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Conversations on the Coast

Now this is just lovely. We’ve just taken delivery of a fantastic little book, Conversations on the Coast, which brings together a series of short interviews with artists and craftspeople from around the British Isles.

The book is the work of designer and photographer Nick Hand, who set off in 2009 to travel the coast of the British Isles by bike. Along the way he interviewed and photographed a wealth of local artisans – from flute makers to stone letter carvers, from stickmakers to boat builders. He put the photos and interviews together as soundslides on his site Slowcoast, and this book is a beautifully edited version of those soundslides.

The book arrived wrapped in hand-illustrated tissue paper, with a lovely postcard.

The photography throughout is beautiful, and each of the short interviews is illuminating and touching. As a whole, the book is a wonderful portrait of people doing things they love – not for money, not for fame – but because it makes them happy.

Ace.

We Made This shiny new website

So, the attentive amongst you may have noticed we’ve been more than a tad quiet of late, and this is why.

We’ve been tinkering around under the bonnet of We Made This, creating an entirely new site, built by the good folks at Position Absolute. It’s got a whole heap of our latest work on it, as well as an Archive section which we’ll be steadily filling up.

Here’s Tom from Position Absolute on some aspects of the build, which was all done in WordPress:

“We’re believers in web standards so we’ve taken care to mark up We Made This to give the content the semantic love it deserves. The main logo is an image, but turn off CSS (or take a look at the mark up) and you can see that behind it there’s an H1 tag, noting to SEO bots out there that this is the most important heading on the page. Subtitles are H2s and denote the title of their particular pages.”

We’ve decided to officially call this our Beta stage, so why not have a click around, and if you see anything that’s not behaving itself, drop us a line.

We’re still adding features to the blog one at a time so that we can make sure they work smoothly. We’ve also imported all our old blog’s content, but we’ll leave the old blog running as a dusty archive for a while yet. (If you do have any direct links to We Made This, it’d be great if you could update them to either our home page, or to our blog home page.)

If you’re a subscriber of our RSS feed, it should hopefully still be coming through loud and clear, but if not, do let us know!

Lettercult

Lettercult
We just jumped across to the rather wonderful custom-lettering blog Lettercult from ffffound, and heck, it's hugely delicious, with a well curated mix of found lettering, logos, titles, and other random typography related stuff. 

Here's a couple of their recent finds: Clean Me by Alison Carmichael, and some steel lettering from Michiel Van Der Born.

LC_cleanme 

LC_Watercut2

Yum yum yum.

Grafik launch their website

Grafik

Grafik (the UK based graphic design magazine) has just launched its website, beautifully and elegantly designed by our studio-mates Fitzroy and Finn. The site is divided up into a blog, a talent section, a profile section, and an archive of all the old issues.

#TwitterPicture

Johanna_basford

Illustrator Johanna Basford has been in touch to let us know about an interesting little project she's running over the next couple of days (Wednesday 14 & Thursday 15 October), called Twitter Picture.

She's going to create one of her rather beautiful hand-drawn illustrations, inspired entirely by suggestions from Twitter users (check out @johannabasford), and then do a limited edition of 100 silk-screened prints from the drawing.

Sounds like a smart way to get lots of people to check out her work, and could be an interesting snap-shot of what's going on in the collective consciousness right now…

7thsyndikate: the whole story

Regular readers of this blog will know that we've been mixed up in a fantastically engaging online campaign by a group called 7thSyndikate

We were initially sent an email from them at the beginning of September: 
"Don't turn away from your screen; they may already be watching. We like your type. You came to our attention while demonstrating your observational skills in finding what you need inside zone six, as well as having contacts further a field. In the next couple of days someone from our organisation will be in contact. If you don't hear from us by then, destroy all evidence of our correspondence. For now, it doesn't matter who we are, suffice to say we're a state-funded organisation interested in your skills."

It had the URL www.7thsyndikate.org in the footer, which revealed the following web page:

7thsyndikate1

The page had a hidden link on the word 'bright', which opened up a new window:
7thsyndikate2

And so, the game was afoot. 

A series of cryptic emails arrived in the following days, including one which said:

"Place the following message in a public communication to your comrades – dim3 ak7ion – this communication is sensitive, but shouldn't place you in direct danger."

