Design Competition: Internship: Conclusion

Now is the time for deep, critical thinking.

So far, I’ve done three articles for Grafik. (four if you count last year’s). All three of them have been predominantly other people’s words. It’s the easiest and most effective thing to do, but it does feel like a wasted opportunity to hone my independent writing skills.

I suppose that is a very keen critical reflection about being in the workplace in the first place. It’s your job to do your job. Self-promotion and enhancement has to play second fiddle to the needs of the client or boss or whatever. They say you can’t please everyone all the time, only half the people all the time or all the people half the time. Maybe that quote’s about lying to people, actually? Whatever. I definitely know that’s writing will be a part of my future always and working with Grafik has shown me a way in which I might get to interact with interesting people doing interesting things.

I don’t regard what I’ve been doing with Grafik as work, so I’m undecided if I should ask Angharad if she would allow this arrangement to continue, or if doing a free internship indefinitely is a conflict of interests for me. We’ll see.


Design Competition: Internship: My SPOT cards

SPOT cards: cards with perforated circles that you push out to make your own designs.

As part of the competition to win SPOT cards from Alex,  readers needed to create their own designs using a PDF they could download from his website. It was most encouraging, when I found I couldn’t help myself and had to have a go myself. I just did the first three things that came to mind, I cheated a little and inverted the white to black with the space one, but hey, what’s the point in having photo shop if you’re not going to use it?

‘Ground control to Major Tom’ indeed.

I was listening to David Bowie’s Space oddity, so yeah, spaceship. The next one is of satan worshipping cartoon dog Mr Pickles. Some sentences just make your life complete. That was one of them. The last one is of Optimus Prime. I tried to see if I could recreate Hokusai’s wave, but you can’t have everything.

Mr Pickles. Telling you any more would be hazardous to your health.
Optimus Prime. If there is a god and he is all powerful, I bet he turns into Optimus Prime once in a while. I would.

I do very much like working within a system to do something unexpected. It’s more of the case of wanting to take that system and do something that me and my friends would like, but, like I said earlier, the cornerstone of good business is knowing your demographic, and how to reach them. I am my demographic, well, people who like what I like. You know what I mean.

The article that accompanies the competition can be found here.

Design Competition: Internship: SPOT Card Competition

Competition page on Alex’s website. Unfortunately for you, the competition has closed.

As is the nature of the beast, through a series of back and forth emails, me, Alex and Angharad managed to figure out the specifics of the competition we were going to run and how. We figured out the length, what we were asking for, where we were asking for it and all the other stuff. Alex hosted the competition rules on his site, so they read our article, went to him, and then got the PDF required to enter the competition, Did their thing, and then send it back to us. That’s about as streamlined as we could make it.

Alex’s PDF grid

It really did make me reflect on how important market research is. Knowing who your demographic is and how to interact with them is the cornerstone of any successful not just business, but public service.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with the competition page, but here’s the link just in case you want to have a look.

Design Competition: Internship: SPOT cards

Alex Swain’s website. He’s famous for his ‘A’ shaped furniture.

Alex Swain is a minimalist furniture designer. I think he’s also an acquaintance of Angharad. He got in touch with her to promote a new idea with his which he calls SPOT cards. He was hoping to do some sort of promotional thing with Grafik and that’s where I come in. Neither of us really knew what it was we were trying to achieve.

SPOT cards: cards with perforated circles that you push out to make your own designs.

Learning on-the-job is part of the fun, so we found ourselves figuring it out as we went along. And here comes a summary of the design industry as a whole: I think that’s what they all do: figure it out as they go along. Well that’s one more mystery solved. Where’s my scooby snack?

Design Competition: Internship: Le Petit Neant 2

Editor Miguel with with graphic conceptualist Giulia Garbin

Just like with The Exposed, after a series of back and forth emails the art director, it was decided to conduct an interview, by email to form the Le Petit Neant article. There is no better way of getting across the intention of a publication then by combining the presentation of that publication with words from the creators of it.

Artwork by Stephanie Von Reiswitz

I do lament that ultimately, I contribute almost nothing to this scenario. It’s an example of brilliant writing and vision, but in this instance, it all comes from Miguel. I don’t suppose it’s worth worrying about too much, since, as a member of the Grafik team, my name is not at the bottom of any of the articles I write anyway. Good thing I have my own blog that I can write on, isn’t it?

You can read the article on Le Petit Neant here.

Design Competition: Internship: Second assignment: Le Petit Neant

Le Petit Neant edited by Miguel Angel Valdivia with Giulia Garbin

My second interview was to celebrate the third issue of Le Petit Neant. Le Petit Neant is a zine, predominantly filled with black-and-white illustration. The Quality of the work is excellent, and the zine has almost no words in it at all.

