Student Designer Profile Chris Lissaman University of Derby

Christ student designerGraphic Design Student Chris Lissaman got in touch with me after seeing another graphic design student interview I did a while back and asked if he could do the same. I liked his work, so said yes.

1. What is you name and Design Portfolio URL?
Name: Chris Lissaman

2. What you are studying and where?
I’m studying BA(Hons) Graphic Design at the University of Derby, and I’m in my 2nd year.

3. Please could you share some of your favourite pieces of your work and talk me through them?
My projects are all start with a brief, and I research, develop and refine to a final design. The following projects have been set during my 2nd year and range from branding to app design.

Some of my design work:

This is a conceptual direct mail campaign for the children’s wellbeing charity, NSPCC. It was inspired by The Human Printer project, an experiment by QUAD as part of the Format photography festival. I noticed how even the nicest people insult their printer or complain about it despite the work it does and time it saves, and I wanted to highlight that by comparing it to the real abuse children receive.

front cover brochure design

spread 1 brochure design

spread 2 brochure design

spread 3 brochure design

spread 4 brochure design

back cover student brochure design

This self-written brief challenged me to use graphic design to tackle the issue of children not getting outdoors enough. Children are much more likely than previous generations to be inside the house all day, sat in front of screens such as TV, tablets, and smartphones. My idea was to create and app aimed at children that encouraged them not to use it! After educating youngster on healthy ways to live through a quiz format, the app would then pose challenges – such as to not use the app for the weekend – to be rewarded with in-game coins. This incentivised game-play is what I wanted and I’m really pleased with how the characters look!




The photography department at the University approached the graphic designers with a competition brief to design the visual identity for their end of year exhibitions under the name ‘New Light.’ It was mandatory that would be shown in an A5 photography postcard catalogue, which showcases a photo from every student in a publication that can be given to industry professionals, students, and the general public. My approach was to take the recognisable aperture shape and give it a contemporary feel that is clean, professional and eye-catching. I used this same approach for the cover design and continued it across a number of inside pages.

New light logo

New light

4. What are your favourite things about your course?
I’d say my favourite thing is that I enjoy the variety in the briefs we are given. Some of them are very particular and need a set outcome such as the photography catalogue, and some are self-written such as the Sketchimals project which I was free to create anything that met the brief.

5. What are your ambitions for the future?
I’d love to work for a graphic design studio, and I’m heading towards branding and corporate identity as an expertise. I’m getting married next summer so I’m looking to find a job straight away or my wife won’t be happy! It excites me to think I’ll be doing what I love for a living.

6. What other artists, designers or illustrators do you admire?
I’ve come across the design studio Ragged Edge Design, headed up by Max Ottigon, and I’m a big fan of their designs. I think it’s the clean and contemporary style that I aspire to create myself.

7. Do you read any design magazines or blogs that you would recommend to other student designers?

I occasionally buy magazines such as Computer Arts if I think a particular issue will help me get to grips with a new technique, but I mainly stick to flicking through the magazines in the University library – it’s cheaper that way! On Twitter I follow design:related (@designrelated) which often posts links to interesting things in the design world.

10 Of The Most Creative Wine Label Designs

A guest post by Josh, the social media marketing guru at DBP, a printing company specialising in banners, stickers and labels based in the UK.

There must be thousands of varieties of wine and usually, when you’re looking down the aisles at the supermarket, very few of the labels really stand out. They’re usually quite generic and uninspiring.

However, there are a handful of wine companies who really go that extra mile when it comes to designing and printing labels for their bottles. Here are some of those more creative examples for your inspiration.

1 Oggau Estate

Oggau Estate is one of the most well known wineries in Austria and it’s easy to see why. At Oggau estate, they don’t just make wine, but also add a huge amount of personality to their labels by adding a different character for each bottle. According to Oggau Estate, each character is based on a certain family member (e.g. children, grandparents etc).

Source: Oggau Estate

2  /M/A/S/H


This minimal, yet hugely creative design from the team at /M/A/S/H is named “Return of the Living Red” and it’s easy to see why. Although it might appear quite minimal, the blood-like seal over the cork combined with the attached envelope is all it needs. The envelope contains details about the wine inside the bottle as well as a horror story.

