Public Health Wales – Flu research

The meeting with the client involved a brief chat regarding a document published by the Welsh Government, with NHS Wales and Public Health Wales, that evaluated the resilience of health and care services in Wales concerning the Winter months between 2016/17. This document would help in finding a way to improve healthcare services in Wales in years to come. Specifically, the document allowed officials, staff and public to look at various statistics and important cases that were deemed a danger to the public in order to grasp a sense of what actions needed to be taken in order for the NHS to work more efficiently and effectively.

In chapter 10. Influenza and Infection Control starting on page 59 of the document, the government looked more specifically at what influenza was, what effect it has on the public, and ways in which the virus can be prevented from spreading.

Influenza, commonly known as flu, affects the respiratory system (lungs and airways). It is the result of an infection that is caused by an influenza virus of either two types that affect humans. These are known as influenza A and influenza B, however, there are a range of differing sub-types within group A and B. This is because of a continual genetic change where the virus evolves and adapts to different conditions or attacks on the virus; as any other virus would. Symptoms of flu include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • cough
  • body aches
  • fatigue
  • sore throat

The virus spreads in October and April, being spread easily from person to person. Flu has a significant impact on the building pressures on the NHS between December and March. Because of the genetic change a virus can take, people who have been immune to the virus in previous years can not be guaranteed to encounter it in the future. Therefore a new vaccine has to be developed each year to protect those vaccinated from viruses likely to be circulated in the following critical months of obtaining the flu. Those of the public who are most vulnerable to getting the flu include children between the ages of two and seven years of age, anyone over the age of 65, pregnant women, those under the age of 65 who would be likely to develop complications from the results of contracting the flu virus, and also health and social care workers who care for those that are vulnerable. The vaccination is offered free to the vulnerable.

I continued conducting research into the flu and looked on the official NHS website. The webpage provided more information in regards to giving information on what to do in the situation of dealing with the flu. This included more detail into symptoms of the flu, how to treat the flu yourself, how a pharmacist could help, when you should seek medical help and important information about how antibiotics won’t be able to help with the flu, how to avoid spreading the flu, and how to prevent it. Highlights of the webpage were boxes which featured important phone numbers, who is most at risk of developing complications, and when someone should call 999. The NHS mostly encouraged people to call 111 if they couldn’t seek access to speaking to their GP. The client at the first meeting had also mentioned that people who are suffering from the flu have seen the need to visit A&E instead of seeking help elsewhere. What I believe would be necessary is including information about the flu as well as encouraging people to get a vaccine to protect themselves from the virus, as to what was mentioned in the briefing.

I wanted to take a quick look at what the flu virus looked like under the microscope. This would give a possibility of me developing some interesting outcomes with regards to how I would use shapes, colours, and images. I referred to the CNN Website where a gallery of eight images were shown along with captions underneath.

131016172546-01-microscope-cold-flu-horizontal-large-gallery
https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/131016172546-01-microscope-cold-flu-horizontal-large-gallery.jpg

Antibiotic resistance was an important topic brought up by our client in our first meeting. I visited a webpage where a short article was written, titled ‘Why Don’t Antibiotics Kill Viruses?‘ The article generalised how your body would become resistant to an antibiotic while doing nothing to improve symptoms of a viral infection. It explained this through a number of different reasons as to why viruses are resistant to antibiotics.

Antivirals would sometimes be prescribed to shorten the lifespan of the virus to help prevent further complications from arising, however it would needed to have been taken within the first 24-48 hours of the infection. An antibiotic could be prescribed later when the virus has encouraged a bacterial infection to grow, however it would not kill the virus. This is because viruses are structurally different from bacteria. Instead, viruses adapt and replicate to the conditions of a human cell. This is where vaccines would be effective because they contain antiviral ingredients. A vaccine works by stimulating the immune system so that cells can recognise and produce antibodies to fight off a future attack from a virus which could cause disease.

