Suffolk Festival of Ideas is looking for your stories.

suffolk ideas, graphic designer freelance

For the second year running, the Suffolk Festival of Ideas is seeking stories for the community journal writing project.

When I attended the Ivy Joan Market a few weeks ago, I met printmaking wizard James Treadaway who was handing out the journals.

Beautifully handcrafted, and in an edition of only 100 (probably due to the ridiculous amount of thumb numbing time it must have taken to hand stitch the binding!), the journals have been distributed across Bury St Edmunds for people to tell a true story in words, pictures or photographs, about their life or where they live. The returned journals will then become part of a public exhibition in October.

What a wonderful idea! Just imagine the wide range of stories that could be told, the variety of methods and tones they will be told in, and the way that people will (or could) connect by sharing. The journals are works of art in themselves, with a hand screened logo in green on the cover, and a vellum sheet of instructions as the first page.

Oh and I just the ‘I-Deer’ – genius!

For more information about this festival, visit

Now I just have to think of a story of my own….

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Why Design is Like Accounting

graphic design, more than meets the eye

My wife is a very patient woman. At the end of my work day I love to show her what I’ve done that day. Yes, I still like Show and Tell.

It might be a new blog post, or a logo design, or a motion graphics video with a new soundtrack. Whatever it is, I like to have something at the end of the day to say I’ve been here. It’s a good feeling.

No Accounting For Taste

Yesterday, at the end of a long work day, my wife decided to do the same. She’s an accountant and showed me a sheet of columns, numbers and abbreviated terms, neatly arranged with a conclusive double underlined figure at the bottom. Very impressive.

Actually, I don’t really know if it’s impressive or not because my understanding of accounting is somewhat limited, despite having taken an accounting course in college. It’s just rows of numbers to me.

For all intents and purposes, that sheet of figures could very easily be reproduced by anyone with a spreadsheet program and ten minutes of free time. Type in the numbers, make them add up (you don’t have to use the formula function if you know what the numbers are meant to be) and make sure they line up properly. Done! But I know that is not really the case. There is a lot of work – and years of training and experience –  involved in producing a finance report that goes far beyond what appears on that one final sheet of paper.

Don’t Judge a Lever Arch File by Its Cover

The work I produce can be seen in exactly the same way. Most logos could be reproduced in a matter of minutes. A brochure could be produced very quickly, once you know the layout. Even photographs only take a split second to reproduce. If you look hard enough, you could find online applications to produce most things quickly and cheaply (and they will look like they’ve been done cheaply, too).

It’s the old “my kid could have done that” comments in a modern art gallery. Yes, you (or your children) could reproduce a Mark Rothko, Agnes Martin or Jackson Pollock with a minimum of technical skill.

The difference between an end result that a professional can produce and one that anyone else can produce, is getting to the right answer and avoiding all the wrong ones.

In the case of the balance sheet an accountant produces, it’s not a load of numbers typed into boxes. The real work is knowing where to get the numbers from, what they mean and where to put them.

What Really Goes On

If graphic design ever looks easy, it has achieved its purpose. What you don’t see is the process of understanding the message and the target audience, then creating something that can communicate that message in a way that the audience will understand. You also won’t see all the failed solutions, the sketched ideas and thoughts that didn’t make the final cut.

Design is a constant filtering of the wrong answers, avoiding clichés, double checking of alternate meanings and reading between the lines to make sure communication is clear and concise.

And I’m sure the same goes for your job. Whether you are a chef, recording engineer or roofer, the end result usually looks simple to the untrained eye.

If they only knew!