Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Leahy Maharaj’

Finding your creativity

June 6, 2017

Recently my colleague Paul Wade wrote on our blog about how he deals with creative block. I’d like to share some of what I do to help push my creativity further.

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj

Firstly, in the words of Paul Smith, design is everywhere, and he’s right. It’s just a case of looking for it.

When I teach design to students in CIT, one of the first things I ask my students to do is to start looking at things with fresh eyes, to question what they have taken for granted, and to revisit and review things. For some it’s a difficult exercise, because you are asking people to essentially think in a way that they have never done before (right brain/left brain tasks).

Originally to help myself remember these things, I started carrying a small notebook around with me, and as I saw or found things that interested me I would document them, creating a reference library for myself that I could use.

Much of these (and I have many, some going back 25 years since I started college) are full of small scribbles, found objects and coded illustrations that mean nothing to anyone other than myself, but they give me ideas and help to jumpstart my thought process. Often the thought of a blank page can be the hardest start to a project, so these small seeds can frequently give me the start of something that turns into something else.

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj

The second thing that I would suggest that everyone would do, is to visit their local art gallery.

In a world of non-stop connectivity and “always-on”, taking a few minutes out of your week to allow you to clear your head is a generous gift to yourself, and one that can often push me into looking at things with a fresh perspective.

We are very fortunate to have a number of galleries in Cork, including the award-winning Glucksman on the grounds of UCC, and the Crawford Art Gallery towards the Opera House, both of which have a wonderful rotation of exhibitions, and in the case of the Crawford, a truly beautiful permanent collection.

Recently I was lucky enough to attend a lunchtime lecture by Dr. Michael Waldron in the Crawford where some of the lesser known secrets of some of the works were shared, opening up a completely new insight into these works, and how I now perceive them.

Frequently in graphic design, I like to challenge my clients, that while everything should have a meaning or at the very least, a rationale behind the design, that it’s not entirely necessary that every piece of design should bear its full credentials in a literal sense – ultimately, my thinking is that you don’t have to give everything away immediately, that people appreciate working for detail a little in design.

The other thing that I keep noticing, is that often in galleries, the art is as much the building as its contents.

JLM

Finally, I use photography – or, to be more honest, I use image making as possibly the most powerful avenue for creativity and to force myself to look at things differently.

The reason that I call it “image making” rather than photography is that I see the process of taking the photograph to be the first part in creating any image. Technically, I am a terrible photographer, I have little or no regard to F-stops or ISO numbers, and my tripod is wobbly no matter what I do with it. But I take the shots and process them, frequently (and much to the annoyance to “pure” photographers) through Photoshop and I achieve the results that I want.

More and more I find that the outlet for this creativity is Instagram.

I have a number of APPs on my phone that when used in combination with Instagram. allow me to create images that otherwise, may or may not exist when published online.

Instagram provides me a platform that allows me to share these images with other people, and with the tactical use of hashtags I can build a somewhat curated gallery, available to like-minded people.

My true purpose is that I can create a set of images that have come about through looking at a situation, and environment, a person or a puddle, and allow me to redefine this scene into something that I want it to be. In some cases this means that the neon strip of a petrol station canopy can become an abstract, surreal landscape, in others, it means that I can create a hero out of a basketball hoop, or a pushback tug in an airport..

By taking a new view of an object, you can create a world of questions, many which have no right or wrong answers.

What I find incredible about Instagram, is that once you ignore all of the gym bunnies, the endless selfies and dinner images, there is a community there who are appreciative, supportive and creative.

Over the past year, I have been fortunate to meet quite a few of this collective, and have found them utterly inspiring in how they see things. I have stood next to people, taken the same image on practically the same device, and created utterly different images.

I have learned how to approach subjects that I would have avoided (street photography still scares the hell out of me!), and I have participated in events, from 10 people wandering around UCC pointing phones at things, to the incredible 24 Hour Project where nearly 4000 people in 840 cities, across 112 countries posted an image an hour over a 24 hour period last April.

