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Special Guest Star Jamie Keenan

This week’s session ranks as by far the best of all the sessions undertaken so far. We welcomed book design legend and seemingly never out of work Jamie Keenan and he presented a design masterclass which amounted to an exercise in simplicity conducted via an exercise in playing around with paper and glue. We had three book designs to produce, each with less time to conceive and execute, using nothing other than monochrome card, scissors and glue. This was so useful to me as removing the frilly and flashy from design forced me to think in terms of graphical concepts, ideas and how to express them in as simple a fashion as possible. Einstein said (paraphrase) if you cannot describe your thesis in a single sentence than you do not understand it, and this was the design equivalent of that phrase. If, in terms of expressing a given particular design idea, simplicity does not work then complexity definitely will not. This was a superb lecture to be in. Jamie is so reassuringly ordinary that even I believed I could do book design. Throughout the initial slides and talk I learned a lot about using negative spaces, putting action into cover design and also inserting as much as possible into design in terms of themes and tropes.

I discovered, for example, that depicting the apocalypse as a huge black gravestone very much made me think intelligently and abstractly rather than simply writing it it in text. Jamie was so encouraging because he was as normal as I am, and if the capacity for brilliance is in a normal man like him (and it was nice to see a male for a change) then it might just be in a klutz like me. I took great inspiration from the excellence he drew from the others in the class too, they were all brilliant in their own way, and many were a great deal more gifted and able than I, although I feel I held my own which for me is quite an achievement as this module has been increasingly difficult for me. I started out on this module harbouring ambitions in this area, however I now feel that whilst it is fun, it is most definitely not for me, in the same way that I love to cycle and I am pretty good at it but could never compete in the Tour de France. My great professional milieu is the written and spoken word, and I am very comfortable with that. I will be grateful just to pass this module. 

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