Influence of Stuart Bradford

As soon I saw Stuart Bradford’s work I felt drawn to it. Editorial graphics is something I’m particular interested in. As an editorial graphic they accompany an article sitting aside it. Usually at the beginning.

The subject matter tends to be more serious; of deep concern. As such his work tends to be featured in higher end magazines, medical journals, newspapers such as the New York Times etc. The articles and images presented here are from websites of the same ilk.

The text is usually a typical classic serif associated with this literature. This lets you know there is a degree of formality.

With Bradford’s work I was intrigued with how he was able to capture the essence of an accompanying story in his collages. Comparing the editorial images with the words of the article you soon realise how the image captures the necessary elements to tell the story.

I began looking a little deeper at the elements involved for recurring themes/ patterns.


Here Its clear by the positioning and proportioning of the X-Ray image, which occupies a large portion of the image, and the cigarette, that we are concerned with lung cancer. This is further emphasised the skull cross bones often used to caution against hazards. The speaker phone here represents drawing attention to the plight.

Hence its possible to get a clear picture of the articles substance without reading  a line. I think this is quite powerful.


I noitced a lot of symbolic gestures in the form of ticks, crosses. Arrows and guiding lines that redirect your attention , encouraging you to follow. The beauty of this is that its a universal language e.g.

In the above image the arrows tell us the man on the left is reading the characteristics of the robot on the right. He has deemed that the robot is trustworthy by hand gesture ‘OK’ in the thought bubble. This is something everyone can understand.


Not sure if this is the correct term ,but by this I mean using a symbol to represent an action.

In the first article it mentions that information is provided on the prevention of tobacco use. It is perfectly represented in the image in a couple of ways.

the X-Ray forms the shape of a  call out. Its coming out of the speaker phone  so you have this image in your mind of a person speaking out about the concerns of smoking and its adverse effects.

We see the same thing with the skull and cross bone. Both are very strong symbols representing vocal messages ‘Stop!’, ‘No!’ , ‘Beware!’ and so on.

Sometimes you find a small degree of type in the images, but not much. In this instance the  letter M under the bar In the ‘Who’s Trustworthy’ article strikes me as mathematical divsion. So what the image is saying is the man is calculating, he’s thinking, trying to work something out, and finally comes to the conclusion about the robot stated above.

In this  ABA Jounal article we see the occurrence of familiar traits . The discoursing of uncivil conduct depicted by the crossed out in the top corner. Civility shown by the tipping of the hat. You get the sense from the ‘+’  sign and the arrows are saying that one good act spawns another. This is what the article is drawing attention to.

Other Characteristics

Minimal colour palette for main images. There is frequent use of black and white, monotone, and duo tone images. These are present in a most if not all of his work. Im guessing they are characteristics of his visual style.

textures: Pretty much all the backgrounds have some textures applied to them. Some of them very subtle. A lot of attention to fine detail. Halftone dots figure often in his work.

This grungy feel is another element of his visual style. Its kind of a smudged toner in effect. Anyhow, it  adds to the depth, and substance of the image.

Large blocks of colour dividing up the image.

I haven’t manage to figure out the reasoning behind this, but Its such a common feature there must be one. Or maybe its just part of his signature style


Mixed feelings about the booklet

Overall I happy with project 3 from the following perspective

  • Knowledge and techniques.
  • Trying new things.

Knowledge and techniques.

I recall writing ‘What is TOD?’ mentioning that in project 1 I was unable to talk out techniques used to create covers, as my ability was so low. Whereas on project 3 I  could not only cite possible approaches, but felt comfortable replicating them or coming up with ways of achieving similar results.

In project 2 I felt that the work ended up being research heavy, and sparse on actual work produced. Don’t get me wrong research is of great importance, but at the end of the day I still have to be capable of producing work. Had it not been for my solutions being rather simple I would have really struggled.

This time around I went techniques heavy, trying to learn and digest what I could. As this was the last project I wanted to push myself; do something I haven’t tried before. As a result I probably neglected the research a bit.  I guess its important to find a balance.

A little Disjointed

I didn’t want all the pages to look the same in the booklet. I wanted a little variation, but I neglected the colour palette. This should have been the element which provided consistency. I think its a little disjointed. I definitely should have given much more thought to the colours

I should have spent a whole week going over Bradford’s style. I think in some respects I was close, but not close enough. Having said I have never come across any of his pieces that cover this subject matter. So, whilst borrowing from his style I had to go off in my own direction.

