Lifestyle and Health – research


Infographic explaining how much physical activity to do

Everyone should be encouraged to reduce the amount of sedentary time by:

  • reducing time spent watching TV, using a computer or playing video games
  • taking regular time not sitting during work
  • breaking up sedentary time, such as swapping a long bus or car journey for walking part of the way

Declining levels of physical activity

People in the UK are around 20% less active now than in the 1960s. If current trends continue, we will be 35% less active by 2030.

Increasing car use is a major contributing factor to lower levels of physical activity in the UK. In 1961, 69% of households did not own a car or van, but by 2012 this had decreased to 25%.

Figures from the Health Survey for England show that 67% of men and 55% of women aged 16 and over do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.

Infographic showing how active we are

Lack of physical activity is costing the UK an estimated £7.4 billion a year, including £0.9 billion to the NHS alone.

Long term conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory disease lead to greater dependency on home, residential and ultimately nursing care. This drain on resources is avoidable, as is the personal strain it puts on families and individuals.

Health Risk Reductions due to exercise 

Infographic showing the health benefits of physical activity

Physical activity is also important for people diagnosed with cancer and cancer survivors. Physical activity after treatment for cancer can help to reduce:

  • the impact of some side effects
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • impaired mobility
  • weight changes

Macmillan has estimated that there are 2 million cancer survivors in the UK and around 1.6 million do not meet the recommended levels of physically active.

Other positive outcomes of physical activity include:

  • a sense of purpose and value
  • a better quality of life
  • improved sleep
  • reduced stress

Infographic showing physical activity rates per region of England

Healthy at work

With 70% of the adult population in employment, there is strong evidence that workplace physical activity programmes are effective. These can include:

  • flexible working policies and incentive schemes
  • policies to encourage employees to walk or cycle
  • information, ongoing advice and support
  • independent health checks focused on physical activity



Penguin Book Cover Submission – Animal Farm

As part our our course work we were asked to design a book cover for either or both of two classic books; Animal Farm by George Orwell or Naughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman.

I was immediately drawn to Animal Farm as I find Orwell’s work to be shocking and vivid. Animal Farm is his classic which uses the revolt of farm animals as an allegory for the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The reason it’s influence is so long lasting and pervasive. Is that the topics explored of devious political maneuvering and corruption can be applied to so many administrations including contemporary ones.

While I found myself drawn to this book, it’s popularity was a double edged sword. As a result of its commercial success, numerous book cover designs have been created. To put it simply, a lot of the best ideas have been taken.


As you can tell, there is somewhat of a theme in the book. I had to find an effective and visual appealing cover that would not be simply a reworking of existing designs. Basically, make it look nice, be implicitly descriptive of the books themes and don’t just shove a pig in the centre of the page.

After experimenting with numerous ideas and visual style, I elected to go with an effect I have always been interested in. I wanted to build a silhouette of a windmill. After the image of the pig, the windmill is certainly one of the most important themes of the book.

I was very pleased with my early outcomes, the only bumps in the road I was worried about were the over simplicity of my designs, as well as the fact that the line tracing pieces were quite intricate in their own way and so would become very difficult to make out once all the cover copy was applied, the blurb and title would do a lot to obscure the details and diminish the effect.

I decided to stick with the windmill silhouette as i liked the contrast it gave my page and it has a rather gaunt and rustic look as if it was cobbled together by sentient farm animals. What I now needed to do was find a way of bringing more depth and texture to a very flat and sparsely detailed piece.

IMG_20180302_0002.jpgI used a number of acrylic paints to create a textured image somewhat reminiscent of a vibrant skyline. The colour was intended to combine a skyline with the thematically important shade of green. This colour clearly represents the ideology of the early animal farm, symbolising freedom from oppression.

I also painted and edited some of the key text from the book, First, i daubed the words ‘Animal Farm’ and then the most famous quote from the book ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’ These turned out very well.


I used black paint on white paper before inverting the colours and increasing the contrast to allow the type to sit perfectly on my silhouette without losing the rough edges that are so important to the painted texture effect.

Book Cover silloutte.jpg

At this point I started building up my layers. The key concept for this book cover was for the front cover to represent the beginning of the revolt. The infectious atmosphere of optimism and new found freedom. The windmill acting as a centrepiece and a symbol of all of the animals efforts.

The rear cover then, was the downfall of Animal Farm as an idea. The windmill is broken, as were the spirits of the animals and the ideology of Old Major. The sky has also turned red to symbolise the return of the human way of life, as now dictated by the pigs. The broken windmill was created by simply cutting parts from the complete windmill and arranging them in a dishevelled and dilapidated manner. I also wanted to fade the ‘Animal Farm’ text, but I decided to leave some areas lighter that would spell out the word ‘LIAR’ the symbolise the betrayal the the principles of Animalism that occurred.

Final Piece in minion.jpg

Here then, is my final outcome. I was very happy with the finished product especially since it was almost entirely the work of a weekend. Up until very near to the deadline I was tooling around with endless ideas that would not produce anything to the standard I wished to produce. This then is pretty much as good as I could do with the time I had. I’m very happy with it and it’s now simply a case of waiting for feedback from the Penguin Publishing judges.

