signwriting lessons

Get it On – it has to be done


Breaking it down, Design+worklife: The best have edge

J Treasure on it NGS

Since I joined the design industry certainly 90% of my work has been with the industry’s leading ladies.
So it comes as a surprise when I see an article like Young Female Designers by Lorna Allen, in 2016 still addressing and taking on the perception that women are coming out feeling at times second best. This thing should be confined to history surely!!
It’s worse… it’s not just gender that strikes at the heart of the industry, it’s also a lot to do with age and ‘type’.  Earwigging a couple of middleweight design manager’s both parallel preening a bucket of cappuccino each the other day, agreeing (of course) they would rather choose someone with mediocre skills but is easy fit into the team, than raw talent alone… had me wondering how that impacts on what we are seeing on the boards today. Proudly the seeded nods of agreement to one another. 
Wretched mediocrity first thing in the morning. It sucks the heart out of creativity and it’s killing the industry.


Cat Herding

In my experience the most genuinely talented cats are difficult to herd, that’s for sure and they will take off and eat at the neighbours. But isn’t that the hands-up trade off when working alongside the best?

Recalling what the often outspoken, vilified music legend Marc Bolan of T Rex (scribe of 70s super hits Jeepster, Get it On, Hot Love) said to the Damned just before his death,  ”Be outrageous… you’re fucking rock stars for god’s sakes!!”

sunshines Daffs and shite!

But today some 30 years on we are suffering a renewed attack on creativity – a continual,  terrifying gentrification of the post punk era has now sidelined arts as some kind of tin foil hat pursuit – it’s hardly a proper job after all??

No longer do young creatives say it as it is in such illicit terms as The Stranglers, Sex Pistols etc. Clutching a handset and defining there lives in an insular, password littered world has done little or nothing to feed the industries risk taking lifeblood. If Columbus was born twenty years ago Ibiza would have been about as far is the global map would have dared to exist today… and for some, regardless, that’s certainly the case.

Yes today’s design youngsters have no balls.

They don’t rock the boat and many don’t rock.

Not even a fucking box any more!.


You have to live on the edge if you are brilliant… it’s risky and Alexander McQueen and Amy paid the price. But what if she just took a job at H&M and didn’t fulfill her dream and talent and met Alex over polite chat in the canteen or backdoor for a fag?

… they’re out there doing that right now because of the soppy PC, play it safe, culture we’ve created.

And it’s not even safe to play it safe! You risk becoming a bore and your partner will chuck you out the door.  You’ll get depressed, fat, lazy and bitter. You’ll watch Homeland and think it’s fucking great.

There’s too much to lose buy playing it safe. When the brain is taxed it finds new senews to drive ideas through. Channelling, burrowing it grows in ways comfort alone fails to court. It becomes stressed and petulant as it breaks free of repetitive task adherence. The very act of repetition becomes untenable.


Risk: It’s good for you… you feel alive. You are exciting. Sex will be chilli hot. You’ll have no money by the end of the weekend but you’ll be super enriched.


The new design babes today would have a hard time seeing the link between where the industry is at today and the crushing of the Punks. But the the infamous Thatcher government swallowed up the radical and genuine break free era, saw the hacking down of heyday creativity and raw industry alike.  The stars of the 60’s and 70’s had the industry by the balls and the industry made a move to stamp the artist into a sea of comparative mediocrity… 80s and 90s music was born requiring copious amounts of reverb and drum machines and clapped out wankers.

The Damned

Harking back to the breaking of Punk. Probably Marc Bolan’s biggest legacy towards his involvement with the punk movement was when he was given his own 6 part TV programme in the summer of ’77.

It was one of those shows shown at 4.30 pm, aimed at kids, and frankly not my cup of Chai bro/darl. Muriel Young (Granada TV) was behind the idea and produced the show. Again there was a major risk element with the show, Marc himself  had been through a lean time, and gone through a boozy/drugs period, and put on a shed load of weight in the process so he was regarded as a loose cannon.

Boomtown Rats get their break with Marc Bolan

But in ’77 Bolan got his act together, cleaned himself up and looked the part again, if Marc was deemed reliable enough to host this show, his choice of guests had the TV management reeling.

Producer Muriel Young had her choice of guests and Marc had his. Where as Young went for ‘safe’ homely acts, Marc chose a whole host of New Wave bands giving many of them their first break on national television. Yep Marc broke Billy Idol and Geldoff…

It wasn’t just for Kudos – it was because of passion for the art.

Hot Rods, Gen X, Radio Stars, The Jam, Boomtown Rats all appeared on the MARC show,

The Damned and T.Rex played together in UK. They played 2 fantastic gigs, and due to the nature of the Damned’s set it really cranked up the T.Rex set too, Bolan was incredible on that tour, he had a tough act to follow… but it made him rock!

mikeb58 on the Damned Official Blog recalls.

The first gig I went to was at the Man Apollo, don’t forget bands such as The Damned were not playing venues of that kind at the time, and their fans were probably not used to attending gigs at big venues with a whole new set of rules attached to them.

That set of rules are alive today across arts and design and they are killing the artist from the inside out through every touchpoint.

Chloe signwriting

Artist and video maker Chloe Garrett learning to signwrite … 2 weeks later she was out there doing pro work.


Honestly a walk around Habitat the other day was like eating 1950’s thin cut toast.

Ikea stacked full of so called aka Swedish design and in reality nothing more than pastel pallet rubble.


We are living in a tepid mix of Farrow and Ball and Shabby Chic.


And it’s right there that we see the Ink, Rattle Canners and Sign writers making a fresh run across this insipid design landscape. The stink of turps and rash of muck is having it’s dog day once again.

Design has feather dusted itself into a very dangerous corner as Fiver Logos and home designers are within nano picas of eclipsing half of them in pure design terms. Some of the best designers are people who would never consider themselves on the radar. Take Dishoom for example… a family business designed and build from that inspiration and creative self belief alone.  The Ice Cream cab: ex-footballer turned taxi driver Tom Pepper setting a standard with precision based self taught design awareness.

Have balls. Design well. Drink Rum.

Fucking say it.

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