Another point that also came up in the meeting was sharing antibiotics with different people for when they contract a bacterial infection. Unfortunately not all bacterial infection will be killed by any antibiotic. A specific antibiotic would be prescribed to someone with a certain infection. The same article gave an example:

For example, amoxicillin (a penicillin-type drug) can be used to treat a strep throat but will not work for some common pneumonias or bladder infections. This is one reason why it is very important not to share your antibiotics with someone else. While you may mean well, the bacteria causing their infection may not be susceptible to your prescribed antibiotic. In turn,  those bacteria may not die, and the infection can worsen. Plus, the person you share your antibiotic with may unnecessarily experience side effects from your drug. (https://www.drugs.com/article/antibiotics-and-viruses.html)

Further mentioned was the problem of the bacteria learning to ‘fight off’ the antibiotic by developing protective walls that can inactivate the antibiotic. Therefore, sharing antibiotics you have been prescribed is dangerous to the giver and receiver because the bacteria will fight off the antibiotic before you finish the course you will have been prescribed.

In more specific relevance to the brief, I briefly looked at controversy created by the media that has discouraged people to be willing to get a vaccination to protect them the flu. In an article written in the USA, the author has researched and discussed how many people have died from the flu every year since 2010, how controversy has piled up around vaccinations, and why this controversy still exists. Two factors were mentioned that contributed to vaccine hesitancy. They mentioned how a study from 2013 had found that people who are hesitant to getting the vaccine tend to rely on the internet as a source of information, even though the internet is filled with misinformation presented by the media and theorists. The second largest factor that was mentioned was a study that had investigated how the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine was a cause of autism in children that was written in 1998 by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who has since been discredited by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) for fraudulent research. Due to the uproar of media on this case, despite the research being proved fraudulent, vaccinations dropped both in the US and the UK. Vaccination rates dropped so significantly in the UK that in some areas only 60% of children were being vaccinated, according to the BBC.

In an editorial published by the Edward Jenner Society, I saw a table which presented the types of fears that trigger vaccine hesitancy by different causes. What I liked about the content provided by this editorial was that it had offered solutions to how people can be encouraged to get a vaccine by persuasion, which would be very useful for the remainder of this project and future persuasion projects to come.

Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 15.53.57
http://www.edwardjennersociety.org/wp-content/uploads/Vaccine-education-spectrum.pdf

 


A few other articles that had caught my attention that didn’t have much reference to my research for this project are listed below.

A flu vaccine in pill form has been created by Welsh scientists

The huge cost of over-prescribing medicines in the Welsh NHS

Why Welsh people are the most heavily medicated in the UK

GPs BANNED from dishing out paracetamol, cough mixtures, anti-dandruff shampoo and indigestion pills to save NHS £100 million

Why do the majority of NHS staff not get the flu vaccine?

How the flu jab works

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Public Health Wales – Organisation research

To get to know my client more in order to establish their values, history, and aims, I now needed to conduct research into the agency. This would enable me to come up with some suitable ideas for the outcomes that we produce for the flu vaccination campaign. In order for my findings to be reliable, I referred to the Public Health Wales website which provided a range of reports and information regarding public health in Wales and history of the organisation.

Public Health Wales stands to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of people living in Wales, and helps to reduce inequalities regarding the health of those people. The agency reports to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport in the Welsh Government. A number of 1,700 staff are managed with a budget of £106 million. Together, they provide advice, expertise and specialist services to the Welsh Government, seven health boards, two NHS Trusts, 22 local authorities, other agencies, and to people living in Wales. This consists of public health knowledge, scientific expertise and intelligence to lead transformational change. Most importantly they drive a focus on making sure that improvements are made in the outcomes of health and wellbeing and reducing inequalities of people in Wales. The agency works closely with its partners (health boards and local authorities) to manage the promotion of health and wellbeing in areas of Wales.

The organisation was set up in October of 2009, established by the NHS Trust, as a means of:

  • providing and managing a range of public health, the protection, improvement of healthcare and health advisory, protection of children, and services relating to surveillance, prevention, and control of diseases in Wales
  • publishing information regarding health and protection in Wales available to the public, and maintaining and developing this information by commissioning research into these matters
  • analysing and collating information regarding the health of the public in Wales
  • providing, managing, monitoring, evaluating, and conducting research into screening of health conditions and screening of health-related matters

On the Public Health Wales website, they provided a clear diagram of what the agency do with their partners and the people of Wales:

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 16.10.25

http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/888/page/88654

In an annual report from 2016/17 published by Public Health Wales, on page 29-30 of the report a Strategic Priority of the agency was Developing the Organisation. Two case studies were published below this; one of which discussed the values of Public Health Wales. What the agency recognised was that the most valuable asset they had was their people. Instead of making it about what their people did, it was about how their people did it, which would reflect how they treated each other, how they approached their work and their behaviours and attitudes every day. The values they launched at their 2017 staff conference were working together-with trust and respect-to make a difference.

