Monthly Archives

October 2011


Photographing my work

Last week a friend and I hired a professional photographer to shoot images for our graduation portfolios – and boy what a difference does a pro make! I actually squealed “oh my god! My work looks like real work now!” Haha.


Here was our basic set-up for the shoot, with my hands guest starring as I hold a dark reflector board to minimize the highlights. We wanted to keep the shoot simplistic so as to let our work be the focus. I am sick of seeing designer’s works shot at awkward angles with extreme depth of field. Sure it looks “cool”, but you can’t get the full idea of the project!

We anticipated the shoot to take 2 hours but it ended up taking 4 hours, it was exhausting! We were fortunate enough to have an amazingly nice photographer who didn’t mind staying back later.

Here are a few shots from the day:

Penguin book covers

Pasta packaging

Fever Ray CD

Dottir Magazine

Raleigh Paper packaging

Opera Australia brochure

You can see more photos from this shoot on my The Loop profile. I also have finally set up my Behance account, so check it out here.

Now I just need to finish the layout of my print portfolio, finalise my business cards, send everything off to print and then finish my portfolio website. Not to mention the other numerous assignments due. The end is near!


I like spending money

Sorry things have been a little quiet around here guys, currently experiencing the busiest weeks of my life… but fortunately I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I will be graduating in less than 5 weeks!

When I get stressed, I go on shopping sprees. Since I am confined to my desk, diligently working hard (most of the time) I have been getting distracted by 2 of my favourite things to buy – dresses and books.

Firstly there was a sale on at Dorothy Perkins, I would be silly *not* to buy these, right? They have arrived and look fab (especially the coral one!)

1. Navy blue short sleeve dress

2. Black spot fit and flare dress

3. Coral v-back collar dress

And books! Lots of books! Unfortunately I have no time to even think about reading them yet, but as soon as December rolls around you will find me curled up somewhere with tea and a good book.

1. Just My Type – Simon Garfield

2. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami

3. Indie Publishing – Ellen Lupton

4. Box Bottle Bag – The Dieline

5. South of the Border, West of the Sun – Haruki Murakami

6. Thinking with Type – Ellen Lupton

For Australian readers, I recommend purchasing these books from Fishpond – they were all on sale.

Ok enough procrastination and frivolous spending – back to assignments!

Inspiration, Travel

My favourite place

Asking a travel fanatic where is their favourite place in the world is a bit of a tricky question – but if I had to answer, then I would say Jökulsárlón. Jökulsárlón is a glacial lagoon located in South Eastern Iceland and is quite possibly the most beautiful sight I have ever seen in my life (and I have had the pleasure of seeing it twice!).

Please click on the above image for a larger version

I only had my old Canon point and shoot camera with me but I think I still managed to capture the breathtaking beauty of this area of Iceland.

The second time I visited Jökulsárlón it was a gray and miserable day – however I still think the lagoon looks as stunning as ever, albeit slightly more eerie.

Please please please go visit! Even Leonardo Di Caprio likes to pose in front of it! :)

Image source

Now it’s time for me to get back to my many assignments, instead of fantasising about future Iceland trips.

Cupcakes, Food, Recipes

White Chocolate Cupcakes

These white chocolate cupcakes are a delicious and elegant treat. The white chocolate icing is paired with a vanilla cupcake base, however you can get creative and add raspberries to your cupcake mixture for a sharp flavour contrast.

White Chocolate Cupcakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 24
  • 230g butter, softened
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups self-raising flour
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 300g white chocolate
  • 200g butter
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  2. Cream the butter with an electric mixer until smooth in a large bowl.
  3. Gradually add the sugar and beat for 3 minutes until fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Sift the 2 flours and salt into a separate bowl.
  6. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Do not overmix!
  7. Fill cupcake liners about ¾ full with mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden brown.
  8. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
  1. Melt white chocolate and butter together in the microwave or over a double boiler. Allow to cool for around 5 minutes.
  2. Sift in 4 cups of the icing sugar.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of milk and either beat with electric beaters or whisk.
  4. You may not need all of the final cup of icing sugar - add it in gradually until a spreadable thickness is reached.
  5. Spoon the mixture into an icing bag with a nozzle attached and ice the cupcakes.

The gorgeous cupcake wrappers and buttons are from Donna Hay, I love them!!



The Distillery launch and a letterpress course

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the launch of The Distillery letterpress studio as well as attend a letterpress course at the Penrith Museum of Printing.

It was a drizzly Thursday night but that didn’t stop the hoards of letterpress enthusiasts packing the studio of The Distillery at North Sydney. Here is a photo of the studio when things are a little quieter ;)

Image source

We were each personally greeted by Nathan at the door and his enthusiasm and excitement for letterpress was immediately apparent. After a few complimentary glasses of wine and some snacks (yay!) I explored the studio’s products displayed on the shelves downstairs.

The Distillery is lucky enough to have obtained a Heidelberg Windmill when a printing shop went into liquidation, one of the most sort after letterpress machines. We were given a demonstration by their printer Adam, who printed out copies of logos that participants had submitted.

Image source

On our way out we were each thoughtfully given a goodie bag containing coasters, a notebook and a mini Heidelberg (nicknamed “Wolfgang Jr”) we could build out of cardboard!

I was really impressed with the level of professionalism and thought that went into this launch and I can’t wait to get them to print my business cards in the near future!

