Design Works Site

 

As designers it is our stock in trade to bring an experienced eye to our clients’ identities. We seek to present a clear message for them. We deploy our Visual Communication skills to show them in a confident, poised stance. Their goods, whether books, music or widgets made sparkly and their services reflecting their best qualities.

Look at me! The graphics cries. I’m shiny, appealing, loaded with character. Desirable, charming company you can enjoy doing business with. My shelves are bursting with must-have goodies. A veritable wizard’s quiver of skills and talents. Resplendent in cool, sharp livery and clearly the dog’s dangley bits in their field.

We have listened closely to ourclients’ problems and aspirations. We have compared the competition and teased out what makes them special in our minds and performed our voodoo on the Mac.

We designers bring focus and objectivity. And hopefully some fun too!

But what about our shop windows? I reflect on this as I have just re-vamped my website www.day-ellison.com. Frankly it is torture! Andrew Butler at DesignCredo calls it The Cobbler’s Shoes. Personally, I can’t see the shoes for wanting to strip out the cobblers. All your inner conflicts rush to the fore like anarchists at the barricades. Is this piece relevant? Am I being vain? Are SMEs as well represented as the celebrities? Should I make something more prominent? O, the human condition! One minute a carefree Creative Director setting out a succession of successful projects, the next taunted by the Demon Doubt, asking if you know how to re-organize the deck-chairs on the Titanic. Physician, heal thyself!

If you have dallied on my Blog before you will know that I love the English language. Marvelling at its power for clarity and delighting in its potential for whimsy and unruly playtime. But not on my website! I don’t want boastful adjectives and purple promises traipsing through with their out-sized muddy boots. I mean, I must think the better part of my work is good or I could not, in all conscience, release it to any the fab folk whose tags adorn this blog. But I certainly don’t want to lather the pages with sales-pitch. It’s just not me. But do I hamstring my own sales efforts in so doing? Arrrgghh! The Demon Doubt again. Fact is you are not there to apply the same cool-headed objectivity that is your normal daily stock in trade. You are trying to deftly negotiate that minefield of hopes and fears. Alone. With Arvo Pårt doing his level best to be a calming voice through the speakers.

So you try to be as objective as you can and ask other people’s opinions. And listen. Then act on what seems the best advice to you. I am grateful for advice from Joanne Jacobs in particular.

I have worked with a lot of great people and the site shows a good selection. And I have kept it simple. It is tailored to the iPad – that seems the way to go. I am working on a WordPress bridge between the website and this blog. That will have a database where you can search by client/author/title etc.

Could I have your help too? I would love it if you would leave comments/feedback below.

Have a look here: www.day-ellison.com

What do you think?

Dick Francis

You cannot live in a rural community, as I do, without observing what an all-encompassing interest horses are to many. Not only racing but riding, owning, grooming, breeding and showing. The equestrian fan is totally absorbed by their pastime. Quite an industry too. It’s not my specialst subject – only ridden twice, once on the Guinness Estate as a guest (good), the other in Algeria (bad). Amazing creatures though. Equine athletes. Limited expertise here. Must say I prefer Delacroix to Stubbs. But do check this stunning volume, Horses by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Jean-Louis Gouraud. The sheer beauty of the animal does not escape me. Also the fertilizer is very impressive for the garden.

And I do enjoy reading a good thriller . . .

. . . Who could not help but be gripped by the extraordinary events at Newbury Race Course last weekend? In the viewers’ enclosure several of the race horses suddenly became extremely distressed. And two died instantly. Ghastly, even on the radio. Possible cause is suspected to be an electric shock from an under-turf source. Not only was it an attention-grabbing news item but I was struck by how many reporters said the event was ‘like a Dick Francis novel’.

A select few authors become synonymous with a sport. Norman Mailer on boxing leaps to mind, but more often than not it is sport as a major strand of popular culture that inspires the novelist, rather than sport per se. Short story writers, however, do favour the activity. But I digress. So you see why I value great writers so highly – for their skill and craft eludes me.

Dick Francis was a serious achiever in British National Hunt racing before he started writing about that world. He won over 350 races, becoming champion jockey  just as British National Hunt racing, in the 1956 Grand Nationalwhen the horse inexplicably fell when close to winning the race. Wikipedia just told me that bit. ’56 is the year I acquired a hyphen.

