What is Cowbird?
Cowbird is neither here nor there. From a design point of view, it is the correlation between the printed analogue design and the digital world. In reality, the Cowbird lays its eggs in the nests of many other species while spending its time migrating from North America down to Mexico. Similar processes apply to designers who inspire and influence other creative disciplines with their ideas and developments before moving onto the next big project.
Among many of the hot topics at this year's Cowbird talks, hosted by Norwich University of Arts at the Open venue earlier this March, were questions such as: 'does technological change drive aesthetic innovation or vice versa?' and 'how have we as designers adapted to the digital era?' These types of open questions were explored over the course of the two days.
Key industry A-list speakers included: Hamish Muir, Tom Roope, Vera-Maria Glahn and Michael C. Place to mention a few. They all presented outstanding talks accompanied by stunning slides demonstrating their design processes through print and digital media, including record sleeve design, advertising, magazine, web and mobile application. They spoke about their influences and how they utilise available technologies to create visual amazement. However, the running thread was 'everything starts with an idea'.
Important debates were discussed as to how we interact with design. Traditionally design was a physically manufactured process. Working directly with acetate, typesetters and lithographic printers, outsourcing and feedback could take weeks before sign-off. The modern designer has to wear many hats and needs to be an expert in many trades; the industry is now faster paced and made more dispensable through the advent of the computer.
Is the demand on user interaction higher with screen-based technologies opposed to print? Purpose, function and outcome must not be clouded by over embellishment or eye-candy. This is not to negate or dismiss the clarity and legibility that printed magazines and newspapers provide. We forget designers have always expressed concerns towards user experience, legibility and interaction right from the very start. If something feels nice, people will use it. Online the term UX has become a glorified statement in recent years, seen as an elitist model or school of thought when in reality, designing UX comes naturally to some people and to others not. How it is expressed depends on the technology or platform.
Given that designers are doing today what they have always done, it does not matter which medium is used, print, digital, magazine, CD Rom, wide-screen, flat screen, laptop, phone or tablet - technology is a tool which aids creativity. There are no boundaries between print and digital and it is our duty as designers to make use of what is available to us. This is how we evolve. So does technological change drive aesthetic innovation, or vice versa? I will leave you to decide.
Article by: Rafael Kent, Graphic Designer
Empresa stand at the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce exhibition
Mark and Rob recently manned the Empresa stand at the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce exhibition Business Opportunities 2013 at the Norwich City FC ground. It was good to meet with so many people looking for digital marketing ideas for their business start-ups and to those who already have businesses but that are interested in different marketing approaches. It was also an opportunity to chat with some of our current clients, Modello, Apex Print and Promotion, Breakaway and The Lively Crew who attended the event. Always looking for new opportunities, Rob also pitched Empresa's bespoke software and web solution services to some of the 40 buyers who were at the Meet The Buyer event there
History of Advertising Trust
Earlier this month Rob Woods and Rafa Kent went to the History of Adverting Trust in Suffolk to see this fantastic national advertising resource centre as part of the Norwich based Hot Source Norfolk marketing, advertising and digital media group.
We enjoyed a guided tour of the facilities and soon got a sense of the wealth of advertising materials they have on the site. They have material dating back to the 19th Century and include everything from print to TV adverts, all carefully catalogued material stored in climate controlled rooms.
HAT house the corporate collections for a dozen household names including Heinz, SmithKline Beecham and Rowntree as well as advertising agencies such as Saatchi and Saatchi, Oglivy and BMP DDB. They also house the planning and advertising materials for the great advertising giant J Walter Thompson.
With all this material and a 5,000 book library in our short time there we barely saw the tip of the iceberg of what HAT has available but as they are open to design agencies and the public Empresa will be back!