Cass Pad Competition

Brief: We’re giving one lucky winner the opportunity to be featured on the front cover of one of our award-winning pad ranges. An exclusive print run of your custom design will be available to buy online and in-store at Cass Art. Shortlisted works will be selected by CEO & Founder of Cass Art, Mark Cass, Head of Design at Cass Art Naj Ellwood and award-winning designer Angus Hyland, Creative Director at Cass Art and Partner at design consultancy, Pentagram.

The competition requirements were very open as the design did not need to have a concept and could be created using any medium, the only requirements were that the image was 203 x 206mm. As I am currently working on the materials, processes and art of the accident project I decided to utilise one of my experiments with print for my competition submission. Many of the current CASS Pad designs are abstract prints, therefore I thought the medium would fit well into their range, however I did want to make my work stand out and therefore contain a slightly figurative aspect.

I choose to use my favourite etching taken from my etching workshop, this can be seen below. I believe that the overlapping of imagery and linear qualities are figurative but also maintain an abstract quality when zoomed into and cropped.

Soft and Hard Ground Etching Inspired by Rust

Below are some thumbnails I produced where I played with different crops into the image. For my final design I selected the last crop.

After some editing using levels and colour balance in Photoshop I finally produced my CASS Pad design. I really enjoyed creating this competition entry, the openness of the brief allowed me to choose whatever imagery I saw fit and therefore utilise my etching prints which I really enjoyed producing for my current project. This also meant I had the opportunity to enter the competition and possibility gain publicity through it, without having to sacrifice spending time on my university work to produce an entirely new outcome for the competition brief.

Creative Process

To help develop my creative process I have decided to make a checklist which I can follow and edit when working on a brief. This checklist will help to speed up my creative process as I will have a clear plan to follow, it will also help to ensure that I don’t miss or spend too little or too much time on certain activities, therefore compromising my project.


  • Analyse the brief
  • Identify what is required from the project

Initial ideation

  • Mind map initial ideas
  • Identify initial subject matter
  • Brainstorm ideas/feelings/emotions/etc. associated with that subject matter which I can use to inform my work (for example if my subject matter was dreaming my work could have an ethereal and confusing feeling)

Primary and Secondary Research

  • Research any references suggested on the brief
  • Research any requirements of the brief that I am unfamiliar with
  • Research my subject matter
  • Research how other designers have approached that subject matter
  • Research formats
  • Primary research about methods, imagery, formats, production, etc.
  • Browse my collection of work saved on Pinterest and Tumblr for inspiration

Informed ideation

  • Develop my initial ideas based on my findings from my primary and secondary research


  • Roughly design my final solution
  • Identify and plan for any potential issues that may occur during the production of the final solution

Production, Refinement and Final Solution

  • Design my final idea
  • Using appropriate traditional or digital techniques produce my final outcomes
  • Mount/photograph/present my final outcome if appropriate


  • Present my final solution during a group critique to receive feedback from the tutors and my peers

Post critique amendments

  • Make appropriate changes based on feedback given during the critique

Transmogrify Screenprints


During my final critique for the transmogrify project during semester 1 suggestions were made for me to produce black and white photography of my three dimensional typography. In the lead up to semester 1 assessments I made these changes and submitted a black and white contact sheet and a black and white print. For my screen printing induction however I decided to personally explore my transmogrify project further by taking some of the photographic imagery I produced and making screen prints from it.

To produce the prints above I screen printed 3 layers, on the first layer was a digital image capturing the tone and shadows from the initial photograph, on the second layer was hand drawn marks done with black ink that brought out the strong shadows, and the top layer was a series of three simple linear lines that defined 3 focal edges of the three dimensional typography.

I continued with the monochromatic theme, printing the first layer in grey, the second layer in a darker slate grey to pick out the darks tones and the top layer in white to highlight the edges. However I did experiment with colour as well and produced a print where I changed the white colour of the third layer for a red. This was just the start of experimenting with colour and I would like to take it further in the future, experimenting with colour on all layers and exploring translucency.

