The graphic design course blog for
HND Visual Communication at Edinburgh College

12 X 80s

31 March 2017

The last project hand-in before the Easter break for the HNC Graphics class was '12 X 80s" - where they had to select an album recorded between 1980 and 1989, and tell its story in a single page website. Artists selected included Grace Jones, the Human League, David Bowie, U2, AC/DC, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Queen, Whitney Houston, ABBA, Kraftwerk, Michael Jackson, Hall & Oates and John Lennon.

You can check out some of the projects on our pinterest board, and here are three sample landing pages we really loved -

Bowie / Scary Monsters, Super Creeps (1980) - Paulina Wasik

Jesus & Mary Chain / Psychocandy (1985) - Aga Pomaranska

Queen / Hot Space (1981) - Lena Sakura

Inspire #3

29 March 2017

Our schools project page now contains updates for the third stage of the Inspire project - assembling your ideas into CD cover mockups.  We've included instructions, downloads, Helena's video tutorial, and some tips from our Ambassadors Niamh and Holly. You can also read here how Holly and Niamh have been getting on during their schools visits.

Have fun!

Inspire project page 

Inspired Advice!

21 March 2017

Here is a nice little video clip by Holly McNie and Niamh Curran which they prepared for the Schools Project as an ice-breaker for S2-S3 pupils taking on our 'Inspire' project.

The project is funded by the Scottish Government's Developing the Young Workforce initiative, and sponsored by Threebrand.  Find out more about the Schools Project project here.

Inspire - Stage 2

16 March 2017

Our schools project page now contains updates for the second stage of the Inspire project - creating moodboards and using thumbnails sketches to progress your initial ideas.  We've included tips, samples and a couple of nice videos from Helena and our Ambassadors - Niamh and Holly - to get your creatives muscles flexing.  Have fun!

Inspire project page 

Baltic Expo

15 March 2017

Nice batch of posters from HNC student Renee Simonini for 'Art Blocked' - a proposed expo on 20th century Design-in-Context at the Baltic in Newcastle.

De Stijl  and Surrealism

Pop Art and Constructivism

You can look through a selection  from the rest of the class on the pinterest board for this project.

Marking YOYP 2018

13 March 2017

Two of our NC Graphic Design students - Iain Waugh and Molly Nock - joined Mark McDonald (Scottish Government Minister for Childcare and Early Years), and a group of young people from across the country at the National Museum last week, to launch a national search for young Ambassadors for Scotland's Year of Young People 2018 (YOYP 2018).

YOYP 2018 aims to celebrate the achievements and contributions to communities of young people, aged 8-26, helping to create new opportunities for them locally, nationally and globally.  Molly and Iain helped design the official logo and website for YOYP, both which were unveiled at the launch.

The designs were kicked off at a creative jam day in December last year, which involved more than 40 young people. After that event, Molly and Iain​​​  secured internships at creative agency The Gate Interactive, where they worked on ideas they'd generated at the creative jam. They then visited the Scottish Parliament and presented the final logo to the Minister.

Molly and Iain show off the YOYP logo with Minister Mark McDonald

Iain said: "The logo is a great example of how co-collaboration can work in action. With over 40 young people taking part it was a great experience to be involved in the design right from the beginning and to have a say in how the logo is presented. I hope everyone will like the direction which was chosen because the circle represents inclusion and the multi-coloured tartan represents both diversity and tradition."

Great work guys, well done to all.

Launching Inspire!

3 March 2017

Today we are launching 'Inspire' - a project for S2/S3 school pupils across Scotland.

The pupils will take on a brief to design a CD cover.  The project is in five stages, running until the first week in May, and we'll be posting up learning materials, instructions and research ideas onto our projects page each week.  The students can use these resources as they work through each stage of the design process.

The Schools Project is an initiative promoting collaboration between FE and Secondary Education in Scotland, and funded by Edinburgh design agency Threebrand and the Scottish Government's Developing the Young Workforce (DYW). 

