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ISSUE 259 November 2016 £6 • US$16.99 printed in the UK


Five challenges that all creative freelancers face, and how to overcome them

THE UK’s TOP 30 design Studios Discover the best agencies in the country this year, as voted by their peers


Our exclusive ISTD typography skills series concludes with a guide to grids


november 2016

Making the cover For the last two years, Computer Arts has celebrated its peer-voted UK Studio Rankings with a specially designed cover, and 2016 is no exception. This issue saw our finishing partner Celloglas offer up an extra-special scratch off latex varnish, which reveals the top 30 studios when removed. The eye-catching cover was designed by Sawdust, a London-based agency that also features in the top 30 studio rankings list. “It was a very tricky brief. Getting all the elements to sit harmoniously was complicated, but we think we’ve cracked it,” says Sawdust’s Rob Gonzalez, adding that the Sawdust team are “a little bit in love” with the finished result. Watch the scratch-off varnish being applied at Celloglas in our making-of video – plus several of our other special covers being finished – at

sawdust Sawdust is the creative partnership of Rob Gonzalez and Jonathan Quainton. The agency has worked with clients such as Coca-Cola, Nike, Honda and Esquire, and its specialisms include bespoke and innovative typography, and brand display typefaces.

2014 RANKINGS Kyle Wilkinson designed this photochromic cover for the first UK Studio Rankings, which revealed the winners when placed in sunlight.

2015 RANKINGS Spanish studio Vasava’s cover was splashed with heat-sensitive ink. The quickest way to see the 30 winning studios was to place the cover on a radiator. c o mputera rts.creati -3-

2016 RANKINGS Grab your spare pennies, as this year’s winners appear when you scratch this cover designed by Sawdust. The agency came 11th in the rankings.


november 2016


Editor’s letter

ben newman

Peer reputation is a tricky thing to quantify, but one thing’s for sure – the top 30 in CA’s third-annual UK Studio Rankings are doing something right. Other such lists judge the calibre of agencies based on factors such as awards won, ignoring talented outfits that don’t enter them, as well as all manner of other factors that make a studio an inspiration to the rest of the industry. As well as some dramatic risers and fallers, it’s rather encouraging to see a fresh bunch of new entries this year, including small, recently-established outfits that are clearly already punching above their weight. Topping 2016’s list is North, also a double trophy winner at our Brand Impact Awards this year – and to tie the two together, partner Stephen Gilmore shares his insights into the branding process in this issue’s Insight section. Unsurprisingly, the uncertainty following the Brexit vote comes through in many of our studios’ responses, and it remains to be seen how the effects will pan out in the longer-term for the design industry here. Over and above our main rankings, we also asked our panel to pick out studios making waves outside of the capital that deserved a special mention, and the strength and diversity of this list should bode well for the future. Our ISTD typography skills series concludes this issue, with a guide to grids. Next month, ISTD passes the baton to D&AD New Blood as we kick off a brand-new series dedicated to career skills for young designers. We also delve into four amazing pieces of self-promo you wish you’d thought of first, and reveal how to master the necessary evil of project management. See you then! nick carson Editor

Ben is a freelance illustrator, who also lectures on illustration at conferences and universities across Europe. On page 26, he argues that sometimes taking ‘wrong directions’ on your career path can contribute more than you think.

gavin ambrose Gavin is a member of the ISTD and a senior lecturer on the BA Graphic Design program at the University of Brighton. On page 90, he explores how grids can enhance your designs, and why breaking the rules is sometimes for the best.

stephen gilmore As partner at North, the top agency in this year’s UK Studio Rankings, Stephen was behind the Brand Impact Awardwinning Co-op rebrand. His essay on page 20 discusses why a brand’s heritage is often as important as its future.

dan capstick Dan’s projects range from experiential film content to television channel ident direction. On page 76, he reveals how he created a range of broadcast and digital graphics to showcase the English Premier League’s new identity.

