Sunday, 29 March 2009

The Strad

The redesign of The Strad was completed over an eight month period and was in response to a change in editorial direction. The brief was to put the player/instrument to the fore. The idea behind the redesign was 'player/instrument' as icon. Design & Art Direction: Alex Cameron and Kelly Al-Saleh

The Guides

Wexas destination supplements, The Guides, are product brochures that go out to the membership by post periodically. They were redesigned alongside Vista and followed the same logic and brief. The key was to let the reader get to the information they wanted in a no-fuss way while at the same time looking like an interesting read in its own right. We developed a colour scheme that, over time, would be readily identifiable to the reader. Furthermore, we hoped that the design would play its part in inspiring the reader to visit new destinations. Design & Art Direction: Alex Cameron and Pieter Stander

White Star Cruises

White Star Cruises was a new company set up by Wexas to focus more on a growing market in travel. The design of the logo, print matter and the website happened simultaneously. We researched the cruise industry – brochures and posters – and paid particular attention to its heyday – the turn of the twentieth century. Our intention with the visuals was to try and give a new company a sense of permanence and trustworthiness. We played around with some obvious nautical elements but settled quite quickly on the 'nautical star'. Typographically, we went for a classical 'european' typeface in Monotype Bembo. This, we felt, gave the identity the required sense of solidity, permanence and trustworthiness that the client wanted. In terms of colour we avoided blue and red – industry standards and, instead, went for a luxurious, 'leather-like' colour.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

The Alphabet: and elements of lettering

The Alphabet: and elements of lettering
Frederic W. Goudy
John Lane, 1918 (University of California Press, 1942)

First published in 1918, I am the proud owner of a 1918 copy of this phenomenally beautiful and insightful work by one of the true typographic masters of our industry. The book is split between 27 hand-drawn plates – each plate shows fifteen forms of one letter of the alphabet, including; a rendering of the lettering from the Trajan column at Rome; slanted pen capitals, black-letter capitals; Lombardic Gothic versals; Italian round-hand minuscule; black-letter minuscule; transition type from Gothic to Roman; type of Nicolas Jenson, first pure roman typeface; with the remaining being designed by the author with the exception of a Bodoni letterform and another designed by Caslon. The rest of the book comprises of an introduction and seven chapters on the history of letters, and essays on type debates pertinent to that particular era.

It is a truly beautiful book and one that thrills me each time I dare to take it down from the shelf. It is a brilliant typographic history. A better introduction to the history of typography I have yet to come across.

While a great idea to republish by University of California Press (I am also pretty sure it was republished more recently but for the life of me I can't find who and when?) it lacks the quality of the original imprint in terms of paper stock, binding and printing. Nevertheless even in its facsimile form it is a worthy buy and will delight the reader.

I paid £15 through ebay for this - its one of my few prized possessions - and consider it priceless (although you are welcome to test my resolve) – I still feel guilty 10 years on, I feel like I mugged the guy. I have on occasion used it to gauge the likelihood of a potential creative relationship by their reaction on seeing the book.

This is not about coveting something old and ‘authentic’ it is as a book to learn from that I get most of my enjoyment. So, don’t wait to come across the next original before you purchase a copy of The Alphabet: and elements of lettering by Frederic Goudy, buy the reproduction – until an original becomes available.

Finer points in the spacing and arrangement of type

Geoffrey Dowding
Hartley & Marks

This book has been my bible in all things typographic for as long as I have been practicing graphic design. Dowding’s care and attention to typographic detail is very much of its time. First published in 1966 it was a time when typography under the care of the ‘compositor’ or ‘typesetter’ was a time consuming and mechanical affair – using metal type set ‘backward’ – and bore little or no relation to the working methods of today’s designers. Nevertheless, you might be forgiven for thinking – save for the language and description of typographic tasks – that the book was written today, such are the similarities of concern over typographic standards.

Finer points covers questions of setting reading text and display text with the consideration of a master craftsman who’s career included both publishing and teaching – at the London College of Printing for over 20 years.

On the question of typographic standards Dowding reminds us that it is the minutia that deserves our attention for if we care little for the finer points it will infect our work throughout and therefore the finished product. My own experience in arguing that it is necessary to find the time to kern display matter or set small caps or indeed copy-shape reading text has often met with, no doubt familiar to most designers, ‘we just don’t have the time, no one will notice anyway’.

Dowding’s Finer points has considered all things typographic and takes great care in explaining, and showing through illustration, the reasons why setting text in the correct manner matters. It is a book that all graphic designers should both read and refer to continually as it is a book where both answers and inspiration can be found.