Two of our current HNC students, Holly McNie and Niamh Curran, are College Ambassadors for the Schools Project, and they are visiting schools in Edinburgh doing workshops - here they are at Broughton High -

Go to the Inspire Project Page.
Find out more about the Schools Project Initiative.

Good luck to everyone starting the project!

Talking Design Education

21 February 2017

A recent interview with Judson Cowan, Lead Designer at Skyscanner, who discusses design education and the company's internship and placement programmes, which our current and past students have benefited from.

Visiting Edenspiekermann

7 February 2017

As part of our Berlin trip this year, we were really excited and very fortunate to visit Edenspiekermann.  For many designers, Edenspiekermann is best known for its work with Monotype's FontShop. The agency motto is 'Design is in our DNA'.

Based in Potsdamer Strasse in central Berlin, the agency specialises in digital products, branding and service design, and is the result of a merger in 2009 between Spiekermann Partners (founded by the typographer Erik Spiekermann), and Dutch design agency Eden.

Martin Stadler

Director of Brand Consulting Martin Stadler kicked off the afternoon with a great talk to our 32 students. His presentation focussed on a recent project - HIAG Data - which featured a new brand identity, bespoke typeface design, and an innovative web design for a Swiss-based data hosting company.

Martin Stadler talking about the brand experience.

Martin explained Edenspiekermann's approach to branding as having four key elements - storytelling, brand experience, design & identity, and development.  He discussed how the agency worked with HIAG during the research phase, and the way that this led to the development of a 'visual language' for the brand which the client could be directly involved in.

As well as going into great detail about the art direction and storytelling concept behind the project, Martin showed the students how the design ideas developed and were improved or rejected, including many iterations of the typeface and the screen designs which didn't make it into the final product.

"We see failure as something that's necessary because it drives you to the right solution." -  Martin Stadler

Bastian Boss

Martin's colleague Bastian Boss was up next, to talk about his area of expertise, Service Design.  He gave some great examples of how research is key to this emerging area of design. and how Edenspiekermann use the technique of 'cultural probes' to collect the key insights into how users experience a given service or product. A big part of process was analysing the design impact that the work had upon the end users.

"Things are changing fast in Service Design, so for sure, we are continually adapting our tools and methods." -  Bastian Boss

Bastian presented a case study for NS Pro Rail (Nederlandse Spoorwegen, the Dutch national railway) which tackled the signage and experience issues we all associate with waiting for, and boarding, trains.  You can read more about Bastian's approach to Service Design in a great article he wrote about it here.

Bastian explaining his approach to Service Design.


There was also an added bonus with the introduction of Julian Thiel, a design student, who talked about his experiences on a three-month internship at the agency. Julian explained that although a high level of work was demanded of him, the ability to fit into a team and to be able to tackle a wide range of different design challenges, were really important. In return for this level of commitment, Edenspiekermann generously pays its interns at double the standard rate in Berlin.

"One of the main things I've learned here is to argue for your design decisions." - Julian Thiel

After the talks our hosts held a great Q&A and covered everything from applying for an internship, customising your portfolio,  to the continuous skills development necessary these days in design, to the benefits of working in collaborative multi-disciplined (and often multi-cultural) teams.  This was a fantastic experience for the students and a great example of how industry can support and help develop design education.

The Edenspiekermann Berlin Kitchen Experience!

Martin offers up some words of wisdom after the talk.

Design Tutors Alex Gunn (l) and Chris Hughes (r) with Martin Stadler.

HIAG Data case study
NS Pro Rail case study

#berlin 17 Transmediale

5 February 2017

Transmediale is Europe’s premiere festival of digital arts, culture and technology. Each year the programme features cutting-edge films, installations, performances, workshops, and other events at the impressive Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures) in central Berlin.

This year Transmediale celebrates its 30th anniversary, and we attended the opening night on Thursday where more than 1000 students, artists, technologists, educators and designers gathered from all over the globe to celebrate digital culture and creative collaboration.