The screen printing workshop ran across 2 consecutive Fridays, one happening to be before semester 1 assessments and one taking place after, therefore I was unable to submit this work for my assessments. However I am eager to submit this work for semester 2 assessments.

I produced several prints during the sessions however the imagery and colours were the same for most prints and the volume was simply to give me choice to choose the clearest and cleanest print. This body of work however inspired me to want to submit the prints in the form of a book for assessments, however as previously stated many of the prints are repetitive, on the other hand during my final critique for transmogrify it was suggested that I also experiment with capturing my object through analogue photography, therefore I could produce a book consisting of my screen prints and possibly analogue photography prints.

In conclusion I think these are a strong set of prints and I enjoyed continuing my work from the transmogrify project as I believe the imagery to be strong, therefore screen printing allowed me to further utilise that strong potential. I intend to further explore my imagery from transmogrify using other processes and aim to collate a large body of work on my explorations, possibly in the form of a book, for semester 2 assessments.

Experimental Photography

MDMA Crystals with 200x enlargement

LSD Crystals with 200x enlargement

GHB Crystals with 100x enlargement

DMT Crystals with 400x enlargement

DMT Crystals with 400x enlargement

2C-B Crystals with 200x enlargement

Above is the work of Dutch artist Michael Mikkers, a former licensed medical lab assistant. In his photography above he investigates the aesthetic value of drugs on a microscopic level. Drugs have a large influence on culture and have influenced trends, music, scenes and eras, but rarely are they looked at in terms of their physical qualities.

Initially his worked focused on over the counter painkillers, substances and food additives, however through the use of bitcoins and the deep web he began to experiment with photographing hard drugs. To create his photographs he dissolves the crystals in demineralised water, the solution is then dropped onto a slide and left to crystallize. This method however does not work with all drugs, and therefore no successful photographs have been taken of cocaine, ketamine or oxycodone.

Top: MDMA, LSD, GHB Bottom: DMT, Amphetamine, 2CB

The reason he gives behind his work is that many of us will not tend to consume hard drugs but will willingly consume painkillers, food additives or prescription drugs without hesitation. No one tends to read the medication leaflet or product label when taking these socially accepted drugs and medication until things go wrong. Therefore through his microscopic photography he aims to create more awareness about the products we consume.

Not only do I find his work visually appealing and intellectually interesting but it also reminded me of an artist I did research into for my Type is Visual Speech project at the beginning of the year. Davy Evans is an award winning artist and designer who studied Graphic Design at the University of Brighton. His work mainly focuses on combining digital and analogue techniques to produce abstract experimental photography (similar to that produced during the Let There Be Light Project.)

Streams by Davy Evans

///// by Davy Evans. A series where he mixed normal household chemicals with high oil content

Article on Opiate Addiction for The New York Times by Davy Evans

These photographs produced by photographing chemicals and substances at a microscopic scale has very similar visual qualities to the series Michael Mikkers, however the approach varies. Mikkers is using his photography to record and document substances at a microscopic level where as the work of Evans is far more creative as he plays and manipulates his subject matter to get his desired visual outcome. Therefore comparing a very objective and subjective approach to photography that initially appears to be very similar.

Another artist creating work similar to Evans is Ruslan Khasanov, who has produced work for Adobe, Computer Arts, HTC, IBM, GQ and many more. The focus of his work is also experimental photography, however he also incorporates motion graphics into his work.

Lucidity by Ruslan Khasanov, 2014

Lucidity by Ruslan Khasanov, 2014

The work of these artists has inspired me to revisit experimental photography and to even possibly explore film and motion art. Let There Be Light was my favourite project from semester 1 and I am eager to further explore, develop and discover new ways of producing experimental photography, especially through the use of substances and chemicals to generate otherworldly imagery. Although these techniques do not currently fit into any projects I am working on I would like to explore experimental photography as a continuous personal project.


