Lizzie Everard Design Blog

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Bristol Media Brand You Awards 2014





What a night! Last night was the 2014 Bristol Media Brand You Awards, and I went along with nearest, dearest people having been nominated. Here's how the night evolved:

Fluttering around a busy and beautiful room full of stylish people, there we were cramming our faces with the fancy canapés, slightly wary of what a free booze-bar can do to an empty stomach. While no one was looking my partner wiped a smear of salsa off my cheek while I thought, "Well, if nothing else happens these snacks are truly amazing."

The Brand You Awards were set up last year to recognise the significant input of freelance experts in Bristol and the South West's media industry. I was delighted to have been nominated in three of fourteen categories – and slightly confused. We are not short of very clever, creative people in these parts, so the room was packed with a lot of very brilliant, and some quite heavyweight competition. Some of Bristol's largest agencies were out in force, and to those of us who work alone, ploughing our own furrow, this feels very intimidating.

I was fully expecting the Brey Leinos and Mason Zimblers of the world to bag all the gongs, so when Fraser Bradshaw read my name out for a second year running as winner in the marketing category, I swiftly scoffed down my chicken goujon, did some massive(ly inappropriate) power grabs and sashayed up to the stage while my lovely friends cheered like animals!

Award winners feeling the joy

It was an absolutely wonderful moment, and a total triumph for the 'small is beautiful', 'power of one' devotion that so many of us commit to, believing we can make a difference in the world with our skills and insights.

Thanks to Bristol Media for hosting such a special night, and congratulations to fellow winners and nominees, especially Melissa Kidd who was there with Pam Lloyd PRMick snapped this lovely pic of us both:

Me and Melissa in the afterglow
Beaming with my award

Monday, 15 September 2014

_how to survive mondays




Wow. Really. If I have another day like that I may just give in and go to work in a sandwich shop. It's not even that anything dreadful happened. It's just that, sometimes, showing up to run your own business (or in fact, anything!) on a Monday morning is bloody hard work.

Let's be clear, there are some brilliant reasons why—if you're a creative soul and want to make a difference—that doing your own thing is a great plan. Come to the party with some energy and conviction, free from too many restrictions, and the best conversations have a chance of actually happening.


Ideas, lots of them.

New horizons every turn.

The day beats to your own drum:

More of this, less of that.

Focus and graft, making it count; 
you alone reap the reward.

Another drum beats with yours.

Me, you, them, us,
and the things we make together.

Join me. Bunk off early and go see a film?

Make the planet spin a little smoother, no?


Well no, not today. Some days, these joys come in such fractured pieces that putting them together into a meaningful picture seems impossible, doesn't it?

It happens a lot on Mondays for me – by 6pm, left with an exhausting mosaic-feeling in both head and heart, a little of everything crammed in there, and no coherent picture or plan to show for it. It's a dreadful way to start the week, and I have really come to hate this feeling.

It is agony. So what can be done to make tricky Mondays better?
How can we be gently productive and emerge positive from the week's first day? I have a couple of ideas.


First.
Just show up, and pay attention. So long as you do this, something begins. Things often take longer than you originally hoped for, especially if a thousand things ask for that attention. But pay attention and things do begin, I promise.

Make some coffee, write down a few key things to pay attention to, get set with some nice tunes and work through it. Don't feel bad about shutting the world out if you need to. Just show up, and pay attention.


Second.
Keep the faith. I reckon the agonised feeling comes from not knowing how things will be resolved, and having to leave them in mid-air. A thousand things to figure out and who thought it would be a good idea to set them off like a professional party popper?

Hang in there. The very fact of having paid attention means your infinitely capable head and caring heart are working away on them even when you're not looking.


Show up, pay attention, keep the faith, and don't believe the lie that nothing's working. That's just the agony of a blue Monday talking.



{Today's Soundtrack: New Order – Blue Monday}

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Thresholds

From 'Making Change Happen' by Jane Northcote
Illustration ©Lizzie Everard 

Some people love change, thriving on realising new visions. Others really don't like it. Some of us become quite good at it out of excitement or necessity, or both. Too much unexpected change can drive a person beyond nuts.

I think the paralysing fear within times of big change—and the thing that stops many of us even going there—is that saying 'yes' to this change means a previous vision that guided you will be lost forever, and a future vision as yet unknown will never materialise.

A threshold; cast adrift from what was, not yet anchored in the next harbour, and land not quite in clear view in any direction. Terrified of making a wrong decision, of just drifting... quite frightened.

If this resonates at all, you are not alone! You are really not alone.

