Just when you least expect it…

I’ve been doing a bit of dissertation work this evening, as I have a presentation tomorrow. Joy of joys. Anyway, I’ve been looking through various famous conflict photographs, and through the wonders of search engine wizardry, ended up discovering a photographer on Flickr whilst looking for a famous Capa photograph (Death of a Loyalist Soldier, for all you photo geeks out there).

This genuinely made me chuckle, and while I’m loathed to have a blog which descends into ‘neat things that I found on t’interweb’, I do feel that his work merits a mention. So, ladies and gents, I give you Mike Stimpson, and a few of his takes on classic photographs, using Lego. Check out his Flickr page HERE

Stimpson 1

Stimpson 2

Stimpson 3

As I said, please check out his work on his flickr page – all photos are copyright of Mike Stimpson, and are reproduced under a Creative Commons license.


What I’m up to…

SoD GSA logoYou may or may not have read my other blog – stoplifting.wordpress.com – but I thought I’d give some information of what exactly I’ll be up to during my final year at Glasgow School of Art, studying product design.

Essentially, the first project I’m looking at is based on the Design Directions briefs that are set up by the Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. As a result, I’ve selected the Design Out Shoplifting brief, and have been working on it for the last few weeks, largely focusing on low-cost, low-tech solutions to help reduce shrinkage in small businesses. This runs for twelve weeks, so I’ll be done around Christmas.

At the same time, I’m writing my dissertation. I was keen to address my other interest when it came to writing this piece, so I’m looking at the evolution of conflict photography in the media over the last few decades, and how world events have shaped it. I’m in the process of research at the moment, and will be speaking to various individuals over the next few weeks, including several members of the press.

In the second term, I’ll be approaching a thematic project, where the course sets an overall theme for all students to work from, and then allows us to develop our own project on the basis of it. As I have no idea what the theme will be, I’m kind of in the dark about this one until the theme gets released.

The final project of the year will be entirely self-directed. This is the big one really – a project totally of my own making, looking at a problem I’ve identified, and coming to my own solutions as a result of studying it. Right now, I’m having a think about possibly opportunities all the time, but obviously I don’t want to get too distracted from the current project! If possible, it would be good to push this into being a live project with a company, but that’s just a bit of a pipedream at the moment!

Anyway, for all of these – apart from the dissertation – will be documented in blogs. I’ve already begun the Design Out Shoplifting blog – stoplifting.wordpress.com – but the other two will appear in due course. I encourage you to follow my work, and also to offer comment and crit on anything I post on any of my blogs – your opinions are always welcome!


Judge, jury and executioner

Over the past week or so, I’ve been watching an interesting battle develop between two companies, across several facets of social media.

Some of you may be aware that a brewer and a large drinks company in the US have been squaring up over the issue of a trademark dispute. The brewer submitted a trademark application, and as I’ve been led to believe is common in the States, the drinks company issued a ‘cease and desist’ order to the brewer, over similarities to one of their product names. The companies in question were Rock Art (the brewer), and Hansen (the parent company of Monster Energy – the big black can with the green claw mark on the side).

Now, on reading this last week, my personal viewpoint was to side with the brewer, largely due to the very convincing video on their website (see below), and the fact that at face value, Hansen’s demand was completely ridiculous. It may well be ridiculous, I’m not judging whether or not either side is right, that’s not the reasoning behind this post. I’ll put the link to the Facebook group up at the end, and you can decide for yourself based on the letters and emails between the two parties, which are all online.

My main point is about how social media has played a part in this. The brewery has a Facebook group of 12,000 people backing them, people writing (perhaps venting is a more appropriate word) their feelings on Twitter (#boycottmonster and #fuckmonster, for example). The volume of information and opinion against Monster has been phenomenal, and the mainstream press have been all to keen to pick up the story.