Screenshot 1

Screenshot 2

As part of my new years resolution to create accounts on various websites to promote my artwork, I have created a tumblr. My tumblr can be found at On my tumblr I won’t be posting all of the work I create whilst at uni, nor in depth explanations of any of the work, simply strong selected pieces with brief descriptions. By posting some of my strongest pieces I believe my tumblr can help to positively promote my work online.

Semester 1 Assessments


In preparation for our semester 1 assessments we were given a list of work to present and how it should be presented. The work to be presented is as follows:

To present our work all of our layout pads should have cover sheets, held together with bulldog clips or another appropriate binding technique, and on each cover sheet should be a label. These labels should also be attached to any cover sheets for mounted outcomes, archive spines and on the reverse of final outcomes.

Finally to accompany our work we had to complete a self-evaluation sheet for the semester, write a cover letter explaining the work presented and any tutorial and critique note sheets.

For my semester 1 assessment portfolio I attached black cover sheets to all of my layout pads, which I held together with black bulldog clips, and to any work mounted on boards. By having all my cover sheets the same colour it allows my portfolio to easily be identifiable as a single body of work. Any final outcomes that weren’t mounted were printed onto good quality paper and had a label attached to the reverse. When collating all of my work at the end I realised that having my cover sheets as black was a very suitable choice as many of my final outcomes are black and white, therefore adding to the theme throughout my work.

The labels I created were based on the label I produced for my presentation board several months before, although it is not the most ground breaking design it does contain all of the appropriate information and is consistent throughout. Furthermore as I designed my labels several months in advance I did not want to redo the labelling on my work and risk damaging the prints or boards.

Semester 1 Reflection

I believe my work at the start of the academic year was not as strong as it could have been as I was settling into new ways of working and gaining new skills. Towards the end of the semester however my work developed hugely as I had a better idea of what was expected from me and could apply the skills I had been learning. Reflecting on past projects now I can now see how they need to be improved by applying the skills I have learned. Due to time, I cannot revisit and improve every project to the level I would like, therefore for my year 1 semester 1 assessments I improved those which needed it most. The new skills and knowledge I have gained through semester 1 however has put me in a strong position for the start of semester two.

Not only have I gained new skills and knowledge from semester 1 but I have begun to enjoy my work more and am eager to take on more personal projects. My goals for semester two are to create a series of online accounts on various websites to promote my work, to develop and explore my transmogrify project more, to explore experimental photography more which was inspired by let there be light, and to possibly develop my own font inspired by my handwriting. I would also be interested learning and experimenting with vector illustrations, an aspect of graphic design I have been eager to explore for a while but lacked the initial technical knowledge in Adobe Illustrator.

Vector Illustration

Vector illustration has been a topic I have wanted to learn for a very long time, and now with the skills I’ve learned through my visual communication projects and the software I have learned through my software inductions I feel confident to take on the task. Two inspirational vector artists, whose work I’ve followed for years, are James Gilleard and Mark Usimani. Both use vectors skillfully to create beautiful imagery however their styles are distinctly different.

The illustrator / animator James Gilleard is from London, England and is currently producing work. He has many distinct styles however his most popular are his very detailed vector illustrations. In Illustrator he will build up an image through the use of layered vector shapes, varying in colour and tone. He will also add textures to these images, removing the often ‘over polished’ look present in many vector artists work. From a distance you may not believe that these images were produced using vectors due to the detail and three dimensional form created through his style.

Japanese Food by James Gilleard, 2016

His also produces very abstract vector work. Since completing the spatial awareness project I can now see a clear link between the project and the work of James Gilleard. As well as using shapes, like I did for spatial awareness, he has taken it further by introducing colour and tone. I am eager to explore experimenting with more complex forms like those seen below as well as adding colour and tone and seeing what effect that has on the emotions and feelings conveyed through my work.

Abstract Things Series by James Gilleard, 2016

Abstract Things Series by James Gilleard, 2016










In contrast to his work is the highly polished vector work of freelance American designer / illustrator Mark Usmiani. His work compared to the work of James Gilleard is far more playful and child like. The content of his illustrations mainly focuses on fictional fantasy weapons and armour that he designs. This playfulness is also conveyed in his style, which consists of bright bold colours and highly polished bubbly vector shapes.

