NHS – What is it and why have it?

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Origin and work

  • July 5 1948 – The NHS is born. When health secretary Aneurin Bevan launched the NHS at Park Hospital in Manchester (today known as Trafford General Hospital), it is the climax of a hugely ambitious plan to bring good healthcare to all.
  • Healthcare provided for free and funded by taxation, this was part of the post-war Labour Government’s ‘Cradle to the Grave’ welfare state. The idea being, that at every stage of a citizen’s life, they would have some level of safety net provided by their state.
  • The NHS allowed uniform treatment for everyone, rich poor, young, old. If you needed care, you could access it. This was hugely beneficial saving millions of lives and allowing public health programs such as vaccinations.
  • 1958 – Polio and diphtheria vaccinations for children under 15 save thousands of lives annually.
  • 1960 – An Edinburgh doctor, Michael Woodruff, performs the first UK transplant involving an identical set of twins.
  • 1968 – A 45-year-old man becomes the first Briton to have a heart transplant on 3 May.

These are just some examples of the great things achieved under a Nation Heath Service. Allowing for people to benefit from a healthier population. If a workforce is healthy they can produce wealth and pay for their treatment indirectly through taxation. Those who can pay more, do so. Those who can’t pay at all, do not. But are equally cared for.

  • The NHS employs more than 1.5 million people, putting it in the top five of the world’s largest workforces, together with the US Department of Defence, McDonalds, Walmart and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
  • The NHS in England is the biggest part of the system by far, catering to a population of 54.3 million and employing around 1.2 million people. Of those, the clinically qualified staff include 150,273 doctors, 40,584 general practitioners (GPs), 314,966 nurses and health visitors, 18,862 ambulance staff, and 111,127 hospital and community health service (HCHS) medical and dental staff.

Funding and cost

  • Funding for the NHS comes directly from taxation. Since the NHS transformation in 2013, the NHS payment system has become underpinned by legislation. The Health & Social Care Act 2012 moves responsibility for pricing from the Department of Health, to a shared responsibility for NHS England and NHS Improvement.
  • When the NHS was launched in 1948, it had a budget of £437 million (roughly £15 billion at today’s value).
  • For 2015/16, the overall NHS budget was around £116.4 billion. NHS England is managing £101.3 billion of this.

Is this a lot?

Diagram of % of Government spending 2016
  • This chart amounts to 85% of GDP as the remaining is surplus to pay the national debt. Taken as a % of spending. The NHS account for 18%.
  • In 2016 the UKs GDP was £1,942.6 billion
  • The NHS cost the taxpayer £142.7 billion in 2016  equivalent to just 7.34% of GDP.
  • The NHS cares for a population of 65.2 million people

Is it worth it?

  • More than 1 million patients seen on a daily basis
  • Regularly features among the top reasons people feel proud to be British
  • The NHS has been declared the best healthcare system by an international panel of experts who rated its care superior to countries which spend far more on health.
  • “The United Kingdom ranks first overall, scoring highest on quality, access and efficiency,” the fund’s researchers conclude in their 30-page report. Their findings amount to a huge endorsement of the health service, especially as it spends the second-lowest amount on healthcare among the 11 – just £2,008 per head, less than half the £5,017 in the US. Only New Zealand, with £1,876, spent less.

My sources





What’s the alternative?

For this portion of my research I will look at America. The 9th richest country in the world per capita.

  • Until recently, healthcare was entirely private, funded by individuals or through group plans of companies for employees.
  • With the introduction of Obamacare in 2014, 48% of U.S. health care spending came from private funds, with 28% coming from households and 20%t coming from private businesses. The federal government accounted for 28% of spending while state and local governments accounted for 17%.
  • Spending per capita is approx £5,017 per capita, more than double our own at £2,008 per capita.
  • In 2014, 283.2 million people in the U.S., 89.6% of the U.S. population had some type of health insurance compared to 100% in the UK.
  • Medical Bankruptcy – A 2009 study by Himmelstein et al, published in The American Journal of Medicine, revealed that 62.1% of all bankruptcies in the US had a medical cause.

