Creative community and challenges

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Comic Strip Artist Richard Pettitt talks Cartoons, Creativity and Ideas

New podcast on my blog Idea medic

Richard guest comic book artist

My guest today is Richard Pettit, a comic strip artist.

Richard latest venture is a weekly comic strip called Oojo and Bink which is out every Monday. I just watched the brilliant first episode which Richard created as a short animation including doing all the voices.

Listen to the podcast at

Tools and Books Richard Recommends

The Artist Way – A book by Julia Cameron

Morning Pages – Freewriting your thoughts in the morning – a brain dump

Mastering Comics – Jessica Abel

Calvin and Hobbes – A popular comic strip, the story of a boy and his real-only-to-him tiger

Bristol Board – A smooth surface board for fine detail illustrations

Pro Markers and Sharpie pens

You can find out more about Richard on his website on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube

Some of Richard’s Cartoons

Oojo and Bink

Oojo and Bink Richard Pettitt

In the News Cartoon

prince bowie death

Autobiographical Cartoon

autobiographical cartoon Richard Pettitt

All images © Richard Pettitt

Follow the Sketchbook Relay

I have just started a new project called Sketchbook Relay. The idea behind it is that a few artists start with a sketchbook, they draw a page and then pass it on to another artist they know, and so the relay continues. At the end of the relay, the completed sketchbooks that get returned to me will be sold for charity (the charity will be decided by Poll between the Sketchbook Relay Group).

Join the Sketchbook Relay Facebook Group to Follow the Sketchbook Relay, you can also start your own by downloading resources here

sketchbook relay

15 Of The Most Creative Flyer Designs Ever

A guest post by Josh is a print design enthusiast, currently based in the UK. He has a passion for all things colourful and loves any designs that make use of his favourite colour (blue).

Flyers are everywhere. If you run a brick and mortar business, you’re probably sick of getting flyers pushed through your door every single day of the week.

While printed flyers can be one of the best marketing tactics for a business, the majority of flyers that we see on a day-to-day basis are far from creative. They usually just feature bog-standard stock photography and uninspiring font choices.

So, if you’re looking into creating an eye-catching flyer for your business and want to ensure that you get the ROI you deserve, take a look at the flyers below for some serious inspiration.

1 – Cook&Book

flyer 1

Cook&Book is a bookstore located in Brussels, Belgium and this flyer was created to advertise a themed Christmas market.

The creator of the flyer was a French graphic designer named Julie Joanny, and as you can see, it features a super creative (and somewhat unlikely) design.

It’s designed to look like a themed Christmas jumper. However, for whatever strange reason, the Christmas jumper appears to have knitted shark designs on it. Whatever the reason may be, it seems to work.

As you pull on the collar out of the jumper, an orange flyer is revealed with more details about the event.

2 – Tracy Chapman

flyer 2

This flyer was created to advertise an event at The Fillmore on August 21st and 22nd 2009.

Clearly, it is one of the more creative flyers out there and features a somewhat whimsical design that – although rather simplistic in it’s appearance – creates a vision of the quirky event to come.

The flyer is kept pretty minimalistic; it features very little aside from the main details and a beautifully designed guitar neck illustration. It works perfectly though.

3 – Mehrblick

flyer 3

Mehrblick is an electronic music festival that takes place annually in Germany.

As you might expect from such an event, it has a clear target demographic of relatively young, creative, electronic music lovers.

The quirky design of this flyer caters perfectly to such an audience, while also offering all of the details one might need in order to attend the event.

Despite being largely colourless, the design is extremely eye-catching and manages to attract your attention from a distance, just like a good flyer should.

4 – CSUS Spring Show 2011

flyer 4

The CSUS Spring Show is an event organised by California State University on behalf of its students.

In 2011, the university commissioned Christine Jackson – a Sacramento-based designer – to create this flyer in order to promote the event.

It’s a relatively simple design and much like the flyer featured above, colour has been used rather sparingly.

The threading effect of the design is supposed to demonstrate the connectivity of the various departments in the university. The back of the flyer is similarly designed, and offers further details about the event.

5 – Drop Inn Hostel

flyer 5

Although the shapes of most flyers are quite consistent with one another (i.e. a relatively standard rectangular shape), who says that flyers all have to be the same shape?

The Drop Inn Hostel has gone against the grain with this clever flyer design that has been designed in the shape of the letter “O”.