Loot Series by Mark Usmiani, 2016

Both artists use vector illustration effectively to convey different moods and feelings. When experimenting with vectors I feel it would be beneficial to experiment with both of their styles which would give me a broader understanding of the topic. I often feel mainly designers decide to use the more polished vector style, which personally I enjoy a lot, but being able to successfully create work in either style will grant me more flexibility if I choose to use vector illustrations in future university projects or industry briefs.

Japanese Aesthetics

Japanese design has always been of interest to me therefore I decided to do some personal research into Japanese aesthetics. Their culture balances age-old tradition with modernity harmoniously and this is shown through their aesthetics and design. My research revealed that there are 9 principles of Japanese art and culture which act as the basis for Japanese art, movies, music, pop culture and fashion.


Wabi and sabi refers to a mindful approach to everyday life, eventually the two terms were combined to form a philosophy based on imperfection, impermanence, and incompletion. The philosophy is derived from Buddhist teachings of the ‘three marks of existence’, and insight into these marks can end suffering. Asymmetry, simplicity and modesty are values also associated with this principle. In Japanese culture aesthetic ideals hold ethical connotations and therefore through an appreciation of the arts, civility can be instilled.

Hanami (“blossom viewing”) parties at Himeji Castle

Imperfection in life is what makes it interesting and this is the underlying theme present in this philosophy. Sakura blossoms fit into this philosophy as they are impermanent and imperfect, and their beauty lies in the fact that they don’t last forever and are transient.  As things come and go, they leave behind signs of their coming and going which are seen as beautiful.Many aspects of wabi-sabi can be found in nature, they can also suggest human character and appropriateness of behaviour.

In Zen philosophy there are 7 aesthetic principles for achieving wabi-sabi.

  • Fukinsei = asymmetry, irregularity
  • Kanso = simplicity
  • Koko = basic, weathered
  • Shizen = without pretense, natural
  • Yungen = subtly profound grace, not obvious
  • Datsuzoku = unbounded by convention, free
  • Seijaku = tranquility


Miyabi often translated as ‘heartbreaker’ and focuses on elegance, refine and courtliness. The aim is to eliminate anything vulgar or unsightly and to polish manners, diction and feelings to achieve grace. Miyabi is reflected in art and design, as well as society through the politeness, etiquette and helpfulness of Japanese people. This is one of the oldest principles however it is not as noticeable as Wabi-sabi or Iki. The principle is closely linked to the notion of Mono no aware which is the bittersweet awareness of the transience of things and that their decline showed a sense of Miyabi.

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

Shibui, Shibumi or Shibusa

18th Century Tea Bowl

This ideal focuses on simplicity, subtlety and unobtrusiveness. Films such as Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki reflects Shibui with its simple storyline and art style. The subtly of the Shibui is far more pleasing and attractive than things which are loud and in your face. Like Iki and Wabi-sabi, Shibui can be applied to a wide variety of subjects from fashion to films.

Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki

A breakdown of the Shibui ideal

  1. Simple with subtle details such as textures, balancing simplicity with complexity
  2. The balance of simplicity and complexity allows a Shibui object to never become boring as new meanings can always be found in the object, therefore its aesthetic value grows with time
  3. Many wabi or sabi objects can be Shibui, however not all Shibui objects can be wabi or sabi. Wabi and sabi objects are often exaggerated focusing on imperfections to an almost artificial extent. Shibui objects are not always imperfect or asymmetrical although they can include these qualities.
  4. Shibui balances aesthetic concepts such as elegance and roughness, spontaneous and restrained.


Iki is refined uniqueness, it is not regarded as simply unique as Japanese culture does not celebrate uniqueness.

“The nail that sticks up is pounded down” – Japanese Proverb

It can be compared to Wabi-sabi due to its simplicity and temporality, yet it is also original, unique and spontaneous. It is audacious and less self conscious but is also refined, measured and controlled.