Have a look for #24hourproject and #24hourprojectCork on Instagram to see some of my work as well as that of others.

Being creative day in and day out is a demanding challenge (like many jobs!), but with a little bit of focus there are ways that you can allow your mind to wander in a constructive way, and hopefully help to boost the inspiration that really is everywhere!

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj - FuzionJonathan

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj leads the Graphic Design Department in Fuzion with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland 

 

Tiny things are huge things!

June 6, 2016

Team bonding

This was a tiny thing..

It was a busy day and I just finished a great social media session with a client. As per usual it went on longer than planned as we really got deep into the strategy and explored exactly how far we could change the public perception of their company by using social media in a clever way.

Jonathan was the only one left in the office and he told me that the presentation for the prospect we were meeting the following day was done. I asked him to press print on two copies as it would save me a little job the following day.

While I was tidying up the meeting room I spotted Jonathan at the binder and he was binding up the presentations for me.

There’s no need to do that

Not a bother, what else would I be doing” he answered.

That wasn’t true – it was a gorgeous evening and he had a family to get home to.

Jonathan is our Creative Director, our head of design and without a word he jumped in to do this tiny thing for me.

At Fuzion we talk about having a Win Happy ethos. Helping and supporting each other is a big part of this.

What he did for me wasn’t a tiny thing, it was a huge thing – thanks Jonathan!

#WinHappy

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj is the Creative Director with Fuzion

 

Raise Your Game

June 5, 2016

CiT - Architecture course

I’ve been to a few final year exhibition openings as part of my life as a student, as a college lecturer and as creative director here in Fuzion.  Not just in graphic design, but in multi-media, fashion, ceramics and the full gamut of fine art courses on offer in a number of third level colleges.

It’s a great way to see up-and-coming talent, current trends in the various fields of study, and hiring talented staff (we have taken on two graduates from the final year exhibition in CIT’s Visual Communications courses in the past few years). But its taken until this year for me to be absolutely blown away by both an exhibition and an attitude from a course in the way that the Interior Architecture course in CIT did when I visited it last Wednesday.

Titled TRANSCEND 2016, the exhibition is primarily a showcase for the graduating 4th years, with work on display also by the 3rd years (and if you wander off the beaten track a little, some incredible work by other students from other years too!).

A number of things happen from the very moment that you enter the building.

Firstly, from the exterior of the building, it’s a pretty grotty looking 80’s dull-as-dishwater brown factory. But this is the beginning of the magic show.

Marc Riain - CIT Architecture

It has been commandeered by the department a couple of years ago and transformed (by Marc O’Riain, a senior lecturer in the department and an architect in his own right http://www.ruaarchitects.ie/ ) into a multi-award winning space that starts to impress you immediately, from the large Norman Foster model at the entrance to the innovative use of space and materials.

And this is all before you get to see any of the students’ work. As a space, you can see how it inspires the students to work harder and better, to want to be more creative and strive towards a career in their chosen field. There are several shipping containers along the left hand side of the space that create offices, work spaces, physical walls/dividers in an open space that appears to be as large (and open) as a football field.

You can see how it was a factory – and in that Warholian sense it still is a factory, but now instead of manual operators creating loss prevention devices, it nurtures talent and creativity. Students within this vast building have individual spaces to design and work, with communal areas so people can see what others are doing (and perhaps be inspired by this work) and it’s a space to be immensely proud of.

You would love to come to college here.

Transcend 2016- CIT ArchitectureBut back to the exhibition itself for a moment. The work level seems incredible – a standard of finish and design skills that were very high. Again, it looked like the students themselves had pushed themselves as much as any encouragement from teaching staff. Like they wanted to succeed. Like they had a hunger for it, a passion.

The work is displayed, especially by the 4th year graduates with professional precision and with purpose (have a look for Kristina Malantsuk’s work based on the Cork Bonded Warehouses). And this is where one of the most impressive factors struck me. They wanted jobs. They wanted to become employed practitioners. They could clearly see that this wasn’t a party as a self congratulatory pat on the back for turning up a few hours a day for 4 years, this was a recruitment drive.