The flyer reads, “We dropped our ‘o’. Drop Inn and return it to us”.

Despite having such a small surface area for any other information, the flyer manages to pack on all of the details needed including the address, bus routes and more.

6 – Joanna Kosinska

flyer 6

Joanna Kosinska is a graphic designer based in the UK and clearly, she’s done a great job of showcasing her creativity with this flyer.

The flyer is actually quite large (A3) and folds out to reveal more information. The front cover is a beautifully illustrated design that really grabs your attention, while the inner pages of the flyer are simple, clean and present a clear message.

One side of the flyer tells you a little more about Joanna herself, while the other offers a sort-of condensed version of her portfolio, showcasing some of her favourite work.

7 – Manage Your Day-to-Day

flyer 7

Manage Your Day-to-Day is a book by 99U, which talks about the way we currently work, and how things need to change.

To promote the book, a few designers from Behance created this folding flyer that – as it unfolds – aims to teach you more about the book.

The inner pages contain more information about the book itself but when the flyer is fully unfolded, it features a motivational quote in large, bold letters.

The aim here is to offer something of lasting value in the flyer itself; when fully unfolded, the aim is for the flyer to be used as a poster rather than a flyer.

8 – Muah

flyer 8

Muah is a festival that takes place in August each year and to promote it, the Czechoslovakian design studio, Anymade, was hired to produce this flyer design.

It’s a rather experimental flyer and the layout is far from ordinary, but somehow, the design just works.

A lot of effort went into the design of this flyer too; it features a custom typeface and was printed in a limited edition run featuring this beautifully crafted colour combination.

It’s certainly eye-catching, even from a distance.

9 – Bischi Bike Flyer

flyer 9

We’re not 100% certain what this flyer is promoting exactly (as we don’t speak German), but we’re guessing it has something to do with bikes (good guess, right?).

The interesting thing about this flyer is that the imagery is completely black and white; the only colour on the flyer comes from the large text printed over the image and the headings on the back.

This somewhat odd design choice seems to work, as the flyer is extremely eye-catching. It’s also highly readable thanks to the use of white space on the rear of the flyer.

10 – Stampede

flyer 10

Stampede is the name of a “rock night” at a club in London, UK. It takes place every Monday and as with most club nights, great promotion can make or break the night.

This beautiful flyer was created by Michael Higginson, the Creative Project Assistant for the event, and features a grungy yet refined design.

The horse design on the flyer was actually created solely from circles of varying sizes (you can see the design process on Behance) and results in an eye-catching centrepiece.

11 – Portfolio Points 2011

flyer 11

Aron Jancso created this stunning flyer design on behalf of Portfolio Points – an event taking place in Budapest Hungary – in 2011.

Aron specialises in typography design and clearly, it shows. The flyer itself features one of Arons unique typographic creations, which serves as the main focal point of the design.

The rest of the flyer is relatively basic, which allows the typography to serve as the main eye-catching feature.

It’s colourful, quirky, and exceptionally creative.

12 – Isometric Exhibition

flyer 12

The Isometric Exhibition takes place in Paris, France for a period of 2 – 3 weeks every year.

This flyer design plays on the subject nature and title of the event by incorporating “isometric” features into the design, giving the flyer a sort-of 3D effect.

The rest of the design is relatively plain and understated. Despite being large and clear, the typography is a plain sans-serif typeface that purposely doesn’t detract from the main focal point of the design: the isometric illustration.

13 – Prism

flyer 13

Prism commissioned Emphase Sarl, a graphic designer based in Switzerland, to create this extremely clean and modern flyer.

The flyer makes excellent use of high quality imagery without looking too cluttered. This is thanks to the creative use of shapes to help split up the various sections of the design.

The designer also makes use of one typeface, Helvetica, to create a consistency throughout.

This flyer crops up time and time again as one of the most creative flyers out there, and it’s easy to see why.

14 – Renegade Craft Fair

flyer 14

Renegade Craft Fair regularly creates exceptionally creative flyers, but this one has to be one of their best.

As you can see, the flyer has been designed to represent a woolly hat. On the woolly hat, the flyer presents all of the details about the sale (i.e. when it starts, where it is, what’s on offer, etc.).

It’s a very simple design, but it captures your attention with ease. The typography that has been used is elegant yet fun, while the light blue background further ensures that the flyer grabs your attention from a distance.