The net result of this is that before Monster even had a chance to respond, the ranks of people out for their blood had swollen to huge numbers. I’ve even been reading of athletes sponsored by the company ditching their deals due to how they feel the company has behaved… It’s not a small blip by any sense of the word. What I am judging is the comparative ability of the two organisations to use social media to their advantage. The brewer has clearly won the day in this respect, and whether due to unfamiliarity with the ideas of social media or their necessity to adhere to corporate standards and regulations, Monster now arguably look like a bunch of arseholes.

What I question here is whether this is an example of the good of social media, allowing a little business to stand up in the face of a big company, and strike a serious blow without costing them a fortune in legal fees, or is it an example of a very negative fact – the unbridled nature of the medium meaning that all that seems to matter is getting your point out there first, and getting enough people behind you to believe it. In this case, the public, via social media, has acted as judge, jury, and executioner, and there’s very little Monster can do about it, regardless of who turns out to be right at the end of this legal argument. In the eyes of social media – whether correctly or incorrectly – Monster are in the wrong.

Could they ever have won through social media? Who knows. In a David vs. Goliath situation like this, everyone seems to like the underdog, so a large company will always struggle to get people on their side. So as I said, I’m not saying either side is right or wrong any more – objectively, I doubt I have the required grounding in the matters at hand to make an informed decision. What’s clear is that any business who sees Twitter, Facebook et al as a fad, or just for the kids, is playing with fire.

Rock Art vs. Monster Facebook Page

An aside…

I hate sketchbooks. I HATE THEM. I like working on massive sheets of paper, and sticking them up around me, so I’m always aware of what I’ve been thinking and where I am. I would never naturally keep a diary of my thoughts, so doing one for my design work seems totally at odds with how I think and work.

That’s why this blog is here. But it’s not what prompted it.


On Thursday evening, Lauren Currie, Sarah Drummond (one of the product design grads from last year) Kate Andrews (via Skype from London) – put on a discussion/presentation about the benefits of using online social networking as part of the design process. First off, I have to say I’m not a stranger to the benefits of the internet above basic browsing etc. Through working in the University print media, I’ve been involved in creating and promoting a website for the paper that can be easily updated by all members of staff, and be followed by anyone outside the uni – our twitter feed, which is automatically linked to the articles we publish online – currently jostles in follower numbers with the news feed of one of Scotland’s top national newspapers. I’ve also spent time managing my online presence for photography, through my photography website and blog (I wasn’t the one who designed my site though!).

So, I guess you could say I was sceptical of what I was going to learn (Sorry!), but the whole thing was very convincing. The depth of their arguments was engaging, and the discussion after the talk was as useful as the presentation itself. Looking at the numbers of people from the evening who are now embarking on blogging and micro-blogging, it’s plain to see that the event hit the mark.

While I may have used social networking to forward my photography, I’ve never really considered using it as an integral part of my design process, as I always considered it as extra work. But considering what was said at the event, thinking about it in the form of an online sketchbook-esque affair makes it a much more viable option. I don’t need to fanny around with printing documents, highlighting, sticking in a fake moleskein jotter (product design student = tight), I can just blog the whole lot, discuss it online, and get opinions by slamming it through onto Twitter. If I need to, I can then print the entire project’s worth of ramblings off at the end, or equally, just be selective and make myself look like a genius. If only…

Video Link-up

Am I a convert then? Well, I guess the answer is yes – you’re reading my blog, and you’ve more than likely been linked here from twitter. I do still hold reservations – the amount of utter bilge that you read on Twitter every day can drown out the useful qualities, and that could very well become worse as it becomes more popular, and I think it seems to be dissolving people’s inner monologue. I also still think that there is much more enthusiasm for social networking’s use amongst us the creative industries, compared to other areas, which can put limits on what sort of people you can interact with (at the moment).

All in though, if you’re a designer and you’ve no idea what the hell you’re meant to do with yourself online, you’d do well to keep an eye out for when Studio Unbound are doing their next event, and head along.


StudioUnbound on Twitter