Source: /M/A/S/H

3 – Matsu


Matsu are creators of fine, organic wine and their label designs are certainly creative. There are three designs for each of the three different wines produced by Matsu and the labels each feature a family member (grandfather, father and grandson), portraying the history of the company and its family values without a single word.

Source: Matsu

4 – Logan Weemala

Logan Weemala is an Australian winery based in the Weemala region and their labels have been designed to represent the region where the grapes are grown. Each of the birds on the five variants of wine are common in the area and therefore, portray the history of the wine in a minimalistic, beautiful style.

Source: Logan Weemala

5 – Segreto


These beautiful looking wine bottles are the result of an anniversary label design for the Segreto company. The bottles were very limited in their production but if you were lucky enough to purchase three of them, you can pair them together spell out the name of the company (as pictured). Such a beautiful design.

Source: Segreto

6 – Boarding Pass Shiraz


Many people indulge in a bottle of wine during a long flight and this exceptionally creative label design makes that experience even more fun. The wine label is essentially designed in the style of a boarding pass with essential boarding information replaced with wine information. It looks great and no doubt goes down well onboard.

Source: Boarding Pass Shiraz

7 – Delhaize


These wine labels were produced by a Bulgarian supermarket and were created to reflect the wines country of origin. Corks were used as part of each design and decorated accordingly to represent the various countries with a recognisable icon. For example, South African wine features a cork decorated like an elephant.

Source: Delhaize

8 – B Frank Wine


This label is only half designed for you; you have to do the other half yourself. B Frank Wine allows you to fill in the label yourself and let your co-drinker know why you’re drinking with them. For example, “I’m only drinking with you because…I’m about to fire you and you don’t know it yet”. The design is minimal and makes drinking a great wine even more fun!

Source: B Frank Wine

9 – Lazarus Braille Wine


Although this design might look like nonsense to most people, those that can read Braille will have absolutely no trouble understanding it. The label is printing almost entirely in Braille (although there is an English description near the bottom of the bottle) and although it might look quite mysterious and strange, the design is cool and certainly stands out from the crowd.

Source: Lazarus Wine

10 – TwentyFour


The label for TwentyFour was created by artist, Ben Schiller. Ben is known for creating interesting designs from regular objects and in this case, it’s rubber bands. The result is a minimal, cool looking label that is certainly one of the more creative out there. The name TwentyFour is derived from the circumference of the bottle at exactly 24cm.

Source: Ben Schiller

Author Bio: Josh is the social media marketing guru at DBP, a printing company specialising in banners, stickers and labels based in the UK.

What Makes Your Designs Unique?

A guest post by Brian Morris, who writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog.

orange and lemons be unique

Every business and every individual employee has a unique selling point. Do you know what yours is? If not, it’s time determine exactly what is unique about your designs.

Why do I need a unique selling point?

USP unique selling pointIf you’re a freelance designer, a unique selling point differentiates you from the competition. The same applies to designers employed by design firms or agencies. If you want to get the best clients or land the best jobs and promotions, you need to be able to demonstrate how you are better than your competitors, whether they’re other freelancers, design firms or even fellow employees.

What are good unique selling points?

There are several ways you can differentiate yourself in the design world.  Those include price, style, speed, experience and result-generation. Let’s examine how you might position your designs for each.


I recommend asking a fair rate or wage for your services – but never a low rate. If you want to be the cheapest designer around, you’ll get plenty of work and plenty of headaches to go with it. You’ll be overworked and underpaid, and nobody wants to go that route.


Style is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself. A lot of designers have great design skills, but many never develop their own style. While focusing on a certain style might preclude you from certain clients and employers, it will also make you more desirable to others. Being an expert – or even an originator – of a certain design style will make you in higher demand, which in turn will allow you to charge more.


Some clients value speed above all else. While it’s fair to say you should deliver designs by deadline, speed is similar to price in terms of workload.  If all you have to offer is speed, all you’ll get are jobs that value quantity over quality; that is to say, low-paying jobs.


It’s good to have experience, and you can use your experience as a springboard to promote other unique selling points. But experience alone isn’t necessarily the best selling point, given that a relatively new designer might be capable of matching your skills, strategies and style.