Public Health Wales – Client Briefing

I had dreaded the first meeting with the client. Whether it would be an awkward, silent, or difficult encounter we would have to deal with. The main reason I had dreaded this encounter was that of the horror stories I had heard from graphic design professionals where they explained the many difficult clients they had to deal in order to complete their projects. I was worried it would be the same for us, however, our client was the complete opposite of what I was dreading.

Before being given a further description and background of the brief, our group first wanted to show our recent work to him to reassure him that the brief was in good hands. One by one, we presented work from our most recent project, mine being the Mind vs Body: Are we at war with our bodies? campaign. I explained the background and meaning of the design of the campaign, what values the client had, and what the company’s goal was, and a sentence briefly describing the brief I was given. All of what I designed was reflective of these factors, with my designs showing a deeper meaning to the image of the campaign. The client really liked how I interpreted the topic of war, and how I transformed it into a question we suffer from every day with ourselves. Everyone can be affected by the topic of war in a non-literal way, and not such an obvious way. The client also really liked how my campaign targetted all audiences for the choice of colours used in the designs and the main question the campaign posed to the target audience.

Although we had already read the brief that we were given by the client from Public Health Wales, we wanted to ask a few questions before getting started on the project, regarding the research, target audience, and requirements of the outcomes from the project. The client was extremely impressed with our outcomes from our recent project and was happy for us to come out with any deliverables necessary to spread the message the client wanted us to use. We were also unclear as to what specific audience the client wanted us to target. He said any audience since it would need to encourage everyone to take their part in preventing the flu virus from spreading easily from person to person. Although he did mention he ultimately wanted our designs to cater to those who would be particularly vulnerable to the virus, such as the elderly, children below the age of five, pregnant women, those who take immunosuppressive medication, or those who have life-threatening conditions, such as diabetes or those that have allergies. The client made it very clear to us that we needed to design something that would suit those who found it difficult to read, or were hard of hearing. Something that was very important to him was not using scare tactics to encourage people who receive a vaccination to prevent the flu virus from attacking the body. Below is the brief that was given to us.

Client Brief
Client contact information: Andrew Ware
Project title: Flu

1. Background / Overview
Last winter, A&E’s, hospital wards and care homes were inundated with patients
that had the Flu.
One tactic to stop the outbreak of Flu is to inoculate as many members of the
public with a vaccine to stop its spread to these vulnerable patients.
Some of these patients are frail and ended up intubated on ITU. Some of these
patients didn’t survive. The stereotype associated with these patients are the
elderly.
Anyone can get the Flu. This year a new nasal vaccine was introduced in schools
and had varying uptake. The exact reason for this was unknown, but it was
logical to assume that a vaccine that didn’t require an injection would be more
widely preferable.
A small selection of the public can’t have the inoculation because they
themselves have autoimmune diseases and are also vulnerable to infection. They
can be young adults with people who depend on them.
When a member of the public has the flu there are certain steps they can take to
self-care. Antibiotics do not help.
How can we persuade the public to take steps to protect themselves and the
wider society?
2. Objective. What is the communication
challenge?
The project is to raise awareness for inoculation ready for Flu season this
winter and encourage people to make an informed decisions as to whether
to receive it or not.

3. Target audience: who are you trying to reach?

Those that did not have the vaccine last year and those that did to
encourage positive behaviour.

4. Client meetings
Our students will be working on this project from 26th February – 30th April (there is a 3-
week Easter break in the middle), during this time there will be some key dates when we
would like you to review the work and provide our students with feedback. We will
confirm these by 19th February. There will be the final presentation and exhibition of
fully developed work on 30th April.
These are the kinds of information that you could provide to help guide the students:
Marketing material, for example, brochures, videos or websites, brand guidelines, policy
documents and press releases.

Extensive research now needed to be carried out on information about the flu, statistics, prevention, and how to design for the target audience. We would also need to look extensively into previous campaigns that have either been successful or unsuccessful in encouraging people to get a vaccine. One area of interest we might consider looking at is the donation of blood.