nicos livesey

Keep in touch with…





c o mputera rts.creati -4-

Nicos is a freelance animation director whose portfolio includes a YouTubethemed music video for comedian Adam Buxton. On page 86, he talks us through how he created a 20-second advert celebrating Juicy Chews.

meet t h e t e am

november 2016

Colophon Editorial

Meet the team Nick Carson


Nick Carson Editor Jo Gulliver Art editor Rosie Hilder Operations editor Peter Gray Video producer

Creative Bloq

Sasha Mcgregor Ad manager



Vivienne Calvert Production controller Mark Constance Production manager

Craig Stewart Editor

Charlotte Lloyd-Williams Campaign manager


Gavin Ambrose, Sara Barnes, Jessica Bateman, Tom Dennis, Ian Evenden, FranklinTill, Stephen Gilmore, Ben Newman, Freddie Öst, Louise Pomeroy, Julia Sagar, Laura Snoad, Ash Thorp, Kai Wood


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Art editor Jo didn’t drink for three whole weeks this month. And then the BIAs happened. She also went to OFFF By Night in Antwerp with Nick, where she survived on a strict diet of bread and beer.


Juliette Winyard Trade marketing manager: 07551 150 984

Dom Carter Staff writer

jo gulliver

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Dan Oliver Global editor-in-chief

Kerrie Hughes Content manager

After Nick’s first year presenting the Brand Impact Awards (BIAs), he consumed a lot of Chinese food and then almost immediately jetted off to Croatia – staying in seven Airbnbs over eight days.

Chris Mitchell Matt Bailey George Lucas Account directors


rosie hilder operations editor

UK readers: 0844 848 2852 Overseas readers: +44 (0)1604 251045 Online enquiries:

Just for the record, it definitely wasn’t Rosie’s idea to order £150 of Chinese food at 2.30am after the BIAs. In other news, Rosie made a clay milk jug at a hen do (not a euphemism) and went to a wedding in a barn.


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Joe McEvoy Managing director, Magazines Matt Pierce Head of content & marketing, Photography, Creative & Design and Games Rodney Dive Group art director, Photography, Creative & Design and Games Sascha Kimmel Marketing director

Contributors peter gray video producer

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Pete was also present at Nick’s late-night dinner after the BIAs. His analysis is that there was way too much food, but both the company and the crispy aromatic duck pancakes were fantastic.

11 November 2016

Want to work for Future? Visit

kai wood

Future is an award-winning international media group and leading digital business. We reach more than 49 million international consumers a month and create world-class content and advertising solutions for passionate consumers online, on tablet and smartphone, and in print.

freelance art editor This month, Kai fulfilled his uncle duties by taking his niece and nephew to see Kubo and the Two Strings, and broke out some classic drum and bass when DJing for a friend’s birthday.

Chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne Non-executive chairman Peter Allen Chief financial officer Penny Ladkin-Brand Tel +44 (0)207 042 4000 (London) Tel +44 (0)1225 442 244 (Bath)

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Production notes printers



t ypefaces

text and cover CMYK, plus pantone 811 FLUORO ORANGE William Gibbons

com putera rts.creati -6-

cover Precision Special Gloss FSC 250gsm P3–74: Ultra Mag Plus Gloss 90gsm P75–98: GraphoInvent 70gsm Trump Gothic West, Akkurat, Simplo, Kondola and Calluna


ISSUE 259 nov ember 20 16




 respect brand heritage North’s Stephen Gilmore shares why the past shouldn’t be neglected


 design matters Is it better to be a competitive or collaborative designer?


