Getting your children’s book published: Offset 2010

Myself, Niamh Sharkey and Childrens Books Ireland had a discussion at Offset in Dublin last year under the heading Getting your childrens book published: from idea to publication

For more videos have a look at offset’s video page theres lots of great speakers. Hopefully see you at Offset next March. They have another great lineup and i think ill be doing something smallish in the second room.


By | 2017-11-25T00:34:31+00:00 December 20th, 2011|Tags: , , |0 Comments

People Tree book

I did an interview with People Tree for their upcoming book
Ive put this list together of interesting reading and talks about fair trade and sustainability on the web
really good talks on sustainability and a sort of think tank for long term thinking
nobel prize winning economist talks about reducing poverty
Their Interdependence Day event is very good
One of my favourite NGOs
I spoke at Offset design festival about my work and what started me in fair trade
By | 2017-09-02T02:22:18+00:00 June 23rd, 2011|Tags: |0 Comments

Offset 2010

Im doing a panel discussion in Dublin at the amazing OFFSET design festival. Myself, Niamh Sharkey and Childrens Books Ireland are doing a panel talk at 12pm on Sunday 3rd Oct about childrens books.

Offset is one of the best design festivals anywhere and Im very very proud to be asked to participate at it again. It is quite incredible that something of that scale has been created in Ireland. Check out the line up of speakers !!!! DJ Shadow / David CarsonGary Baseman / Steven Heller / Scott Dadich (wired magazine) / Daniel Eatock / Studioaka / Poke David O’Reilly ….cant wait.


You can watch the talk i did last year at Offset 2009 here ..basically…. ahem…

There is also a write up about Offset in the Irish Times yesterday here


By | 2017-09-02T02:23:14+00:00 September 29th, 2010|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Getting involved with Fair Trade: some information for designers

Some people have mailed me to ask how I got in contact with the Fair Trade groups etc so i thought I should explain it a bit here.


There is two main certification marks that govern fair trade. The first is the FLO mark on the left above, it oversees commodities such as coffee/tea/fruit and is the most widely recognised. The second is the WFTO mark which oversees the more complex fair trade manufacturing certification. Clothing/stationery/handicrafts any manufactured goods etc all come under this mark so it is the place to go for designers looking to create and manufacture designs and products.
I always wonder why it is the Fair Trade raw commodity mark is so widely recognised but the Fair Trade manufacturing mark isn’t as well known. Mainly perhaps because the Fair Trade raw commodity mark products can sell themselves without much help from design (coffee, tea etc need nothing more than a packet) but fair trade manufactured products aren’t as easy because they heavily rely on design. There are great companies such as People Tree that are doing their bit to show that its possible to do great designs in fair trade, but in general I think its clear that there still isn’t enough great design. Why isn’t it everywhere?  More than 50% of coffee sold in the UK is fair trade and still rapidly growing but in clothing it is less than one percent. If there were more it would be a huge force in poverty reduction and the main thing I see holding it back is design.
Having worked myself in advertising and commercial design for a long time I had become very disillusioned in the world and business of design, and I am very grateful to the people I have met in Fair Trade who have reminded me again what good design can be. There are some amazing traditional crafts and hand made objects that just cannot be produced industrially that lend themselves if designed nicely to really beautiful high-end design products. Textile designers in particular would be blown away. Not only that but I have met some pretty amazing and inspiring people. It has been a great opportunity for me to take some time to do something a bit different that is generated by myself rather than commissioned and it has led my design work into lots of new and unexpected directions.
For anyone who is thinking about getting involved they can go straight to the WFTO website here and contact producer groups all over the world by region/country or by product type. Literally anything you can think of (that can be non-industrially manufactured) can be made somewhere by some co-operative. You can also join them on facebook here 
If you have any other questions please leave a comment below.
Some amazing hand-woven fabric swatches from ACP. The craftsmanship and work here is just mind-blowing. The stuff you could do with this….!
Even just very simple screen prints work so well on hand-woven fabrics
bag prints…
and some soft toys.
By | 2017-09-02T02:24:06+00:00 July 5th, 2010|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

My OFFSET talk. basically.

The talk I gave in Dublin at the Offset series of talks has been put online.

I get a little bit better after the first few mins…. oh dear….

Thanks so much to everyone at OFFSET for putting on such a great event. Its probably the best series of design talks ive seen together anywhere.  It was an amazing honour to speak at it. Many of the other talks are now online. David Shrigley’s one is really funny.

[vimeo w=500&h=281]

Interview with Safia Minney People Tree 2008

1) How long have you been working with People Tree? What motivated you to use your creativity to promote Fair Trade and environmental issues?

Ive been working with People Tree for 4 years. I had wanted to become involved in the fair trade movement since travelling in India and Nepal for a summer while i was in college.