A few days later I took the nearly 2 hour journey out to The Penrith Museum of Printing (leaving the house at 8am on a Sunday morning seems barbaric!) but it was absolutely worth it. We started off with a tour of the different printers the museum currently houses.

But don’t worry I wouldn’t be learning on anything as huge (or potentially deadly!) as this.

This was my little letterpress! It is a tabletop Adana and very cute if you ask me.

We started off by selected a typeface we wanted to set our names in (I chose Perpetua) and then hunting for the letters to spell out our names – a rather tricky task. Look how many thousands of tiny letters there are for one typeface!

I eventually found all my letters and began setting my name. I unfortunately set it upside down (shh! I’m learning!) but the teacher fixed it up for me :)

Here is my name correctly set (the right way up this time!)

Can you imagine how long it must have taken someone to set all this type?! I have so much respect for old-school printers.

More beautiful type

Someone from a different course had made an amazing Z out of lots of little zs. Ooo how I would love a print of this!

Close up

Now on to printing our names with the Adana letterpress! First the teacher applied black ink.

A little goes a long way!

And then we pushed the lever up and down to spread the ink evenly on the disk with the rollers (please excuse my lack of technical mumbo-jumbo, I have promptly forgotten the exact names for each part!)


Our blocks were inserted into the letterpress and we did a test print on paper. We had to make necessary adjustments to ensure the ink was evenly spread but soon mine started looking pretty decent.

Finally we were ready to print our names on our certificate. Success!

It was certainly a lot of effort for what seems like a little pay off, but learning this old and time consuming process was very rewarding and gave me so much respect for printers. Can you even imagine printing a newspaper in this fashion?

I had a great time at the course and am hoping to purchase my own little tabletop letterpress in the near future.


Norwegian Wood

My heart is still aching a little after this weekend’s viewing of the film adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s bestselling novel Norwegian Wood.

It is an amazing book by an amazing author, and I must admit I was a little apprehensive that they would stuff it up, as screen adaptations of books often do. I think the actors portrayed their characters perfectly and the cinemtaography was breathtaking (by Ping Bin Lee, who also did In the Mood for Love).

There are many long and uncomfortable shots, sometimes featuring the characters sobbing uncontrollably, absolutely grief stricken. But it is not overacted and stays true to the emotions conveyed in the book. The soundtrack was moving and suited the mood perfectly, scored by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood. As the story is set in the 1960s, the fashion is great. The girls are often sporting gorgeous peter pan-style collars and the boys in polo shirts and flared jeans.

Of course significant parts of the story were left out in the detail-heavy book (including my favourite character, Storm Trooper! He barely featured at all) but overall it was a decent and satisfying adaptation. I would strongly advise you read the book as well though, you’ll get so much more out of the story.

I fell head over heels for the actor Kenichi Matsuyama, who played the protagonist Watanabe. I was mesmerized by his top lip. I sound crazy I know, but seriously check his top lip out in the film. It’s beautiful.

For further Murakami reading I suggest Kafka on the Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I am also looking forward to his new book 1Q84 that is released in English at the end of this month. Murakami also wrote an interesting book on the Tokyo gas attacks titled Underground. It’s a fascinating read on the dreadful events from the perspective of both the victims and members of Aum, as well as an interesting look at the Japanese psyche.


Letterpress obsession

Like a lot of graphic designers, I too have fallen under the spell of letterpress. Not only are letterpressed products so beautiful, elegant and timeless, but I just love the idea of designing and working with my hands (as opposed to spending 10 hours a day on the computer in Illustrator and InDesign).

Whilst it’s resurgence has really taken off overseas (particularly in America), there are not a huge amount of well established letterpress companies in Australia. BUT this is beginning to change, starting with the opening of The Distillery in North Sydney. I am attending their launch on Thursday evening and will have my camera in tow to photograph the proceedings.

And then on Sunday I am off to the Penrith Museum of Printing to do a letterpress course on the Adana machine, which is a tabletop press. I cannot wait! Once again I will have my camera and will do a follow up post next week detailing my adventures in letterpress.

I have designed a new business card for myself which I will soon be getting printed using letterpress – I will show you the results as soon as it is completed!

For now I leave you with some lovely examples of letterpressed products.


Bicycle Letterpress Card by Letterpress Delicacies

Letterpress Launch invitation by The Distillery

David West business cards by Taste of Ink

Stephanie Reinish business cards by Dingbat Press

And some beautiful letterpress videos.

Letterpress from Naomie Ross on Vimeo.

The Distillery | Sydney, Australia from Dave Katague on Vimeo.

Biscuits/Cookies, Food, Recipes

Choc Chip Cookies

Ah the humble choc chip cookie. So popular, yet often done so badly. This recipe I use is the best one I have found – the high ratio of brown sugar ensures the cookies are chewy in the middle and crunchy on the outside.

But beware these cookies like to spread when they bake! The first time I made it everything morphed into 1 UBER COOKIE which was wonderful and all, but not a great idea for portion control. To avoid uber-cookie problems, I suggest spooning 5 tablespoon size balls onto each baking sheet.

Choc Chip Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 20
  • 140g butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 250g chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Cream the butter and sugars for at least 5 minutes until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat well.
  3. Add choc chips, flour, baking soda and baking powder. Beat on low speed until just combined (don't overwork the mixture or it can become tough).
  4. Dollop tablespoon sized balls of cookie dough onto lined baking trays. I usually put 5 cookies on each of my 4 trays as these babies spread.
  5. Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, around 12-14 minutes.