15 – Lamania

flyer 15

Alex Tass, a graphic designer based in Bucharest, Romania, created this flyer a few years ago for a clubbing event.

As you can see, the main focal point of the flyer is the “coloured heads” design. While the rest of the flyer is relatively plain and understated, the colourful heads are extremely bright and really grab your attention.

What’s more, the heads also appear to be illustrated on top of lollipop sticks. This quirky design certainly helps to pique your curiosity.




5 Alternative Union Jack Flags

A guest post by Alasdair Graham on behalf of Elanders UK Printing

The mighty Union Jack has represented the United Kingdom since its official adoption in 1801 and is the product of 3 distinct flags in union (…I know)

England represented by the cross of St George. Scotland by the saltire of St Andrew and Ireland – represented by the red saltire of St Patrick. Notice no sign of poor old Wales! This is because Wales was annexed by “The Kingdom of England” in 1282 and has been represented by the flag of England historically.

However – this timeless vexillogical wonder could be under threat of disappearing in the wake of Scotland’s bid for independence…perhaps. Lord West, deputy chairman of the UK flags and heraldry committee has gone on record to say that “it is nonsense to imagine the St Andrew’s blue could remain”.

The official flag authority of the UK and Commonwealth (we never knew there were so many flag experts/authorities!) have stated that the Queen will retain the title of ‘head of state’ in an independent Scotland, and therefore the Union Flag would not be affected. Frankly, we don’t know who to believe!

Despite this, keen designers from around the UK have mocked up potential new designs for the new Union Jack flag which will represent England, Wales and Ireland should Scotland win their “yes” vote to independence tomorrow (Friday 19th September 2014).

Elanders UK Printing have collected 5 alternative Union Jack flags for your viewing pleasure and critique – please do let us know what you think in the comments! (we’ll tell you our favourites after the vote!)

Bringing England and Wales Closer Together

England and Wales flag design

This design incorporates the green of the Welsh flag and with the cross of St. George

Source: Flag Institute

This fine specimen brings the historically overlooked (from a vexillogical perspective) Welsh back into the design equation with England represented through the white background and red cross of St George. Wales have the lower half, with green being used in the background and not forgetting of course the red saltire of St Patrick of Ireland.

St David and George Flag combine

Combining the flag of St. David and the flag of St. George

Source: Flag Institute

In another design, the blue from the flag of St Andrew has been replaced with the black from the flag of St David, once again bringing the noble Welsh back into the picture with the rest of the design holding true to the original format of the Union Jack.

England and Red Dragon Flag

Traditional English flag with the national Wales flag in the bottom right

Source: Flag Institute

The final flag variation is the presence of a small ‘Y Ddraud Goch’ (The Red Dragon) Welsh national flag, implemented within an amalgamation of the St Georges Cross for England and the red saltire of St. Patrick representing Ireland.

Union Jack designs incorporating the Crown of Arms

Coat of Arms Florial

This Union Jack flag not only represents the UK but also the Commonwealth

Source: Flag Institute

The most favourable flag designs among this collection are those amalgamated from two or three different flag designs from other countries within the United Kingdom. Alongside these designs are some that incorporate the Royal Coat of Arms along with a floral garland to symbolise the Commonwealth.

What happens if Scotland doesn’t become independent?

New Union Jack Flag incl Wales

The modern representation of the Union Jack, including the introduction of Wales

Source: Flag Institute

This redesign of the current Union Jack flag design named “United Britain” designed by John Yates is a unique and modern take on the flags from all four countries forming the United Kingdom. If introduced, it will the first time Wales has been identified on the Union Jack, as it has always been represented by the flag of St George on the Union Jack.

Using Freewriting to get Ideas for Character Design and Illustration Work

I have always been a big fan of exploring different creative techniques beyond the standard mindmaps and moodboards that many designers use. For a recent project I needed to create some characters for a comic strip about the adventures of a startup. It was a project I was working on along side Constantina Katsari-Muston, who had the initial idea and was creating the dialogues. The first thing I needed to do was create the person with the start-up and we decided he would be 20-30s male.

My first attempts at sketches were a little bland.
startup business man

So I decided to turn to Freewriting to help. Freewriting is a creative technique where you give yourself a time limit and then write without stopping for that time. If you can’t think of what to write you just repeat yourself or write rubbish. The theory is that this doesn’t give the brain time for censorship, allowing ideas to flow that you might not have thought of. I freewrote anything I could think of about the ways I could create the character – from using a shoelace to changing the scale of my drawing surface from very large to very small. You can read more about my freewriting here.

