“The Word Project seeks to capture the more elusive words that roam the world and introduce them with whimsical detail and colorful fanfair.” – As writes Polly M. Law, the project’s creator. “Each piece will get its own spread accompanied by its meaning, pronunciation & an example of use. Since 2002 I have been raiding the attics, basements and dusty cupboards of the English language in search of intriguing, odd & obscure words for my Word Project. I’ve been encouraged to publish my work, and it has made the rounds to a number of publishing house and while recognized for its merits, no investment was made. I’d like to change all of that with your help.”
The project sounded fantastic and so I decided to help fund it. Polly asked for $4,000 to help her produce her book. The project proved so intriguing that she managed to raise $5,899 from backers.
A year later and Polly has managed to not only send copies to all of her backers, but it’s now available on Amazon for those who simply want to take a look at this fantastic little book.
My copy of The Word Project arrived a few weeks ago and the illustrations for each unusual, rare word are brilliant. What makes Polly’s characters so interesting is that they can’t even be classed as illustrations, really, but rather dolls, as they’re all made from a range of materials including buttons, coloured paper and string and then photographed. The result is something that would look right at home in the imagination of any child or storybook. It’s clear that every single one has been well thought out and developed with love and attention.
The book contains over 100 of these creations, each with a definition of the word and an example of how to use the word in conversation. Memorising all of these words would certainly expand your vocabulary!
It’s great to see that Polly’s unique idea gained the funding of over a hundred backers, raising more money than she needed to make the project a reality and that it’s now selling copies on Amazon. I would fully recommend that you go and buy yourself a copy and see the full range of these fantastic pieces of artwork.
Makers of cookers, fridges and other appliances, Stoves is on the of UK’s leading manufacturers of all things kitchen-related. Recently, they’ve launched a competition for University students to develop a British seal of approval to help consumers to buy British. The full brief can be read here.
The problem with this competition is that it’s “spec work” or work without guarantee of pay. It promotes free labour and exploits students who may not have the business experience to know that these sort of competitions only benefit the company and not the entrant. Spec work is looked down upon by the majority of the design industry including AIGA, the professional association for design along with popular designers such as David Airey.
Many companies don’t realise what they’re doing when launching competitions such as this and use the excuse of it being called a competition to justify the exploitation of those entering. Regardless of what it is marketed as, it is still spec work if you are asking people to submit work without recompense.
Spec work is not only bad for the designer, but for the client as well. Design is about communication. Client/Designer communication is imperative to meeting the needs of the brief. Without a good rapport between the two parties, good design is difficult.
In addition to Stoves promoting spec work, another example cropped up from sustainable paper company Domtar. They asked designers to come up with an advertising campaign to promote their paper. A competition, where the only winner is Domtar and the designers who chose to enter are not fairly paid for their work. After a backlash from the design community regarding this example of spec work, Domtar have now retracted the competition and issued an apology for which they’ve gained a lot of respect from designers. Stoves would do well to do the same thing.
So, if you come across competitions that invite you and potentially hundreds of other designers to develop work for free, say no. Such competitions are unethical and unprofessional and the sooner those outside of the design industry realise that, the better.
After two years, it’s time for a change. An evolution. The Work Of relaunches.
The site has been designed with the aim of less clutter and more work with all project images now larger than before. There’s also a more consistent branding over the range of all of The Work Of’s materials whether online or in print – as it should be.
Feedback on the new design is greatly appreciated. Drop me an email: neilATtheworkof.co.uk
A few months ago, I received a black, A4 plastic envelope through the post. The envelope was heavy and looked quite ominous. You don’t get black plastic envelopes through the post every day.
Inside was a magazine. A magazine that was rather thick and could quite easily pass as a softbacked book. This Is The Order. Issue 03.
For a few minutes I wondered why I had received this book. The quality of its design proved that it wasn’t just a random mailshot. And then, having taken a look at the following pages, I realised it was from the makers of Relentless. Yes, the energy drink. I remembered that I had signed up for something on their website months previously about receiving a magazine. I expected a few pages of token information about their products with some half hearted stories about something to do with energy. I was quite clearly mistaken.
The front cover itself was enough to pique my interest.
As the introduction on the first page explained, this issue was all about sound and to promote that, their cover employed a series of raised bars that, when someone ran their fingernail over them, produced a sound that reflected a different music beat.
I can’t say that the bars truly reflected any sort of beat you’d hear with actual musical instruments, but certainly the experiment and the implementation of the cover made me smile and made me explore the magazine further.