Here is an example of the huge costs incurred by medical procedures in private healthcare systems. [1]

The issues with privatized healthcare are numerous:

  • Health coverage in the states is often linked to employment, a company with pay for coverage as part of your employment terms. This means you may be tied to that job, if the terms of work are changed in a way that negatively effects you, you have no recourse or you may lose coverage. If you lose your job you have no coverage.
  • Companies have sway over the healthcare they wish to provide. Certain care options can be removed on Religious grounds for example. [1]
  • Essential medicines can be raised in price for personal profit, this happens all to often and can lead to deaths. Cases recently have included AIDS medication and Epi Pens. Essential, potentially life saving treatments that can be price hiked out of availability for some.

Final Thoughts

I have heard arguments on social media and in political circles tat the NHS is too expensive and unsustainable. Every statistic and piece of evidence I have found points at it as being among the best healthcare systems in the world. I worry that people are too short sighted, they simply see that their taxes are high and would like a few quid knocked off them. But in reality this is not how it would play out.

  • The security of knowing you will be cared for for free in the event of medical malady allows a person more control over their life, no money needs to be horded in preparation for an eventual illness that could cost tens of thousands.
  • The money saved by dismantling the NHS would be spent by your employer on group plans for private care and would simply be deducted from a paycheck instead of at the point of taxation. And it would cost you more, almost certainly.
  • Those who weren’t currently in decently paid employment would be left to fend for themselves. A society should care for its citizens.







Design as Activism – Animation Brief

In our new brief we were asked to create a 45-60 second long animated video as part of a campaign that explores graphic design, animation and illustration. The video would be aimed as raising awareness of a certain issue, or correcting commonly held perceptions of topics that may be misrepresented.

Even as the brief was being set, I had amassed a list of potential topics I would be eager to cover:

  • Proper source vetting in news media
  • Animal Welfare
  • The ongoing migrant crisis
  • Homelessness across the UK (there is very limited accommodation for homeless in my home of Swansea)
  • Climate Change
  • Rise of xenophobia and the right wing in the West (Could tie into the migrant crisis)
  • The War in Syria (also ties into the migrant crisis)
  • Trump’s America (migration, racism, sexism, government overreach)
  • Sustainability (ties into my first term constellation and climate change)
  • Social Welfare Decline (benefit cuts and NHS is being broken down)

All of these are major issues ongoing in the world today that I take a keen interest in. I am aware that many people have a lack of information or are apathetic about them. For example, in my recent trip to London there were homeless people around every busy road or railway station. I would find it very engaging and fulfilling to create a piece of design that would have the potential to reach an audience and change peoples minds.

All of this being said, in this project only one topic can be chosen as any more would be impossible to convey clearly in a minute of less. And besides as part of a group of four, I have to work with others and compromise on all aspects. It could be that none of these topics are the chosen one.

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We agreed that each of us had a decent cause to argue in favour of and that we should each research our issue and report back and hash out among the group which would be chosen. I have elected to research the NHS and its decline in recent years under Tory Governance. I was accident prone as a child and owe a lot to a free healthcare service that patched me up numerous times from rugby and other sporting injuries.

Relevant Articles

Excerpt: “Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us”

Heatherwick Studio – Making up Things


This past Friday I attended a lecture by Neil Hubbard, a representative of Heatherwick Studio. British designer Thomas Heatherwick founded Heatherwick Studio in 1994 to bring craft, design, architecture and urban planning together in a single work space from their studio in King’s Cross, London.

Their projects and clients are numerous and I have collected a series of my favorite images of their work.

Paddingtion Rolling Bridge

A bridge created to allow pedestrian traffic as well as boats while remaining an unbroken form. An amazing re imagining of design.

UK Pavillion, 2010 Shanghai Expo – Seed Cathedral

A fiber optic building encasing seeds in thousands of glass rods that glowed from within.

Bombay Sapphire Botanical Distillery

A beautifully designed green house as part of a renovation project that expresses Bombay Sapphire’s use of natural herbs and spices in their distilleries.

New London Route Master Bus

A beautiful redesign for the iconic London bus that uses unbroken curves and lines but allows for greater freedom with and open rear door as an homage to the original.