I had also recently watched a great Ted talk by Laurie Rosenwald who talks about working quickly and getting back to experimenting with real materials rather than sticking on the computer. This let’s you make deliberate creative mistakes

I took Rosenwald’s advice and started experimenting, and introduced some of the ideas from my freewriting.

creative art shoelaces

change scale design

dripped paint design

Even though it was really scrappy there was something I really liked about the sticky note people (the small scale from my freewriting) and so I worked it up a bit.

sticky note people

Then it was incorporated with Constantina’s dialogue. This is a look at the way start-up founders have a tendency to ask friends and family about their idea, when they should really be finding out if their potential customers really have the problem they are trying to fix.

bsuiness startup cartoon



How to Organise your Graphic Design Work

A while a go a student on my logo design course emailed and asked me how I go about organising my work. I though I would share my response:

Create a Job Book

How I work – Get yourself an A4 (or legal size) lined pad or binder with lined paper – this can be used as a job book.

Then create some columns headed up – Date, job number, client, job description (I will jot down what the job is worth here too) and an invoice date column. Obviously tailor these columns to best suit you.

Then each time I start a new job I give it a job number I use my initials and then a number (don’t start at one if you are working for clients as it makes you sound new). So for example lets say I am just starting a job today – in the job book put the date 24th Feb 2013, then job number TR103, fill in the rest of the information job description client etc. This also helps you keep track of what you need to bill.

You can of course do this digitally if you want.

graphic design job book

Files on my Computer

Then on my computer I have a “Freelance Work: folder and in it client folders. When I get a new job for a client and have booked it in my job book I create a folder in the appropriate client folder and name it the job number plus a description e.g.. TR103 Range Brochure 2013. In it I split it up into folders called hires, rough, illustrator etc etc to hold all the different files. As I work on a job and there are file revisions I call the file names v1, v2 etc – as the classic client thing is they want to revert to something from an old version.

To Organise my Work Schedule

I use the Mac App “Things” for scheduling work (I used to do this manually on paper for the first few years – you can do this if you want). If you want something similar that’s free try Wunderlist. “Things” and Wunderlist are great as you can create Client folders and then a Todo list for each client with a date you are going to work on the job.

To backup my work

I use Carbon Copy Cloner to do a regular automated daily back up (you can also use Time Machine on a Mac) to an external hard drive.

I used to also do a weekly back up to another hard drive that I would keep off site (in my car). Now though I use CrashPlan an online back up service. The first online backup takes quite a while, but after that it’s good. If you want your data backed up to the cloud there is a monthly fee – I currently pay $5.99 a month but you can back up to someone else’s computer for free (for example you and a friend can back up to each others computers).

Archiving completed jobs

For archiving stuff I have completely finished I create back up DVD’s (2 copies). These I name by the month I am backing them up e.g.. February 2013 bk up 1 and put all the folders I no longer need in there. You can then use a little app called DiskTracker to catalogue these disks. This creates a searchable database so you know exactly which DVD to find old jobs on. Plus as you have used the job numbers in both your job book and on your computer you have a few different ways to search.

disk tracker design archiving

A New Style of Invitation that’s anything but Wooden

A guest post by Susie Francis writing on behalf of  RODD Industrial Design

Over the past year we’ve seen a new trend of invites to social events like weddings and birthday parties being made from beautifully engraved, smooth cut outs of wood. For this article, we look at the processes involved in the design and manufacture of the ‘woodcards’, taking in some examples, and giving tips on how you can design these fantastically imaginative items to suit your purpose or event.

The first time I had a woodcard delivered through my letter box, it was to invite me to a friend’s wedding, and the first thing I thought was, ‘crikey, they must have spent a fortune on just the invitations’.

Image 1 Wood Design

The quality of design and the craftsmanship is fantastic and gives the impression of an expensive product. Considering your typical wedding has over a hundred guests, I was thinking they’d must spent several hundred pounds. I was right, prices range from £3 to £7 per invitation depending on the design work required, so they’re most definitely a luxury.

How are they made?

The cards are made using a combination of laser-cutting and scoring the design onto a thin slice of wood or veneer using a laser printer. Laser printers have dropped in price massively over the past decade, which has allowed savvy entrepreneurs to produce the products themselves rather than outsourcing.

A great thing about this process is that it gives the impression of a handmade product, rather than a batch-produced item.