Persuasion: Development & Final Designs

Working from the sketches of initial ideas I had for the project, I focused on putting the designs together. I knew I wanted to use positive colours for my first digital designs of the poster, t-shirts, and badge design. Looking back to the research I had conducted into existing designers work, I made the choice of using a mix of serif and san serif typefaces to make the designs eye-catching. By using yellow and pink it made the words stand out from the background. After a group tutorial, I was given the suggestion to use images in my designs, then explaining that I decided it was best not to use images because I didn’t want to present an ideation of an ideal body shape. And because of the seriousness of the campaign I wanted to portray, I decided only to use words. Then the tutor suggested that I perhaps would remove the preposition ‘VS.’ to instead visualize it in the form of a shape or picture.

My initial idea after the tutorial was to use a different idea I had sketched out before I started developing digitally. I had completely transformed the image of the campaign by using darker and fuller colours that reflected the strength I wanted to portray with the message of the campaign. By instead using the posing question ‘Are you at war with your body?’ it would make the poster and wearables more personal to the viewer and wearer of the t-shirt and badge.

Just by chance, I had discovered another new design for the campaign. And this design would give deeper and stronger meaning. I tried to see whether I could make the badge stencil easier to place on documents by instead turning the shape into a vector image instead of a stencil of a circle placed over the block colour shapes used in the background. I had pasted the text into an InDesign document which was far too large to sit within the badge, and then I looked at the design a different way. Although it reminded me of the South Korean flag, it looked much more like a medicated tablet or pill that someone would take. This tablet could have represented steroids that men use to make their bodies look more muscular, or it could have represented a tablet that someone would take to cure a mental illness or disorder. What I loved about this idea was how inclusive it would be to all audiences, although the campaign was aimed at 12-17 year olds. The fact that I was using blue and pink as the colour for the shape, targeted both males and females. And the benefit of using two colours for the shape means that it would be easily changeable, to look further towards other colour combinations, such as orange, green, purple, or yellow. I would keep the design of the badge the same since the circle would be too small to make out if it were placed in those dimensions. Regarding the structure of the type, I used Superclarendon in Black for the serif font, and then Helvetica Neue in Condensed Black for the san serif font. For the word ‘WAR’, I decided to make it italic and underline it to provoke the seriousness of the issue at hand. I also needed to reduce the kerning when making the word italic, since the letters were too far apart otherwise. I underlined the word ‘BODY?’ as well. As in previous designs, I had vectorized the BeReal logo so that I could adjust the size of the marque without making it pixelated.

Screen Shot 2018-03-23 at 14.11.10Screen Shot 2018-03-23 at 14.11.54Screen Shot 2018-03-23 at 14.11.30Screen Shot 2018-03-23 at 14.54.17.png

I was extremely happy with the outcomes I came up with for this new campaign for BeReal. It gave the campaign and new image and more importantly a new meaning to the issue to body confidence and mental health. More importantly, the seriousness of the message I portrayed can communicate effectively with the target audience and any viewers the campaign can garner. I really like my final designs for the campaign as the effectively communicate deeper messages through the use of colour and shape. By using the combination of shape, colour, and type, it makes the campaign recognizable and memorable. I felt as if I could have made smarter and better use of at least one image within the campaign to attract a stronger message.

Persuasion: Body Positivity Campaigns

After writing my creative brief I now needed to conduct some research into themes of self-consciousness with your body, and previous campaigns launched by different organizations to see how effective they have been.

For more information regarding body confidence issues, I referred to the BeReal website.

The website opens with a message that reaches one of the campaigns main target audiences, opening with a line describing how active the campaign launched by YMCA and Dove is. The fact that the campaign has conducted research into one of their main target audience immediately gives the audience an impression of the level of compassion and care the founding partners and the volunteers and researchers for the campaign and the issue of body positivity, are towards victims of body self-consciousness and mental wellbeing regarding how children in schools view themselves. Bullying has always been an ongoing issue in many schools worldwide.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 17.50.47

Looking into the research for appearance-based bullying in schools, I discovered a range of statistics that were listed on the page. What I found most intriguing was how much of an impact this appearance-based bullying had on their mental health.

Screen Shot 2018-03-23 at 12.45.01
Appearance-based bullying in schools research

I conducted further research into what BeReal is about and what cause they stand for. What I found was that mental health was the primary factor that affects body confidence. Below is a screenshot I took from their website under ‘About’, where it describes the very aims of the campaign.