And at the opening of the exhibition, something that I have never seen before happened. As Katherine Keane, Department Head & Marc O Riain finished their speeches, Marc ended by pointing at a door towards one of the more private areas of the building and said that anyone who wanted to interview a student could do so in that space.

And no messing, a number of people immediately walked towards that door to do so!

I think that there is a certain irony that the model at the main door is by Norman Foster Architects, because that is exactly what they do in that space – foster architects.

Attitude is so much a part of any success story.

Of course you must want to succeed and you must have a genuine product that is worthy of success. But you must look like you want to succeed.

Whats the point in having the best service or product in the world if it looks rubbish? You are only fooling yourself, because no one else will believe in something that looks like you don’t believe in it. From the minute you step into the space that is the Architecture Factory, you want it to be amazing, because it tells you that its amazing, and you believe in it.

Check out the superb work that is happening right now in Cork by visiting the Facebook page or the website for the exhibitions.

Well done to all these hungry students and the lecturers who are inspiring them to be the best.

Jonathan

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj leads the Graphic Design Department in Fuzion with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland 

 

 

Offset 2016 and ones boy’s obsession with design

April 18, 2016

Offset 2016

If you know me, then great… if not, here are a few starter points:

This post is like me, it requires a bit of work. You’ll have to click links. You’ll have to forgive my overuse of exclamation marks, parentheses and the Oxford comma. And possible bad language that I wouldn’t even dream of using in the company of my mother, or even more, your mother. There may be mentions of testicles (all relevant). And finally, like a goldfish needs water, I need design.

Some people watch football. Others collect stamps. Some people go train-spotting.

Me? I look at design.

It started in 1990, when Mr Nott, my art teacher recognised that I was pretty rubbish at art, but I knew vaguely how to construct things into an order that conveyed a logical sense of information. I could tell a visual story. And he showed me some work that wasn’t art, but was artistic. It was creative, it was design.

From here I figured out what I needed to do to get into college and onto a design course (mostly fail all my Pre’s in the pursuit of the perfect portfolio of 18 year old rubbish art samples that showed the slightest glimmer of hope), and over the course of many years, of different directions, of false starts, and hard, hard work, I made it!

I graduated with a degree in design, and I got a job. But since the early 90’s I’ve watched television with an eye for fonts, I’ve read newspapers with more of an eye on the layouts than the stories, and I’ve bought countless books for the covers, never ever opening them or reading the content.  

But the thing about design is – or at least was – that it was largely something that you read about in Creative Review, or Eye, and marvel at. Then the Internet happened (yes, I am that old) and a community of discussion & sharing grew where we could discover things that we’d read about them, and see more, see similar and learn more. But there was a disconnect.

What could you do with that sort of lust from a distance?

Offset 2

Offset

I don’t remember my first Offset. I just remember being mind-blown by talent, passion and determination. But I remember being in the same room as some of the people who inspired me to create, to learn, to try and try harder. I remember that sense of astonishment that someone on a stage in front of me was the person who designed something that I’d known for years and wanted to know more about.

Remember your first concert? – it’s a bit like that.  

And 5 years later, it’s all there again. that sense of bewildering, confusing, heartbreaking brilliance, where someone describes the experiences of their professional journey and the highs and lows of being a creative.

Looking back at my notes from this year, I sat through 21 hours over three days of talks by my peers, and here is a small selection of those who, as a friend of mine so eloquently described as “not so much having lit a fire inside me, more created an inferno” of wanting this more, and more, and more.