So, from right in the middle of my own fiercely unsettling changes at the moment, me and my wringing-wet hanky are forming an idea and want to share it with you here. Seeing something take shape in visual form, tracked, charted, recorded, for all to see, can be such a help. In this vein, for six years on and off, I kept my Lightbox habit, posting on all kinds of soul-searching and adventures and planting and uprooting and people, driven by everyday photography and a love of words. I reckon picking up this habit again could really help navigate unknown waters, but what form this new habit takes, not sure yet.

Some questions for you, and I'd love your thoughts on this if you'd like to share:


  • What are the helpful things you pin up around you at work or home, which you look at to keep you on track each day? Or is there an object?
  • What reminds you of where you've come from, to see just how far you've travelled? 
  • Have you ever had a 'visual ritual' that you held consistently to help you keep moving (eg. morning pages or a daily sketchbook)? What worked about this? 
  • What—if anything—is stuck onto your fridge (or other nearest magnetic surface? We have a tartan sheep in our office!) Does it help?!
  • What pair of shoes could sum up the miles you've walked / run / danced? (These are my running shoes – the hundreds of miles they've come with me and I'm still curvy round the edges!) 




Do share your thoughts and projects. It's not just me is it?

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

_what to do with what you've done








So, welcome to the new year. How are you doing? Fancy taking a moment to draw breath and gather good strength for the year ahead?

Standing at a turning new year, I can't help but get a little reflective – come on, you know me well enough by now! Walking around on sunny (yes, really) English beaches over the winter break and enjoying the big views, I felt really grateful for a year of hard work and great achievements. I also felt strongly that I didn't want to waste those accomplishments, but build on them as we push ahead into the coming months with new ideas.

I think lots of us forget, when setting new plans in motion, to really appreciate the foundations we've worked hard to build. I think that's one reason why lots of resolutions don't stick, because we throw baby out with bathwater and assume new plans are all about starting from scratch.

Instead, let's ask, "What's really helpful about what's already happened?"

Translating big dreams into tangible goals can feel unwieldy, so, I thought I'd share a useful help with you by way of this simple exercise. Based on David Kolb's experiential learning theory, I came across this 'reflective cycle' in my post-grad studies and have often found it helpful since. Even if not writing things out explicitly, doing this exercise a number of times can form a habit of mind, and now I naturally find better motivation to get on and act, reflect, imagine, plot, see great things happen, and keep moving – act, reflect on that action, imagine how it could be improved, and practically plan your next move.

The picture above is postcard-quality size – feel free to print it off and stick it somewhere helpful so you can easily refer to the stages:

Write down:

1: WHAT? What act did you do? What experience was it? Just describe facts.
2: SO WHAT? Reflect on what you learnt, or discovered. 
3: WHAT NOW? What could you do to build on this, and improve that action next time?
4: & HOW? Given this revelation, make some practical plans for your next 'WHAT' experience.

If this is your year to explore new ways of communicating and using good design to get your message across, this reflective cycle could prove really helpful in keeping track as you try things out and refine your visual language. If someone else is helping you with that, I think this could be a good way to practically reflect on stuff that often seems difficult to get a handle on.

I hope you have a really great year with some brave moves, rich experiences, and cracking results – a really happy new year folks!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

_why we want you to be yourself


Have you ever had that nagging worry that you are not coming across as you want to? (I mean visually speaking, obviously, although we can talk about the rest of life too if you like!)

Sometimes I have such doubts about being able to get my words out properly that it stops me saying anything at all (yes, believe it). Wouldn't it be great to feel more confident about telling my side of things well, about my story being heard, and in a way that truly engaged people so they were totally up for the chat?

Connection? Space to be real? Permission to give a sh*t? 
Yes please!

If you could grow more confident and honest in your story-telling and communicating, it would probably help you figure out better who you want to talk to and work with day-to-day. It would also help us all get on and have those meaningful conversations in a better way – a much more authentic and real way.

It takes immense courage to put true personality into your visual communication, but if you do, your working life will be richer for it.

There's a lot of talk at the moment about business becoming more 'authentic', involving real personality and truth, people being open and vulnerable with each other in order to get things done. We want humanity, not slick gloss that pretends everything's fine.

For those of us running our own businesses and trying to sort our visual communication out, this can feel terrifying, but it doesn't have to be. It doesn't have to be terrifying, if you know that the sort of people you will then connect with each day will connect because they know it too, and appreciate your courage. In time it just becomes The Way We Do It.

Who's in?