Artwork by Andrzej Klimowski

As a publication, it is almost the polar opposite of The Exposed. Its artistic sensibilities definitely resonate with me more, but the thing about dealing with people on a professional level, is that if you have a personal interest in something, that’s great. You can use that passion to support the conversation, but if you don’t like what someone does, you don’t let that impacts negatively on the conversation. Whether you like it or not, this is about getting them exposure on Grafik, because some Grafik readers will definitely love what they do.

Design Competition: Internship: Protein CMS

The Exposed Issue 2 edited by Henriette Kruse.

I tried to ask Henriette questions that would both introduce her to readers but also allow her to really promote the thinking behind the publication. The real work began when I had to take what was written and put it through Grafik’s online content manager. It’s effectively just like uploading a blog post, except it’s rather finicky. Angharad gave me the specifications for all images to be used as well as how to treat the text, so all I had to do was follow the instructions. The problem with their platform is that, every time you add an element, be it an image, some text or anything like that, you run the risk of it no longer saving your progress.

Protein Content Management System. How you go from word documents to working web pages… Eventually.

I effectively had to upload the Article 3 times, and it was only by stopping to say in between every single added element, that I finally got to the end of the process. Sometimes limitations let you focus on excelling in other ways, like Grafik has a policy of two word titles. It’s hard work but sometimes you strike gold and you know it. But sometimes, limitations are just… limiting. But once you know, you know. And knowing is half the battle. Go Joe!

In case you want to actually read the article I’ve spent three blog posts talking about, here it is.

Design Competition: Internship: Being professional

The Exposed Issue 2 edited by Henriette Kruse.
Matthew Broadhead’s article on locations on this planet that look alien.

After being tasked with conducting an interview with Henriette Kruse about  the new issue of her magazine, I managed to borrow an iPhone offer friend, after realising almost no one I know who is easy to get a hold of has an iPhone.

I’m sure there’s really deep socio economic, political and what-have-you reason for that, but I think contentious statements are best left on twitter right? The experience of reading a magazine with the app was fundamentally different to reading it without it. It was a considerably good idea to hold off on asking my questions until I got the full experience.


Alia Ali’s article on textiles and their cultural significance.

I will confess I did find that the palaver required for me to have this experience did leave me with a somewhat negative response to the whole thing. The magazine had removed the body copy, the text, that would normally have accompanied the pictures. Using the app on the pictures would play an audio file that was clearly the text that was supposed to be accompanying those pictures. All of the audio files were read by one person, clearly not the author of the words, and their delivery was somewhat flat.

It is worth noting that the issue I was reviewing was only the second, and that this technology is still emergent. I have no doubt that the problems I encountered are growing pains, so I chose to avoid my own personal dissatisfaction with the experience as a whole and do my job: help promote The Exposed as an interesting alternative to both print based media and digital media. It’s nice to know I can be professional sometimes. Maybe one day, I’ll be professional full-time.

Design Competition: Internship: First Assignment: The Exposed

The Exposed Issue 2 edited by Henriette Kruse.

My first article was on a magazine called The Exposed. And in keeping with tradition, something went wrong immediately. You see, the magazine was intended to be read in conjunction with an app on your iPhone. Problem is, I don’t have an iPhone.

Etienne Malapert’s article on traveling through a city during a sandstorm.

Trying to present to the facade of professionalism, I’ve visited the websites, read the magazine and ruminated on what questions I would ask the editor-in-chief Henriette for our email interview about the publication. Trying to keep the article moderately light, while allowing Henriette to say everything she needed to say would prove to be an interesting challenge, but the thinking process that goes into making things seem effortless is something I very much like. Trying to match the tone to the other articles so it doesn’t look out of place on the website was another consideration.

Louis De Belle’s article on the physical paraphernalia that accompanies Catholicism its self contained economy.

Having a system you need to stick to is liberating sometimes, because it means you don’t have to worry about every little aspect of what you do. It’s your job to do the best in the areas that are left to your discretion.

Design Competition: Internship: The little things

A HTML stripper I was asked to use. Don’t I take you to all the most glamorous places?

I assumed the hard work when it comes to being a freelance writer would be in having to write something worth reading. How wrong was I? Angharad showed me the process I would need to go through to upload what I write to the Grafik website.

Grafik uses something called Protein to manage their online content. It’s an awful lot like WordPress, except Word press is easier to use. I would also need to strip the HTML code from my text using a website designed for that very process. I can’t really tell you why, but when your boss says ‘do it’ you do it. Nothing quite makes what you do real like all of the ridiculous mundane things you have to do, to get it published.

Dancing in the rain (you know, like the film) is a wonderful fantasy, but once you’ve done it, you realise how muddy your shoes get. You also get wet. It’s part of the package. You can look forward to sitting around the table in the pub and exchanging war stories with your colleagues on day.