Shred of Decency

Rothco, one of Ireland’s foremost advertising agencies spoke about their structure of gangs – a less Marketing-Speak term for ‘teams’. But despite the BS, they shared their process (anyone can bring anything to any department at any time), and the creative freedom that failing and mistakes bring. And their genuine elation of being part of the defining moment that the Yes campaign helped bring to a New Ireland last year, through their involvement in their Shred of Decency campaign (see more about it here: https://rothco.ie/rothco-daintree/ or here: https://vimeo.com/124607988)

Also, their honesty in bringing a stick and a football and combining that with the incorrect use of a bus companies logo and just how on the edge of fresh underpants they all were while presenting was refreshing (this is the result: https://twitter.com/NetworkNoel )

20 euro note

Robert Ballagh told us how he sold his bass to Ireland’s first black man, and started painting, ‘cos “He thought he could”, and my admiration for him, and his talent multiplied by a huge degree. There’s a piece of his work on display in Cork’s Crawford Art Gallery – go and see it, and sure if you have ever held the last issued £20 punt note with Daniel O’Connell on it, then you’ve handled a masterpiece. 

Mr. Bingo

Closing the first day was the unstoppable Mr. Bingo. A force in modern post social-media dynamics, and a vocabulary coarser than even mine, he was a master class in rejecting the approach that everyone else follows and carving a path that others couldn’t dream of.

Go to his website and click on the link about him working for free. You may know him from his hair portraits (http://www.mr-bingo.org.uk/index.php?/latest/hair-portraits/ ) but what you really should know about him is his wonderful Hate Mail project, and the insanely brilliant kick-starter project that he ran to fund the book of Hate Mail.

Click here at your peril!

Day two started well, the Assemble Studio of architects/creatives/disruptives who explained how, well, if you want to do something, then do it. They made me think of space (not the thing with worm-holes and Wookies in it, but the immediate area that surrounds each and everyone of us) and how we accept what is “our” space, and how we use it.

And then the day went batshit crazy!!

Jonathan Barnbrook

Piranha Bar, Jonathan Barnbrook and GMunk arrived on stage, one after another to literally shake the bejesus out of us.

Suffice to say this, Piranha Bar’s new film “Doom Newt” looks on fire, and their approach to doing what they want, because that’s why, reinforced so much of my own thinking. Barnbrook has had the enviable position of being the late David Bowie’s graphic designer.

His work on ★ was an eye opening 40 minute talk of working with a genius. Plus his work on the brilliant Adbusters from the 90’s was phenomenal. And then there was GMunk. I’d seen a bunch of his work over the past few years, not knowing who had done it.

At this point of the day I was pretty tired, but he bounded onto the stage, and it was like a missile going off in a fireworks factory, in about 50 minutes, blasting us through his ‘8 Pearls of Wisdom’. Click here for a slightly older version of this talk. I will never do him justice so take a long lunch and watch all 68 minutes of this, I promise that you’ll clap at your screen at the end.

The motion control projection mapping in was utterly incredible (it’s called ‘The Box’ and it’s at 28.28 in the link above), and the work on the Windows 10 and Adobe Brands is jaw dropping.

Una Burke

Sunday was wrapped up beautifully by the Studio Dunbar people, talking about (amongst other things) the misappropriation of their work for the Dutch Police, Una Burke (image above – Big Shout Out to the LSAD graduates! High Five!) spoke about how fortunate (its not luck, she’s bust her chops to get where she is) she’s been in the fashion industry.

Ok, there’s been a bit of luck but also that research is a key part of any project and how it influences your decisions and end goals.

mcBess

mcBess, a French illustrator brought a wonderfully cynical sense of humour to his talk, complete with highly inspirational quotes (“I like to draw” mcBess, 2009,”) and some great illustrations to illuminate his quotes

So what did I learn?

..so much. but I’ll try to wrap it up like this:

  1. Fail, but learn from your failings.
  2. Collaborate. More often than not someone else may bring something to the table that shakes things up for the best.
  3. Be brave. Take your hands out of your pockets, and run through nettles. People will admire you.
  4. Check your testicles. Check any outsourced work for testicles. And grow some testicles. Three different speakers mentioned testicles, and in more ways that you can imagine, this may have been the most important lesson for all of us to take away.
  5. Reference, catalogue, credit.
  6. Always try to reinvent yourself. Stay fresh.
  7. I need to design.

Bonus learning: Gifs. No matter how much we are told, it’s impossible to pronounce it Jifs. Even if 2016 was the year that gifs were in every presentation.  

