Monday, August 31, 2009

Past Graduates - Karen Hanratty, Pixel Design

Website Design: McMahon Architects

Website Design: Lighthouse Cinema, Dublin

Website Design, Dance Ireland

Website Design: Kilkenny Arts Festival

Karen set up her design company, Pixel Design, in 2006 and now specialises in designing websites for the arts, not-for-profit and advocacy sectors. She is the talent behind the sites of - among others - Dance Ireland, Kilkenny Arts Festival, DIT, Light House Cinema and Poetry Ireland. A number of her designs have been nominated for Irish Web Awards and in 2008 she won the Web Designer Excellence category in the Irish Internet Association and Enterprise Ireland’s net visionary awards. 

So, how did Karen go from humble AIT student to award-winning designer running her own design studio? Well, after graduating in Design Communications in 1997, she spent five years honing her design skills at Webfactory, Ireland’s largest web design company. Here she had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects which was great experience and was lucky enough to work with many talented designers.

In 2002, Karen became Creative Director at a smaller design company that focuses on design for both print and web. Along with heading up a design team this gave her an insight into running a small business as well as more direct contact with clients and gave her the confidence to strike out on her own.

Throughout her career, Karen has been an active member of the Institute of Designers in Ireland which is the professional body representing and supporting designers in Ireland. She is currently New Media representative on the IDI council and would encourage design students and graduates to join!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Past Graduates - Lucy Carter, Lucy or Robert

Holocaust Exhibition, The Imperial War Museum, London

Darwin Centre, Natural History Museum, London

Spectrum - Trade Exhibition Stand

Landscape: Hardwick Park

Historic Houses: Kew Palace
Top: Letterpress homage to the C18 seditious pamphlet
‘The North Briton’
Centre: Caslon Ornaments


Workplace Graphics: Praxis Banners

National Portrait Gallery, London

Lucy studied Design [Communications] at AIT from 1991-94, along with Simon Roche (see Simon’s profile below…). She then went on to gain an MA at Central St Martin's School of Art and Design, and although the MA course was in a period of upheaval it did at least instill a measure of resilience and self reliance in her. A year in publishing gave Lucy a huge grounding in the technical aspects of production that is rarely taught at college. It also convinced her to go freelance - to work for herself.

Lucy formed the London-based design studio ‘Lucy or Robert’ in 1998 with her partner and husband Robert Carter. The studio's first two projects couldn't have been more different from each other: one was a fine art photography book, Venise; the other a trade exhibition stand for a sign company, for which Lucy or Robert devised a narrative based on the communication between worker bees, transposing the human office worker for the bee with fees instead of honey, using all manner of signing techniques to deliver the story. The latter project shaped the studio's direction taking them out of the familiar comfort zone of print and into the 3D environment.

Their current projects almost always involve words and images in the built environment: museums, galleries, workplaces, gardens, public spaces: they do a stunning line in toilets too. Complex projects can take up to four years to complete and are undertaken as part of a team which can comprise of any or all of the following: architects, exhibition designers, lighting designers, sound designers, illustrators, A/V companies, curators, writers, historians, case dressers, conservators, picture researchers and access forums. Production work varies with every project: one led to designing crockery; another to selecting young lime tress for an avenue.

Two new projects are opening soon. The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford will open 39 new galleries to the public; Lucy or Robert have worked with the Museum's team since 2005, beginning with masterplanning a graphic strategy and culminating in the detailed design of six of those galleries, while the remainder are detailed by the Museum's own in-house graphics department. The studio produced the design concept and much of the detailed design work for the Natural History Museum's Darwin Centre which opens in October.

The Holocaust exhibition, which was Lucy or Robert's first major exhibition project, remains their yardstick. The project was identified by the National Lottery Commission as a benchmark for interpretive exhibition design, received a D&AD commendation in 2001 and was commended by the European Museum Forum in 2003. The studio moved from London to Bruton in Somerset two years ago, where the country air is doing it good.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Past Graduates - Simon Roche, Fieldmice

‘Verk’ Buisness Card

‘State’ Magazine

Valby Contemporary Art

Simon Roche studied Design [Communications] at AIT from 1991-94 before going to Croydon School of Art and Design to complete his Honours Degree. He moved back to Ireland after this and began as a freelance designer and lecturer in graphics in both Tralee IT and AIT where he worked part-time for eight years.

After some years with these colleges and also annoying bands into letting him design their sleeve artwork, he was appointed art director of Hot Press magazine where he redesigned the publication and changed it from a tabloid to the smaller custom size it retained until recently. Setting up on his own after Hot Press, he still has clients in the music industry, producing a lot of album sleeves and merchandise over the last few years, as well as the more bread-and-butter business of consulting for some international advertising and PR firms. Thanks to broadband, Skype and mobile phones he now spends a lot of time in ‘wonderful’ Copenhagen working from his new shop in the city centre while still working mainly for Irish clients.

Current projects include a new redesign of the work for the National Performing Arts School, an identity and signage for a photographer’s studio and continues to design the now online editions of ‘State’ music magazine – while also co-organising the SweetTalk Copenhagen design events. He is rarely happier that when the smell of fresh print wafts through the studio air and has finally finished his own company’s new identity after, oh, years.

Simon also won the PPAI Designer of the Year in 2008 for State magazine, and you'll bet his mother is proud.

Past Graduates - Darren Doyle, Studio93

Darren Doyle graduated from AIT in 2003. His plan was always to set up his own Graphic Design consultancy, but realizing that more real world experience was needed before setting out to achieve this, he went to work at a midlands print company. For the first year, Darren worked as a designer and learned much about the print process and how the industry works. In his second year there, he was promoted to studio manager and found himself responsible for the day to day running and management of incoming jobs. “It was during this time that I started drifting away from the process of design and found myself much more involved in the actual business side of things.” By the time year three came around, Darren felt the time was right to jump ship and start his own company.

Studio93 opened for business in February 2007 on the main street of Moate, Co. Westmeath. “ I can honestly never remember a time when I was sitting at my desk with nothing to do. Even when there were no jobs waiting to be done, I was always busy . When I wasn’t working on something, I was working on getting something to work on. You can’t ever sit back in this industry if you want to succeed - you have to be hungry, and you have to stay hungry”. Studio93 has since worked on local, national and international web and print projects, perhaps most notably Irish Hairdresser International magazine which the studio has art directed for the last two years - some sample spreads from it are posted above.

‘Being a design consultant in the midlands is not unlike being a design consultant in Dublin, Dubai or Denmark - its not where you are, its how much you want it! My advice to anyone setting up would be to go and work for someone else for a few years and learn the ropes. See how they do things and figure out how you might do things better. Then when the time is right, make your move but be warned - if you do set up yourself, be prepared for long hours, very few weekends off, paper work and sacrifices. If your not totally committed forget about it - its not for you. “

So has it all been worth it ? “Damn right it is! Nothing beats the feeling of seeing a finished project that you are proud of, a client who is delighted with the job and of course the big fat check that you’ve earned!”