Cut-to-size pieces of the chosen wood are loaded onto a jig in the laser printer, and the printing itself is remarkably quick, anything between 1-5 minutes for a design of less than 1 foot squared.

The main wood used for cards and invitations is birch ply. Being a softwood, it’s lightweight and easy to machine. However, many other woods are used, including ash, oak, maple and poplar.

It hasn’t taken long for a wider range of products to become available from business cards to birthday cards. Recently producers have started treating the wood to ensure it lasts longer.

Who does the Designing?

A lot of the stock designs offered by retailers are great; they simply place your names and details in to their existing templates. There are a lot of options for having a bespoke design made, and often for a reasonable price. Many of the online retailers have an in-house designer for any of their design requirements.

The friend I mentioned earlier happened to be marrying a freelance graphic design expert, so he was well covered there, but I’d say that you really can’t go wrong sticking with a stock template.

Considering the price of production, and the importance of the occasions they’re used for, it’s fair to say it’s better to outsource the designing, unless you’re an accomplished graphic designer of course.

Some of the Best

Image 2 Wood Design

(Source: Serendipity Beyond Design)

Image 3 Wood Design


Image 4 Wood Design


Image 5 Wood Design

(Source: This is why I’m Broke)

Image 6 Wood Design

(Source: Carveon)

Wood invite design

If you’ve recently used a wooden style product, whether it was for a business car or a wedding invite, we’d love to hear how you chose a design and how they were received by people.

Susie Francis writes articles for RODD Industrial Design, a Design and Innovation Agency working with international clients delivering strategic design solutions. Based in Hampshire, UK, with clients including Motorola, Panasonic and Transport for London, RODD are focused on delivering the highest quality creative work and commercially effective design.

The Trend in Interactive Infographics and Microsites

A guest post by Luke Clum

Now that everyone from your favorite author to your dog sitter has some sort of website, most designers have learned that the old, static layouts and pages just don’t cut it anymore. In order to really get the attention of your viewer you have to stay ahead of the trends; a great way to do this is embrace interactivity. Static pages just don’t stand out to visitors anymore, as they are now used to animation, parallax scrolling, and other interactive elements.

But don’t fear, interactive pages don’t have to be complicate, as you can see in this example. Below we outline other great examples of interactive pages and discuss how emulate a similar style on your own.

Examples of interactive sites

SimpliSafe does a great job of showing their customers the length they will go to protect their property. Moving from inside to outside of an animated house as the viewer scrolls down the page, they teach their customers what they can do to ensure safety and peace of mind.

Simplisafe interactive infographic

YouTube pulled out all the stops when they created One Hour Per Second, a microsite that makes great use of animation, creative controls and provides links to some of the most popular clips from their website. When the user starts the presentation, easy to follow examples roll down the screen, providing the viewer with context to understand what it really means to have one hour of video uploaded to YouTube every second.

Youtube interactive infographic

Life of Pi was recognized as being a visual masterpiece at the box office and numerous award shows upon its release. With a mix of film and animation shown in 3-D, it’s no surprise that fans wanted to know exactly how the movie was made. This website uses lots of cool navigation and superimposed sketches of set designs with images from the film. Visitors can watch videos of some of the trickiest scenes filmed and provides before and after images that show exactly what the special effects provide. It’s a great way for fans of the film to get in on the movie magic.

Life of Pi interactive infographic

If there is one thing every James Bond fan enjoys it’s all of the extraordinary tools that he gets to use in the films. And the coolest of all the unattainable items might be the cars he gets to drive. A very clever used car dealer caught on to this and decided to break down all of the Bond cars and let customers choose their favorite. With color palettes that match every decade, swirling backgrounds zoom in and out to reveal the next movie’s car. They obviously know the value of an older car and do a great job of pointing that out to their customers as well.

Bond interactive infographic

The Dangers of Fracking makes great use of visual elements to educate viewers on how wasteful and harmful fracking can be for the environment. With easy to follow graphics that take you from start to finish and navigation that makes you feel as though you are flipping through a book, they put everything you need to know about fracking in one place. It’s a great way to inspire visitors to react to the information instead of just reading it.

Hydraulic Fracturing interactive infographic

Luke Clum Luke Clum is a graphic designer from Seattle who specializes in print and web development. He loves coffee, hiking and alpine climbing in the mountains. Follow him on Twitter @lukeclum