Phew…see you next year

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj - FuzionJonathan

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj leads our creative Graphic Design Department in Fuzion with offices in Cork and Dublin, Ireland 

Music for my cremation and 9 other things I learnt last weekend at Offset

March 12, 2015

Offset

You may or may not know about Offset, chances are probably not.

It is Ireland’s annual conference for the creative industry. It is a three day event in Dublin’s amazing Bord Gais Theatre where designers, photographers, illustrators and pretty much anyone involved in the creative fields come together to listen to our heroes and anti heroes ‘show and tell‘ for approximately a combined 50 hours, over 2 stages with about 2500 attendees.

This was my 5th time going to Offset, and I’ll tell you a secret, I was giddy like a child at Christmas about it!

So, as I am a fan of lists, I’d like to share some of the things that I learnt last weekend (in no particular order!):

1. Everything that we do has a reason

There were loads of quotes floating about from the speakers, my favourite was a lovely one from Hey Studio, a Spanish design studio; “Design helps illustrate complex content in a friendly manner“.

I thought it was a really nice way of saying a lot of what we do as designers  – we take the complicated, and we create something approachable and digestible for our clients.

Offset 2015

Its not all about pretty pictures and swanky fonts, everything that we do has a reason. Its considered and crafted and deliberately shaped as a solution to a situation.

 2. I hate “Artists” waxing too lyrical ..

Early on one of the days a photographer spoke with passion and conviction about a series of images that he had taken, as both commercial and personal work. He bored the pants off me!

I’d rather that he’d shown us the work with 45 minutes of Metallica playing at nose-bleed inducing volumes than yack on about “his vision and the importance of the timeline in a coherent structure to illustrate the inner struggle of blah blah blah“. And its a shame, because the work was lovely.

Offset 2015

I adore illustrators work, I wish I had their talents and their abilities to think at speed and with insane deadlines (frequently more insane than ours!) and listening to them explain the what and the how about their work was the most genuine and honest communication that I heard all week end. It blew the socks off the BS that others were spouting!

3. Music for my cremation

James Murphy (Ex LCD Sound System & DFA boss) can do no wrong. The man has made 400+ hours of music from tennis data. Click here and listen to this !! .. I want him to DJ at my cremation.

4. Some of us are good at communicating on one medium only

Sometimes the creator of incredible bodies of communicative works are terrible communicators. Ian Anderson of TDR, a studio that I would hold in very very high esteem from the past 20/25 years of incredible design was one of those people. Perhaps he was tired & emotional. Perhaps not.

5. Fuzion are starting a band

I need to start a band with the people in Fuzion. It would make our presentations a hell of a lot better and I’d get to curse even more than usual. If you are not of an easily-offended-nature, then click and watch Snask in action. Amazing stuff, brilliant work, they nailed the presentation and I want to go drinking with them.

6. Its good to Ask!

Ask. Ask if you can have a job. Ask if you can do a job. Ask if you can help. What’s the worse that can happen? They say “no“? There’s a very talented woman from Cobh, Co. Cork working in an amazing agency in New York because she asked.

Ask us.. Is there something that we can do for you? You might be surprised.

7. Picking our least favourite option

Clients, including famous/celebrity/creative clients will ALWAYS pick the option that you like the least. Its the law.

8. There are 8000 holes in the London Olympic Torch.

Each of these holes represents one of the 8000 runners in the torch relay. And if you were really quick after the Olympics had finished, you could have snapped one up on eBay for £150,000+. If you hold out though, there’s one up on eBay at the moment for about £4,500, a steal! (well there are 8,000 of them, so it’s not the most exclusive item on eBay).

There are also butane gas lighters that you can get for about a fiver, plus delivery. But they might explode (an example of less than perfect design).

9. Designers not Computers

Matt Willey is an extraordinary magazine designer. Truly, incredible layouts and a gift for making things read well on the page. And he moves things about even more than I do to find the perfect positioning for items.

Offset 2015 We take our time while designing because, contrary to popular belief, its not the computer putting things in the right place, its us – the designers. And on an average A4 page that’s 297 x 210mm or a spread that’s 297 x 420 there’s a hell of a lot of places you can position something.