It wasn’t until The first week of September that I decided what I wanted to do for the final project, and what style to use. I just assumed that with all the techniques I had covered, whatever I chose would be a doddle I would rattle it off in no time. How naive!

I underestimated InDesign. Because I don’t use it often I struggled a bit more than I should have when piecing the project together.

I think the text fits with the imagery. Sourcing the stories online, I reduced them to fit, whilst trying to retain their essence and tie it to the imagery. Again it was a bit rushed. So may have missed the mark. I expected this part to be straight forward and simple. With a little more time it could have been perfect.

If I was to score each section:

  1. Cover 5/10. The components are there, the emotion is there but feels unfinished. The image is rugged and the text too clean, but became a little stuck on how to take it forward and had to press on.
  2. Photo 4/10.The image I feel is spot on. Its what I was going for. InDesign wise registration is not black! The grey around the image is plain wrong. I really was just munging text with little thought here. It should have been better selected. The paragraphs should have been equally weighted and aligned. A little work and it could have been and 8
  3. Timeline 4/10. Not sure about the colours. The text is my own. Under a little pressure to fill out the squares. Should have sourced the text better.
  4. Duggan 4/10. The elements are there. But the composition was never quite right. Each attempt didn’t make it worse, but then again didn’t make it better. Just settled on what I had as time was of the essence.
  5. Blackberry 7/10. Happy with this one. A few minor issues.
  6. Looting 6/10. Very close. The attempt at a graphic symbol for London was bad. Should have done something about that.

30/60 = 5/10 overall. Lots of good points but lacked polish

I think this is a fair mark, but then again I always score myself low. If I took care of the issues mentioned, it would be a 7-8/10

In short I learnt a hell of a lot in terms of techniques. I’m Pleased with that. Its Something I can build on. The final delivery was a miss but not by much

Design Methods

The Design Brief

I cannot stress enough, the importance in getting this step in the design process correct. Project will and do stand and fall on the success and completeness the design brief.

With some smaller clients this can be difficult as they may be unfamiliar with such formality, but it is important you hold your ground, impress on them the importance of the brief. It can be tailored or simplified depending upon the nature of the project/product

Larger companies will expect/welcome the formalities, as it gives both parties a clear indication of  expectations

This document outlines my previous findings with regards to preparing a brief

The Development Cycle

Once both parties are happy with the brief the development phase  can begin

Like the design phase it is iterative. The designer will refer back to the client at key milestones to make sure the project is on track. The whole point is to mitigate the committing of resources, time, money in a project only for it to be unsuccessful.

I would include the following steps in the development cycle

  • Mood boards / Mapping
  • Sketches
  • Designs
  • Mockups / Prototypes
  • Final Designs

The result of brainstorming process. This typically shows inspiration, it might convey emotions, colour palettes, textures etc. This may or may not be something you want to share with a client. But either way its a good way to kickstart the develpment process, making sure you capture varous details outlined in the brief

An example of a very clean and focussed moodboard found here.  Seems well balanced interms of colour palette, subject matter. A good example of something you could share with a client.

Another good brainstorming technique. Can be used in conjuction with or in place of moodboards. Allows you to follow or explore different trains of thought by linking keywords key phrases. Usuallly takes you to places you would not have considered otherwise. The beauty of this techques is that you can go off tangent, be much more creative and diversre than with a moodboard.

This example is taken from in response to a brief for logo for a new startup web company. What’s nice is that after exploring his thoughts he is able to pull out what he considers key aspects to focus on.


With brainstorming complete you are in a position to commit some ideas to paper in the form of sketches. These dont have to be masterpieces as the point of them is to hash out  ideas quickly, discarding some ideas as you go, and fleshing out the better ones.

The key thing here is to follow you instincts. Over time, through various experiences, you become more attuned to what works. I would say (at this stage of my development )  if you feel strongly about one of your sketches go with it. Conversely you can be chasing an idea that is just not panning out. If youre having a hard time taking an idea forward its probably best to let it go.