 rebrand focus We critique the Universal Studios Hollywood rebrand from three different perspectives


 taking the scenic route Ben Newman argues that taking a non-linear career path might be more useful than you think



 snaskified Snask on why getting others to talk about you is key to your reputation


 design icon Ash Thorp reveals his love for creating alternate worlds using CGI


Trends Food brands are going back to basics with simple packaging and nutrition labels, plus the colour blur trend


my design space The couple behind design studio The Archipelago talk about how they found their pared-back studio space


new ventures Kenzo Mayama Kramarz reveals how his past experiences propelled him to set up his own studio


events We bring you highlights from OFFF by Night in Antwerp, The Brand Impact Awards and Brighton’s Reasons to


 inspiration feed NoPattern describes how he creates his Instagram feed



 premier league broadcast graphics How DixonBaxi created a range of broadcast and digital graphics for Premier League


 get more from gifs Sara Barnes shares highlights from Rebecca Mock’s ICON9 workshop on making animated GIFs


 making the juicy chews advert How London-based animator Nicos Livesey celebrated Juicy Chews by creating a playful, 20-second advert featuring jelly and icing

c o mputera rts.creati -8-

c o n te n ts

Industry Issues

Special Report

51 uk studio rankings

 Our peer-voted list of the top 30 UK studios is revealed, including opportunities to work with them. Plus: the best talent outside London

back to basics

42 overcome freelance obstacles

 Tom Dennis speaks to a range of freelance creatives to glean how they deal with the obstacles of working freelance, while ensuring they reap the advantages



 bold boards La Tortillería’s brand identity for ironing board designer and manufacturer Homally


SUBSCRIBE AND SAVE UP TO 54% Three great ways to subscribe to the world’s best design mag! PRINT • DIGITAL • OR BOTH – see page 40 for great offers Or join Computer Arts Pro – see page 73 for details

c o mputera rts.creati -9-

typography focus Gavin Ambrose from ISTD concludes our typography series by explaining the importance of using the grid

PLUS! Save an incredible 20% on the Adobe CC Photography Pack when you subscribe

CULTURE Trends People Events INSPIRATION T RE ND S : E m er g i n g

Each month, our Trends section is curated by experienced creative consultancy FranklinTill

Stripped-back nutrition Food brands are going back to basics with simple packaging and nutrition labels versaturation of information in our daily lives has called for a much needed change in the way we perceive product information. In recent years, we have seen an evolution in simplified product packaging being adopted by the healthcare industry. Stark black and white, serious sans serifs and graphic lines and boxes give products a truthful, scientific feel. This matter-of-fact packaging references official-style nutritional information, and high-tech food supplements opt for a super stripped-back aesthetic. By removing superfluous features, the design appears more striking, and more appealing to the modern and informed consumer. Sleek and super minimal packaging designed by OkFocus for Soylent (featured here) signals extreme minimalism, denoting its fuss-free nutritional food and drink products. White bottles and boxes feature the company’s logo, product name and calorie count as the only visible information.


This straightforward approach to design exemplifies the need for simple, efficient and seamless products in a world where consumers are used to being continuously bombarded with an excess of information, whether they like it or not. Powdered food brand Huel (short for Human Fuel) takes a similar approach to its branding. Designed in Istanbul by Salih Kucukaga Design Studio, the nutritionally complete product range communicates the simplicity of the product through its bold and pared-back graphics. Elsewhere, Studio AH-HA has designed the identity for natural healthcare laboratory Biocol Labs. The ‘postnonsense’ approach underpins every aspect of the brand to reflect its mission of a post-chemical society based on 'fewer pills, more science and more nature'. Biocol Labs strives to dissolve the complexities of daily life through everything from the packaging to the ingredients of its products, and even the navigation of its website.

cu lt u r e

november 2016

TREN DS : st i ll f res h

Colour Blur raduated colour landscapes in pink, blue and yellow hues serve as dreamy backgrounds for packaging and branding. Typography is simple, and often reversed out of the full colour for an ethereal, synthetic update on the gradient trend.


Anno Tropico by Forma Fantasma (

Studio Steven Scott by Jacob Bang (

Instagram logo designed in-house at Instagram (


Monochrome Mark Making lack and white hand-drawn patterns and shapes adorn a wide range of packaging, garments and homeware. The thick lines and exposed brush strokes of these marks help create a bespoke and hand-made aesthetic.


Myleene Klass for Mothercare (

Überliss by FormNation (

Nappies by Parasol (

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Computer Arts 259 (Sampler)  

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