But I am the designer, not the computer. I take pride in the things I do, and the crafts that I employ. Matt Willey confirmed that the consideration that designers take is both justified and necessary!

10. Kerning is important.

Kerning is the altering of space between two letterforms or characters in typesetting – now you know!

So little of what we as designers comes from nothing. Annie Atkins, the incredibly talented designer behind the graphics from the Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson’s beautiful movie – showed us so much of her work, explaining where it had come from and the inspiration behind it.

The work took months, largely hand done and repeatedly so for continuity in the movie, and continued past the shoot right into post-production where 3000+ pink Mendl’s boxes had to be digitally retouched, which brings me back to kerning.

Offset

While Atkins’ design was praised universally, the poster was questioned as to why the letter spacing was uneven. Look again at the hotel sign from the image above – the spaces between GRA—ND BUD–APEST  HO–T–EL are all over the place, and she produced a research shot from a north African hotel sign from the 1930’s – Research influencing the design and kerning of course!

Its 13 months until the next event, and I cannot wait.

www.Iloveoffset.com  ..I really do!

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj - FuzionJonathan

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj leads our creative Graphic Design Department in Fuzion with offices in Cork and Dublin, Ireland 

The Pencil is mightier than the Sword: Je Suis Charlie

January 15, 2015

Chalie Hebdo

The New Year has started with a strange turn of events, where moral and pseudo-religious outrage has turned into a horrific and tragic attack on not only the press, but free thinking and the right to believe differently.

Wednesday the 7th January saw an attack on the offices of the publishers of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine that has a track record of poking fun at authority, politics and religions. Much has been written by people far more eloquent than I am in regards to the rights and wrongs, the justifications and unjustifiable following the attack (and subsequent incidents in France).

My position on the writers, cartoonists and editorial team is simple, I believe that they were right to challenge, to fuel debate and to publish what they did. My stance on the attacks is that they are wrong.

Je Suis Charlie

What I would like to do, is draw attention to the manner in which the world reacted to the attack, in a collection of defiant and beautiful powerful messages. As someone who works in a creative industry, one where people differ frequently, where passion and commitment cross paths with opinions and counter opinions, I saw a unified movement, where once again, the adage that the pen is mightier than the sword was proved correct.

The powerful imagery that has emerged has been incredible, moving, supportive and full of emotion and empathy once again capturing our attention about these issues visually.

Reaction to the initial attack quickly moved from an informative/news based set to messages of support, loss, horror and disgust, and the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie began to emerge. Within three days it had been used over 5 million times, peaking at approximately 6,500 times a minute. But in my opinion, the most poetic and the strongest reaction happened by artists and cartoonists, the very people who the attempt to silence was aimed at.

Their dignity and solidarity was incredible, and it made the power of their message stronger through its absolute rejection of intimidation. The acts of violence are a stark contrast to the peaceful counter demonstrations, but I would argue that they are a more powerful and (hopefully) successful act, using nothing more than ink and paper to deliver a wholly defiant two fingers in retaliation.

Some of the images below are the ones that I feel best show the levels of emotion and defiance. It’s just a shame that such work has to be created in the first place.

Thank you for reading ..

#JeSuisCharlie

Je Suis CharlieJe Suis Charlie

Je Suis CharlieJe Suis CharlieJe Suis CharlieJe Suis CharlieJe Suis CharlieJe Suis Charlie

Jonathan

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj leads our creative Graphic Design Department in Fuzion with offices in Cork and Dublin, Ireland 

Ghost signs and seeing differently

October 29, 2014

Ghost Signs of Cork

A short tale about where things come from..

One of the things that Steve Jobs, boss of Apple asked us to do was to “Think Different“. As part of what I do as a designer, and as something that I bring to my role as the creative director at Fuzion and as an educator with CIT, I ask people to take this notion and to adapt it slightly to “See Different“.

Often, as designers, we are asked to create work that we know nothing about. To fashion “a design” almost from the air.