Web Design

In the end I decided that I wanted to make an interactive website to project my visual work in one clean, easily navigated source. I had originally intended to build a website from scratch before finding out it would be beyond me to do so in the timeframe allowed.

From that point I had decided on an animation. However by happy accident I found that my earlier research on visual storytelling:


I decided to investigate website template products. I found that websites like SquareSpace and Wix could facilitate most of the effects I wanted without the need for coding. I was infatuated with the concept of parallax scrolling and other visual effects. These were available to me.

I wanted a double layered site. The front portion would be the meat of the site, the information, the graphics and written work. The background would consist of relevant images that would help guide the narrative. I also wanted the website to be entirely simple to use. Allowing a viewer to simply scroll down to access all of the information in a clean package.

Here is the result:

I have to mention, the editor fought me every step of the way, with elements moving and disappearing when I switched between devices and screen ratios. I had originally intended for the third animation (the 10 countries with the highest dog population) to include buttons in the shape of the countries concerned that would display further information when the cursor was passed over them. I did this only to come back to it, the day of the project and find that they had all been removed without explanation.

My Thoughts

This was a very exciting and challenging brief to complete. I honestly wish we could be set a task and then reset the same task again immediately after so that all the bugs and mistakes we made the first time could be eliminated and we could produce new work of much higher quality.

From One to Many

It has been found that all dogs currently living are descended from a common ancestor, the grey wolf. I wanted to in some way illustrate the enormity of our joint progress through the millennia while also creating an installation that could stand as a piece in its own right.

I did some extensive research on the history of dog breeding in the UK and found that there were 90 distinct breeds that originated across the Uk and Ireland. I couldn’t distinguish the origins of the Irish dogs to include only those originating in the North so rather than exclude them I included the entirety of Ireland.

Beginning with Wales. I created a silhouette in Photoshop and began filling it with images of Welsh breeds.

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 13.51.47

There were only 10 distinct breeds originating in Wales and I didn’t want this to be the entirety of my image. As my research progressed I steadily added dogs by nationality.

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 13.54.09

England alone had 51 distinct breeds and took many hours of work.

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 13.55.24

In total there were 90 distinct breeds that I discovered. It took me an entire day to create and fill the template as well as researching every breed. The primary purpose of this piece was as an illustrative tool to show how people have effected dogs. They have been selectively bred for numerous roles and in modern society many are bred for aesthetics.

Possibly given more time I would have expounded upon the fact that many purebreds suffer due to genetic disorders as a result of their small genetic pools, while other such as Pugs, have issues such as breathing difficulties due to their underdeveloped snouts. I would also like to have had this last piece printed and framed as an installation for my submission, however it was a last minute decision to create and so i was left short on time. I think it makes a strong ending to my project.




How to visualise my ideas

Visualising my information was one of the key points in my process. I needed something simplistic that would convey the message in a powerful way. I looked at numerous examples of modern illustrated infographics and found hem to have a very similar theme. There was a lot of colour and vibrancy.

While many of these pieces were actually very appealing. I didn’t want to make something that simply copied their work. So I looked at the idea of using silhouettes.

One further reason for doing this was that I originally intended on making an animated piece.

Charles Burns

Charles Burns makes beautiful cutouts of people he meets with nothing more than paper and scissors. He calls himself the roving artist because he wanders around and creates his pieces in minutes wherever he finds himself.

I love the way he captures such a lot of a subjects personality with nothing more than a blank piece of paper. It is a testament to creative minimalism and harnesses the human phenomenon of pareidolia (our instinctive recognition of human forms) to be effective.

I wanted to create this effect with my work. As I had been focusing heavily on evolution. My obvious first choice was the The March of Progress, properly called The Road to Homo Sapiens. This must be the most famous representation of evolution currently.


The illustration was commissioned by Time-Life Books for the Early Man volume (1965) of the popular Life Nature Library. It prominently features the sequence of figures, drawn by natural history painter and muralist Rudolph Zallinger (1919–1995).

From all of my research. One thing I have found lacking in this illustration, is the influence of dogs. The evidence does suggest that without our interactions and subsequent coevolution with dogs, we would not be the force we are today.

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 12.56.00

Here was my alternative. A simplified rendition of the original March of Progress with the role of dogs properly represented. Ad accurately as I could, based on the current knowledge of domestication of dogs, I have places a wolf like silhouette to show the transitional phase. And a Golden Retriever acting a docile pet to represent our current relationship with dogs.

