sure is well over the national average of visual communication messages in one place, this was certainly the place to be to see the up and coming talent within the design scene in the UK. Overwhelming doesn’t cover it.

To be able to see what other people, students can accomplish was an absolutely phenomenal experience. You cannot help but be inspired when viewing other peoples work – you would be lying is you didn’t have thoughts as to how you may have done their work differently, use a similar concept in your own work or at best see why certain ideas and executions may not have worked. With the work predominantly produced by 3rd year and postgraduate students, it really helped focus my attention as to the of the standard of work and quality of execution I should be aiming for in the future, which as a second year student, I am still trying to master.

It would be an impossible task to highlight a particular piece of work that inspired me, as for me the inspiration was not necessarily so tangible. One of the most notable things of all was the actual quality of the work. The work was unbelievably professional and well done, you could easily imagine seeing it on billboards around London, or in Adshell’s across the country, it was amazing. Above all, it has fuelled my personal determination somewhat; all the work was by students, just like me. It is not to say that I wasn’t bothered, or passionate before going to the exhibition, it has merely given me an indication as to realm of possibilities of what a student, what I can do – and there’s no going back.

Monday, 9 July 2007

A Designers Dilema?

My brother found this postcard around Leeds University and gave it to me to add to the postcard museum, that is my room. I personally really like typography and was particularly intrigued by the wording in the left hand corner (shown above). The reason I do not want to write the word that is seems to have caused somewhat confusion amongst the masses. Take a moment to see if you can read it, and then scroll down to see if you are right.

Personally to me, it was as clear as day. The beautifully designed word read, “Be” (confirmed by the website name.) However, to others it wasn’t so obvious, as they read the word “Do”. I thought this was particularly interesting, and I began to ask random friends and family what they thought the word read, with distinct results. To put it bluntly the designers could read the word perfectly, everyone else couldn’t.

Undoubtedly this is a beautifully designed word, with the postcards pattern being incorporated into the text, a design in which anyone could, and did appreciate, however somewhere in the design process it would seem the aesthetics maybe have been more important than the readability of the actual word. I have begun to notice that this is maybe a huge flaw in graphics today. As designers we are trying to create work, which is “subtly genius”, simple yet send a clever message, but in the end the message is getting lost being the single graphical elements that make it up. This has only become clearer to me, when my own work has come under some scrutiny.

The images below are sections of my revised posters for our first year project based on promoting a 2 hour lunch break for city workers.

Several people have seen these posters, and again I have received a mixed reaction. As always the designers can understand and appreciate the movie concept although they are not alone as others, although it may take a little longer also “get it”. When showing my mum, doctors in the making and future economists, they just couldn’t grasp why I had turned a W side ways, but to my sister it was glaringly “obvious”, when clearly it wasn’t as obvious as I thought. These two examples have certainly made me more aware of a huge problem facing a designer. Now more and more we are trying to be clever in our designs, but it seems we are beginning to design work, perhaps not realising it, but for our fellow designers, rather than the people we are aiming for, a balance we need to regain before non-designers are completely left out the loop.