Clients love “big picture” designers who understand how their designs motivate customers to take action. When you can demonstrate diligence toward client goals, and that your designs work toward those ends, you can become a highly desirable graphic designer. Knowing, for example, what type of “buy now” buttons get the most clicks will make you a valued component to profit-savvy clients.

So, how are your designs unique?  Do you have a unique style? Do you know how to get results?  Those are the two best selling points.  Always consider how your contributions fit into your clients’ or employers’ overall goals; doing so will help you better position yourself as the most qualified designer to help them achieve those goals.

Break down your unique selling points: Are you an expert in designing landing pages for conversions, designing user-friendly interfaces, designing outdoor stickers for brand impact, designing  direct-mail response postcards, or designing minimalist websites?  Whatever it is that sets you apart from your competition is your unique selling point. Focus your own marketing strategy on promoting your USP, and you’ll get higher-paying – and more rewarding – jobs.

Author’s Bio: Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog.  PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter  @PsPrint and Facebook.

5 Tips For Developing A High Converting Design

A guest post by Luke Clum

Understanding what your niche audience wants from your ecommerce business plays a big part in enabling conversions. But a highly usable and intuitive design is what drives conversion rates to their potential. Apply these tips to your ecommerce site to improve your conversion rate.

1 – Improve your speed

A web page that loads quickly (1-3 seconds) makes a much better impression of reliability and professionalism than slower sites do. Users want results fast, and if any part of your site loads slowly, they have more time to reconsider their purchase and abandon the page. Keep in mind that 25% of users abandon a page after just 4 seconds.

Site speed also improves search rankings, which directs more traffic to your site. A higher priority in search result ranking instills an image of legitimacy in the minds of online shoppers. And the more people that visit your site, the more conversions will be completed. To start, check how quickly your site loads with a site speed tester, and then decide if you need to make any larger steps.

2 – Make clear calls to action

In order for users to convert, the purpose of your site should be very clear. You can describe your product with a combination of images, videos, headlines and copy. But to indicate exactly what users are meant to do with your product, you need concise calls to action. These are most often designed in the form of buttons or forms. They should stand out from the rest of the elements on the page and have actionable copy to describe exactly what they do.

threadless web design

Threadless immediately encourages the user to take action.

3 – Create a good overall user experience

Usability is a characteristic that should be applied to every part of your online store. From navigation to the checkout process, make every step as simple as possible. Items should be easy to find, buttons clickable, and minimal steps should make up the purchasing process. If customers can easily enter your site, find what they want and check out quickly and securely, they’re sure to leave happy.

4 – Build trust

Visitors are more likely to convert into customers if there are marks on your site that communicate its trustworthiness. Create a good returns policy and display your SSL certificate during the checkout process so that customers know that your business will protect their personal information. Previous customer testimonials also build confidence in potential customers for their buying decisions.

Amazon Website

Amazon is known for its transparency and reliability because each item has customer ratings and reviews.

5 – Be Consistent

An important contributor to usability is consistency throughout your site. This means that it should be the same style of interactive elements like buttons or links, a coherent visual design and steady loading times. The same care you put into the design of your home page should be applied to product pages, because that’s where most browsing time is spent.

Free People Website design

Free People has a very recognizable visual identity and consistent usability throughout its site.

Use these tips to increase the conversion rate of your web design, and make use of this ecommerce platform webinar for more conversion best practices.

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

2013 Tax facts – What Should Freelance Designers be Aware of?

A guest post by Mark James who currently works in-house for small business accountants Crunch

small business tax
Photo credit: Alan Cleaver

As I wrote a few months back, tax is taxing, mainly as it’s so tricky to keep track of, government after government fiddling with legislation. HMRC aren’t too helpful either, continually complicating matters by ushering in new schemes.

This year’s no different and it promises to be one of the most tumultuous on the tax front. Come April 6th, swathes of changes are set to be unfurled and they could have varying implications for the freelance designer, impacting upon their earnings and the way they do their accounting.

What then, should the freelance designer look out for and what will they have to do to comply?