***

A friend tipped me off about this Brené Brown TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability. It's not about design, but it is about being 'wholehearted'. I found it hugely encouraging:




Friday, 27 September 2013

_you are not a machine


So here I sit, pondering as I do on the creative process.

Process. What a stupid word for the human condition and our expression of it, all beautifully messy and unpredictable. Who thought that one up?

Today, this post goes out to anyone who is stuck and feeling a bit brain dead, perhaps (like me) with a 'wading through treacle' feeling after a little while of working really hard and breathing life into lots of quite empty spaces. It's really tiring work, so don't beat yourself up if you're struggling to find a 'process' here to rock you into even more action. You don't need action. You need a break.

No, it's not rocket science or brain surgery. But in the course of trying to make the world a better place, creating and making and doing in order to encourage dialogue can be a humbly noble thing in our complicated world.

A wise man once said that to reduce human experience to mere process is to render us as machines, or something like that. Machines, my friends, we are not.

We feel things, and we communicate out of our empathies.

Moved to fairly generous tears by sound and vision this week, I left a huge theatrical moment on Wednesday night—Joy Division Reworked—rocked by the emotional statements that had come soaring around our heads through the layers of music and projected images. A very powerful use of instruments and film with enough heart and empathy to sweep us off our feet. It was truly incredible; disarming, even.

I'm not sure our work with creating has anything at all to do with process. Sure, there's a physical process to using tools, but they just serve the heart don't they? So you have to work at staying connected and in tune with why you pick up those tools in the first place. Whether making or absorbing, this is about unique connections between lifelong experiences and poetic symbols we find in the world around us. Some connections resonate more than others, and some combinations—for no reason anyone could have known—shine particularly brightly, and cause the eyes to leak.

A creative person is not subject to process, as convenient as that would be. You are not a machine, and therefore, you have permission not to perform like one.

If the creative person in your world is being a bit slow on the draw at the moment, give them as much of a break as you can and encourage them to go and stare at a blank wall for a bit.

Or if it's you, please, come and share my blank wall:

Monday, 16 September 2013

_going out on a limb




Midday, sometime during our July heatwave in a beautiful barn in Somerset.

The only brief was that there was no brief.

"Okay then," I thought, biting my lip and scratching a not-itchy head, gazing at the over-heated cows out of the window.

At first, an open brief is totally exciting – a whole universe of possibility! Then within minutes paralysis sets in, in a strange parabolic curve where increase in creative freedom links to a decrease in ability to narrow down an eternity of all the ideas that could ever be. Know how that feels?

I just figured that you have to be prepared to go out on a limb for anything extraordinary to happen.

"Do not be afraid to go out on a limb; that's where the fruit is."
 {Anon}

So I let this encouragement flow, and set to work on a short film based on these very words. I think I found fruit here.



Okay, so here's how it happened:

When the team at Sparkol invited me to get involved with their adventures in Videoscribe, it was really about coming up with anything I wanted that would explore new horizons with their software and how far it could go.

After a little panic and a lot of scribbling, the words of this proverb seemed so apt. I decided to concentrate on making a beautiful typographic piece as an encouragement for all of us ideas-filled adventurers, and which would stand as a lovely piece of cinematic movement too.

One of the great things about Videoscribe is that it mesmerises you as you anticipate a line appearing, not knowing which way it will go next. That's what adventure and risk-taking is all about – following a line, not sure where it will take you but convinced it's worth it.

So I wanted to really push Videoscribe and my use of Illustrator with it - which is really the core of Sparkol's technique. There are technical tricks I've learnt over nearly 20 years in the industry that I wanted to try, some of which were in Illustrator, and after hours of crafting my Scribe I also exported it into After Effects and pushed some depth into it through layering. You can achieve an awful lot by doing this, introducing photographic stills for texture, and playing with all the settings and various layer modes. If this is your bag, just open it up and get stuck in! Don't be afraid to really mess around. That's how I've discovered lots of ridiculous nerdy tricks. (Hard fought, precious personal wins after a years as a young designer at the BBC, holed up in a small, dark edit suite!)

Talking of going out on a limb though, this project has been a neat opportunity to celebrate some of what Jon and his Sparkol team have achieved and push it to new heights. They are trying new things out all the time, with the motive of making this type of visual communication accessible to everyone regardless of illustration experience. 

I like this very much, because they make good communication between humans more possible. 

Now that's fruit. 

How about you? Have you ever gone out on a limb to create something to encourage people or get them communicating?

*

(If you have more questions about how the film was made please submit them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer. You may like to see some short films on Videoscribe's YouTube channel too.)