The Hive University Building, Singapore

A fully concrete University building without edges of corners to encourage interaction among students in a centralized communal space.

London 2012 Olympic Cauldron

A cauldron made of over 200 copper kettles each representing a country participating in the Olympic games that forms into one. After the games each country was presented with their kettle.

I appreciate that a big block of images doesn’t demonstrate a lot. But I was blown away by the collection of magnificent project undertaken. Their breadth of style, function and design. I think it would be impossible for me to illustrate the work of Heatherwick Studio without this.

Many design agencies seem to have a particular style, which I can understand. A methodology specific to them that they excel in and gives potential clients an idea of what they will get for their money. A distinctive brand is key to building notoriety. But Neil said.

“Every brief gives you an opportunity to do something new. It is not a problem to be overcome, but an opportunity to invent and be creative.” 

This shows in Heatherwick’s work. Each project has been given its own context. Where it is? What surrounds it? What’s its purpose/ its function? Each of these are unique questions for each project. Thus a unique solution is called for every time.

“Some things don’t need making, but designers can make them happen”

An example given was in the Paddington Rolling Bridge (pictured above). The utilitarian thing to do would have been to follow long held designs of the past and build a draw bridge or raise foot bridge. But the rolling bridge is different, not necessarily practically any better. But something beautiful.

My thoughts

I have already spewed a lot of my thoughts as they occurred to me. This work is incredible and I would be very privileged to ever have a part in something as prestigious and historic as these projects. But recently I have learned so much about what design is that I had not understood prior.

Design is infinite, any project if approached by a 1000 designers may turn up 1000 unique ideas, all of which may be viable. That is what I find so fascinating about design as a subject. There is no right way to go about creating something. There can be guidelines and tutorials that help you be methodical in the way you work. But the outcome is always different.

The trick seems to be to not approach anything with preconceived ideas of what you will create. Start from nothing, look at the brief, look at the context and treat that as your beginning. Other, previous solutions may be good but your job is not to copy. It is to innovate.

DARE Studios – London


On our last day in London we visited DARE, a partner company to OLIVER which is the fastest growing design agency in Europe. Their unique business model involves creating agency branches within clients to inspire greater cooperation and understanding. For example, a corner of a Starbucks may be given over to agency workers .

We were not given a standard overview of the goings on at DARE that I had initially expected. I had assumed we’d hear about a number of high profile briefs for big clients and learn how the company went from brief to finished product with some anecdotes peppered in. Not the case.

Behavioral Science

One of the key themes I have heard throughout my  studies, from current designers. Is the importance of proper preparation and research. At DARE this was taken a step further.

We were asked to perform a number of group activities including in pairs, getting as far off the ground as possible. The aim of this was to demonstrate when one pair saw a way (standing on a chair) everyone else immediately followed. The point of this was to demonstrate how the human mind works. We mimic each others behavior in order to work as a social species and foster bonding.

The issue, we were told. Is that as a Graphic Designer, the very last thing you want is to simply reproduce work that has already been done. The aim of a designer is to create new and novel solutions for problems. Human’s spend 96% of their day using their animal or automatic brain, it is able to answer simple questions and solve simple problems which is generally sufficient.

Type [1] Automatic Brain   —  Type [2] Thinking Brain

In the world of design, the trick is to understand human’s tendency to be unthinking and exploit that. Overcome it yourself so as not to be limited by it. And study it in others so as to understand what draws people to a brand or product.

Theory of planned consumer behaviour


This theory involves tracking the passage of the customers experience. You think about something, decide you want it, buy it, convince yourself after the fact that it was a good purchase and then feel you’re part of a group of individuals who own something. This feeling of being part of something is something humans innately crave, as a social species to be an outsider is detrimental. Hence why kids who want a new thing often say ‘Everyone else has one’. I am guilty of this myself.

An excellent example of the utility of this process was given to us. In Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport they had a problem with drunken revelers making a mess in the urinals before boarding flights home. It would have been perfectly easy to place a sign in the urinals asking that users be more careful. However Klaus Reichardt had the idea of placing a target within the urinal, giving patron something to aim at, thus solving the problem by appealing to the automatic (type 1) brain.