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 15.59.55

Given my particular interest in the mental well-being of victims of appearance-based bullying, I based my initial ideas on the theme of this issue on the topic. Because of the issue at hand regarding body image and mental health, I needed to focus on what I could do to not give anyone the idea that there was a certain shape to a body that someone had to fit into. As you can see most of my posters are typography based, instead of consisting of images or shapes.

Designers which had influenced my initial ideas were Barbara Kruger and Anthony Burrill.

Anthony Burrill

What I really liked about Burrill’s work was the fact that most of his posters were typography based. Below is what I feel best represents his work, for the persuasive nature and use of strong, bold, and large lettering to get a message across to viewers. Much of his work consists of typefaces, both serif, and san serif. This particular print was a letterpress, with a size 51 x 76 cm (20 x 30 inches). What I feel makes this a persuasive piece of communication is more so the effect that the choice of typefaces and uppercase letters has on the phrase ‘MARE YOUR MARK ON THE WORLD’. It encourages anyone to make a mark in history. What I really like is the choice of colour for the background. It makes it an even more eye-catching piece of communication.

01_MAKE_YOUR_MARK_un-framed-682x1024

Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger is a well-known collage artist for her explicit use of words with images, making them extremely effective pieces of communication. Many of her designs consist of white lettering placed on red shapes, contrasting to a black and white photo that has been edited. Below is one of her most controversial pieces of communication, and I feel very much relates to the campaign I am designing for BeReal. What I love about her work is how it reminds me of a newspaper cutout, and the use of vintage photographs behind the type. The use of vintage photographs which have been edited to suit the language of the piece makes an effective contrast of something more traditional to something which is more forward thinking and out of its time, which is what has made it so controversial. The phrase ‘Your body is a battleground’ corresponds to the message I want to represent the campaign for BeReal.

kruger_your_body

The first poster reflects the ‘MIND VS. BODY’ aspect of the campaign. And the other two typography based posters directs the viewer’s attention to the more serious statement and the question of ‘Are you at war with your body?’, which makes an effective personal connection and focus for the viewer. I decided to quickly look at how effective image based posters would be, and I decided to focus on something more explicit, focusing on the bigger issue at hand. However, I had decided not to go ahead with creating these posters because of the explicit nature, and the fact that I didn’t want to create an ideal body image which might perhaps make people feel more self-conscious of their body image, in which case changing the aim of the campaign.

img123 copy

Taking inspiration from these artists and making use of the research has informed my initial ideas effectively. I hope that putting the posters together digitally will give me a better idea of what the design would look like placed on wearables or other pieces of effective deliverable for this persuasive message.

Persuasion: Are you at war with your body?

Having started our new module on persuasion, we were required to design a campaign before meeting our clients for our second brief in the module. We would be required to show our campaign to our clients when they would come to the university to meet us. For our first brief, we needed to write our own creative brief, come up with a process and concept, and make our ideas visible through a means of media, whether that would be audio, print, a video/animation, clothing, interactive design, or an ambient/guerilla.

I found it quite difficult to choose a theme on the topic of war since we had to pick a local issue. We had to consider many things when writing our creative brief. I thought about how I could perceive the word ‘war’ and what unrelated issue I could use where I would include the word ‘war’. I had always been interested in body positivity, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to present the issue to the audience with a more serious question in mind; Are you at war with your body? This was a very relevant question to ask someone since the word ‘you’ directed the question to the audience in a first person situation making it more personal to the reader. And the word ‘war’ had always reminded me of something quite serious and political. Below is a copy of the creative brief I wrote.

Creative Brief

Name and contact details of Organisation or Client

Be Real - berealcampaign.co.uk - bereal@ymca.org.uk 

Founding partners: YMCA, Dove UK

Project title or mission statement: 
Mind vs Body: Are we at war with our bodies?

Prepared by:

Jennifer Taylor

1. Background / Overview:

Be Real, an existing campaign, set out to change the attitudes of body image in order to make females healthier by being confident in their own bodies. Being a national movement, it is made up of schools, business, charities, public bodies, and individuals. Values of campaign are determination, compassion, and being diverse to all those in need.

Low body confidence has always been an on-going issue causing damage to people’s lives of all ages and sexes. Spurting from a young age, it affects peoples mental as well as physical health, affecting what they can achieve in their lives.


 2. Objective. What is the goal of the campaign?

Make the audience feel they are worth more than they are. Talking to them directly as if they are the victim. The idea of Mind vs Body makes it seem like a game, however the more serious question asked is Are you at war with your body?, makes the victim feel like their self-conscious thoughts are to blame.

