Birmingham-based designers Smile sent me their super deluxe promotional box of awesomeness before Christmas. Dive in and you get to scratch beneath the surface of their means and methods.
Coralie Bickford-Smith's spectacular covers for the Penguin Great Food series got an abundance of well deserved blog coverage. They were published around April last year and it would be worth a little dig around to find some of it; to get the inside track on the amazing care and detail Coralie applied to this beautiful collection. I can remember, on the run up to their release, Coralie's intriguing tweets that hinted at her research.
Karen, my wife, bought me the full set for Christmas. I'd seen a few in the flesh and more, of course, online but getting your hands on the lot is really the only way to appreciate just how fabulous and rich the designs are.
Apologies. That title is most likely shocking French. I do, after all, "Speak French like crap". Or so I was told (as you may already know) quite fairly, by a barman in Paris. He offered me a hard boiled egg. Which I politely turned down. Oeuf.
(I've got a stamp thing going on at the moment. Lots more to come).
Say what you like about the former Soviet Union. Whatever you think of Stalin's "socialist island", the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany, their invasion of eastern Poland and occupation of the Baltic countries; regardless of how you feel about the annexations in the Estonian and Latvian Republics, the attempted invasion of Finland or the 1940 Ultimatum in Bukovina and the Hertz region of Romania; the later, so called, puppet regimes in Eastern and Central Europe, the Red Army looting of Hungary, the Berlin blockade, Tito-Stalin Split and what-not and so-forth; you can't devy, they didn't half make some lovely stamps.
I think I must have most of the good Penguin Education covers. You don't find many. Perhaps it's because the subject was "of its time" so the editions weren't seen to have much life beyond their era. I don't know. As I've said before, it was this series that got me into collecting Penguins - Ominific's covers are great examples of economically executed, intelligent graphic design.
From the physics defying Electric Brae to the World's Biggest Hedge at Meikleour; from the almost-nothing-there Forsinard Flows to Europe's Oldest Tree in Fortingall; if it's hardly ever been seen, the chances are, Anne's sought it out. The mish-mash homes of Footdee, the no-introduction-needed-unless-you've-never-heard-of-it Pineapple Foley near Falkirk, the drive-too-fast-and-you'll-miss-it World's Shortest Street in Wick and the hold-on-to-your-knickers Clootie Well, just west of Munlochy, on the A832 between Muir of Ord and Fortrose. All tracked down, like dogs, and snared in a net that looks very like a tidy little book. £6.99.
If you find yourself roaming around the High and Low lands, tired of the clichéd tourist traps, sick of the shortbread and the skirted bagpipe wrestlers, then this is the book for you. Swerve straight past Aberdeen and roll on down to Storybook Glen. Take the kids. If they're anything like our's, it could totally freak them out. Wonky effigies of lovable cartoon characters will haunt their darkest nightmares for decades to come.
Glasgow bound? Don't bother. Go to Uddingston instead. Everyone in the car will love you dearly when you pull up outside, let's face it, Scotland's finest biscuitery: the legendary actually-really-does-need-no-introduction Tunnock's Factory.
If Edinburgh is your final destination check out the tubas at St Cecilia's Hall and Reid Concert Hall Museum of Instruments. Spread across two locations it is, of course, not all windstruments. They've got everything: hurdy-gurdies, quinticlaves, harpsiwhatsits, dulcithingies, sousaflimflams; the lot.
I've been thinking a bit about Path lately. Partly because I've been really enjoying it, partly because I discovered it around the same time as a couple of other things that I just haven't got into (like Google+) and partly because a few people I either know, or kind of know, have been pondering or even challenging it's usefulness.
Path works for me. I use it with a small group of around five or six people who I mostly know within the Social Media Realm. I think, we use it well and effectively. It's fun. It's a laugh. (I don't know what the other members of this "group" think by the way).
Daniel was asking the other day what it was for and I said it's like the inner sanctum or something. It's an intra-social network and that feels good. Andy, before Christmas, described it as a "bad idea well executed". And Andy knows his internets so those words have stuck with me.
But it's working for me. Consequently, I've been wondering why and a few things fell into place the other night, actually after a big glass of wine:
Thing 1: I don't have many real-world mates.
Thing 2: The small group of active "Path Mates" I have are mostly Dads.
Thing 3: Dave.
Thing 4: Russell M.
(Stick with me).
Thing 1: I have the excuse of being both from across the water and a Dad so having few real-world mates is not sad. I certainly don't mind. I have had real world mates. And then I killed them. Joking. I think I get on well with people but I'm pretty self-sufficient and have an amazing wife who's my best fwiend too. And I've got two fast growing sons; I haven't got time for real-world mates. But that's not to say I don't enjoy social interaction. This is a bit connected to Thing 4, but I'll come to that in a bit. The point is: I like a bit of social interaction but don't have much time or many real-world mates.
Thing 2: It dawned on me the other night that the small group of people I interact with mostly on Path are also Dads. Some are designers but all are Dads. We don't "talk" much about Dad stuff, we might show a few photos of our kids doing cute things, but there's not much Dad chat, a bit of amusing anecdotal stuff. Which reminded me of Dad Club. Dad Club seemed like such a good idea, for camaraderie and the like, but it didn't really work out. I think I read something somewhere that said, in general, Dad Clubs don't work. I went back to Dad Club to see what I'd written. It still makes me laugh. But even I didn't keep it up. Are these things connected?
Thing 3: Jane Fielder from Red Bee Media came over here a few years back and gave a great talk about their work. Fantastic stuff for Life on Mars I remember AND a whole thing about Dave, the TV channel, that they branded. If my memory serves me well, she described the positioning for the channel as something like, "The channel for blokes that want to go down the pub with their mates but can't because they have a family". Right now, Path feels a bit like that.
Thing 4: Did you catch that talk Russell M Davies did on Radio 4 about what's next for the internets and social media? He described social media as "networking for shy people" which I totally get but would suggest you can extend that to "…shy people and Dads (and Mums)".
Connecting the dots and crossing the T's, I have, therefore determined that Path works for me because even if I did have real-world mates I'd not have enough time to go to the pub with them anyway, so use a swanky closed-network app for a bit of trivial blokish banter. And it's a little bit like Dad Club (there's an unspoken understanding) but better because Dad Club was too open; anyone could read the filth you write.
It might not work for Daniel and Andy because right now, they have the freedom that comes with being child-free and they have actual, real-world mates to go to the pub with. Andy certainly does - I'm less sure about Daniel.
If you haven't D, you'd probably better stick with Path, you'll be glad you did soon enough.
I've just re-read this and feel the need to add a disclaimer: Please note that this entry may quite possible be utter bollocks or at the very least be a narrow view on a subject with variable appeal. Also, the "group" I mention is in no way a formal conglomeration of peoples. "They" don't even know they're part of a "group". My main point is that Path's great for a clique short on time. And others things probably too.