As was the case when Finer points was first published so today it remains the case that typographic standards must be aspired to, practiced and defended – constantly! The move from the mechanical setting of type through to digital typesetting is not responsible for the decline in typographic standards. The digital age has brought with it more control and sped-up the production process such, that we have fewer reasons for not attending to the finer points of typography. Unfortunately other forces are eating into the craft. Now like then it is up to the individual designer to stand up for what is right and what is in the best interest of the reader and the craft. Dowding’s Finer points is a good ally in this fight.

What is a designer : things, places, messages

Norman Potter
Hyphen Press

This book is one of a number of design books that I return to frequently, in this instance it is mainly because each read reveals yet another insight into the role of the designer – an idea that finds little common ground among designers and their institutions in Britain. This is a central theme discussed in What is a designer. Importantly, Potter warns us that the description ‘designer’ can “become hopelessly abstract”, before offering us the following as a working description; “… whose work helps to give form and order to the amenities of life, whether in the context of manufacture, or of place and occasion.” While Potter himself admits to the clumsiness of this definition in doing so he manages to give the reader his first instruction in reading this particular book. The book is not one where answers are easily found – except in the ‘reference’ section of the book, which is perfectly highlighted by a change in paper stock and colour – but answers are indeed there and to the big questions in design; the role of the designer in the production process?; is a designer an artist?: and the role of method in the working life of the designer.

Potter was an English cabinetmaker, designer, poet and teacher. Inspired by and active in the modern movement, he makes no secret of his ‘libertarian left’ views and their influence on his thoughts, writings and methods, His book, now in its forth edition, speaks of a designer who brings a wealth of experience and a thoughtful, and thought-provoking, wisdom to the table.

What is a designer is a brilliant and challenging book that deserves a wide readership. It is a real back-to-basics tour de force and is a book that will earn its keep both as a tool for best practice and one that inspires to reach newer and greater standards in ones work.

Helvetica: homage to a typeface

Helvetica: homage to a typeface
Lars Muller
Lars Muller Publishers

Love it or loathe it! Helvetica is one of the most successful typefaces of the twentieth century. From its birth in the 1950s through to today, Helvetica has rarely been out of favour. Each decade since, designers have found Helvetica to be the typographic expression of that particular time.

Of course Helvetica has its detractors, but for every one of them there are probably thousands of leaflets, posters, logotypes and signs that help people through their everyday lives. This is where Lars Muller comes in. Helvetica: Homage to a typeface is a handbook of Helvetica in-situ. With 256 pages, of which 7 are written introduction and 2 for acknowledgements this is very much in the recent tradition of ‘design’ books, but with one very important distinction.

Unlike the majority of ‘visual essays’ – which have been wildly over-intellectualised – or the more unapologetic ‘vanity publications’, from the self-proclaimed current avant-garde, Helvetica tells us much more about the visual landscape of the city and the designer’s impact on it. As Muller puts it, ‘cities are the melting pots of visual culture…it is structured and kept alive by a sea of codes and signs, signals and commands. Where there is friction between the ambitions of professional design and the pragmatism of daily problem-solving.’

Helvetica: Homage to a typeface will confirm, remind and surprise. With poster classics by the likes of Paul Rand – who once told a student in whispered tones that Helvetica was a display face and should not be used as body text ‘because it looked like dog-shit’. You will also find inspiring work by the likes of, Hans Hillmann, Wim Crouwel, Alan Fletcher, Josef Muller-Brockmann, Massimo Vignelli and Chermayeff & Geismar. Enduring corporate identities for, AT&T, Amtrak, Bayer, EMI, logotypes with a creative nod and a wink for AGFA, Knoll and Letraset and even an ethical slight of hand for so called ‘no brand goods’ store Muji. Helvetica is seen to stand for all things to all men – the napoleon Bonaparte of typefaces if you will.

Helvetica began its life as Neue Hass Grotesk and was drawn by the hand of Max Miedinger – in-house designer at the Hass Foundry – in 1951-53. A traditional grotesk, it was commissioned to fulfil a demand. The explosion of advertising graphics during this period along with the proliferation of the use of sand-serif typefaces (Akzidenz Grotesk, first cut by Wagner & Schmidt and Univers, by Zurich-based Adrian Frutiger being the most popular) and the increasing influence in Europe and the USA of the Swiss ‘Neue Graphik’ became the basis for the emergence and the domination of Helvetica – as it was to be named in 1957 – a warped version of the Latin for Switzerland.

