Week Eight: Design and Critique

Updated: May 3, 2021

This week's lecture was a podcast with Darren Wall from Read Only Memory publishing. Darren currently lives in Barcelona, Spain, but mentioned how he has maintained his UK client base. He described that living in a new location meant his interaction with clients in the UK was more concentrated and useful as trips back to the UK aren't a regular occurrence thus needing to be direct with time. Darren described how his love of record covers influenced his path into graphic design and eventually lead him to design album covers for the likes of Hot Chip.

Darren's experience as a designer in both the music industry and publishing set him up nicely to launch Read Only Memory in 2012. Darren mentioned how an insight into the business side of these two areas proved to be invaluable when setting up his own publishing company. However, he also described how starting his own publishing company came as a big accident. He discussed how the music industry began to change, with online music streaming services, and budgets dropped which eventually left him stopping record design in 2010.

Image: https://www.core77.com/posts/90894/Toshi-Omagaris-Visual-History-of-Arcade-Game-Typography-from-the-70s-80s-and-90s

Image: https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/4029-the-warning/

Read Only Memory exclusively only publish gaming books, looking at the graphics, and style through the history of gaming. Darren mentioned that there are several reasons for publishing gaming books, the main one being that he used to be a gamer himself as well as taking something perceived as being low culture (such as gaming) and combine it with something of a higher culture value, the book. He also mentioned that there is a market of people that once played games but no longer do, due to getting older and having families etc, that appreciate and value the book. Another thing that Darren mentioned at this point that I found interesting was that he often collects books purely on their design and quality rather than the content itself.

Most of the Read Only Memory books are created through Kickstarter, Dareen mentioned that the initial reason for this was because publishers said there was no market for gaming books, which worked out positively for him. Through Kickstarter, he was able to generate his audience and had more freedom within the making of the book. He spoke of how a publisher would boil his ideas down into something safe and that fit within the confines of highstreet books. Darren also mentioned other books that had been created through Kickstarter such as the New York subway manual and the NASA guidelines manual (both pictured below).

Image: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thestandardsmanual/full-size-reissue-of-the-nycta-graphics-standards

Image: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thestandardsmanual/full-size-reissue-of-the-nycta-graphics-standards

Image: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thestandardsmanual/reissue-of-the-1975-nasa-graphics-standards-manual

Read Only Memory create books to a very high standard. Darren described his reasons for this as being that he wants to create something people can keep forever.

"We just went for the highest quality materials and the most experimental production processes to try and create objects that people keep."

Darren Wall, Read Only Memory

Darren also described that he wanted the book to connect to the experience of gaming itself. In doing this, there are a lot of details taken into consideration, such as printers, for example. He mentioned how he never uses the same printer twice and that he likes to speak to a printer as much as possible and see that they're passionate about the project. He said he preferred small, boutique printers as there's potential to be a little bit more experimental. He also described that there might be more options available, such as the code breaking bookmark that was created for one particular book. The bookmark (below) could be used to break codes within the book and reveal more content.

Image: https://www.itsnicethat.com/features/500-years-later-an-oral-history-of-final-fantasy-vii-read-only-memory-publication-210119

When considering the future of publishing Darren mentioned how there was a crisis within publishing with the invention of the Kindle etc. However, books have survived. Darren said that now more money is being put into books and they almost have to justify their existence within the modern world, so what we're now seeing in books is a higher standard and quality than before. He also mentioned how he predicts there'll be a rise in smaller publishers and niche material.

To conclude the lecture, Darren was asked to give three pieces of advice for crowdfunding, which were:

  1. Don't be too precious, offering the idea is the most important part of the beginning stage. The oxygen is other peoples ideas, so let that be your focus before trying to figure out the finer details.

  2. Stay in contact with the people that are backing your idea! It can be relentless but make sure you're on top of it and make sure everyone feels that they've been heard.

  3. Make it great!! At this stage you can be precious, you're in charge so make it the best it can be. Don't hold back.

Christien Meindertsma

Pig 05049 chronicles the many consumer products that were made from a pig called 05049. The book offers an insightful look into how this one animal, a single source, provides raw material for a vast number of everyday objects. Meindertsma’s clinical presentation of each laboriously researched object, page by page, organised by body part, follows the progress of the dissection of Pig 05049 and the subsequent use of each part. Some products, she found, are expected and familiar whilst other diverge dramatically, such as: ammunition, medicine, photo paper, cigarettes, conditioner and bio diesel. PIG05049 is currently in its 5th edition.

Image: https://christienmeindertsma.com/PIG-05049

Image: https://christienmeindertsma.com/PIG-05049

Workshop Challenge

My idea (for my pineapple essay) is to design a pineapple fruit box with the essay on it in different parts. There'll be instructions on how to cut up the box into different parts and put it together as a book. I'm hoping this will kinda relate to the early days of exploration to when the pineapple was first discovered by westerners through exploring the box and mapping out the pages. I'm thinking of using coordinates as page numbers too. I'm also in the process of designing fruit stickers that can be placed in the book, like a sticker book. I'm going to create a prototype of this, using screenprinting for the illustrations and text. I'm looking into getting the stickers made too.

Screen Print, First Draft

My first attempt at an abstract pineapple screenprint design. After looking at numerous ways of how I could illustrate the pineapple I decided I just wanted to create something slightly different and abstract. However, on reviewing this I decided it probably wouldn't work, it didn't feel right. The context in which I'm looking at the pineapple is both historical and present, so I feel something a little more traditional is required.


Fruit boxes/Stickers

Image: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/45247171246585051/

Field Notes

"Field Notes in general, and the National Crop Edition specifically, owe their existence to a tradition of promotional memo books distributed to American farmers over the last hundred years by seed, tractor, and other agricultural companies.

Field Notes co-founder Aaron Draplin has been collecting these for years, “rescuing them” from obscurity."

Image: https://fieldnotesbrand.com/from-seed

Image: https://fieldnotesbrand.com/from-seed

Supreme Fruit Stickers

Image: https://supremestickers.com/products/supreme-fruit-sticker

Book Layout


It has been interesting learning about the publishing process from Darren Wall's point of view. He's clearly very passionate about publishing and has high expectations on the product he wants to deliver to, not only his customers but his backers. Crowdfunding is getting increasingly popular, especially with the presence of Covid forcing people to leave jobs and pursue alternatives, fortunately, these alternatives are often unpursued dreams. However, crowdfunding allows you to take control and realise something you're passionate about, and this is exactly what Darren has done. As Darren mentioned, there's a lot of freedom in crowdfunding with few restrictions chipping away at big dreams and potential. Through crowdfunding, you're in constant communication with your customer and backer, you have their support and validation from the start which in turn brings confidence.

In regards to this week's challenge, I'm confident in my idea but the execution will take time. I have been playing with screenprinting as a way of printing my illustration onto my fruit box book. I feel this will work well, however, I'm still in the process of developing it and deciding which colours will work well etc.


flex.falmouth.ac.uk. (n.d.). Log in to canvas. [online] Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/691/pages/week-8-lecture-design-and-critique?module_item_id=49414 [Accessed 21 Mar. 2021].

Field Notes. (n.d.). From Seed. [online] Available at: https://fieldnotesbrand.com/from-seed [Accessed 21 Mar. 2021].

christienmeindertsma.com. (n.d.). PIG 05049 — christienmeindertsma. [online] Available at: https://christienmeindertsma.com/PIG-05049 [Accessed 4 Apr. 2021].

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