Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Wednesday's Weekly Write Down; EU better leave!

As of writting this, it is 06:55 on a Saturday morning a few weeks before you are going to read this so let me fill you in. I have been up since I can't remember when and I have been reading guardian articles on Europe and redditing as you do when you can't sleep. I am going into uni later too because it's an open day so they need some people to "look busy" and to help a friend, which makes this early morning rant have more gravitas because I should be asleep.

anyway Europe, did I not say that this is what the rant was going to be on, oh okay. One of the articles I read which was a great piece about who, what & why. Who; which politician. What; pro or anti Europe. Why; because why. makes sense. right?

What I liked so much is it's a minefield for all concerned in the political process. We have already had multiple people tell us any division in a party is bad. Labour manage to sup up it's beer at there recent conference so it looked like they were united as one. The rebel Tories, or the Tory rebels as the press call them were just told to put up and shut up about their European leanings so it looked like they were united.

No one is allowed to budge and so their hand for fear repercussions from the whip or the leader. I am a Europhile at heart so I will be voting to stay in but I am free to say that. If John Mcdonnell says where he stands and opposes other Labour members, the press will jump on it. Some in the team, that are going to have to negotiate the new deal with Europe have an especially difficult job, trying to let their opinion shows.

Sit tight guys it's going to be a fun ride to the brexit (or not).

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Write Down Weekend Special; Meeting New People is Easy

I'd love to tell you that meeting new people is easy, like the Radiohead documentary would suggest, but it is quite a nerve racking experience until you realize the person you are meeting is the perfect character match to your friendship group. Cue Isaac Caplan Wilson.

The guy, the right side of nerdy you can reminisce about Digimon without guilt or judgement. A man who takes a compliment without question. And finally a man so cunning he has missed two of the hardest years at the Grillust campus. I wouldn't normally write a post like this but I didn't expect to be meeting new people at this stage at uni. Friends have come and gone or gone into the background, so the dynamic is new but never this new.

Welcome Isaac and as this is your debut mention on my blog here is your work to celebrate ;

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Talented Friends

The second exhibition in the new uni gallery space (formerly the library)  that I have been too (can't remember the first but we are gonna roll on) went off with a great amount of pomp and hype. Two comic book artists opened it, one American illustrator/artist and the other a Cumbrian with a fondness for walking. Both were in the region for the lakes comic arts festival in Kendal. Oliver East opened it with a small speech about the theme of the exhibition, walking comics, speaking on that, his dyslexia and his future plans and the work is great. Below are my photo's but there are some better ones on the Grillust blog for you amusement.

The reason I am writing this is to congratulate all the illustrators on all of the hard work that they put into their comics. All were fabulous in a variety of different ways.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Wednesday's Weekly Write Down; Lessons of Depression

Depression, what's that I thought, as I was looking down the symptoms of it ticking off over half of them. It was early 2014 and I had officially cracked. It had started a bit before then but I was not willing to accept that I had a problem "I'll get over it" I said. But ticking off the symptoms off it was clear I had a problem.
                University was the dream, ever since I went to my interview and fell in love with it. I am based in Carlisle, with a home town in Sunderland so I was plonked in a house with 11 different people with a few familiar items and just had to adjust. There is a lot of pressure to succeed at university in terms of grades and when you reach below what you feel your potential is you do get down.  But when you set the bar so unreasonably high and have done your entire educational career you are destined to be disappointed. Everything I was doing was a perceived failure because that bar was too high.
                There is also a big big pressure to socialize and go out (clubbing/pub crawling). This was the second problem, I could get on with people but felt the opposite of comfortable about the idea of going out so when I didn't I apologized for my "failing" of not going out. I didn't want to go in a place where I would be uncomfortable but staying in the halls just drove me insane and occasionally to self harm because of the anger I had against myself.
                There is not a pressure as such at university for relationships but I was driven to think there was. All of my actual friends (half of the 11 I was put in a house with) were in long term relationships which gave me the feeling of inadequacy as I had no one. They were my friends and they were happy and I should have been happy for them & not jealous of what they had. I was driven down, thinking I need to get a girlfriend and then I will be happy.
                These are the things that brought me down at university and lead to my depression taking over my life. My mother helped me find the local NHS run mental health service after a close university friend said that the provision of Mental Health Service at the uni wasn’t helpful for her friend.  So I enrolled in classes, 30 minutes a week or two at the local medical practice. After a few months, I was prepared to give up, just remove CBT therapy and put up with it. Nothing was working in these classes. The next session I went to call the whole thing off.  I addressed it wasn’t working and they said “you can move up to the next level if you want?” ”Try that”.  These sessions were hour long and more intensive.
                The next week came, skeptical and open minded, I went in and after a few months it still felt like it wasn’t working but persistence paid off. Every week was talking about problems, then tracking my mood and the problems linked to its decline. We worked out a plan and I was discharged with a weight off my shoulders. I still get the occasional day/ few days of low mood but that’s normal.
                It is hard, really hard when you are stuck in the low mood rut. It is hard to get up in the morning, concentrate on your work & even get to sleep at night because you are worrying bad things are going to happen. But if you are reading this, you are not alone, there is help out there. I am now using my experience to design promotional posters, to raise awareness of mental health problems because there is not enough out there at the minute.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