It also quite important to commit quite  a few sketches  to paper. The key here is to push your ideas, not become constrained into narrow trains of thought. You may even surprise yourself in that a sketch may lead down a path you hadn’t considered. Exploration is key.

In truth If your are struggling here perhaps the earlier steps were not as thorough or targeted as they could be. All this rough work is not something you  would not want to share with a client but perhaps cleaned up versions of the key proposals is a good idea.

A series of sample sketches for a graphic design business Five 54. Found at


On successful completion of  the sketches its time to  turn these into working designs, whilst adhering to formats laid out in the brief, using your software of choice.


Mockup are quite an important phase in that for the first time the client gets to hold something tangible in their hand. Depending on the product this tactile step may be of great importance. Sticking with pamphlets, brochures, booklets; it quite easier or make a partial sample with a  colour laser or inject. The quality may not be the same. You certainly wouldn’t use quality paper stock but all the layout dimension are there. A good way to iron out any remaining issues before a print run.

Another alternative is ‘soft proofing‘ using PDFs. Equally or even more important as more document are read on devices these days. These method comes into play if you want to proof a larger document e.g. a book

Final Design

In the end theres no substitute for the real thing. Depending on the format perhaps a single or short  run prints. Its surprising how often mistakes still go unnoticed  in soft proofs and carry over in the printing phase hence the less you commit to the inital print the better.

Putting It Together. The Collages

I drew inspiration form the work of Stuart Bradford. At first it was slightly daunting as to the reasoning behind the elements he chose in his compositions.

His archived work at shed some light on this. Accompanying each piece of work is category, subject and style information. This gave me a good starting point of how to approach this.

I started by listing emotions, events and how I could possibly represent them. This is one of the more intelligible pages. I tend to scribble anywhere and everywhere!

Then started to flesh these out a little to arrive at slightly more comprehensive ideas  for layouts

Rather than present the techniques used, which were just a matter of blend modes, masks, multiple layers etc.; nothing that hasn’t been presented before. I will state my reasoning behind certain elements used in the collage.

4. The Death of Mark Duggan

Reading my source article of choice I picked out elements I could depict.

Here. Start with a picture of Mark Duggan. Information led the authorities to believe he was in possession of a fire-arm. Which led to invention by an armed response unit. On this occasion it led to fatal consequences. The cuffs form the shape of a cross., to bring attention to information that came into the public domain later as to whether the shooting was justified. Other elements provided a bit of grit and grunge. I think the shapes speak for themselves

5. How Blackberry playead a key role

I recall at the time of the riot a news article mentioning the message used in the image above. I remember being astounded that to see a rallying to cause such disorder and mayhem. The technology obviously played a key role in the viral like spread of disturbances.

The lines denote this mass spread. Here, they lead to and from a communications hub in the centre, which in turn leads to other handsets.  The social network emblems are shown in much darker tones representing their misuse in this affair. The printed circuit board texture again makes reference to the role technology played during this time.. The defacement in the form of scratches represents the chaos and total disregard for property and peoples livelihood.

6. Looting

In the bottom left we start out wtih the red clenched fist denoted anger. This represents the concerns of the those particapting in the original march. The 102 in the placard represents the number of participants.

The falling placard and down arrow symbolises how quickly this fell away giving rise to something else

On the right we have this huge hand reaching over ( the very poor! graphic symbol of ) London. It’s wide open demonstrating avarice; hence taking everything it can. Depicted here we see money and jewellery falling into it at the expense of London.

Other aspects showing these human, and community costs are the grid texture (representing damaged  shutters) and the smashed glass effect. Also footprints expressing the disregard for what has been trampled on.

Two positive side effects.

  1. The hand ended looking a bit like stone. At the time I changed the levels to move away from this slightly. Looking at it now I don’t mind because stone is cold, hard so only serves to show the lack of feeling and heartlessness.
  2. The 103 and the up arrow represent the 1000s participating in these disturbances, Due to its placement the whole design began to look like a note of currency. That wasn’t originally intended but as this the article deals with the issue of greed I felt it was fitting.

Putting it Together


I drew inspiration for the cover from this WWII propaganda poster. I guess the intention was  to instil fear, discomfort, unease. In my case I wasn’t going so much for fear, but did want to unsettle the reader, at least remind them of the rabid mindset of people participating in the riot.

The image below  was my starting point available here.