Helvetica’s rise to dominance throughout the sixties was through name and association with some of the most influential designers in Europe and America. Towards the latter part of the twentieth century it would receive a further boost in its march towards supremacy when it became a system font on the Apple macintosh computer and the default font in the desktop publishing programme QuarkXpress. As a commercial success, this was by no means unimportant. But it was as a display face that Helvetica reigned supreme.

Take a cursory glance through almost any design history book and Helvetica will feature prominently. A walk down any high street – in Britian at least – and you are likely to find it fighting for your attention, whether by the hand of an amateur or that of the professional.

Helvetica – homage to a typeface, is one of the few ‘picture books’ I would recommend. It is an honest attempt at telling a story through pictures, and it is a story that is in this instance, perhaps, best told that way.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Blueprint Architecture + Design magazine

This work was done on a consultancy basis but was not developed further. Nevertheless it was an exciting process. After a year of wrangling we learned that the project was 'cancelled' when the money men got involved.

Design & Art Direction: Alex Cameron and Kelly Al-Saleh

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Personal details

Alex Cameron
Art Director / Graphic Designer


07536 117319

Employment history
> April 2007 – present:
Senior Designer & Art Director, Wexas (inc. Traveller magazine)
> October 2004 – March 2007:
Art Director, de-sign (creative co-operative)
> June 2003 – October 2004:
Art Director / Studio Manager, YMCA
> May 2000 – May 2003:
Art Director / Studio Manager, cScape
> 1996 – 2000:
Freelance Art Director, Living Marxism magazine, Community Practitioner
> 1993 – 1996:
Designer / Studio Manager, Junius Publications

Magazine design
> Traveller
> The Strad
> Sfz
> Classic Record Collector*
> Living Marxism (LM)
> Novo* (German)
> New Humanist
> International Journal of Pharmaceutical medicine
> Insight (YCare)
> Under 5

(All the above magazines were either redesigned to a new brief or I designed the premier issue for launch. Except Classic Record Collector and Novo both of which I art directed using each magazines original designs)

Extra curricular activity
> Studying for an MA in Design Writing Criticism, LCC
> Lecturer on design and pre-press, University of East London, Docklands Campus
> Organised and delivered talks on design at various conferences in the UK
> Editorial Board, Design Agenda (design think-tank) co-editor, Great Expectations: the creative industries in the new economy.
> Author of chapter on ‘Ethical Design’ in Becoming Designers, Intellect 2000

Traveller magazine

The redesign of Traveller was more about 'tightening-up' the design of the magazine as opposed to a radical redesign. Nevertheless, we rebuilt the templates in In-Design and rationalised 'the space' - altering margins, columns and gutter widths etc as well as attending to type. We also suggested a new typeface family - Thesis - that, we believed, gave us more flexibility and was more in keeping with the editorial ethos of Traveller. Furthermore, we introduced keylines between columns of text giving Traveller a more 'grown-up' look. Design & Art Direction: Alex Cameron

For more Traveller articles and photography go to


Vista was redesigned around the idea that a more modular aesthetic and structure would allow the reader to get to the necessary information with minimum fuss. We also felt that the redesign should further help the reader navigate through the content and help them identify, quickly, the content that most interests them – whether it be inspirational type articles or product. This was an important division inside too. While we wanted to achieve a more magazine-like publication it was still very much a selling-tool for the company. The articles and product pieces are based on the same grid but they have a different look-and-feel on the page they are separated by a double page spread picture, introduction and an outsized chevron indicates that a change in pace/content is coming. Vista also works alongside 'The Guides' – destination brochures - and were designed alongside each other. See 'The Guides' case study. Design & Art Direction: Alex Cameron and Pieter Stander

Letter by Letter: an alphabetical miscellany

Laurent Pflughaupt
Princeton Architectural Press

This is a brilliant, scholarly work on the alphabet. It is a significant contribution to the development of language and as such is a book that will find readers beyond the typographic/graphic design milieu.

The book offers excellent and precise descriptions of letters, and illuminates them with beautiful illustrations throughout. Letter by Letter offers a thorough introduction to the history of our alphabet before taking each letter in turn to give the most comprehensive description of each letter I have come across. Each letter is given its own timeline – a very useful devise for showing the development of a letterform.

This is a book that can be dipped in and out of and as such will prove useful to designers of type. But it is an academic work and deserves study. Anyone interested in language and letterforms will benefit from studying this book.