..but the truth is that we research our subjects and topics, referencing all sorts of things and cross referencing them with the topic over and back. Part of this research is now (thankfully) fuelled in a large part by the internet, and what we can make out is relevant to our clients and their products and services, important as part of the message and right for the work by means of imagery, fonts and colours.

Hamlet by BeggarstaffSome of what we look at is the historical aspect of things – what the heritage of something may be and if there is a point of reference that we can use as inspiration to take us to the next stage of the design process – this could be anything, from the beautiful work of the Beggarstaffs (from the mid to late 1800’s) to the work of the utterly influential Bauhaus and so on.

As part of the heritage aspect, something I have found myself becoming more aware of and absorbed in over the past few years are what are termed “Ghost Signs“. These often overlooked and ignored relics are of a time when design really didn’t have a name, when graphic artists were the sign makers, the advertising creatives and the commercial image makers.

The internet is awash with people finding what essentially are a popular history of design, applied to exterior walls, used as emerging spaces ripe for advertising and announcing. Many, if not most, of these have disappeared from our urban landscape as new architecture has been added, but some remain, and this is where part of the notion of “See Different” comes in…

Cork. my home city only has a few left, one from a highly rare form of ghost sign where the information was created by using mosaic tile, the others a mix of painted walls and surfaces, but they give us a snapshot into a bygone time and a bygone craft.

And to see these ghost signs, you need a few things – one of which is luck. The other, well in order to see differently, you need to simply start looking up!

The corners of junctions and gable-ends were a favourite location for these notices, as were the large brick surfaces high over commercial buildings, such as on Cork’s Washington Street (where there are only two left) were also a prime spot.

And frequently, they have almost disappeared due to age, abandonment, being covered over and left to the elements. And this is where you need to See Differently, to bring them back into view.

On a recent trip to London, on a journey across the south of the city’s suburbs – one I have taken dozens of times, I saw a number of them that I had never noticed before, offering funeral home services, soap, chocolate milk, beer and matches. All reminders that someone somewhere once needed “a designer“.

And what is it that makes them of interest to me?

I love the the typography, I am fascinated by the history of the people both offering their services on these signs, and the craft involved in the planning, the design and the execution of these large-scale works. Just as the early websites fall into a digital dust, these signs are clinging on to remind us that..

..not everything is made of pixels, and finally, that good design is design that lasts.

Check out an interesting website that captures these designs from the past: www.dublinghostsigns.com

Jonathan

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj leads our creative Graphic Design Department in Fuzion with offices in Cork and Dublin, Ireland 

Powering Kindness?

November 5, 2013

Cycling

This is something that’s been buzzing about my head quite a lot recently, and culminated I suppose with 4 or 5 attempts being made on my life in the course of a week, the most life threatening of which nudged me (like a size 13 Doc Martin flying towards my backside) towards writing this.

As I cycled along College Road in the pouring rain last Tuesday, soaked to the skin – despite rain gear – and illuminated front and back by sufficient lighting, a gentleman decided that the comfort and relative warmth and dryness of his tank was a good thing to use to push his way into the flow of traffic from a side road, with scant regard for this poor drowning sod on a bike travelling towards him.

As he horsed on the brakes to avoid me he gave me the rural “howareya” raised digit off the steering wheel as some sort of acknowledgement that he had nearly killed me. To which I replied with the urban digit-based reply to nearly being thrown off your bike and into traffic.

This is not a cyclists rant though, its based on something that’s been around since before the Bike V’s Car wars began.

It’s an argument for manners.

These days we are all in a rush. All of us.

My youngest child spends Fridays rushing from school to Gaelic Football to gymnastics to Scouts. Some of these overlap so there is frantic collections and dropping-off’s. My own time is spend dashing from one thing to another, pretty much 6 days a week. And I’m sure that yours is somewhere in-between these two. But I would like to think that I still have time for manners.

The vocabulary to say Please & Thank You. The humanity to acknowledge a waiter or waitress as they bring something to our table. The ability to hold doors open for whoever is behind me. The compassion to let a fellow road user out of a side road in a safe and legally responsible manner. These are things that I may not always excel at, but they are things that I strive to achieve.