The Good, the Bad, the Average and Unique

Happy Birthday Phillip, well for two days ago. Sorry for the delay in presents but in practicality terms it would be been a logistical nightmare to get them on time. For those who don't know my brother is currently at uni and we the rest of the proud went to give him his presents today. Had a Good time and he seemed to like my present which is a relief. But while we were down in Stockton at the Durham Uni campus, my design senses started tingling. 

this is the Average segment of our blog post; very enjoyable but still fairly safe. It definitely improved my opinion of the place knowing that they design was good and that "the Stottie company" was going to have nice coffee because it looked nice to the eyes. designers logic. The colours on the student union are beautiful.

 finally we reach the Bad and Unique segment of our Cater USM themed blog post. The first is from a venue called "Jokers" whick looks like a working mens club and a strip club. It is a poster (as you can see) for an "Excellent Vocaliste" which isn't a word. The Second is for, I think, student reps and features Chiller, Times New Roman and Frozen Themes and pollutes my eyes.

Friday, 16 October 2015

This is an Outrage.

 Would you just look at these? It's amazing what these fake artists will do? Releasing cover album after cover album. Just because you change the style up doesn't mean they are creative people. What really winds me up is the fact that all of these ludicrous LP are being sold, that's right guys these records are being sold by Oxfam online. I am aware that makes them second hand and that someone else may have already covered this. I don't know what else to say. Hammond Organ versions of The Fall? who wants to hear that really. I don't know. I wish these posers would release some original material... RANT OVER!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

New Look is the NME Part 2

 In part one, I addressed the my humble opinion on the "new" NME. and one other thing I will like to add;

A photo posted by James Alexander Reay (@jamuggins) on
Anyway now I am going to get to the point. (yep it only took a post and a half). In the latter half of my time at NME, I had a look at taking the NME look / redesign NME into my own hands. I was told by one of the other interns that they look cool. I rotated the logo because the new magazine doesn't have to fight for shelf space. I made a bar out of this vertical logo to add all of the features too.

I had a limited typeface choice at NME so landed on Tahoma as the most suitably different typeface to sharp sans (the key font of the old design). I took the effort to make all the features relevant to the time, the redesign would come out and that was a few weeks ago here are the first four issues...give em a click to check them out etc etc etc

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Write Down Wednesday: It all feels different

What a pretenious title that is, isn't it? intentionally vague as to trap you into reading my blog. Have I got you hooked? I hope so because you people are busy. Well as you know (or should by now) this is my last year of university as I am scared. Scared for the afterward, the real world & the grade I am going to get. Of course I am that's only natural. But that is not what this is about. I am addressing in the pretentious title the circumstances I am in.

First year was a load of rubbish; met the core of my current friendship group but had to put up with a load of rubbish from half of the 11 people that I shared with. Second year; was better, had a box room but had to put up with rubbish everywhere because people couldn't take bins out when they were full and what's worse is at the end of the year; I needed reinforcements to tidy up the mess my other housemates left. I hope I never have to do that again. It was, to use a smiths album title, "Rank".

