Graphic Design Inspiration: The Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester (UK)

the whitworth gallery visit romica spiegl jones Hello Creative Adventurers,

Yesterday I had the chance to visit the Whitworth a beautiful art gallery in Manchester. This visit was part of my BA (Hons) Graphic Design and should give us inspiration for our design and illustration practice. For all the Manchester students out there, if you haven't seen it, please have a look. Even if you just like a good coffee this is the place to go. The café is a sunlit, gorgeous haven with park view ;).

The gallery has been renovated and re-opened and is such a lovely place to be. At the moment there is a textile exhibition, if this is interesting for you. I personally enjoyed the space itself even more than the artwork. Of course there are some pieces that spoke to me as well, which I will explain a bit later, but ...

the mixture of high and low ceilings, the wooden floor and stone tiles, the play of shadow and light of the trees on the walls of brick and wood ... are you dreaming right now? I am.

Especially because of the tall glass windows you feel as if the inside and outside space organically merge. It almost feels like you are in the park surrounding the gallery. Furthermore there is a learning centre, where people from all ages can attend workshops and classes. Have a look at their offer at

Here are some of my research photos. We were asked to take pictures of the gallery, and I tried to reference them in separate images as much as possible. If I did forget to name an artist (they are usually mentioned on a small board before or after their work), please let me know and I'll credit them properly.

Art_Textiles exhibition

A short quote of the exhibition guide:

"Textiles are having a 'moment' - enjoying exciting new currency as a visual arts medium. Traditionally situated in the borderland between art and craft, textiles play an increasingly central role in a growing body of contemporary art practice. (...) Today, many contemporary artists are demonstrating a new engagement with materials, particularly textiles, to raise questions around gender and identity politics or issues about nationhood in the post-colonial period(Art_Textiles Exhibition Guide first page)

There has been such a variety of objects so I selected a few that spoke to me, which you can find below. Especially the section on ethical clothing that tries to use materials that haven't been made with "blood, sweat and tears" was a nice surprise and shows how political dialogue can be raised in gallery space.

Toddler's Art and other Impressions

Another very interesting part of the gallery was downstairs where an ongoing research project tries to find out how toddler's perceive and react to artwork e.g. are they drawn to patterns, primary colours etc? You could find their own creations next to other artwork like wallpaper and textiles. When I encountered a lot of toddlers around the gallery I wasn't as surprised anymore. The Whitworth seems to offer a nice place for children and their parents and also opportunities for them to experience and make art.

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did, received some nice graphic design inspiration and you feel inspired to visit this beautiful place. For for information please go to

Have a nice day,

Romica :)

How Personal Branding lead me into deep self-reflection

A little background story

I did some research and came across "Personal Branding" in one of Roberto Blake's videos (one of my favourite YouTube resources about Graphic Design atm) and he talks about why we should use personal branding (You can find his video"The Power of Personal Branding" here). It's healthy and helpful for an upcoming designer in this world to have your own brand and I thought I'd give it a try.

Core Values - what does really matter to me?

So, what happened? I started by trying to brainstorm for a possible logo and for that I wanted to know what really matters to me. What do I want people to think/feel when they hear my name, hear about my future company? After hours of scribbling and brain racking, I felt a little bit lost. How can it be so difficult to find clarity about such basic things? I used to feel very clear about what I want and why, who I am, where I want to go and how to get there. Why did it change?

The Trap of Success

Maybe I haven't been so honest with myself the past few months and maybe I started to copy what I thought was successful. I always wanted this blog, e.g. to become a place where I can deeply share with people who actually care about what design means and does to people. I wanted it to be personal and fun but also serious and honest. Looking back I feel I haven't really been authentic to these values I had and was more concerned about page views, visitors and potential earning possibilities. Don't get me wrong, I do want to make a living with design. But does it have to sacrifice my values and my personality? (Makes me think about a book I still want to get and read "How to be a Graphic Designer without loosing your soul")

Sometimes we need a Mirror

I realised that Personal Branding requires you to go deeper than you would expect. I couldn't really define myself and found it so hard to find any idea for a logo. After some hours of scribbling and typographic endeavours I thought I found something quite smart. Just my future initials, after I will change my name for my husbands family name. RJ. I felt a bit strange about how it looked and later showed my sketchbook to my husband. What he said really hit me (in a positive way): It didn't feel like me. It felt like something that I'm not. And I knew he was right. I tried to pretend to be some sleek, stylish designer that I'm not (and actually don't want to be). I have wonderful qualities but they don't show at all in my drafts. I felt down. I didn't really share what has been going on inside of me the past days and it just came out that I was, frankly speaking, quite frustrated. We had a talk and it made me realise that I have a very clear goal and clear values and I want to really find people I can share with.

New Ways

Brainstorming with my husband really helped to see myself from a different viewpoint. I think sometimes we just need someone to see ourselves truly. Like a mirror. I realised as well, that I do believe in Truth, Beauty, and Goodness in Design and that I want them to be reflected in my words, actions and in my personal brand. I want to become successful with design and make a living with my own company in the future. I want to be able to be flexible to spend time with my family while at the same time pouring all my passion into designated hours of creating beautiful, meaningful, truthful things.

So I wonder how many of you also had a hard time to define themselves professionally, and who of you tried personal branding. Maybe some of you found it really easy, because you already had this clarity in yourself. I just didn't expect a personal logo to become such a journey of self-discovery.

In future posts I want to practice these values and I hope they'll be more authentic and valuable.

Have a wonderful day,

Romica :)