‘Guys are simple-minded and love to play with their urine stream, so you put something in the toilet bowl and they’ll aim at that, It could be anything. I’ve seen a golf flag, a bee, a little tree. It just happens that at Schiphol it’s a fly.’ – Klaus Reichardt

My Thoughts

All of this behavioral science we were taught was a very brief overview, I found myself looking into it online rather deeper as I found it very interesting. Appealing to a person’s subconscious to change their actions is a very impressive thing when done effectively. I have watched numerous Derren Brown shows where he uses subconscious nudges to navigate a persons brain to say the word he has already written down, making it appear magical.

While I understand marketing may not work on such a level, it is amazing to me the level of theory and research that goes into mapping out every stage of a consumers thought process so as to manipulate them to the greatest effect. The short time spent in London has completely changed my perspective on the career I am attempting to enter, giving me greater understanding of how it all actually works.

Key Note: The Rietveld-Schröder House

Nick Evans


De Stijl – Phillosophy and People

Truus Schröder – Life and Character

The Rietveld-Schröder House

Some Questions

The house in question  is in Utrecht, Holland. It is a listed world heritage sight.

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De Stijl  (The Style)

 Originated in Hollands in 1917 after the publication of the De Stijl magazine (more like an academic journal). It was believed that it would be the be all and end all of design. No other style would be necessary. It began in response to WWI, a creation of perfect order through minimalist design.

With the dawn on mass mechanization the armies of the world had the ability to murder one another more ruthlessly than ever. The nature of the war had been not only to cause massive death but destroying utterly the areas in which it was staged. Shelling bombardments reducing ground to a pock marked wasteland, carnage and disarray. De Stijl sought to oppose this.

M.c.Escher 1898-1972

His work is mathematically precise as a result of his response to the chaos and disorder that WWI brought. He retreated into a world of order and became a hallmark of what De Stijl stood for.

De Stijl manifesto was created to express the point about what practitioners believed and what they aspired to achieve. Often they are written in a dogmatic style ‘we believe this, and you should too.’

Extracted quotes

‘The old is connected with the individual. The new is connected with the universal.’

– reduce the opportunity for individuals the act irrationally and lash out at one another-

‘They have eradicated that which blocks pur artistic expression.’

-a style without using forms from nature-

‘Artists of today have been driven by the universality of art.’

-everyone agrees with this-

Wassily Kandinsky 1866-1944

Wassily Kandinsky took to the ideas of De Stijl in th post WWI era, inspiring many with his simplistic geometric re-imagining of the world.

Dancers 1916

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Composition VIII (the cow) 1918

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Bart van der Leck 1876-1958

Bart van der Leck was a prolific artist during the late 19th and early 20th century who was a source of inspiration for Kandinsky’s ‘Composition III’. He went so far as to re-imagine one of his famous pieces in the distinctive De Stijl minimalism.

Piet Mondrian

Pier Mondrian was heavily influenced by Van Gogh. His work becomes more and more abstract as time went on with the below pieces (left to right) red tree -grey tree-flowering apple tree.

Mondrian became entirely  abstract. Reducing image to black and white, straight lines both vertical and horizontal, primary colours and shades of grey.

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“Neo-plasticism is a pure representation of the human mind, art will express itself in an aesthetically purified, that is to say, abstract form.” – Mondrian

Neo-plasticism and de Stijl are much the same.

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld 1888-1964

The red blue chair – an attempt to take a chair and reduce it to its barest components in the spirit of De Stijl. He went on to build the Schröder House.

Truus Schroder Schrader (1889-1985)

Truus Schroder Shrader was the one to commission Rietveld to buld her house. She was a radical. An atheist free thinker and did not get on with her traditionalist husband. She wanted to use the design of her house to reflect and enforce this. She had it designed to be extremely plain and simple as a form of protest against the general opulence of conventional life with her husband.

