castleSome of you may have come across a book called 'The Artists Way' by Julia Cameron. In it she advocates the concept of the 'Artist Date'; namely a day or an outing where you to all intents and purposes go on a date with your inner 'artist' in search of creative replenishment and inspiration. Turns out I've been going on these for years before I read the book and discovered the name these little sojourns had been given.

In any case they are a wonderful way to switch off from the day to day and spend some time looking for adventures in a creative way. It might mean a trip to an art gallery, a town, the seaside or a museum. After a particularly hectic few months at The Design Practice I decided now was the time to step out on an artist date and to tell you all about it.

With family obligations looming I opted for an afternoon in probably my favourite city in Kent, Rochester. Despite it's recent gentricfication it still has an immense to offer anyone looking for something a little different and inspiring with a unique vibe all its own. I had no real plans for the day, just intended to show up with camera and notepad to hand and see what happened.

Firstly I headed for Rochester Castle. I'd not visited the castle since I was a small boy in Essex so had no idea really what to expect. Its a magnificent, brooding, atmospheric place that resonates with the memories of its turbulent past. Its pretty open inside (not like the similar Dover Castle which has been renovated and restored) and is to all intents and purposes simply a shell - but its an INCREDIBLE place! The wind howled throughout the corridors with just glimpses of blue sky visible amongst the grey clouds and grey stone that comprises the castle walls. I never realised quite how high it was and due to its 'sheer' nature I found myself developing a tiny bit of vertigo. Walking gingerly over uneven stone floors as the wind blew and facing the open drop, stories below, caused me to feel a little nervous - my shoes suddenly feeling like clown's shoes so large and cumbersome they seemed! 

At the top the view was superb over the Medway and the city itself. I spied what appears to be an old prison hulk ship still in the river that I'd not noticed before along with a burnt out shell of a building some way in the distant on the curve of the water. I made a mental note to visit and explore both in the near future. Amazing what you can see when you really look at something new.

montageLeaving the castle (and glad to be back on terra firma) I headed for a mooch around some antique shops. I love paper ephemera and when I have a few quid spare love to pick up old photos, postcards or documents from the past as part of some yet undecided project. For a very reasonable amount I bought some old photos, a receipt from a London clothes shop dated 1930 and a model of a Vespa scooter. They'll form part of a collage in the future.

occupation3I then want on to visit the 'Occupation' exhibition by Steve Mace in Rochester Art Gallery. It was a very interesting but small conceptual exhibition examining the concept of work, industry, manual labour and jobs, both in the present and now (with quizzical nods to the future too). The work gave me lots of ideas of how an exhibition in the gallery could work and I admired the aesthetic appeal of the work as well as its conceptual message. A real highlight was a 'clocking in' machine along with some cards with which you are encouraged to clock both in and out of the show. A really nice idea that involved the viewer in the artwork directly and added weight to its conceptual message which I loved and have tried to do myself in past exhibitions I've been directly involved with. Plus I'd never used a clocking in machine before so that was fun too.

occupation2Finally I thought I'd grab a quick coffee in The Seaplane Works, a cafe owned by Medway artistic legend (and a real hero of mine) Billy Childish. On entering I realised Billy himself was there along with a mutual friend of ours, Barry. I stopped to talk to Barry as I enjoyed my espresso and before you knew it he, Billy and myself chatted in the cafe for some time. Such a thrill to talk on an informal basis with him and to share stories. A real buzz and a perfect conclusion to an artist date in which I actually ended up talking with an artist (and one of the greatest ones alive today in my opinion) and then came face to face with his face on a huge mural on a building outside! 




ensoI'm sure you all noticed that we changed our logo a few months back, around the time of our new website launch.

So many people have been asking me the story behind the new logo so I thought now might be a good time to explain more about it!

Our logo had, for many years, been a development of speech marks and a d/p monogram. Although this nicely reflected the concept of 'communication' we felt our brand needed to say more about us and our personal approach to the work we do.

As you may be aware, we do have a book publishing company, Enso Publishing, that has so far published three books (the most recent of which, The Story of Aylesford Church Organ has only just come out!) and the logo for that company features, appropriately, the 'enso' circle which we have now incorporated into The Design Practice logo.

But what is an 'enso' circle?

In Zen Buddhism, an enso is a hand rendered circle that is usually painted in one uninhibited, fluid brushstroke to symbolise and encourage the clearing of the mind to let the body create. It is often used as a spiritual disciplined practice that Japanese calligraphers and artists employ at the start of the morning before commencing their work for the day. The enso symbolises absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance and the universe.

Each enso circle is different; some closed, some open. An absolutely perfectly round circle is often regarded as one of the most difficult shapes to draw and it is during the practice of painting an enso that practioners reflect on this concept; attempting excellence and perfection at all times.

Apart from the obvious links to our name ('practice') and the notion of producing creative work within a disciplined environment, it is the aspect of striving for perfection that spoke to us most here at The Design Practice. Therefore the enso circle seemed a perfect fit for us here and our work ethos. 

After painting lots of enso circles (using authentic Japanese brushes and paper) we selected one that felt right, digitised it and our new logo was complete. One that, we hope, shows our clients how we work towards excellence at all times through our disciplined but creative approach to design.



At last our new website is live! I guess its the same with most businesses; you're too busy focusing on clients that you don't look after yourself.

Our last website design (from approximately seven years) while pretty much cutting edge at the time was DESPERATELY in need of a makeover and to say it was looking a little tired and old was an understatement. So, we are delighted that this new representation of us and our work is now online.

So much has changed over the past seven years and design doesn't stand still. Some design can be tailor made to last the test of time but most needs to be dynamic and fresh to compete and stand out amongst the over crowded visual world in which we live and do business.

Like most design work we undertake, our site is simple with a clear objective and strong design principles. It shows who we are and what we can do for you and how this can make a difference to your business.

I hope you enjoy looking through the site and, if you feel we would be a good fit in producing work for you and your business, then please don't hesitate to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.

"I have had the pleasure of working with The Design Practice over the last couple of years. The passion and commitment never ceases to amaze me, and working in partnership with The Design Practice has definitely added value to my educational programmes and resources. Technically a supplier; but now more of a valued partner who shares the same vision."

Jon Rye, JPRye Limited

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