Proudly presenting QUAD, the University of Oxford’s new Alumni Magazine

There aren’t many occasions you get the chance to design a new magazine from scratch. But that is just what I did in this creative project.

Working closely with the energetic and clever Richard Lofthouse as editor, for me the most amazing part of this brief was the freedom I had in the design. From creating a grid system, colour pallet and font style sheet from scratch, being able to design irregular columns and working very much by eye. A graphic designer’s dream.

Even the politics of creating the magazine weren’t that painful. Sure, some things went right up to the wire, but for a new publication, what do you expect?

As for the cover art, it features one of the paintings from an article about Cool American Modernism at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. This is the first exhibition to explore the ‘cool’ in American art in the early 20th century, from early experiments in abstraction by artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Arthur Dove and Paul Strand to the strict, clean precisionist paintings of Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth.

Another nice thing about the magazine is that there are very few adverts. Inside front and back cover, that’s all. Nothing to spoil the look and feel as you thumb through the pages.

Any downside? This is an annual publication. So you’ll have to wait until next year for the next issue.

And finally, while nothing beats feeling a hard copy in your hand, here is a digital issuu version for you to take a look through.

 

Why do graphic design and copywriting jobs never turn up on charity job boards?

Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t me grumbling. I’m keeping pretty busy work-wise, thanks.

I am just a little curious, that’s all.

By telling you that I am keeping busy I have, in some way, already answered my own question. But.. it is still a question that it’d like to put out there:

Why do graphic design and copywriting jobs never turn up on charity job boards?

Is it that  people generally think any creative can come up with great ideas that ‘sell’ a charity’s cause? Is selling financial products one day, and asking for donations to help fund some unforgiving illness another day really the same thing?

Having spent years and years crafting fundraising journeys, both in print and online, donation forms and petitions, I know that many communication professionals are not aware of the pitfalls involved in charity sector marketing. Ever since Olive Cooke, a 92-year-old poppy seller, took her own life feeling “distressed and overwhelmed” by the huge number of requests for donations she received from charities, the press and government regulations have been keeping a very sharp eye on what charities get up to.

Creating a form or doing data capture activities a much more challenging project these days. There are many pitfalls to be avoided – which you only learn about by working on projects, wherever in the charity sector.

What I have learnt from this is that each organisation tries to solve the same problem in a different way. As a freelancer, by working for a wide variety of organisations, I’m one of those few people who has many opportunities to learn yet more ways of doing things, and can transfer ideas and practices that can be applied to other organisations too.

But it isn’t just the legal communication challenges that a creative needs to take into account. All that experience means that, as an example, while I was working on a recent project on preventing child abuse by NGO participants, my team (me and and a copywriter) were not just ‘hired guns’ strictly following the client’s brief, but could make informed recommendations on what tone and voice to use, how to address that particular audience and above all, protect the dignity of the children in the process.

So, no matter what you tell me, after a day selling the latest trend in cereals this is not natural territory for commercial designers or writers to switch over to. Which is why, I really think that this industry should be actively looking to recruit creatives that are experienced in charity communications, that understand that there are many stakeholders involved in each project, that each project needs to cut through a crowded media field-  bypassing a sometimes cynical public – to reach those that want to be engaged and help the causes we are promoting.

Saying that, next time you are thinking of doing a comms project, why not consider hiring someone with experience? Or, if you can’t hire, find freelancers (no plug, honestly) which offer the experience that could add more ROI to your project than you might have thought possible?


Me, I’m Christian Guthier. Do look me up on Linkedin. or get in touch today.

Designing The Stop Sign

What if there were no stop signs, and a major corporation was charged with inventing one? They’d brief their agency and let them do it. Sorta. Welcome to corporate creativity, where groupthink and endless revisions help good ideas get executed.

Does this sound familiar? Watch this classic video as a reminder of how too often creative projects work.