This led us to make this post which then led to another email saying that we'd been activated as an agent, with the code-name TrouinVI-302. There were a few more online hoops to jump through, and one offline one, where a classified ad was placed in the London Lite newspaper:

7thsyndikate

The phone number led to a strange voicemail with heavy breathing and a protracted scream, but that was a bit of a red herring, as the text 'B1-Lancer' was a password to the next area of the website. You were then asked to find images tagged with your agent name on a selection of photo sharing websites, and these images were tagged with URLs of Google maps, indicating a secret rendezvous for all the agents, in the vicinity of the Albert Memorial.

Albert_memorial

Agents were asked to turn up in shades and a hat, carrying a newspaper under their arm; and to wait for a man in a bowler hat, a tan mac and dark shoes. They were then to follow his every move.

So at this point, we were thinking, well, it's been fun, but what's going to happen now that we're switching to the real world? There was a lot of online chatter about who was behind the campaign, and after a little careful digging we worked out who was behind it all. 

So we turned up, along with a gang* of 30 or so other bloggers, all looking a tad perplexed in shades and hats. After a brief while, the mysterious man showed up.

7thsyndikate3

He led the group (at a brisk pace) on a brief walkabout through the streets of Kensington, eventually arriving at an imposing front door:

7thsyndikate4

And so, the masterminds behind the game were revealed – the V&A.

The whole thing was a rather brilliant word-of-mouth campaign, or alternate reality game, from the folks at 1000 Heads, who'd been working for the V&A to drum up a bit of noise about their new Cold War Modern show (we'll be adding to that noise ourselves very shortly). 

It's the first time the V&A has done something like this, so we expect they were feeling more than a tad nervous about how it might turn out. We thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, which pulled in bloggers and got them playing on a dedicated site, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Google maps, on Flickr, and a host of other places; and it felt like it fitted in perfectly with the style of the exhibition.

Top notch.

Read all about it at the 7thSyndikate site.
 
*What is the collective noun for a group of bloggers? A fodder? A post? A smug? Or perhaps an obsession?

7thsyndikate: the cat is out of the bag

7thsyndikate 

As we mentioned a while back, we've been getting some strange email communications from a group called 7thsyndikate.

They've led us a merry modern dance, which even took us via the classified ads of a London newspaper. Sometimes it felt like we were getting warm, but more often it felt like we were getting cold. But they made us smile in the process, so we're not gonna get too grumpy. 

We could tell you who they are and what it's all about, but if you're still caught up in the game, it would rather spoil things.
And we're looking forward to seeing what happens next – we've fallen under their sphere of influence, and heck, we like it.

Blowing our own trumpet

Tantramar
We hate to smug off, but our good friend Charlie over at the distinctly wonderful Tantramar has just posted an interview with Alistair as part of his series of interviews with artists, designers and illustrators, which currently also features Seripop and Miles Donovan.  

  
Charlie’s a groovy guy, and he wears his facial hair better than anyone we know.

On a design trip

M!ke
Swelling the ranks of blogs by designers, Graphic Journey Blog should be worth keeping an eye on.  

It’s the new blog from Mike Dempsey, one of the founders of CDT Design, now out and about doing his own thing as Studio Dempsey.  
  
And if that doesn’t fill your Dempsey shaped hole, you can also check out his series of interviews with the great and the good of the design world at the RDInsights series from the RSA.  

Early Designs

Bob_book

Our friend Andy over at Now in Colour has set up an interesting project that kicks off today.

He’s been asking the great and the good of the creative industry to post up their old college work, as part of what he calls a ‘raindrop idea’, where the individual contribution is small, but where it collectively has a noticeable effect. (A good example of this being done really well is the Blog Action Day that we took part in back in October.)

Alistair’s picked a couple of projects from his time at Central Saint Martins, where he studied on the BA Graphic Design course:

First up is Bob Book, a story about “the brief life and untimely death of an elastic band”. I put this together in my first year at St Martins, and it’s still one of my favourite projects. The typography is rubbish (14pt Arial? I didn’t have a clue…), and the mix of photography and hand drawn images is peculiar, but it’s got real heart to it, and that just about carries it through. And I’m still quite proud of the binding, which is just a series of elastic bands stretched across two corrugated plastic boards. You can see the full book on this Flickr slideshow.

Spaced

Next up is a series of pictures I took of Simon Pegg and Jessica Stephenson when they were writing the second series of the TV show Spaced. It was just a great way to spend a day. As a project it reminded me that there’s a real freedom you have at college to get in touch with people, and it’s hugely important to make the most of that.

You can see more work from other creative folk at the Early Designs Flickr group.