Firstly,  get to grips with Real Time Information (RTI)

Something that might have accounting implications is the introduction of RTI, which will only affect freelance designers running a PAYE scheme. Generally, that’s limited company freelancers rather than sole traders.

Regardless of your business structure though, just bear in mind that if you’re operating PAYE you will need to comply with RTI.

So what exactly is it? Well at its crux, RTI is a new scheme built to streamline the flow of payroll information between employers and HMRC, designed to ensure that the payroll information HMRC holds for your company is as up-to-date as possible.

This will be achieved by getting companies to submit records on or before every payday instead of once a year. So for those operating PAYE this means that every time you draw a salary you must notify HMRC, either through a piece of compliant payroll software or by using HMRC’s Basic PAYE tools.

If you’ve got an accountant, have a chat with them to ensure that either they’ve got – or can at least point you towards – the appropriate payroll software. That way you’ll avoid any nasty fines, as well as HMRC’s clunky software.

Legislate for the rate and threshold changes

Every April 6th ushers in a few rate and threshold changes, and this year, there’s more than most. Amongst those most likely to impact upon freelance designers are…

  • a rise in the Personal Allowance to £9,440
  • a drop in the Higher Rate threshold to £32,010
  • and a lowering of the Additional Rate from 50% to 45%

These will have varying implications depending on your financial position, so start by examining that and then try to determine how the above might impact upon you.

Keep in mind Universal Credit

The introduction of the Universal Credit is something that’s worth bearing in mind if you receive Income Support, Working Tax Credits or Child Tax Credits. If this is you, then your payments will be changing in line with its arrival.

The usual parliamentary toing and froing makes it hard to decipher whether its introduction is a good or a bad thing, but you can get a basic overview of just what this new piece of legislation means here.

Hopefully that was all pretty clear. Of 2013’s incoming legislation, these changes are likely to affect freelance designers the most. Make sure you’ve taken the right precautions to avoid any fines and that you take the right steps to achieve optimum tax-efficiency…2013 might then be a little more profitable!

A Finance and Business Writer, Mark James currently works in-house for small business accountants Crunch. You can find him on Twitter @MarkJames891.

10 Marvelously Modern Free Fonts for Graphic Design

A guest post by Brian Morris who writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog.

Your choice of font can make or break your design. A great font helps the rest of your design set a mood, elicit emotion, and motivate action; while a poor font distracts from your message and can ruin your entire design. If you’re creating a design that has a decidedly modern tone, the following 10 fonts can usher your artwork into modernity marvelously. Best of all, each modern font listed here is free to download!

1. Sansation

This versatile font can be used for headlines, subheads, and even body copy on both print and digital media.


2. Magalopolis

Your poster can’t be ignored when you use this bold, heavy, and exciting font.


3. Quicksand

Quicksand is clean and modern, with evident rounding on heavier weights, which means it will work well in print and digital designs, either as a headline or body copy.


4. Carbon

Want to add a splash of elegance to big, bold headlines? Carbon is the solution. It’s perfect for large web sales headers!


5. Tondu Beta

If you’re seeking a bold, modern alternative to Helvetica, Tondu Beta is a great option that combines classic elements with modern touches.


6. FoglihtenNo04

Choose FoglihtenNo04 for style; it’s perfect for event announcements, greeting cards, and posters that must include a certain level of sophistication without sacrificing the fun factor.


7. Ice Cream Soda

Ice cream soda combines a retro feel with modern touches and is distinctive enough to be used as part of a brand logo.


8. Wireframe

Any web designer will understand the basis for this font, but its use isn’t limited to designs that feature the web. Clean, modern, and bold, the Wireframe font would make a great headline typeface, but should be avoided for body copy.


9. Joe Hand 2

Many designs incorporate handwritten fonts to convey a sense of a personal touch. Joe Hand 2 is a perfect font for adding those personal accents to your websites, brochures, and even business cards.


10. Pincoya Black

Pincoya Black is a fun, bold font that could be used for poster and web-based headlines. It’s attention-getting and energetic, memorable and entertaining.


Have you used these fonts in any of your designs? If so, share them with us in the comments below! We’d love to see how you applied styles to modern fonts in your own graphic designs.

Author’s Bio: Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint and Facebook.