War: a period of fighting or conflict between countries or states.

(https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/war)

Civil war: a war which is fought between different groups of people who live in the same country.

(https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/civil-war)

Instead of making the topic seem like a light-hearted thing to talk about, people will take the word ‘war’ seriously, making the topic seem serious. Serious topics are able to be acknowledged and solved more quickly because it makes the victim feel under pressure.

Simple short, catchy, and familiar phrase of Mind vs. Body makes the campaign memorable.

Primary objective is to make the audience think more carefully about what influence photographs, words, and media have on their mind and therefore on their bodies. Persuades audience to be more aware of what impact their self-conscious thoughts have on their mental and physical wellbeing. Instead of asking for donations, the campaign would be more effective if awareness was spread, perhaps by people wearing badges with small catchphrases on.


 3. Target audience: who are we talking to?

Campaign will target 12-17 year females, because the Be Real campaign targets children and young people. 12-17 y/old’s are persuaded now to have a voice and have more of an impact on how their relatives and friends may feel about certain issues. Be Real actively asks parents and schools to set a positive example for their children, and so by targeting 12-17 y/olds you will make parents more aware of what they learn in school. This target group of young females, are made more aware of more and more information on sexual health in school and are generally more sensitive at their age.


4. What's the message? 

Are you at war with your body? - As mentioned before in the fourth paragraph of 2. Objective. What is the goal of your campaign?:

‘Instead of making the topic seem like a light-hearted thing to talk about, people will take the word ‘war’ seriously, making the topic seem serious. Serious topics are able to be acknowledged and solved more quickly because it makes the victim feel under pressure.’

Mind vs. Body - Reflects the aim of Be Real, reflecting the fact that they care about both mental and physical health of their audience and who they aim to help/educate

Free mind, healthy body


5. Possible solutions?

Typographical posters featuring bold and empowering words, with colours that reflect strength as well as colours that attract 12-17 year olds, as well as not discriminating.

T-shirts with catchphrase from campaign placed on

Sticky labels or badges with a catchphrase from one of the main messages in the campaign.

6. Phases of creative development

Phase One: INSPIRATION – IDEATION

Gather research from inspiring talks from female influencers that discuss body positivity, watch existing videos and look at previous campaigns to do with bullying and body image, and read on how the mind affects your mental and physical wellbeing. Look at research conducted by Be Real. Gather first hand research on people’s stances on body positivity.

Phase Two: CONCEPT

Write down a list of short catchphrases that reflect Be Real and the campaign they want you to design. Sketch ideas out for poster designs including these catchphrases, as well as designs for small badges to be placed onto clothing.

Phase Three: PROTOTYPE: Develop on concept in more depth and create a prototype... include any mandatory elements such as the logo and website address. Gather feedback. Your prototype should help you to test the idea in context and to better understand the audience experience.

Phase Four: REFINE AND DELIVER:  Present ideas to client 

7. Key quotes:

“There is not one standard definition of beauty or one perfect size.”

Ashley Graham

I now needed to come up with ideas and deliverables for the campaign to make it as effective on 12-17-year-olds as possible. But before starting that I needed to look at more recent alternative campaigns that have presented body positivity issues to teenagers.

Penguin Student Design Award 2018

The Penguin Student Design Award is a competition run by Penguin book publishers as a call to art and design students. It is a way of challenging their creative abilities, giving them hope of winning a grand prize of £1,000 in cash money, along with a four week paid internship at Penguin HQ in London. As always, with all design competitions, this prestigious award earns them the reputation any eventual graduate would want to become noticed more easily by employers and commissioners for their award-winning design. Three categories allow one designer/artist from each category to be picked for winning the award, along with a second and third prize to be won as well. All awarded students are invited to an award event at the end of the year, where shortlisted students are invited as well. The three book design categories, along with the books chosen to have a cover designer for, are:

  • Adult Fiction Cover Award – Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Adult Non-fiction Cover Award – A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • Children’s Cover Award – Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Due to the apparent complexity and length of the Adult Non-fiction Cover book choice, I wanted to choose between the Adult Fiction Cover and the Children’s Cover. After reading both I decided upon designing a cover for Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman.