The House

  • Designed to be built out of new material – concrete. But it wasn’t practical so they made it out of bricks and rendered it to look concrete.
  • Open plan which was contrary to planning permission. The idea being to be truly transparent, you can’t hide things from people with no walls.
  • The ideas of neo-plasticism are quite communistic, Shroder wanted everything to be available. She would watch banned movies at home with her family.
  • Shroder wanted to be as close as possible to nature. Living accommodation of the first floor to be away from the road. Big corner windows to open out to nature.
  • She had a speaking tube and a hatch so people could deliver goods to her without her seeing them. This seems to suggest that for all her ideals, she was not above acting as an elitist.
  • The planning application had to be altered drastically and filled with miss information to guarantee it would be aloud to go ahead as such  modernist concept would not be looked kindly upon.


My Thoughts

As I progress through my first year of study into Graphic Design I’ve come to realise the interlinked nature of all the work and research I have undertaken. De Stijl is a revolutionary art style, not perhaps because it was particularly good or nuanced, but because it was a reaction to circumstances.

De Stijl wasn’t simply a nice or beautiful style, style is subjective. But it was a form of protest against the chaos its practitioners felt surrounded them. It was a product of the times. Without the influence of WWI De Stijl wouldn’t have been particularly noteworthy.

In my Constellation lectures I have been studying fashion trends. Many of these have appeared ridiculous on their face, until you delve deeper and come to understand the message those involved were trying to convey. Design as artworks, clothing and architecture are all tools to convey messages. As renowned designer, Matthew Shannon said “Design isn’t just about making things pretty, anyone can do that.”

I personally don’t think much of De Stijl, its philosophy suggests minimalism, yet the Schroder house, one of its greatest legacies, is a complex angular mess that seems highly impractical as living space. But knowing the context in which is was created. I’ve learned about its value as an idea.

Constellation SLTS 4/8 – Zoot Suits and Teds

In this lecture we began to look further into the motivations of certain groups within society and culture to cultivate styles and fashion statements. We looked at examples of fashion being used as protest, as activism and as way to challenge hegemonic values.

The Zoot Suit

Fashion is weird

The Zoot Suit emerged during World War II in inner city America. It was a style created and worn by African American and Latino minorities. It is a resignification (Clark, Hall and Jefferson 1975, p110) of the traditional suit. The suit is about as establishment as an item of dress can be. Worn by gentlemen associated with class, success and  acumen. Middle or upper class, mainstream members of society.

What the Zoot suit did was to take the traditional notion of a suit and turn it on its head. Where a suit tends to be unassuming and smart (often grey, black or navy), with practical fittings and accutrements. The Zoot Suit was often depicted in garish greens and yellows, in an attempt to stand out. This combined with exaggeration is every aspect of the ensemble. Flared trousers, large collars, oversize hats and chains and excessively long suit jackets.

The intent behind this manner of dress was to some degree, conspicuous wealth. Wearing impractically exaggerated clothing to show that you could. However it was also an act of rebellion. Firstly, the concept of the suit had been altered dramatically, breaking with generally accepted rules of dress. Not only this but by 1942, rationing of fabric dictated that excessive outfits such as a Zoot suit, were now effectively illegal. They were considered unpatriotic as were their wearers.

All of these connotations were purposefully designed. The garments were designed as protest against America’s hypocrisy in fighting Jewish repression in Europe while actively segregating at home. and using African American and other minority troops to fight. The Zoot suit was a method of expressing ones convictions through clothing and style. It was more than clothing, it was the way you walked and the way you talked. African American Jive was a movement at the time within music and Zoot Suit wearers employed its slang to define themselves against White Americans.

The key to a movement such as this is that they do not invent new apparel, but instead employ clothing with a given meaning and corrupt or alter it to suit their needs and upset the establishment in doing so.


The Teddy Boys

At the outset of the 1950s working class boys and young men began to adopt a new style of clothing. As they begn to earn disposable incomes they created a pseudo ‘unifrom’ based on the Edwardian Gentleman’s attire, recently reintroduced by Saville Rowe .

The Teddy movement was a revolution is fashion and social norms as rough street kids were now dressing in the manner of the aristocracy and creating a negative associatin with the style. Crimes by ‘Teddy Boys’ were widely reported and polite society was deeply wary of them. This had connotations for the upper classes who did not want such negative associations.

This act of resignification of a brand or style is in the same vain as the chavs adopting Burberry. Burberry wanted nothing to do with the new trend but had no control over who bought their clothing and how they effected the brand perception.