At Pan Books Dick Francis sales were cantering along nicely. But the feeling was that he should be read beyond his devoted fans in the horse-racing fraternity. “Whether you followed the gee-gees or not they are a good read” they said. And we need covers for his books that stretch his appeal to include them. I was skeptical (the description of jockeys as dwarves dressed as clowns always tickled me) but gave it a shot. I read a few. They were right. He writes at quite a clip. Fast paced, accessible, one sitting reads. All made credible by his wealth of insider knowledge. So the challenge was to package his novels without overt equine imagery to keep the thriller appeal wide as possible. OK marketing peeps.

 

The design shown is about nefarious deeds with counterfeit vintage wine against a racing backdrop. I designed two dozen or so with photographer Colin Thomas. A few are shown above.

A graphic design snippet for you: See the bubbles on the meniscus? When photographing drinks you need to be able to control the bubbles. Especially with wine. Too many will appear oxidized. Too few looks flat. And, whilst there is some settled wisdom, opinions differ on the ideal size and number with the wine producer. An air-filled syringe is a time consuming option and as bubbles burst they splash colour on the perfect glass. Solution: you can buy plastic bubbles in unlimited configurations to drop into liquids. They pick up the colour by reflection. Life before PhotoShop.

Thrillers are often referred to as ‘electric’. Maybe that was the cause of the Newbury tragedy? Time, and Clare Balding, will tell.

Will they ever find Proof?

David Baldacci

Well, after all the excitement, celebrations and hoopla over The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films I took a little breather from the Blog. Starting to gush.

So with feet firmly back on the ground I thought I would dig out something grittier and Hobbit free. David Baldacci is an internationally-acclaimed best selling thriller writer. They all say that in publishing but, with 100 million books in print no less, it is a very fair claim. And I have to say having read six of them they are actually great, fast-paced page-turners. Hailing from Virginia USA, Mr. Baldacci practiced law for nine years in Washington, D.C., as both a trial and corporate attorney. This informs the credibility of his story lines. You may recall his debut novel Absolute Power which was filmed, starring Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman and Ed Harris.

 

 
 
 
The design work I undertook for Simon & Schuster UK was a complete author make-over, comprising the new hardback, Last Man Standing and fresh covers, in the new livery, for his paperback backlist. Interestingly the commission came from S&S art director Glen Saville (now freelance). Interesting because Glen worked for me at Pan Books in a former life. So the first move was a quiet sober lunch to catch up and make sure the old roles threw up no problems in working together with Glen as ‘The Boss’. It was a wise investment of a couple of hours and roles and functions were clear. Initially I produced covers for Douglas Coupland and Seth Godin – which I can’t find for the life of me. Bald head, tight crop, bright colours.
 
The David Baldacci make-over was based on a very dramatic use of white space working off the bottom of the page. And, sorry to bang on about it, attention the spines as display areas. Glen was great in giving me space to work and championing the look through the publisher’s processes, a real ally to the project. It is worth pointing out that within a strong publishing genre, such as mainstream thrillers, you can stretch things to a certain extent but must not lose the instant recognition factor for your audience. I’d love to try it but publishers do not warm to thriller jackets/covers that reference literary fiction or cookbooks! Publishers, I dare you to let me try!

We tackled the photo-shoot in one – very long – day. As so often, my first choice behind the lens was Colin Thomas. Colin is a tall thin, sometimes bearded, odd sock wearing fellow who has quite the easiest manner you could wish to work with. His skill and adaptability are superb. We have worked on hundreds of assignments together, from Ed McBain and Dick Francis to wild PhotoShop forays where Colin is a master. He does great location, advertising and portraits and catalogue work. Damn, he’s talented. You would love working with him. Check the Digital Imaging on his website. It’s insane.

By the way, the model on A Simple Truth was a cracking fellow who appeared as an actor in a Guy Ritchie film. I think due credit is so important and I am maddened I cannot remember or find his name to check him. Maybe you can help, film buffs?

Anyway, returning to the ‘internationally-acclaimed best selling thriller’ schtick and the commercial imperative, the David Baldacci make-over exceeded the publishers’ expectations winning prime display and shelf space everywhere. His industry currency soared and the auction value of his next book went stratospheric.

What I would like to know is what thriller covers have appealed to you? Why not leave a comment and tell us why you like them?

 
 
And I’d love to hear what you think of Colin Thomas portfolio . . .