Dogs and People – Research

Evoluionary Origins of Domestic Dogs

“Remove domestication from the human species, and there’s probably a couple of million of us on the planet, max. Instead, what do we have? Seven billion people, climate change, travel, innovation and everything. Domestication has influenced the entire earth. And dogs were the first. We’re not dissimilar to any other wild primate. We’re manipulating our environments, but not on a scale bigger than, say, a herd of African elephants. And then, we go into partnership with this group of wolves. They altered our relationship with the natural world.” – Archaeologist and geneticist Greger Larson

  • The origin of canine domestication is not well known. Various claims suggest it first happened in numerous areas of the world and that it began anywhere between in the past 30,000 years.
  • The archaeological record shows the first undisputed dog remains buried beside humans 14,700 years ago, with disputed remains occurring 36,000 years ago.
  • Dogs appear to have been domesticated independently in various areas of the world and have then interbred with one another and wolves and this means their genetic lineage is a bit of a mish-mash.
  • The closest living relative of the dog is the extant grey wolf and there is no evidence of any other canine contributing to its genetic lineage.

  • 33,000-year-old fossil suggests dogs arose in multiple places, study says.
  • Dogs—the oldest domesticated animals—are common in the fossil record up to 14,000 years ago. But specimens from before about 26,500 years ago are very rare. This is likely due to the onset of the last glacial maximum, when the ice sheets are at their farthest extent during an ice age.

  • The United States is home to an estimated 70 to 80 million pet dogs, making up 37 to 47 percent of all American households.
  • Canis familiaris, the domestic dog, was the first species to be domesticated by humans from Eurasian gray wolves at least 15,000 years ago. What is largely unknown, however, is where. (Conflicting information on origins)

  • Researchers from the University of Chicago and several international institutions found that several groups of genes in humans and dogs—including those related to diet and digestion, neurological processes, and disease—have been evolving in parallel for thousands of years.
  • The dog was the first domesticated species and appeared more than 15,000 years before present (YBP). The dog was established across Eurasia before the end of the Late Pleistocene era, well before cultivation and the domestication of other animals around 10,000 YBP, indicating that dogs were domesticated by hunter-gatherers and not early agriculturalists. Studies support two population bottlenecks had occurred to the dog lineage, one due to the initial domestication and one due to the formation of dog breeds.

  • Europe has the oldest uncontested Palaeolithic remains and having been the centre of modern dog breed creation.
  • Most modern breeds share predominantly European ancestry.
  • The fact that dog and human populations rose together is evidence that their success is intrinsically linked.


Research – Dogs

Highest Dog Population by Country

  • 10. Romania (4.1 million)
  • 9. France (7.4 million)
  • 8. Argentina (9.2 million)
  • 7. India (10.2 million)
  • 6. Phillipines (11.6 million)
  • 5. Japan (12.0 million)
  • 4. Russia (15.0 million)
  • 3. China (27.4 million)
  • 2. Brazil (35.7 million)
  • 1. USA (75.8 million)

Extraordinary Dogs

  • Largest Litter




    The largest litter of puppies is 24, all of whom were born on 29 November 2004 to Tia, a Neopolitan mastiff, owned by Damian Ward (UK) and Anne Kellegher (Ireland) of Manea, Cambridgeshire, UK.

    They were born by Caesarian section, one was still born, three died in the first week. There were nine females, 15 males in total. Tia’s full name is Abellatino Arabella. The father is called Caesar.

  • Largest Dog Biscuit



    The largest dog biscuit weighed 279.87 kg (617 lb) and was made by Hampshire Pet Products (USA) in Joplin, Missouri, USA, on 8 July 2011. The biscuit was 1.16 m (3.8 ft) wide, 5.79 m (19 ft) long and 0.04 m (1.63 in) deep. It required a total of 10 bakers to bake it. The biscuit was baked to celebrate the company’s 10 year anniversary and when the attempt was over, it was broken into smaller pieces and distributed to dogs at the Humane Society in Joplin, MO.

  • Largest Dog ZEUS



    Measuring an incredible 111.8 cm (44 in) from foot to withers, Zeus is the same size as an average donkey.Standing on hind legs, he stretches to 7 ft 4 in and towers over his owner Denise Doorlag. The humongous hound weighs 70.3 kg (155 pounds or 11 stone) and eats around 12 cups of food a day (equivalent to one whole 30-lb bag of food!).

  • Smallest Dog (living)

Examples of dogs helping people

  • Swansea Jack (1930 – October 1937) was a famous Welsh dog that rescued 27 people from the docks and riverbanks of Swansea, Wales.
  • He was a Black Retriever

  • Frida the Labrador retriever made global headlines after the Mexican president praised her work following a deadly 7.1 magnitude quake.
  • Employed by the Mexican navy.
  • Frida belongs to SEMAR and has helped save 52 lives in various natural disasters at national and international levels.

  • Angel the 18 moth old Golden Retriever fought off a cougar about to attack an 11 year old boy.
  • Happened in Bar Boston, a small Canadian town some 150 miles north of Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • Happened in 2010.

  • Kelsey the Golden Retriever
  • A man who broke his neck outdoors in freezing conditions survived lying in snow for nearly 24 hours thanks to his dog, who kept him warm through the night and barked for help.
  • Temperatures of around -4C.
  • “I was screaming for help but my nearest neighbour is about a quarter mile away and it was 10.30 pm, but my Kelsey came,” said Bob.