Where Zoot suits and Teds share ground

  • Both trends were fundamentally linked to existing hegemonic styles. They did not invent a new style. They simply invented a new expression by changing the meaning of that style. Resignification through exaggerating, enhancing and adapting items of existing styles.
  • The lower rungs of society (Racial Minorities in America and Working class British lads) adopted items of clothing from the higher rungs (White middle class Americans and the British aristocracy. They owned them and made them theirs.
  • Both movements were at some level, protest movements. The Zoot Suit wearers protesting the social injustice of segregation and the Teds the entrenched class system that had placed them at the bottom of the heap and discriminated against them for their roots.

Clothes provide the instruments that empower the body to counteract a dominant ideology”

-Tulloch, 2006, p304

This quote exemplifies the important role of dress in society. It is a method within the overarching practice of design that can bring about societal and cultural change through challenging and rebelling against the norm.

My Thoughts

The further into fashion trends and societal subcultures we probe, the more I’ve come to understand that fashion is not simply an aimless and unguided series of people trying to stand out. Instead, it is a complex phenomenon of visual language wherein people attempt to convey sentiments without words. Anything can be a stimulus of a fashion trend. Anything can be incorporated into that trend. And any position can be demonstrated with that trend.


London Calling – 4 Designers Conference

Last Sunday we went to London to the Four Designers conference, hosted by Patrick Baglee. The conference was an eye opening look into the various careers that can be made through design, the challenges, rewards, opportunities and struggles. We heard from those who had set up successful agencies and earned notoriety for their work.

The conference took place over several hours and I heard a huge volume of advice, recounted experiences and examples of work. I couldn’t possibly recount everything but I’ve condensed my post into the nuggets of wisdom that drew me in the most.

Matthew Shannon – BRASH BRANDS


Matthew Shannon is a highly respected graphic designer who has, during the course of his career worked for Atelier Works, Addison Group, Meta Design and Getty images. Of his lecture his explanation of the complexity of the job of a graphic designer hit home for me most of all. He explained the process by which he helped re-brand the Skoda car company.

In 2001 Skoda was bought by Volkswagen. They gained much needed investment and began to innovate. They required a re-brand. Shannon explained how Skoda was often ridiculed for being a terrible car company, he gave us some examples of this:

“What do you call a Skoda with a sun-roof?    –    A skip”

The trick, he explained. Was to understand the audience for your brand. It was clear that people’s perception of Skoda was poor, so the key would be to work off that knowledge. This lead the team to create the tag line “It’s a Skoda. Honest.” The genius of this is exceptional to me. Acknowledge to the audience that Skodas of the past were as terrible as percieved. But these new vehicles? You can hardly believe they are made by the same people, they’re so good. Owning the stereotype and disarming consumer’s prejudice.

This level of work of the part of a design agency was something I had not considered until this point. I understood that to create a brand, research was required. But as Shannon said “for a brief while, a designer must become an expert in the field he is designing for”.

THINK    —    RETHINK    —    DO

This simple idea was very helpful to me. As Shannon said, once you have all the information and understanding you need (THINK) and have explored every avenue (RETHINK), the design stage itself (DO) is relatively simple. The trap some fall into is that they begin drawing up ideas (DO) first. Leaving them little room for maneuver and severely compromising the effectiveness of their work. I realise that I have been guilty of this in the past but now feel I can look at future projects with fresh eyes.

Other Good Advice

  • Learn as much as you can about other cultures, design does not exist in a vacuum. It is an ever changing, morphing phenomenon that is approached very differently across the world.
  • Be ready for change, at any moment your business model could become obsolete and you must adapt quickly.
  • Do not neglect anything. If a business has a positive aspect they are not capitalizing on, make sure it is utilized. If they have socially responsible schemes and non one knows. Highlight them to the public.
  • Don’t be insular. Get other people’s opinions, share your ideas, use outsiders to publicize. Use social media. Get feedback.


Joanna Davis – ZAK

Joanna Davies is the founder of ZAK. A design agency that she created from her own home. ZAK is an audience focused design agency that seeks to engage influential under 30s. Their main focus is on turning around struggling brands. They have worked with the likes of L’oréal, Vodafone, Southern Comfort and the BBC.