It was a very eye opening trip, when i left i was a fairly apathetic art student but i was so dumbfounded by the poverty that by the time i came back i was reading all these books on economics.
I found it very difficult to understand how such hardworking people could be so poor.
2) Why did you get fed up working in the conventional creative industry, and want to design for social change as well?
As a designer, to keep myself interested and passionate i always really try to put full effort into the work i do.  I had been working with some big companies and did some quite high profile jobs but ultimately I felt i was wasting my time in design and advertising when it came down to it. It was very superficial and mostly the people i worked for only cared about sales, money and the position of their logo. They werent small companies so i didnt care much whether they sold more products or not. In fact some of the more ruthless multinationals (and their marketing people) i worked for i would have quite enjoyed to have seen their sales take a downward plunge. I started thinking that when it came down to it all my really hard work and effort was being wasted. Some of the designs looked pretty good though!
3) What is your vision for social and environmental justice?
I think one of the biggest problems today is that multinationals are able to dodge laws too easily because there are not enough international laws, and individual governments are powerless when a company is operating internationally. They are effectively above the law. They need to be held to account a lot more than they are now, whether it is enforced by effective International law or from pressure from an educated public.
I think transparency is very important. If people could actually see the difference that their choices made, their buying choices would be very different. Nobody wants to treat people that they meet personally unfairly, but the problem is that all these transactions  are happening outside our view. The only way we can see or hear from the people that we effectively make transactions with everyday of our lives is when the media shows us a story of injustice that makes it to the news. If the public knew more they would change but the companies involved have an interest in clouding the issues.  I have a lot of hope for the transparency that the internet can bring.
4) Does it matter to you that People Tree can never pay you your market worth? We pay you in T-shirts and handmade notebooks and Fair Trade chocolate instead.
No! I still love working for People Tree.  Its very satisfying to work with something that is making a difference, also i have to say that the people i have met in People Tree are fantastic, as a freelance illustrator i have worked for literally hundreds of different companies and i can honestly say that i dont think that any of them have the same passion about what they do. Its been very life affirming after working with marketing teams. Also the chocolate is very good.
5) Where would you like to see your designs on People Tree handmade paper products sold?
By | 2017-09-02T02:25:00+00:00 February 11th, 2009|Tags: , , |0 Comments

new web pick interview 2008

Tell us a little bit about your background?

I studied graphic design and illustration in the National College of Art in Dublin, Ireland. While i was there I was always trying to get work in magazines and other bits and pieces here and there. After college I ended up traveling around and about in Asia for two years before moving to the UK in 2004 to work for the London based animation Studioaka. I left there to work again on smaller more creative freelance projects. I illustrate for several magazines and newspapers I have been making hand-made prints and designs for clothing and stationery with the fair trade company People Tree.

Who are your main inspirations? / What are your influences? 

I love Indian madhupani folk painting, and in fact most Asian folk art has something ornate and very beautiful about it, and its so different to what we are used to seeing. I used to be crazy about Rousseau’s work until I saw a book on Bengali painting which just blew me away I’m living in London at the moment and I visit museums pretty regularly. I’ve kind of used this for the work I have been doing for People Tree.
How do you keep motivated and interested?
I travel a lot and don’t work too hard!!
Do you have any new projects coming up that you can tell us about?

At the moment I am in Korea working on a childrens picture book that I wrote also.

Its about an owl that gets lost and makes friends with a squirrel.
Any words you would like to pass it to new comer designers?

I remember I saw Tomato (London based design group ) give a talk about design and they said that as a designer ‘you get the work that you do’, which i think is a really good piece of advice.
If you start out doing fashion illustrations and have nothing more than fashion illustrations in your portfolio or on your site you’ll find it hard to get hired to do editorial pieces.
Art directors are naturally unwilling to take a risk so you’ll find that the only way to get out of that side of the industry is to take a bit of time off and create the work yourself.

The best thing to do is to work in your spare time and find a way of working that you like and enjoy and then take that to the art directors.
A friend of mine had an agent for Children’s book illustration. She advised him to produce work in particular styles that she thought would sell, so he followed her advice but he still found it hard to get work and he didn’t enjoy doing work in a forced style. It wasn’t until he produced a body of his own work that he felt comfortable with did he start getting serious work.
If your work is unique you definitely will get better and more interesting work.
Having said all that probably the most important thing to do is get your work out there, I went to college with a guy who does really really great work but he is quite shy about showing his work off and as a result hasn’t got half as much work as he should be getting.

What is your most favorite commercial design of our own?

Im quite proud of the recent cover I did for Luce Irigaray’s book ‘sharing the world’. Also one image I did last year for the guardian. (how to turn)

Name some designers you like the most?

jonathan harris
john maeda
andreas pohancenik
yugo nakamura
grant orchard
By | 2017-09-02T02:25:06+00:00 February 11th, 2009|Tags: , , |0 Comments