Nothing of note here other that applying Posterize filter, and masking out a section of the image to seat the text.

2. Photo

This is the starting point for the image on pages 3 and 4. When I first saw this at the time of the riot, it was moment of disbelief. Living in North London, and walking up and down this street countless  times, both day and night I found this all so surreal. I found myself thinking

This isn’t something I experience or expect to hear about so close to me. This is something that happens on TV in other parts of the world!

That gave me the Idea to use the picture in that manner, with the horizontal line flicker, and reduced colour palette reminiscent of images of disturbance I see all to often on the News.

The Film Grain Effect tutorial and halftone filter combined to give the desired effect

3. Timeline

zamecznik, wojciech Warsaw 1959

Another poster appearing in my source book. I never had the time to attempt it whilst digesting techniques, but felt If I took ideas from it It would work well, as it seemed edgy. Also  I could reuse the numbers as dates.

Narratives using Imagery

1. CBS Action Ident

Currently running a couple of idents on UK TV.

  1. Chase ident
  2. Crime and Punishment ident

They can be  played and viewed here. The Lead Designer is Laura Hulme. First thing that surprised me is how short they are. Less than 20 sec. Before doing this write-up I never considered this. They have much more presence in my mind than that; especially the chase ident. Maybe because I’ve seen it so many times.

They appeal to me on many levels. Firstly, I’m a huge fan of motion graphics, be them idents ore film title sequences, etc. I’m appreciative of the  simple 3 tone colour palette and simple outline 2D graphics style.

As well as being a great graphic style, this simple reductive form allows you to concentrate on  what is being conveyed ( in my opinion ) instead of  being overly caught up in the graphics themselves. Lets face it, you’ve got a very small window to get your message across.

In this regards it remind of the now classic ipod campaign whichs is probably the archetype.

The important thing here is not the people themselves, its that they are have a great time. The frantic expressive movement and cool sounds give that away. And it alls due to the little device in  the noticeable 3rd colour which we learn at the end is the iPod

The idents play  like a storyboard, nicely moving you along from one cell to the next. Each cell has a classic scenes from the genre  its promoting. Thus allowing to relive those moments as it progresses through. All the excitement, the adrenaline! The 2 guys running along the train is most potent for me. All 2secs of it ! It brings up nostalgic memories of 70s, 80s action ( or spy) films and cop shows.

Its a motion graphic, so any tool in the field could be used. Adobe After Effects comes to mind, not that I have any experience of it. But from my perspective it something that could be replicated  with great success in Flash. Perhaps starting in Illustrator to produce all the graphic symbols.

Wow, writing that almost seems like a challenge !. Yep I think its gonna happen!

I think the ident is not only successful in informing you what you get on the channel, but in doing it with such visual flair

Pretty cool!

2. Around the world in 80 Drinks

One of many illustrative titles by Josh Agle. Due to copyright restrictions can only veiw or find a copy on amazon to look inside.

I absolulelty love this retro image style. He describes it as

‘being based on advertising and illustration from the 50s and 60s with a modern with a modern twist’

See video link below.

I would say it has its roots in American Modernism. The strong use of colour, angular elements, but not just visually but also culturally;  the jazz music, hipster lifestyle so often depicted.

Looking a bit deeper I would say that these visually elements are born out,  or influenced by movements such as cubism. You only have to look at some of the UPA cartoons between the 40s and 60s to notice  more direct references.

The book itself is thin on text. If anything I would say that these books only exist to indulge yourself in the artwork. There is some nice freehand , or bespoke fonts befitting of the period. The main content is bog standard serifs, and san serif.

This is certainly a visual experience,  light reading,to be placed on a coffee table; perhaps at a party. Light hearted, fun.

I found a really fun quote about this book. Not sure how serious this quy is,but it made me chuckle

This work certainly suits Illustrator, with a few textures here a there to give it a bit of life. If my drawing skills were up to it I would definitely turn in a project in this style. One for the near future I think.

3. HTC – Simply Brilliant Campaign

HTC ran a series of these  a couple of years ago. They employ basic black and white outline animation. In this one we have a  person struggle with a map. Your eye follows this central character  as he struggles to find his way. Just as he gives up; up pops a phone and points him  in the right direction.

Its a very simple ad that make its point clearly, whilst having an element of charm to it.