A photo posted by James Alexander Reay (@jamuggins) on

A photo posted by James Alexander Reay (@jamuggins) on

Now this year, is different, I am content. I am over the worst of my mental health issues (sorry to keep bringing that up), I have a massive room and I don't think my work is rubbish (heck, some of it I love). But there is one thing really bugging me. I miss home, my family mainly. and my beautiful girls (dogs). It appears the first two years I was happy to be free but it reaches a point when you wanna make a record (cheap plug for my new solo album project) or a hug or conversation about music (with DJ MAR) or just gossip over a cuppa while putting up with Jezza (Mother), and you can't. My parents drive me insane sometimes but most of the time, they are awesome.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

New Look is the NME Part 1

NME, New Musical express, the magazine responsible for my late 00's music obsession. I lived breathed the word of it because it was gospel. I am sure that is blasphemy and as of writing this is a Sunday so oops. Anyway it was all good and the the 10's came along and the awesomeness dropped a little bit although it did have a good start with a beautiful redesign and one of my favourite photos.
The next redesign was nice but was not what I was used to so felt to different to get attached and the content felt so watered down to you could take a bath in it. and now it looks mega modern (rather attractive) but instead of just watered down journalism and opinion it is filled with adverts. Worse than that it has "celebrities" in it's pages. Alt journalism meant you had an obscure indie band on the front. (see above or just google NME and you will see what I mean.) I understand some decisions had to be made to make the free version viable but this... not NME. Just because it says it is doesn't mean it is. The spirit is dead. The ideals are long gone. "Indie" is dead, long live independent music.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Youth, depression and Northern

Youth Focus NE must love me, I came up with an idea/concept for some mental health promotion and they let me follow it through within their brand guidelines (colours and typefaces). I also granted them the freedom to use them as and when they want too. All of the photos are free to use for both home and commercial use which is lavely to hear, as I won't be sued. So that's all good.

I do this for charities and more often than not for mental health charities because of my connection with them. There needs to be more awareness of the mental health of young people. One of my up and coming Write Down Wednesdays is a post written for a Young Minds zine/blog because prior to my experience with it, I knew depression was a think just didn't think it could happen to me.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Smint of the Times

the first project back from the summer was on Smints. Smints! We thought as a class thought it was a naff idea but with limited scope and limited time, we had to come up with it quickly.

Apparently idea generation only takes an hour. It took a little longer to come up with my concept but it ended up getting a good grade, a 65 is a good grade. The idea is based on the universal language of road signs and that even non drivers understand some of the at least. It is a campaign aimed at creative people and these people are visual so sought to put two and two together.

Below are the edited versions of the ones that I handed. These are the updated versions, these are less shouty (the originals were all in full caps), there wasn't a reference to link the Smint shape to the road sign shape & I have shrunk the elements on the bottom so they look more cohesive.

It is also a competition on le facebooks for money and prime london advertising space for your advert. I am aware this is technically an advert and I am falling into the trap but money. that is all.


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Wednesday's Weekly Write Down; Men Plus Lists Equals Happiness

Is any "top" list ever definitive? Can opinion ever be universally accepted that these things are the best of a certain category? It is kinda accepted that men do love a good list, or so I've read, and I am a man who loves lists so yeah I can believe this. My favourite of all the lists, is albums/singles of the year. I ususally buy the NME at the end of the year regardless of it's opinion just to see what I've missed or to complain that Kanye West is too high in the list.

But I have been compiling my own lists for a while now. I did do a best songs of all time disc when my dad did his and been unhappy with most of it ever since. So I bought a little blue book from Sainsburys (other super markets are available and started again. Using the first list as the basis. I also started doing albums in the back the other day too, just for balance. I am more of an album man, but some bands never really suited albums; Pet Shop Boys, Suede & T-rex. Some bands never suited singles, Mainly Pink Floyd, this is true of many others I am sure.

I can hear you're call, "James, we want to see some of them" and It would be silly not too. I am up for an open debate about the merits of each of the songs and albums as long as in conclusion, I will be declared right. Thats just the way it is. Firstly is the singles; you may have to click to enlarge them to read the tunes on there.

Albums I have just started so I only have one page for your viewing pleasure. I think to think of myself as having a vast taste, despite me having a little distaste for country music, Folk music is good in small doses & as far as Dubstep goes I don't think there will be an album as a must go too. I would also like to take this last sentence to say; the album will never die as an idea; there are people who will always like to sit alone in a room, no distractions and just listen for 40+ minutes to some music.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

T = tea

The hot drink that I was brought up on, the hot drink I have loved for years & the go to drink of choice when I just wanna chill. But what do you call it? Cuppa or a Cup of Tea? I decided to do some branding for a fictional tea house.

Using the common sense that the capital letter t is said like tea, it's a very simplistic design in that sense. the shadow just seems to bring it out a little more. below is the promo stuff; order book, business cards, menu and poster. I would love just a Tea house, as much as I love coffee too. lots of quaint decorative tea pots of all shapes/sizes and mugs. The best way to drink tea. and Jazz, cool Jazz while you drink perfectly brewed Tea.