By making brief notes on each chapter along with descriptive and poetic quotes from each chapter, I could effectively come up with several ideas of what possible designs I could use for the cover. Before generating these ideas I researched what previous book cover designs had been used for the book by various publishing agencies. To make things easier for myself, Penguin had placed all previous cover designs for this book on their webpage, giving details of the book and all requirements of the cover design.

The first book cover designed by Penguin has perhaps chosen a more vibrant, colour filled, and rugged yet personal approach to the design of the cover, compared to the very monotone and sharply designed covers by Random House and Corgi attempting to represent the seriousness of the issues and topic covered by Malorie Blackman in the book. Typically all covers designed for this book feature a cross and nought, and quite coincidentally are placed in the same or similar position; nought above the cross. In fact, the nought and cross in the second two cover have the exact same rendering of the symbols on the designs.

The design of the first cover features a black stencil set across a hand-rendered background made of various coloured inks. A hand-rendered text was also used. By using a brush, the designer wrote out the text with a dark coloured ink and then manipulated the colour by vectorizing the type in illustrator after scanning or taking a photo of the original piece of work that the text sat on. The variation of colours used for the nought and cross represents the main subject of the book, which is discrimination and race. The first thing that catches my eye is the nought and cross in the background which then leads me to look at the title and author painted in red in the foreground. I also like how the authors name has been capitalised to distinguish it from the title.

The next cover designs I don’t think are as effective as the first design. The design of the cover was mostly made in InDesign, using two hand renders for the nought and cross at the top and bottom of the design. The focal point of the design, the nought and cross, leads us to take notice of the author’s name which is again capitalised. And below the author is the title of the book, which then leads us to reflect on the design of the cover.

The final cover design that has been produced by Corgi, is the design I least like. The overall design of the cover has been made digitally, apart from the nought and cross which has been hand rendered. The colour of the nought has been manipulated using Adobe Illustrator, turned into a vector. A burnt orange colour has been used instead of white to add interest to the design. I personally think it was a terrible design decision made. Not only is it quite a disgusting colour but it is not clear to me yet as to what the signification is having added that colour to the mix of the design. The title has been capitalised and placed in the center left, along with the name of the author being placed at the bottom. The size of the surname compared to the surname was incomprehensible, and the typeface and ligature chosen were questionable. The size of all elements of text on the design makes it look very cramped and claustrophobic.

Many themes were explored by the author within the book, making readers aware of implications words may have on people of a certain race, making discrimination one of the main contenders on primary themes’ within the book. However, I felt the main theme that was explored with romance. Callum and Sephy always had a special bond because of growing up together. They have their fair share of arguments and hasty opinions of each other within the book, however, their strong friendship always makes out, in the end, eventually leading them to share a romance. Following the theme of discrimination and race, terrorism is another theme explored within the book. Other themes include suicide, capital punishment, politics, and mental health.


Following the research I conducted into the book and previous covers designed for the book, I made a few sketches for what initial ideas I had of my own design for the cover of the book.

My favourite design that I first decided to work with was the sketch of the roughly drawn feet. The rough drawing of these feet would be of similar nature to the vector generated illustration I would create in Adobe Illustrator to be used in the book cover design. What I really liked about this design was the simplicity, but most importantly my choice of using feet. I get a sense of adventure whenever I see an image, drawing, or photograph of feet because of where our feet can take us. There was a strong sense of adventure, suspense, and mystery within the book that I wanted to show in the book cover design. Below is the first digital design I came up with.

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The colour I decided to use were very relevant to the themes of the book. As you might not be able to see, the overall scene of the book cover design is representative of a beach. The red area is the sea and the fleshy pink colour is the sand. The red represents the death that occurs within the book, and the flesh pink represents an event which happens at the very end of the book involving the birth of a girl. I also wanted to show the barrier between noughts and crosses in the book by creating a white rift between the sea and the sand. The colours of the feet represent the discrimination in the book between black people (crosses) and white people (noughts). I used Adobe Illustrator to create the background and feet on the cover, using the pen tool to create the different shapes. As you might notice I chose to use several different shapes to create the feet because I wanted to show the highlights and shadows of the feet through their structure. This was quite difficult to achieve because I had to carefully consider the placement of these shapes and what colours each of the shapes would be.