Her talk centered around an advertising campaign for New Balance Football. A small Football equipment brand in comparison to Adidas or Nike. As a result of this ZAK did a great deal of audience research. Asking young people interested in sports and sports wear what they wanted to see from a brand. What they discovered was that instead of placing footballing stars on pedestals, as was the norm. They wanted to see them as simply people. It’s easy to identify someone if you don’t see them as some form of Demigod.

The campaign brief was to advertise to types of football shoe. ZAK decided that on the very limited budget they were afforded, they should combine both shoes into one advert. Thus saving costs and setting the standard for such ads in the future. They also used a clever slogan. A signature of the NBFootball brand is that each shoe released is numbered. ZAK therefore incorporated this into the ‘NUMBERS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS’ campaign.

These are all simply anecdotes of past work. But they illustrate the real world role of a designer and a design agency. The the rich variety of responsibilities and tasks spanning every aspect of society. No two projects are ever the same. I learned an awful lot from Joanna about the uncertain nature of this profession. every problem has a unique solution.

Joanna’s Top Tips

  • Be clear on what sets you aside from the crowd. Your experiences give you a unique perspective and thus a unique outcome.
  • Street smarts, be adaptive.
  • Be innovative, stand out.
  • Ambition is key, always seek to improve yourself.
  • Learn to compromise and work with others.
  • Do all the research you can.
  • Don’t take failure to heart
  • Understand your client before anything else.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help





Matt Baxter is one half of the Brighton based design group, Baxter & Bailey. A small yet prodigious design company founded in 2012.  Matt began his lecture with a piece of insight I thought was very interesting. A quote.

“Anybody can be an expert in anything, given 10,000 hours of practice”

-Malcom Gladwell

I feel as though many at the outset of their undergraduate studies, including myself, were under the impression that their abilities in drawing and digital software were going to allow them an easy entrance to the world of Graphic Design. But this quote put that in perspective. There is no way to breeze through such a career. It is methodical and requires training and insight. Simply drawing nice looking things won’t do.

Matt’s top tips…And then the opposite tips.


Take every opportunity you can get, enter competitions, find placements, be commited to learning as much as you can and being seen.


In this line of work you will forever come up against challenges you have never faced before, you will always find yourself out of your depth at some point so just power through and learn as you go.


Visit galleries, travel, learn about design in other cultures. Not every culture has the same approach to design. Draw from every source you can.


Don’t devalue your own work by doing unpaid placements and giving away what you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

The Counters


Be selective about who you work for, do your best to insure your client does not contravene your personal moral code. They may have dubious practices etc.


If you find you are no longer struggling to perform your role, then you may well have gotten complacent and you will quickly tire of your work. Don’t be afraid to work beyond your knowledge but you can ask for help.


Work for places in your area, try to revitalize local businesses and interests of yours.


Don’t be taken advantage of with unpaid placements. But by all means work for good causes and improve yourself in the process while being unpaid. Case in point, Baxter & Bailey did a piece for the Guild of Food Writers which still appears in top charts of all tie design work. A small project with little of no budget worked on during lunch breaks.

Image result for food writers guild logo

I absolutely love this piece. It’s like the visual equivalent of a perfect pun. It plays on image so cleverly in such a neat and minimalist way. I fully understand the attention this design has received. It serves as a strong reminder that the ‘doing’ process, actually drawing out a design. Is just a small part of the process. The idea needs all the effort. You need to work and work at finding the perfect idea before creation can begin.

My Thoughts

For fear of repeating myself, the Four Designers Conference was an hugely enlightening experience for me. In my work up to this point, I have been so eager to get to work and start putting pen to paper than I have possibly sabotaged myself and my final outcome by limiting my options for innovation. The first idea that may pop into my head may well be stimulated by a memory of something I have seen done before, rendering the product a copy, or at least something unremarkable.

The emphasis the designer I met was universally on the methodical process of research and just thinking about things. Read the brief ever so carefully and develop you ideas. Don’t rush into anything. My perspective has been entirely changed on Design and I am better off for it.