Unless someone is rude to me, offensive or dangerous, I will always try to engage them in a manner that shows respect and as a fellow human. It’s not that hard.

Twice in the Irish Times’ reports from the Web Summit held in Dublin last week they mention people being rude. Una Mullally says “I only chatted to the people who were actually polite, which was I’d say 50% of people who approached you…” regarding the third and final day of the summit. Previously, on Day 2 she talks about “aggressive pitching to journalists“, in a fashion that was “inappropriate and borderline harassment“.

At what point did it become ok to be rude?

When did we stop thinking that being nice to others was a waste of time and inconvenient, and that we would have a better chance of success by being bad-mannered? When did one person’s opinion become the ONLY opinion? Are there not two sides to most discussions, and is it not polite to listen to the opposing argument as something offered to sway towards a new way of thinking? Or just out of courtesy?

Thinking that you are more important or that your journey – in whatever shape it takes, by bike, in a car, or as a metaphor for life – is more important than someone else’s is greedy, and ignorant.  It makes the world a much less joyous place and a nastier place. We may not have time to allow each and every car to come out of a side road, we may not have time to hold every door, but we all have the time to say Please, Thank you and to acknowledge that someone has done something pleasant for you.

Powering KindnessIn the meantime, this: www.poweringkindness.ie initiative is on, and might just give people the opportunity to slow down for a second or two ..it’s OK to be kind!

Thanks for reading!

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj - FuzionJonathan Leahy Maharaj is the Creative Director who leads the graphic design team at Fuzion

What kind of cheese would you like?

April 29, 2013

Cheese Monger - Fuzion blog

If you are looking to buy cheese, not any cheese, but a rich, salty, tangy, creamy cheese, full of dark taste and craft, of pleasure and savour – where would you go to purchase such a food?

Would you stop and ask Sean behind Iago’s glass counter (a cheese monger located in the English Market in Cork city) about the vintage of the cheese, of the grass-fed nature of the cows? Would you ask for a sliver to taste? Would you consider how you would eat it if you bought it?

Or would you ask the random person behind the countless chocolate bars and in front of the naggins of vodka, cough sweets and parking disks in a convenience store about whether the cheddar manufacturer’s pasteurise their milk or leave it raw?

Well there are plenty of convenience stores around that sell like-for-like blocks of mediocre quality cheeses, with indefinite sell by dates and fantastic “Buy One Get One Free” offers that will taste, well, like cheese on a midweek plate of pasta, but ultimately deliver an unmemorable topping to an unmemorable meal.

I remember the first time I tried an incredible sheep’s cheese from Tipperary called Crozier, eating most of it in the car on the way home and vouching to buy double the quantity the next time as so to avoid the no-Crozier-left crisis that followed the car journey home.

And I remember the sting on my lips from Gabriel cheese, made by Bill and Sean in West Cork. I remember the conversation regarding the most oozing, perfectly ripe brie, as it almost poured as it was cut and how a certain someone (Hello Nuala!) would utterly enjoy such a cheese.

As a result I have become a wiser person – one better equipped to eat & talk (or write) about cheese, from dealing with Sean in Iago’s, over the past decade and a half.  I don’t know the name of a single person working in my local convenience store, and nor have I ever asked them for advice about their cheese offerings.

So you see, we go to experts, to savour, to experience, to enjoy and mostly to learn and benefit from them. We trust them that they know what they do is right, for them and for us. We go because when we ask they listen, and when they tell we learn.

And that’s why clients come to see and work with us. We have put long hours into developing and fine-tuning our crafts, and that our expert (we’ve been doing this stuff for a while!) opinions will enhance your brand, products and services in a professional fashion. Our opinions are worth listening to.

Trust us to guard what you have worked so hard to create and achieve.

What kind of cheese would you like?

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj is the Creative Director with Fuzion 

Fuzion offer a full range of graphic design services from our offices in Cork and Dublin


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