 

The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films (II)

Some times you deliver a job and never hear another word. This can be disconcerting. One minute you are intensely focussed on a mission. The next you are alone watching your child cycle off, without the trainer-wheels, suddenly redundant.

Other times it is very different.



The Beatles

Just like Jacques Tati‘s car, I used to have a blog but it wasn’t  a good blog. Since I let Scott Gould verbally mug me about my lack of self-promotion I have this shiny new one that people actually read. There are several ideas distilling that I am keen to write but still bubbling. In the meantime I wanted to bring this story forward into the light.
 

My step-father, Ron, was Marketing Director at British Eagle airlines during my early school days. So when The Beatles flew with them I got to paint (yes, paint) “Beatles Fly” above the British Eagle logo, in matching type, on four bags. But I didn’t get taken to the airport to see them and I have lost the photo. My early introduction to the benefits of free work. See how I got over it and moved on? Anyway it was Klaus Voorman’s design for Revolver that proved to be the Damascean drawing for me. It was fab and it seemed distantly achievable even to a schoolboy with a short version of a Beatle haircut and dreams.

 The-Love-You-Make-1984-4site

Last summer saw lots of media coverage for the anniversary of The Beatles’ Abbey Road. Just as their music was instantly ubiquitous, all their album graphics became iconic.  You can often gauge how much album art has been absorbed into popular culture by the number of parodies. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Simpsons, Booker T & the MG’s, Lego, and just about everybody else have paid homage to Abbey Road. Only spell-checker software, it seems, has not heard of The Beatles.

In 1984 Pan Books published Pete Brown’s account of his time with The Beatles. As Creative Director for Pan I wanted the cover to show the exact spot with the band now missing. The record label would not permit the re-touching of the original sleeve. So one Sunday morning it was off to St.John’s Wood with delightfully gentle photographer Peter Williams and a set of step ladders to shoot from scratch. With a very limited budget for models or props the were Hitchcock cameos by myself, Sandy Nightingale, Richard Moon, Creative Director of The British Council at the time, and his VW. We left the ‘For Sale’ sign in for Beatles’ fans to spot.

The zebra crossing itself is an international pilgrimage destination for fans of The Fab Four braving the London traffic to get that souvenir shot of themselves on location.

Visually, I am quite taken by the wit of the tank on The Beatles Bike that puts the motorbike in Abbey Road wherever it’s true location may be. A shame the airbrush artist went on to pepper (apologies) the machine with so many other references too. Smart tank idea though.

And, with all the lyrical wit of a McCartney bass-line, life threw up the location in a project this year. This time, as I rummaged through the archives for material for The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films. While using the hallowed recording studios, Director, Peter Jackson and Composer, Howard Shore stepped out to get their own snap. Then English Heritage got the studios listed. And I still love The Beatles music.

And in the end . . .

Michael Ondaatje

This week I overheard two boys, about 8 years old, at the magazines section of WHSmith. One asked the other if he read comics. “Back in the day.” was the reply.

Back in the day, this designer worked on the cover for Michael Ondaatje‘s early novel, Coming Through Slaughter. Michael is a very charming man who writes like an angel. This book is a ‘fictionalised’ account of the brief life of Buddy Bolden. Fictionalised because so little documentation remains. But – back in the day – in New Orleans, he played Jazz on the trumpet for the very first time. The Birth of Jazz. 
 slaughter
Miles Davis & Coltrane move me but Jazz is not my first musical port of call. And I am sure that is my short-coming, not the music’s.

But this story makes the hairs on the neck stand up. He was called the first great jazz trumpet player. No recorded music. How tremendous does your impact have to have been for that colossal appellation to form your legend? Now that, for me, occasions use of the over-worked word ‘awesome’.

Ondatjee relates a tale of massive, high-impact collision. The explosion of a creative talent. The implosion of drink, drugs, excess, squalor and madness. His description of Bolden’s rampant trumpet outpouring, in a public town parade, at his musical peak, and at the same moment as the fissure to his final insanity.  This is one of those very rare times a writer truely does justice to the potent alchemy of music.

Not only are there no recordings and sparse documentation of this pyrotechnic talent, there is little visual record. One fire damaged glass plate. At the time it seemed to0 obvious to use it on the cover. Beautiful, on reflection but as a grabber maybe just another bunch of sepia negroes as entertainers. Once into the text, it holds a howl of melancholy. On the shelf, another poignant, but passive moment awaiting Ken Burns‘ genius for his trade-mark, slow-motion, re-ignition of the past.

This is probably the point where I should tell design students to sit up straight and learn what you do when you want someone’s image but do not have the subject available. Nah. All I can do is tell you what I did. On that day with that problem.

I fibbed a bit about me and Jazz. I love Louis Armstrong too. In fact I once speculated about my funeral music (as you do) and chose two tunes to bookend my experience of adult life. I fancied David Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust‘ at the start and Louis Armstrong’s ‘Stardust‘ at the end. Then I forgot about it. Until just then.

I remembered that a signature visual for Louis ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong was the way, during performance, he would mop the sweat from his face with his handkerchief. Some rascals suggest he kept cocaine in it to revive him during a particularly vigourous set. I doubt it. In fact, I expect that would produce a Woody Allen moment. But the point is that it totally obscured his face.

And I had it. My muse moment. A portrait of a man who was not there. A hope for a pause in performance of exhaustion, intensity and pain. I wanted a close-up study and often have a mischievous desire to commission out of genre. I took the idea to Robert Golden. At that time he was the man for food photography. A serious man, he now makes documentary film, I believe.

No drug dust. Maybe just a little Stardust. Back in the day.

Italo Calvino

Victoria Glendinning

Flight is a novel about a high-flying engineer who takes one risk too far – for love. I won’t spoil it – visit a bookshop/Amazon/Library.
 
The jacket design needs little explanation. Having identified the visual metaphor I wanted, I trawled and finally licensed a great shot from Tony Stone. And got weaving in PhotoShop so that our over-ambitious aerialist fails in his high-wire act. Designing the type to give the image, author’s name and simple title space to work.  There are enough jackets and covers screaming for attention in over-crowded display spaces. The eye will rest on one or two calmer spaces, and linger a second longer.
 

 

 

 
When I started this blog I knew there was a good vein of tales of creative life to be mined. But this design set me thinking in a different direction. At it’s best Creative Direction is something of a high-wire act. Taking calculated risks. Making perfect connections. Striving for perfection often against the odds. As I searched for the proofs of this design I thought about how we try to present perfection, how we compile our portfolios and CVs, physical and virtual. We attempt to present a perfect continuum of excellence. It’s natural and reasonable. Who wants to see the turkeys? We hope to offer the promise of guaranteed commercial success to potential clients. 
 
But we all know it is not always like that. We also tend to tell ourselves the prime examples are the result of our skills having conquered all obstacles in blissful omnipotence. (Well OK, but you my drift anyway) And that the ones that slipped-up were victims of nefarious outside meddlers. 
 
In another post I will rant and rend my garments over publishers’ cover committees. But not now. What about the inter-connections on a good day’s work?
 
This job went pretty smoothly. But pause for thought to consider how many things had to work out even on a good wicket. The connections that had to be made between people for it to ever see daylight on the book.
 
Connections such as Victoria Glendinning’s relationship with publishers, Simon & Schuster. CEO, Ian Chapman’s relationship with Publishing Director, Suzanne Baboneau, and Consultant Editor, Tim Binding. S&S had developed designer, Glen Saville and appointed him Art Director. Glen kindly commissioned me to design the jacket. There were several key connections that led the job to my door.
 
Once in my studio an average number of brain-cells did their left-brain thing. Like The Numbskulls but paid. My point isn’t so much about my design per se. 
 
I want to acknowledge the contribution of others who are far less passive in the process that often given credit for. Those that crafted their jacket copy to work with my layout. The guy that gave me an accurate spine width in millimetres instead of a page extent and telling me to ‘work it out’. Those that helped sort the wheat from the chaff amongst the concepts. Those that discussed the design with me, talked about the book. That engaged with me instead of using the besieged art director as the carrier pigeon for ill-thought out messages from a meeting. Glen gave some great art direction by giving me wings and space to fly in. Somebody made sure it was proofed and printed well, promoted fully. WHSmith deliberated and a nice lady in the Shires liked it and put in the window next to Dan Brown. 
 
Freelance design life is relatively solitary activity. For me design is largely instinctive and cerebral. But as soon as it becomes visualised a lot of people affect the process. Encouraging the high-wire act or making the perfect catch. The design flies or fails. Other people are involved, whether angels or demons. 
 
 
Back to work. A job to refine and hone. There is no fee. It will be good for my portfolio. One day I will have the perfect portfolio. I’ll show it to God when I hit that deadline.
 
  

Brian Eno

Not quite like the posts so far. Not a linear tale, which given, the exquisitely non-conventional nature of the subject, is probably apt.

Art School, Brighton. Student. Main-lining music without frontiers. Captain Beefheart, Joni Mitchell, Velvet Underground, Dylan, Roxy Music, Bowie, Frank Zappa, Toots. But finding gold in the crevices. Peter Tosh, Brian Eno, Winston Rodney, The J.B.s, Lee Perry, Fela Kuti. I loved the line, “The matchless privacy of the obscure.” Now I can’t remember if it was Peake or Joyce.

Nigh-time DJ for Soul Society and Friday Night Club in The Basement. Playing Funk not Disco and clearing the dancefloor with a compulsive obsession with Dub Reggae that I used to buy in a record shop in Brixton Market that was the size of a phone booth. Putting Stevie Wonder on to get them back dancing. I hated Glam Rock. They were all a bunch of over-weight Kwik-Fit fitters in glitter. But Bowie and Eno, they were the real deal. Exotic explorers.

And there I was one day with performance artist, Charlie Hooker, listening to Eno’s solo album “Here Come the Warm Jets” and I was away. Unusual, pioneering and no big fan base intruding in my private pleasure. “Taking Tiger Mountain“, “Before and After Science“, the playful, determined, occasionally bonkers vocal albums. It seemed most people just sniggered when I went on about it. And, clutching the purist badge of the completist, I took to the early Ambient Work. 

Blissful, straining, serene, epic emotional landscape . . .

Anyway, back on earth I am to be found later working for a living at Pan Books. The logo (called a ‘colophon’, in Publishing) was a hairy-legged fellow with a flute. To me it was Pan as in Panorama. Breadth, Scope. Jackie Collins’ “Hollywood Wives” in the morning and Samuel Beckett in the afternoon. The Becketts, and many other design projects were collaborations with my 80s soul-mate Russell Mills. More of that another time. But the initial bonding with Russell was music (and Guinness). He was the first person since Charlie Hooker that ‘got it’ with the Brian Eno thing.

Excuse the fan bit here but Eno’s music was ubiquitous for me. “On Land” in particular seemed to just be around, like breathing. It influenced me in haunting ways. When I could escape meetings and the cacophony of studio days, I would slip into my office and listen on the Walkman as I worked. Shifting between Eno, John Hassell, Harold Budd, mixed in with Ennio Morricone, I worked on my personal passion, and challenge, on the Pan Catalogue – Picador.

I struggle to relate this without sounding a bit of a tosser. If you think that, tough. This my story and my truth, so blame the writing not the wiring. So there.

A new writer to Picador. Graham Swift. Publisher, Sonny Mehta and editor, Tim Binding had impressed on me how highly they rated his new novel “Waterland“. You become immune to pressure. It doesn’t produce results with Literary Fiction in the same way as it does for Mass-Market Properties. Great writers have a unique voice. I had to ‘feel it’, become attuned to it. There was an elusive atmosphere to this novel I was struggling to identify. Frequently attempting, with Picador cover designs, to avoid the graphic mini-poster of the mainstream. Seeking the sense of expectation as the house-lights go down and the curtain rises . . .

With “Waterland” I found the muse in music. In an early morning black-bean soup of a fog, driving at a snails-pace, “On Land” loud and all-pervasive on the stereo, all the windows open in the BMW320 with my future wife, Sandy and Russell & Annie Mills, off for a weekend in Norfolk. This atmospheric moment was the inspiration I needed and I commissioned photographer, Charlie Waite. Murphy’s Law stepped in and Charlie had the misfortune of beautiful weather. We had to grossly over-enlarge a detail for one shot to get the effect we needed. Charlie is one gracious gent and he went along with it. The result was  a piece of work that pleased the author and sold very successfully. That year, at the Edinburgh Book Festival, Graham Swift referred to me a the ‘genius who produced his cover’. And I nearly died with pride. Good times. 

Later, I was able to feature Brian Eno’s installation work on the Picador catalogue above, and I went on to design the original Opal Records branding, for Brian, which Russell Mills developed beautifully. Graham Swift’s writing continues to be true ‘genius’.

If you design book covers don’t look at other book covers for inspiration. Look outside.

The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films (I)

 

 

What do you think of when I say “The Lord of the Rings“? Hobbits or Uruk-hai? Viggo Mortensen or Cate Blanchett? Epic story-telling or dippy-hippy myths?

I think craftsmanship. 

As a shuffling youth, I read Tolkein’s Trilogy utterly disinterested in folklore and daunted by a book 3 inches thick. I was hooked in a few chapters. Good vs Evil, but many-layered and a complex weave of characters, cultures . . . Enough. You know about it and you don’t need my summary. My point is that it was the skills of the writer that made it work for me. Made it plausible. Gave it vitality.

So it is with The Lord of the Rings Movies. Peter Jackson and his team were so thoroughly committed to the project. They totally immersed themselves and that, in turn, generated a totally immersive movie-going experience.

Alan Lee, concept artist on all three movies, once told me that each actor in the Elvish army had an individual spell, in Elvish, painted on the inside of their breast-plate, over the heart, for protection in battle. No-one saw it. And that is the point. The suspension of disbelief is total. And that carries all the way through to the audience. Keeps it real.

I get poked that, “All designers love special effects”. Nope. On their own they are just pyrotechincs. Flashy ephemera. Movie-makers often throw cash at CGI and high production values and ignore the script. The script is the content. Book, Film, Music, Products, Services, (dare I say Social Media) – Content matters. Content is the core, the essence. With my graphics, I try to take its pulse. Get that right and you can reflect it with visual communication. Without it you are left with, well decoration.

Yes, I’d rather watch The Wire than Transformers any day. But it’s not an elitist thing. Give me a good story, well-told and art direction/special effects that bring it to life and I am all there. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Twelve Monkeys, Apocalypse Now . . . Brill! Bring on the popcorn. And nothing gets the juices going more than a great soundtrack. Imagine Psycho without the violins. The Dollar films without Sergio Leone. Southern Comfort without Ry Cooder. I’d better stop or this will be one long list. But I’d love to see your favourites in the ‘comments’ box at the end of this post . . .

Before I get lost in enthusiasm (that happens). I want to change tack to technology. I am under a publishers’ embargo not to show The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films yet. Must respect that. Hence the wee teaser image above. Maybe more about the design in a later Post. Back story: In 2009 the book design (anon) had been completed. Then they binned it. Totally. In the name of quality. Blimey. No pressure then.

What’s that got to do with technology?

This ambitious book’s author Doug Adams lives/teaches/performs/writes in Chicago. He took on the task of finding a new art director for the project. After a very long trawl, a Google search  found my website. Tolkien found calendars and diaries. Classical Music found my time at Decca Records. And serendipity found Douglas Adams, his namesake. So far, so good. Then he used LinkedIn, which provided my bona fides and the all-important references. E-mail contact was made. 

Wrongly, I used to associate technology with an icey hand – cold, impersonal. Language can defeat that assumption. In a flurry of e-mails dialogue began. Howe Records in New York. A few phone-calls followed. We exchanged thoughts, discussed theories, developed an understanding. I was hired. Time-difference just became part of the process. I worked up designs in the morning. Sent PDFs to Doug in Chicago early morning (which we dubbed Javatime). We discussed/revised and sent to NY as they got to the office one hour later. The book is 416 pages + a rarities CD. There were a phenomenal amount of PDFs, e-mails, Skype calls, Twitter pokes et al. Nancy Starkman, Print Broker on the East Coast. Printers in South Korea. But, because of our wonderful language, we built trust, developed our relationship, crafted nuance. Made a book. And met deadlines.

We have still not met. Hi, Doug! I have yet to meet the guys in New York office, Joe Augustine and Alan Frey. Artists, Alan Lee and John Howe are in New Zealand, their pencils kissing paper in the making of The Hobbit. We will all meet for the first time when finished books are launched at a Howard Shore/LOTR concert at The Royal Albert Hall this September.

The author is now my friend. Yesterday I received a Hand-Written letter of thanks from Howard Shore for my work. Wow!

LikeMinds stimulated my interest in Social Media in May. Now I write this new Blog. I will Tweet it to a growing bunch of good folk who follow me. I will meet many of them for the first time at TheMeet 140, in Bristol, next week.

Technology today is impressive. The range of media amazing. The power of language in a 416 pp book or a 140 character Tweet is extraordinary. With great content the potential is limitless.

By the way, I am a Londoner living on Dartmoor, Devon, in England. I travel.

(. . . continued in Part Two)