I took a printed copy of this design to a group tutorial to receive feedback on the design. I was complimented on how reflective the book cover was of the themes presented to the reader within the book. However, I could have chosen more carefully what I used for the sand area by instead making use of a photograph of the texture of sand. I explained how it would blend with the colour of the white foot in the design. I also needed to refine the placement of text on the back cover and the spine so it would remain legible to the reader. I was also told that the fleshy pink colour of the sand almost blended into the colour of the white foot too well which wasn’t wise considering the black foot contrasted well with the sand.


After receiving feedback on my cover design that day I then more carefully considered a second design idea that would perhaps be more effective. Perhaps with the second design, I wanted to consider the typography playing a stronger role. Looking for inspiration online, I found a few covers which had used stencils of silhouettes on top of photographs or other images. All of the designs seemed to use the stencil of the silhouette as a way of presenting another image within the focal point of the design. For example, The Wolf Wilder written by Katherine Rundell, shows a stencil of a fox which leads you to read the title of the book, and then the girl and fox below, allowing you to reflect on the overall design by then bringing you to the realisation that the large fox is a stencil of a wooded area. The gradient within the large fox gives the design a lovely contrast to let the viewer focus on the smaller fox and girl in front of the white trees. I particularly like how the gold text sits against the dark blue gradient to white. The use of a gradient within a stencil is something I would like to consider. Within the design for When the Doves Disappeared written by Sofi Oksanen, the stencil placed overtop has a shadow behind the outline of the dove and its wing. I think this would be very effective if I wanted to use a photograph in the background.

I first started to experiment with typography for the design of the cover. I used InDesign since it had more typefaces on the programme that would be more suitable to printed design. I looked at what ligatures I could use, whether the words were bold or italic. And then I started to experiment with colour. I was still very keen to use the colour red, and perhaps pink. I also looked at what outlining the text would look like. Some of the typographic structures I looked at would have been very effective if I wanted to design a cover that had no images, however, I was very keen on including an image since the target audience would be suitable to people over the age of 15.

I then started to incorporate images into the design of the cover. First I used an image I had taken of shells and coral that had grown on a piece of rock on Tenby beach. I wanted to make the image large, however, the black of the title of the book clashed with the grayscale copy of the image of the coral. Instead, I looked at how a turquoise coloured copy of the title would work as a shadow behind the black. It didn’t make much of a great difference. I decided to take a new stance at the design, instead using a stencil that I would have to draw in Illustrator.

I used Adobe Illustrator to draw a stencil with the pen tool. The stencil shows how close the two main characters are to each other and the fact that the book is based on a romance. By using InDesign I experimented with adding a drop shadow. Unfortunately, I could only use one drop shadow on one angle for each layer so I made a copy of the stencil and changed the angle to direct the background at the opposite angle. In the end, I used the drop shadow tool in Illustrator so I could crop the image more easily so there wouldn’t be an overhanging shadow in the final design. The image I used for the background was a landscape photograph of the beach at Weston-super-mare. I liked how far out the tide was so the rocks of the bed would be showing. It made for an interesting detail and texture which was a nice contrast to the stencil in the foreground of the design.

I decided later on when putting the text in that I wanted to change the colour of the stencil to red instead of a pale blue because it would be more reflective of the themes within the book, regarding the death, suicide, gore, and romance within the book. I decided to use the same shade of red as I used in my previous design for the cover. For the title of the book, I used a black brush marker, scanned it in and then used Illustrator to transform it into a vector and change the colour of the ink from black to white to contrast with the red in the background. I used the same copy of the title on the spine as well. For the author’s name, I chose to use the typeface Georgia and changed the kerning so the name of the author would spread nicely across the center of the front cover. Then for the blurb and review quotes, I used the typeface Marion in regular for the blurb, italic for the source of the reviewer quotes in bold. ‘NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNGER READERS’ was placed at the bottom under the barcode in Helvetica Neue bold. As you can see, I cut off the stencil to reach to the cut off of the spine onto the back cover. I chose to the use the photograph behind the stencil as the main background on the back cover, and then I created a shape in Illustrator to fit the text for the back cover in.

What I loved about my final design for the cover was the use of every element of design I could find, which included the use of hand-drawn type as well as the digital type, the use of photography, and creating images digitally. I found it hard to portray many of the themes within the final design. The reason I chose to commit myself to a redesign of the book cover was that I didn’t feel as if I had challenged myself enough with the concept I had for my first design. I felt it was a wise decision to make because I felt I played it too safe trying to limit myself with what potential I could have had with this opportunity to show my worth to Penguin Book Student Design Award judging panel.

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