As mentioned, the first page details the front cover, while on the opposite page, there is a fantastic illustration, complete with gold overlays.
Relentless’s style is one of exaggeration. On all of their marketing materials and indeed on their drinks cans themselves, it’s always designed with a sense of “You are everything. This is amazing. We are beautiful”. I’ve never really been able to tell if it’s tongue in cheek or not. Whether they’re serious about or not, the design and tone of voice they employ is fantastic and I’ve always been a fan of it.
Throughout the rest of the magazine, the design changes according to whatever is being discussed on that page. It doesn’t feel like the magazine has an overall style, but rather, has many styles suited to the content on that page. Usually, I hate this because it makes everything feel disjointed, but when the magazine is all about freedom and expression, I can understand how and why it works here.
Nowhere in this magazine is Relentless mentioned. In fact, the only way you can tell this is produced by them is their trademark serif typography and overexaggerated style. Nowhere in this magazine do they refer to anything product-related or anything that gives you a sense that they’re trying to shift a few units of their products. Instead, the magazine focuses solely on what their product is meant to stand for.
Businesses seem much more open to doing this in the last few years with the likes of Nike now a lifestyle, not a brand. My favourite example of this sort of “values before product” advertising was earlier this year in the form of a short film by Spike Jonze, funded by Absolut Vodka entitled I’m Here. At the heart of it, it is a simple story about what you will do for someone you love more than anything. It doesn’t promote Absolut or feature the product. The only place you’re likely to find any sort of branding is a small footnote at the bottom of the film’s website.
At 30 minutes long and with a top director, this isn’t just a quickly whipped together production to cash in and sell some vodka. While Jonze can be credited with actually making the film look as it does, Absolut can be credited with wanting to spend such a large amount of cash on something that doesn’t tell people to buy their product. Instead, it tells people to buy their lifestyle. Their values. In other words, you don’t need to tell someone to buy x product. If you can get them to believe in your values, they will always choose your product over another.
Throughout the magazine, their are double page spreads promoting “Lives of the Artists”, a documentary produced for Relentless about people with a creative passion. The shots they use to promote the documentary are fantastic.
With the full page photos and designs comes the smaller, less often noticed page devices. Like the larger pieces of design throughout the magazine, these smaller pieces seem well thought out and really add to the overall experience of reading the magazine.
The same can be said of some of the typography used throughout the magazine, with its less often used ligatures.
My favourite page in the book is towards the middle. While the preceeding page is an article, the page after is a fantastic double page spread of an amazing ceiling. Because its full page with full page, you can really appreciate the beauty of the ceiling.
As mentioned, the magazine does a really great job of presenting information in a readable, but visually appealing way, using extra background textures and details to frame the content.
The emphasis on exploration of sound is found on one of the later pages in the magazine, which attempts to map London by how quiet a certain area is.
Additionally, there’s also pages which try to visualise sounds in different ways.
The last few pages of the magazine are dedicated to a short comic, beautifully drawn, that details the story of Paganini, a violinist. It’s a really nice way to end the magazine and it feels as if it’s been thoughtfully added, rather than tacked on at the last moment.
This is the Order is a fantastic magazine, one which certainly caught me by surprise. I’m looking forward to receiving the next issue.
Now, as you might imagine, being Neil Martin myself, I found this email to be quite odd. It’s not every day you get emailed by a Neil Martin. I have to admit that I was a little suspicious at first. I thought perhaps it was some sort of spam, scraping my name from somewhere on my site, but the email had an attached signature, identifying Neil Martin as the “Research Degrees Coordinator” at Middlesex University. The email address also had a Middlesex University extension. Curious to find out more, I replied and sure enough, I got a human response from Doctor G Neil Martin asking again for some tins. Three to be exact. I asked how he had managed to stumble across my site.
I explained to Neil that although I was more than happy to send him some tins, the labels and postage actually cost more than the beans themselves! He was very happy to reimburse me for this, though and so I went to the post office with three tins of beans, ready to post.
The last time I posted the tins, I posted six of them, all at once to different design agencies. The postage was attached to the bottom of the tins. Although I got some funny looks from the cashier, they were happy to let me send them as is and so I thought it’d be fine to do the same this time as well. Not so it seemed. In fact, I had to 20 minutes while the manager of the post office called up Royal Mail HQ to ask if I could send them as is. The ultimate answer was no. This really disappointed me as they were happy to send six previously! Reluctantly, I stuck them in a box instead and sent them that way, although it took a while to peel all of the stamps back off the tins!
Thankfully, Neil received all of the tins with no problems. He was even kind enough to send me a photo of them: