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The

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Ahmad

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I dedicate this book to Dad. He hates design.


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Introduction - Words of a tired man - P. 1-2 Chapter one - Birth of an idea - P. 4-22 Chapter two - The master plan P. 24-34 Chapter three - An introduction into graphic design P. 36-60 Chapter four - The school of graphic design P. 62-74 Chapter five - Outcomes of the newly born - P. 76-96 Chapter six - Judgement - P. 98-99

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“Design is about drawing and stuff” - Umair Ali


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I love what I do. I think design is powerful. It can instigate real change. While giant corporations yield its power on a daily basis it seems the people in my life have no idea what it is capable of ... or what it is.

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“To form a design collective that consists entirely of people who have NO design background. I will then set them a series of small workshops and projects so that they develop a basic understanding of how design works. After a few lessons I will set them the final task of setting themselves, and completing, a social design project”.

I am tired of hearing statements such as “design is about drawing and stuff”. It’s not. It really isn’t.

Why?

My own brother said that.

So they fucking understand!

I have tried, many times, to verbally explain to people what graphic design actually is. To no avail.

Who will be in the unlikely collective? My family.

No more. I am going to use this opportunity, the FINAL MAJOR PROJECT, to try and do something about it. The idea is -

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BIRTH OF

“I CAN’T TAKE IT NO MORE”. That’s what I would tell a shrink, if indeed I had a shrink. She would reply with “what can’t you take anymore?”.

about. I understand the importance of graphic design, I just want them to understand too and so came the BIRTH OF AN IDEA, an IDEA that would finally help them understand.

Her name is Elizabeth, of course it is important to note that she is not real, I made her up. I would tell Elizabeth that I am fucking sick of people degrading what I do - sure most of the time it’s all unintentional but it still hurts especially as these are people I care

THE UNLIKELY COLLECTIVE WAS BORN. Well just the idea any way.

AN IDEA

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Oh the things I do for graphic design. To help you, the audience, understand why am embarking on this journey I asked my own mother “what is graphic design?� Before reading on please note, she is a very intelligent woman, she is very capable. This answer is not a reflection of her intelligence.

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“I would describe graphic design as [long pause] ... things you can design. Wait, a lot of things can be graphic design because you use a lot computer things? Oh God ... Can I Google it? Wait don’t write it, don’t make me look silly!”

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If I had been studying to be a lawyer or an accountant I am sure that my mother would be able to answer the question “mum what is law/ accounting?”. The reality is awfully different, I am not studying either of them fucking life draining subjects.

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could make for one awfully awkward home but we don’t live together! My last months with him was during my foundation year at LCC (London College of Communication, University of the Arts) and home had become a battlefield where two minds, two ideals, two ways of thinking would clash, just as the titans did in various Hollywood blockbusters.

Brace yourself, I am going to get rather intimate with you. I am using this opportunity, the final major project, to do something quite personal, but not pointless. You may have noticed a small dedication I left to my father (just before the contents page). Now it may appear rather comical but behind it is real emotion.

He did not like the fact that I was studying graphic design. Things got so bad that at the end of my foundation year I chose not to pursue graphic design in higher education. Soon after we left him and I was left in limbo, limbo you ask? It was a gap year in which I had no job,

There is no need for exact details, but me and him don’t get along. This

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no money and no idea as to what direction to take in life. I was lost.

Unlike my father, my mother has always supported me no matter what choices I made. Even terrible haircuts.

Then came many depressing months where I did nothing but eat cheap packets of crisps, play video games and watch an endless amount of television.

This isn’t enough for me, the inner child wants more attention. Daddy issues I guess. I want her to understand what I do, appreciate it and be able to tell others.

Things would have continued this way had I not found my digital media sketchbook from my college days. I was proud of that book, I remember being told it got the highest grade ever achieved in that subject. It brought back feelings. I wanted to design again and so a week before universities would stop accepting applications, I applied for graphic design and got into in. Now here I am at the end of my third year.

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My siblings, love them too. All five of them. Being the oldest of the bunch I would like to think they look up to me. The fact that none of them really know what it is I do exactly in university does not help the cause. For example, on the page before my introduction is a quote from my 17 year old brother. When I asked him what graphic design was he responded with the answer “graphic design is about drawing and stuff”. Mind you he is an A/B grade A-Level student. This is it. This is why I have to do this project. I understand the value of graphic design. Especially when we are at an age dominated by technology and information. What I do has the power to morph large sets of data into

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understandable information. That’s just one example but isn’t it amazing? Of course I don’t expect the rest of my family to share the exact same enthusiasm I have to design. That is not my intention. As mentioned before it is all about making them understand, at the most basic level. Just so they know what it is I do. Dam it I’m not even good at drawing yet it seems to be attributed to what I do. What people think I do can more be related to fine Art but even in that context the answers I get are still shallow. This needs to change. Now, they may not understand what Graphic Design is but they sure can be creative. This is exactly why I feel this project is achievable.

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“Let me show you what they got”


SANAH ALI

My sister. She loves to draw and paint pictures of nature. Mainly trees. She has never taken up art apart from when it was manditory in secondary school. All this comes from her own accord.

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IQRA & AQSA

My baby sisters. They LOVE to draw and paint and make. To show off their skills I asked them to draw on the spot to see what they could come up with. Aww.

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UMAIR ALI If you want something cut, fixed, folded or made, he is your guy. Enjoys projects too, offers great support. Has been directly involved with 4 university projects. Still doesn’t understand them but certainly adds value.

ASMA ALI Never really enjoyed technical work but has always been keen on doing sketchbook work. She finds it therapeutic I think. Pop on some music, have some good conversations and she’ll happily sit there, sometimes for hours just cutting, sticking and colouring. She is also a make-up fanatic. In her mind it is an artform, a way of expressing her self.

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Blankets. Yes, blankets. She knits them. Not just plain ones. She makes them for the family. All kinds of patterns and colours. They get sent to Ireland so none are available at this time. No pictures available.

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SUMMARY The unlikely collective will be my family.

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end of the project they gain a fair amount of knowledge and insight into what graphic design actually is and not leave none the wiser, or worse, even more confused. I also have to think about how the lessons/ task will then lead onto real projects that have meaning. It is important for them to understand the value of design. I have to make sure they realise that the main difference between art and graphic design is purpose.

Plan

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Master

You now know why I am doing what I’m doing, it’s time to explain how. I have identified the fact that my family does have creative elements to it. I have to think about the best ways of teaching them basic elements of design and make the lessons/ tasks interesting and engaging. How I deliver this project is important. If I fail, the project will not work. It could end up doing the exact opposite of what I set out to do. I have to make sure that by the


I hope that in the end my family will: - understand what graphic design is - be able give examples as to what qualifies as graphic design - understand (at a basic level) the use of graphic design - be able to explain to others what graphic design is - gain some level of appreciation for graphic design - be able to relate to what I do

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N O I T C A


To achieve this I have too: - create an introduction to graphic design - devise a series of short workshops/projects that will help build an understanding of graphic design and make my family aware of its basic principles - make sure all tasks lead to actual projects that encourage a positive social element of graphic design - ensure that I too know what graphic design is well enough to try and tell others what it is

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N A L P


Here are some basic principles of graphic design I wish to try and teach my family. Nothing too extensive. Each lesson will look to provide a very basic understanding of the following topics: - creative thinking (ideas) - research Skills - layout - white Space - basic Adobe Suite skills - typography

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Time to test my self. No pressure then. -Ahmad Ali


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Before I can go ahead and start teaching other people the meaning of graphic design and its basic principles, I have to first make sure that I actually know the meaning myself. Throughout my 3 years at university it is a question I have struggled to answer myself. My understanding of it seems to change the more time I spend doing projects. When I first started the course I genuinely believed it was all about Photoshop and other design based programs. It’s why I (to an extent) understand why people are so clueless as to what it actually is. If I go ahead without first knowing what it is myself, the project can end up being a disaster. Earlier I mentioned the importance of delivering well thought out lessons/projects. In

the same way not understanding the meaning of graphic design can lead the participants of this project astray and the project will end up doing the exact opposite of what I intended it to do. The fear for me isn’t exactly not knowing what it is but rather being able to tell others what it is in a manner that is both clear and concise. This is paramount.

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What does graphic design consist of? What kinds of things can be classified as graphic design? Here is are things that come to mind. Do note that graphic design is a vast subject, NOT everything will be covered.

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Google

(google.co.uk)

Search: G

Web searches for definition of Graphic Design

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combining magazines,

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n pictures books.

Link (https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Define+graph ic+design&aq=f&oq=Define+graphic+design&aqs=chro m e . 0 . 5 7 j 0 l 3 j 6 2 l 2 . 8 9 11 j 0 & s o u r c e i d = c h r o m e & i e = U T F - 8 ) Wikipedia

(wikipedia.org)

Graphic design is a creative process, one most often involving a client and a designer, and traditionally completed in conjunction with producers of form (printers, sign makers, etc.). In the 21st century, however, graphic design may be applied directly to websites, eliminating the need for an intermediary. Graphic design is undertaken to convey a specific message (or messages) to a targeted audience, usually from the client, known as the ‘brief’. The term “graphic design” can also refer to a number of artistic and professional disciplines that focus on visual communication and presentation. Link

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphic_design_)

Answers

(answers.com)

n . The practice or profession of designing print or electronic forms of visual information, as for an advertisement, publication, or website. Link

(http://www.answers.com/topic/graphic-design#ixzz2RjSjsDFr)

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Graphic Design is design with purpose. A visual outcome to a set problem or brief. - Ahmad Ali


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Being able to make a clear distinction between graphic design and art is extremely important when trying to explain to both myself and others what graphic design is. In fact it is my belief that the reason people find it hard to justify accepting graphic design as a legitimate career choice is its misconception of being “art�. It’s just like someone trying to tell you they want to be a musician. Everybody loves the people who have made it, but pity those who try to make it. For me, purpose is the clear distinction between the two. Sure art can have a purpose or meaning behind it but at its core is the importance of aesthetics, where as with graphic design, its main function is to fulfil the purpose it is being created for. Whether that be solving

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a visual problem or completing a brief for a client or even yourself. The fact that it is driven by purpose, by its very nature makes it a practice that has a real tangible need. Art is important, very important, but it is not a necessity. Even purely from a business perspective, graphic design can add real value. Particularly during these troubling times, brand recognition and advertising have never been more important.

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SUMMARY For them to know, I must know

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An introduction

must be accurate, concise and easy to both understand and digest. A set of very simple tasks will help achieve this. This part of the project will also help build skills such as research and analysis. To develop a fair understanding it is important, as well as receiving information from me, that they try to discover the answer for themselves too.

to

This is it. The start of the learning process. It is very important to start right. This will be the more theoretical side to the project where the collective get to discover what graphic design is. They will take what they have learnt in this part to aid them in a series of set tasks in the coming part of the project. As mentioned before, the intention is to give them a very basic understanding. It took me nearly three years to develop a fair understanding and so my delivery of information

Graphic Design

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Tasks 1&2 - Provide basic information about core elements of Graphic Design. - Encourage use of primary research and analytical skills. - Outcomes require summarised information, this encourages conversation amongst the group.

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Notes - Each task sheet is printed on good quality paper to signify importance and add value to the task. - Instructions are clear and simple. - These tasks (1&2) are designed to aid only, not to be used on their own. Must be used as teaching aid. - Tasks are supervised. - These are not to be completed individually, group work is encouraged to simulate a professional working environment. - Tasks require the collective to conduct their own research and formulate their own opinions. - Pictures are not taken during teaching period as cameras can throw people off and does not allow people to work in comfort. All finished out comes will be documented.

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TASK 1 What is Graphic Design? Conduct your own research using the internet and find the definition of “graphic design�. Then use the information gathered to form your own explanation.

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Task One What is Graphic Design? Conduct your own research using the internet and find the definition of “Graphic Design�. Then use the information gathered to form your own explanation.

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State your answer bellow.

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Task summary (1) As a group this is the definition for graphic design they come up with after secondary research on the subject. “Visual outcomes from the use of various mediums to complete briefs set either by clients ir yourself� - The unlikely collective

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Task (1) feedback - By Sanah Ali “When someone tells you what graphic design is all your hear is words, all I had to do was Google it, read a little and no, I think, I get it, yeah I think it was a good little project�

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TASK 2 What graphic design consists of Find the definitions for the following words. The internet may be used but any direct quotes must summed up in your own words.

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Task Two What Graphic Design consists of Find the definitions for the following words. The internet may be used but any direct quotes must summed up in your own words. Enter your answers in the space provided below.

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Typography -

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Print making -

Grid systems -

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INFORMATION PACK A5 cards Simple cards providing basic information about Graphic Design. The idea to show them how them how design can help break down information and make it appealing. They also look nice,

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The main difference (in my eyes) between Graphic Design and Art is purpose. Of course Art can have meaning but it’s meaning is usually debatable. With Graphic Design it’s purpose is usually clear.

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the placement of these letters is typography please turn over

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All the green parts on the page is negative space

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The main purpose for these cards is not to give the intended recipient as much information as possible but rather show them examples of good (in my opinion) design and how it can be used as an effective delivery system. The quality of these cards are very high, this is so members of my family would want to keep these cards as a reminder of the project and what they learnt so that the project can have some longevity. I even made sure that the paper used to make these cards felt different to

conventional paper to further the appeal of these cards. The paper used was from GFSmith. As a sub topic I was able to tell the collective about paper and how it could play an important part in the design process. It taught them about the intelligence of good design and how intelligence is required in the planning stages to ensure a good finish.

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The other thing about the cards was that they were based on the questions set to the collective on task two (refer to page 46). This gave them visual representations of the things they just learnt. All this was a two part step to ensure the collective actually understood the things I was telling them. I didn’t just want to show them examples of designs and different sub topics of it but rather explain it first so they have an idea, then show them so ensure they completely understand what it is

they are looking at. It also gives them a reference point. Now when they see examples of these design principles in the real world they can relate to what they know and it all becomes clearer to them.

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Is the collective now full of extremely knowledgeable graphic designers? Of course not, but now they do have a very basic understanding of the craft. Enough understanding to appreciate what I do. Enough understanding to be able to talk to me about my work and actually understand the integlince that goes into good design. Remember the point of this project was not too create university proffesors but rather help those closest to me understand what I do.

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“It’s actually quite clever. I think my idea of Graphic Design came about watching Ahmad do sketchbook work, he explained the difference to me. It’s not all about drawing.”

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SUMMARY I am no longer the boy who draws, terribly.

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The school

have been trying to tell them. In a way the following set of tasks will indicate to me the effectiveness of the project. If they cant apply them self’s then I have so far failed. I hope that is not the case. Let’s see what they got.

of

It is time for them to take what little knowledge they have and through set tasks create their own work in the hope that they are able to apply the knowledge they have gained. Knowing is not enough. I want them to get involved. Not on a permanent basis or anything like that but I would love to know the option is there. Not only that, giving them a chance to apply the knowledge I have gifted them with ensures that the truly understand what I

Graphic Design

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Strokes, different patterns, different sizes

Look, this is the text tool, bla bla bla bla bla bla. This is the text tool

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It was time to teach them very basic InDesign skills (Adobe software). Why InDesign? Because it gives them a chance to explore their new findings. The program lends it’s self to layout, type etc. The plan is to show them how to do simple tasks then give them an opportunity to create design using their new skill set. Above are a few examples of what I taught them.

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THIS ISOLATED TEXT HERE SHOWS AN EXAMPLE OF COLOUR CHANGE USING THE SWATCHES PANEL Converting shapes

FAIRLY COMPLICATED STUFF

This was once a square, it is now a polygon

Oh

ALSO SHOWS THE CHANGING OF FONT

loo

Transformation options

k, This is a rotation rot ati on

Adding arrow points to strokes At both ends of the line

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Ahmad is fat, by Sanah & Umair

Ahmad is fat

like this

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really fat

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Is it a brilliant piece of design? Absolutely not. No way. But look how far they have come. It’s amazing. A few days ago they thought what I did was nothing short of doodling. Badly. Now they are demonstrating basic principles of Design. Such as, negative space, layout, colour

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and choice of type. Yeah it’s kind of insulting, but I’m proud of them. They have listened to what I have been saying, paying attention to the set tasks and having fun doing it all. To the outside world it may not much to go on but to me this is progress. Let’s hope the progress continues.

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Photography challenge Take as many pictures of cans as you can in my room. The pctures must be clear. Only one picture per can found. Do note - I expected more cans, but hey, the pictures come out good.

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There was bo training for this one. Umair had control of the camera. He has had experience in the past helping me make videos. Yes it could be argued that the image quality could be down to the camera but I love the considered angles and perspectives. Clear thought has gone into each shot. I like that.

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Type challenge Make the following sentence look better “typographically�

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

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Idea by Asma Ali. They did not know how to do it and so I showed them how to make the word go higher.

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more any time soon. I’m just glad they have a better understanding of my chosen field. I love what I do, and I love that the people closest to me can now appreciate that fact.

Yes! I am very happy with that result. It is a bust time for people. Mum is going back to college, Sanah and Umair both have exams and Asma works full time. I wanted to be as honest as I can. Not much work is here but it’s what I could manage and I’m happy with what I have. There are clear indications that’s the project is working. They actually understand what it is I do and now for the first time they have tried it out. I don’t care wether they choose to do any

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SUMMARY They told me I’m fat through graphics and visuals

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Outcomes of

are all willing. I just have to make sure that I use/ plan the little time I have with them effectively to ensure the project has a lasting effect. So far so good. Let’s hope things carry on this way.

the

This is their time, we will all come together and think of our own projects that can help better our family or living experience. Now I’m not saying my family is one in need of help, generally speaking we are quite a happy bunch but like anything in life, improvements can be made. This is my last chance to make a statement, well in the project anyway. I understand the they, the collective are very busy during this moment and time but they

newly born

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What problems/ challenges do we face? How can design be used to solve them? To the right is a list we come up with as a collective. As a family.

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talk

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We decided to go with the following three, Lack of talking, WET PAINT & homework/ reward systern, because ... We felt that those three options where achievable and could add genuine value to both this project and our family life. Every body is awfuly busy. These projects are shprt enough to entice participation but still complex enough to encourage both thought and change. Unlike the other tasks/ challenges, I will be taking part in these short projects. It’s all about coming together and sharing an experience.

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Ideas We don’t talk Everybody uses the fridge. We already leave messages on there. The idea is to create posters/ cards the will encourage talk amongst the family, on the fridge. Wet Paint It is currently painting season. The weather is kind of getting better, it’s just that time. Unfortunately we keep fucking toughing it, posters with warning signs will resolve this God awful problem. Home work & rewards The little buggers, they are very good at homework but like most kids could be a lot better. We’ll add some motivational factors onto a page. That sould do the trick.

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We all use it. Every single day. Multiple times a day. Leave messages on it. From magnets to drawings to little hand written messages. The perfect place to try and get the family to engage with one another. Not saying that we are a dysfunctional family or anything. It’s just being so busy and involved with our personal lives sometimes we just don’t get to see each other. This would be a way of talking, laughing, sharing in our own time. A little reminder that we all still exist.

PROJECT

ONE

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Hello “Enter

topic

Space to write down thoughts based on set topic

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here�


At the top is a nice greeting chosen by Umair. He took the font from movie titles such as “Superbad”. It also reminds him of the “hello my name is” cards. Bellow goes the chosen topic. The topic will change every week. Once it has completed it’s 7 day life cycle it will be kept. This way we can build a collection of thoughts to look back at. The rest of the space is there to be written/ drawn on.

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For the first topic we decided to go with “favorite movie quotes�. As a family we love watching movies. We love quoting movies. We always relate real situation to moments in some of our favorite movies. A nice and simple way to get this project started.

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From Monday to Friday Iqra & Aqsa are expected to complete some homework every night. Now sometimes, as with most children this can be a struggle. Recently they have both received money boxes to start their own little savings for toys they have in mind. The love it. Since the intro duction of the money box they have behaved better and followed instructions more eagerly in the hope for some money. We decided to channel this want into their homework. Currently we all give them a £1 a week. Thats £5 a week. They will get 20 Pence for each day they complete their homework. If they comply, that’s an extra pound a week.

PROJECT

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The idea is simple. Each day they complete their homework, without a fuss, they cross out a coin and at they end of the week they get given the amount they crossed of to put into their box. It is given at the end so they can visualise their progress. Asma picked out the font from the font list. It reminded her of the ‘Google Chrome� exhibition in the Science Museum. Both Iqra & Aqsa have been there.

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It is that time of year. The weather is improving, the days are getting longer, perfect time to paint. Unfortunately we have gotten none the wiser as the seasons have passed. We forget that bits if the house have been painted, despite the strong smell and end up touching it. Ruining both our clothes and the finished job. This is particularly true for the two little ones, although it has to be said, the adults are no better. A simple piece of design to solve a simple problem.

PROJECT

THREE

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It may appear to be a basic idea but it is one I needed desperately for this project. It is quick, simple easy to do but more importantly, it’s practical. The idea will work. This demonstrates perfectly how design based solutions can solve basic everyday problems. I wanted to make design relatable. This project was perfect.

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much friendlier. I am quite proud of them. They seemed to know what they were talking about and showed genuine enthusiasm. Just wish we could have done more. Oh well,

Do I wish I had more time to do more projects and get more feedback? Absolutely. But I had to make do with what little time I had. Between my own job and their own lives time was of the essence but I feel I did achieve what I set out to do. I wanted to demonstrate to them the practicality of design. How it can solve problems. Every project was made with them. The had the ideas, I helped create them. It was a bit like a client/ designer relationship. Just

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D around me. Something that required a lot of effort. I was a teacher. My family were my students. The Unlikely collective. Mum, Asma, Sanah, Umair, Iqra, Aqsa and me.

Probably the most important project I have ever done. It was personal. It was about respect. About being acknowledged. About those who are closest to me. I wanted them to know what Graphic Design is. Now they know. Don’t just take my word for it. This book is the evidence, the final outcome. Do I wish there was more pictures of us doing work? Yeah probably, but at the time it wasn’t about the outcome. It was genuinely about changing the mind-set of those

I wish my Dad could have been a part of this. To the right is a poem I wrote for him. The

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Grid systems, kerning & hardship It was 1989, the year I was born, also the year, a fathers dreams for his son were torn. I dreamed of drawing, he dreamed of success, but in his eyes, my perception of success was a mess. From an early age, he knew I would not comply, if I did, my hopes, my dreams, would all be a lie. “Why not Chemistry?” He would say. “Why not Law?”. “I don’t understand the pictures, why on earth do you draw?”. As I grew, so did my ambition. A youth in revolt, I often chanted “fuck tradition”. Then I finally understood, it was not art, but design. Yet in his eyes, I had still crossed the line. A man on a mission, he tried hard to change my mind. Sorry Dad, I love what I do, I love to type, make and bind. I know deep down inside, he only wanted the best for me, I was stubborn though, he would not take hold of my destiny. I am glad I took this journey, I am glad I took this trip, hope one day you’re proud of me, for choosing a life of grid systems, kerning and hardship. - by Ahmad Ali

The unlikely Collective  

A design group made up entirely of people who have no design experience. They are my family

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