All the workshops, exhibits and activities centred on theme of 'ever elusive' - the geopolitical turbulence in the modern world, the redundancy of data, and and our reactions to it through audio-visual media.

Highlights of the opening night included a performance by Black Quantum Futurist Collective, a DJ set by James Ferrano, a stand showing a selection of Transmediale's published work since 1987 - magazines, programmes, manifestos and catalogues - and some stunning and original installations as part of the 'alien matter' exhibition.

Transmediale 30 years of printed matter.

Joep Van Liefland 'Video Palace #44' - This exhibit deals with plastic waste and the redundancy of complex data, and consists of a huge sculpture - an enclosed  wall - made entirely of some 20,000 VHS videotapes.

Addie Wagenkecht - xxxx.xxx - a sculpture consisting of five circuit boards and hundreds of flashing green lights connected by a series of Ethernet cables. The circuit boards tap into data streams on nearby Wi-Fi spots and analyse them, resulting in a continuous blinking pattern of the lights - every blink indicating the process at work.  This looked particularly striking in the exhibition environment - pitch darkness.

Transmediale also runs in conjunction with the CTM Festival of experimental sound, with events held at world-famous clubs such as Berghain and Tresor.

Transmediale website
CTM Festival website

We Love Firestarters

29 January 2017

Teviot, one of our partner design agencies, has launched 'Firestarter' – a year long paid internship for a creative student from our Visual Communication HND course. The successful student will join the company after they've finished the course in July, and then spend a year under the watchful eye of the creative team at Teviot, working on all sorts of projects and gaining valuable industry experience.

The initiative was started by senior designer at Teviot, Kirsten Murray, a former graduate of the course, who has been involved in the mentoring programme since 2010. As well as the internship, some our HND students will also get the opportunity to develop the brand identity for the Firestarter programme ahead of its launch in the Spring.

Kirsten (centre)  and her colleagues Kat Summers (right) and Ed Vickers, came into the college just before Christmas and surprised the class with the announcement about Firestarter.

Kirsten says: “Mentoring is a powerful tool in career development – whether you’re a student or the creative director. So we’ve launched Firestarter to build on our close ties with Edinburgh College - the opportunity is being exclusively to their students - helping to assist the next generation of talented designers to stay in Scotland and boost the industry here.”

You can follow progress on the Firestarter initiative on Teviot's website. and read the official press release as published in the Glasgow Herald.

Talking Shop

22 January 2017

We had a very busy few days of guest speakers in the studio last week.  With the final year class finishing of their D&AD projects and getting their portfolios ready for their placements, its a very busy time but there is always room for employer engagement, and hearing it from the horses mouth on life outside college in the Creative Industries.

First up, on Wednesday, we had Gemma Rundell, who graduated from the HND course in 2009 and is now a designer at Teviot.  Gemma is a former YCN winner, and she talked to the final year students about placements. This is perfect timing because the students go out on work experience from the first week in February. This year we've managed to secure every student at least one placement at a broad range of studios and agencies across Edinburgh.  Gemma provided some awesome inspiration and plenty of words of wisdom.

On Thursday the HNC class got treated to a talk by Ian Greenhill and Jordan Laird - the very talented guys at Something Something.  Both used to work at the Leith Agency and have a reputation for being ideas machines - you can check out their work on their website at somethingsomething.tv

At the end of the week, former student Craigh Robertson came in and delivered a talk to both HND Graphics and HND Interactive Design on his experiences since graduating in 2015.

Craigh worked at Stuff and then at Hookson, before setting up his own business, Hawk, towards the end of 2016. Amongst other things, Craigh discussed how he devised a business plan, sources of support and funding, the development of his brand identity, and pricing work for clients.

Our final year graphics students start placements on Jan 30th, and we'll post up a list of the agencies involved soon.

Highland Park Retrospective

15 January 2017

A short film featuring feedback interviews with some of our HNC and HND students reflecting on their experiences working on the Highland Park One Week project in Nov 2016.