Recently, I’ve been consumed with the notion of being a designer. I mean, in my mind, of course I am. I studied graphic design. I taught design for 4 years. My books have been about the subject of design. However my official title for a long time hasn’t been a ‘Designer’. But if I’m not a designer, then what am I? A director? Well yeah, sure, I guess.

The semantics of the industry norm around titles, and how this relates to being a practicing designer, is interesting. Does being a ‘director’, of creative, or art (or anything), really connect to…


I’ve said this a number of times in various pieces of my writing about design. It’s easy to get, as a lot of people can relate to being a sports fan of some kind. As a fan, you are essentially a customer of the institution you are supporting. Much of the modern sports game is heavily commercialised, turning customers of the game into customers of other things. But jerseys, scarves and team flags aside, the main product is the game itself—and by being an enthused follower—this qualifies you as a consumer.

As an engaged person in the game, who cares…


Good typographic practice makes digital designs better

Call me old fashioned, but proper typographic practice remains high on the list of topics that all types of designers should be knowledgable about. Matters of the straight vs. curly apostrophe, optimal line length, hanging punctuation, even the most basic of typesetting knowledge such as widows and orphans — and don’t even get me started on correct dash usage — are just some examples of things that I see falling by the wayside in design for screen today all around the internet.

If you’re a visually-led designer and you don’t have a foundation of type knowledge… then get to know…


The world is on fire, the current political climate means societies have never been more polarised, and it feels like a Skynet war is a plausible reality as the years tick by. There’s a lot of shit happening in the world, and we’d all be forgiven for wallowing in a pit of pessimistic anxiety without a moment’s notice. These are, of course, huge problems that affect the vast majority of people around the world, of which one can only be so optimistic about.

Being honest, I’m not really in the mood to start tackling these kind of issues.

Not today…


Tips for putting together the best representation of yourself and your work

I’ve spent almost 15 years designing portfolios. For myself, for the design studios I’ve founded, for the creative agencies I’ve designed for and the creative teams I’ve worked as part of. There is always a presentation of work to put together at some point along the road.

I’ve also spent the last 6–8 months working into my latest portfolio site, which has informed some of thinking in this article.

How you put together a successful portfolio is amongst the single most important skills inside a designer’s locker. It’s all well and good knowing how to do something, but if you…


Research, for me, is the single most important aspect of the design process.

It informs every step. From foundational strategy—to rationalising something that could be seen as arbitrary like colour choice—having the right research in place right at the beginning of a project means always having something in your corner to back up your thinking later on. Because all thinking should always be based on solid research in the first place.

This might seem like a relatively straight forward notion, but for many designers out there it’s a revelation that actually, knowledge of Adobe CS or the latest trends regarding…


What education did for me and what it should do for design

I always had an issue with education. Well, the way I was educated throughout the various tiers of schooling, anyway. I couldn’t comprehend why I couldn’t grasp some of the matter being taught to me (I wasn’t a stupid child, probably bordering between ‘average’ and ‘above average’ (based on the current pigeon holes children are put into)), and because of that, I was frustrated. I acted out a bit and had a bad few years.

Until relatively recently, I never really realised that I was always a ‘learn by doing’ kid. I’m still that way inclined today. As a child…


How not giving a fuck made me get my shit(s) together

Often, I get asked how I manage to ‘fit so much in’ between home, work and life. Granted, I do—and have done—a lot of work over the last decade: Self-initiated design projects, new businesses, authoring books, teaching, curating exhibitions and repping illustrators. It’s not all peaches and cream, though. The pressure of having so much to care about really tested me at times.

Sarah Knight wrote the amazing The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck, and it was a game-changer for me. I’ve also read an abundance of articles in the design press highlighting burnout, inadequacy and anxiety (this


Things to consider before going gung-ho into the global branding process

Before joining the Global Creative team at EF Education First, I’d worked on a few brand identity projects that had an international reach. For instance, with Relentless Energy Drink, which had presence in Ireland, Germany and the USA, along with the UK. Pelé Sports, with a global audience between Europe, Australia and South America. I was no stranger to working across such diverse cultures and markets and channeling their needs and wants through a consistent brand identity look, feel, positioning and tone of voice.

But for some reason (well, a set of solid reasons that make perfect sense, actually) none…


On this day nine years ago, I decided to ‘get into’ writing.

Ah, 2010. A lot’s happened in the last nine years. Personally, professionally, locally, globally. For all of us. Back then, we were all very excited for the upcoming London 2012 Olympics, figuring out how Twitter actually works and designing websites without even thinking about how they might work on a mobile screen. Simpler times.

To provide some context about my life on this momentous day in 2010 when I decided I was going to change the world through writing about design is not necessarily important, but something that will help with this little story. I was winding down after my…

Andy Cooke

Creative Director

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