Japanese Punks

Iki can signify a personal trait or an artificial object imbued with human traits. It can be used to express appreciation for natural beauty or nature of human beings, but is not used to describe natural phenomena or found in nature. In Japanese culture Iki can be used to describe visually appealing qualities, or when applied to a person it would describe what they do or have, and is seen as a compliment.


Jo-ha-kyu roughly translates to “beginning, break, rapid”, and is a tempo focusing on modulation and movement, it starts slowly then accelerates and comes to a sudden end. This aesthetic is widely used in Japanese traditional arts, such as tea ceremonies, kendō, theatres, Gagaku, and in martial arts. More modern uses include movies, music, advertising and books (e.g. Haruki Murakami).

Kyoto Tea Ceremony



The exact translation of the word depends on the context. In Japanese waka poetry it is used to describe the subtle profundity of things vaguely suggested in the poem, what is suggested is beyond what can be said with words however is not a suggestion of another world but of our own.

“To watch the sun sink behind a flower clad hill.

To wander on in a huge forest without thought of return. To stand upon the shore and gaze after a boat that disappears behind distant islands. To contemplate the flight of wild geese seen and lost among the clouds.

And, subtle shadows of bamboo on bamboo.” – Zeami Motokiyo

Yugen focuses on the beauty and profound depth in unanswered questions. The mystery of the unknown and holding back some of the answers is commonly seen in Japanese theatre, movies and books.

The Dragon of Smoke Escaping from Mt Fuji by Hokusai, 1849


This principle focuses on the beauty in ethics and discipline, which can be seen in traditional Japanese arts disciplines: Noh (Japanese theatre), Kado (Japanese flower arrangement), Shodo (Japanese calligraphy), Sado (Japanese tea ceremonies), and Yakimono (Japanese pottery).  It also includes the systematised approach to apprenticeships within many Japanese traditional arts. Each of the disciplines have ethical and aesthetic connotations, and focus on the appreciation of the process of appreciate.

Japanese warriors trained in combat techniques that incorporated the teaching of the Geido in the arts through systematized practice, practice in the arts, embodying aesthetic concepts, and the philosophy of the arts. These combat techniques are now known as the martial arts.



Enso is a zen concept represented by a circle that symbolises absolution, enlightenment, strength, elegancy, infinity, nothingness, the Universe and the void. This concept from Zen Buddhism is represented by a form of minimalism, commonly seen in Japanese design and aesthetics.

“The character of the artist is fully exposed in how she or he draws an enso. Only a person who is mentally and spiritually complete can draw a true enso. Some artists will practice drawing an enso daily, as a kind of spiritual exercise.” – Unknown

Ensō by Kanjuro Shibata XX



There is debate between whether Kawaii is a new aesthetic or something that has always been part of Japanese culture. Since the 1970’s however it has definitely become the most popular Japanese aesthetic, seen in art, pop culture, entertainment, clothing, food, toys, personal appearance, behaviour, mannerisms  and design. It means lovable, cute or adorable, and can be seen almost everywhere in Japanese culture and national identity.

Kawaii Fashion

New Years

For 2017 my new years resolution is to develop a greater presence online in regards to my design work. I have previously attempted to do this in past years however constantly fell behind on updating my online accounts and therefore gave up. However due to maintaining this blog as part of my course I have now got into the habit of constantly photographing and uploading work so I am eager to start transferring this work onto other websites. By posting work online I hope it will motivate me even more to achieve great final outcomes for project, as I want to make them worthy of showing the world, also I hope this will help to publicise my work.

The sites I intend to upload my work to are; Behance (a website for creative professionals to share their portfolios), Tumblr (a microblogging and social networking platform), Facebook (a multimedia social media platform), Twitter (a multimedia social media platform) and Instagram (a social media platform focusing on photography and videos.) I have been quite ambitious with this list in order to motivate myself, the sites however I will prioritise are Behance as it is focusing specifically on professional in design, and Facebook and Tumblr as they are multimedia platforms so are flexible in the types of work I can upload.