Self-not-quite-initiated projects

As mentioned in the previous post, I recently took part in an evening of talks at the Jerwood Space in London, as part of the After Hours exhibition.

My talk was titled 'Self-not-quite-initiated projects' and you can see it here, from about 10mins 40secs onwards. The talk goes through a series of ideas and half-thoughts that I've had for future self-initiated projects. Once again, I should take this opportunity to heavily assert my copyright over all of them. 

The film also contains talks from Phil Carter, Jim Sutherland, Katie Edelsten and Annie Hazelwood, Craig Oldham, Michael Johnson and host Nick Eagleton, as well as some images of the exhibition itself if you were unable to make it along. 

After Hours: blogging and talking


A brief update to say I’ve written a long blog post for Creative Review about the After Hours exhibition at the Jerwood Space, in which I was one of the exhibitors with Pentone. You can read it here

I also took part in an evening of talks by some of the contributors last night. In the spirit of the exhibition being all about personal work and new ideas, I decided to run through a list of rough ideas and half-thoughts that I’ve had over the years, which have never quite turned into anything. It was therapeutic getting them off my chest, but also odd to be in front of a sophisticated creative audience talking through my plans for fishages and pickle-pooling.

Other speakers included Phil Carter, who was fascinating on the inspiration behind his Found Folk sculptures. Jim Sutherland talked through his Garage book which came alive when you heard the personal story behind it. Katy Edelsten and Annie Hazelwood from YCN talked through their entertaining Telegram project. Craig Oldham was typically forthright on design and self-initiation (firmly in the camp that design isn’t about self-expression). And Michael Johnson was authoritative and entertaining as ever on Arkitypo and Phonetikana. Curator Nick Eagleton hosted the evening, which also saw the launch of the book of the exhibition.

The exhibition remains open until 23 June and entry is free. Details here.

Pentone Boxset is available from – 30 postcard-sized Pentone swatches in a hand-finished box, produced to coincide with the exhibition.

Pentone Boxset


To coincide with the opening of the After Hours exhibition (see yesterday’s post), we’ve produced a Pentone Boxset, featuring the same 30 swatches that are now on display at the Jerwood Space. The boxset is available to order from today.


The postcards are presented in a very smart (if we say so ourselves) box, handmade by a company in Manchester. It contains 30 A6 postcards, ranging from the tear-jerking Pentone Sad to the laugh-a-minute Pentone Funny, via some disturbing detours to Pentone Drunk and Pentone Horseshit.



We hope it’s not just an enjoyable read, but also a useful aid to creative thinking and writing. But you’ll be the judge of that.

The boxset is on sale in our new Tictail store. We’ve been using Tictail to sell diaries since Disappointments Diary launched last year, but we’ve now expanded it to include Pentone Boxsets, copies of Corpoetics (still flogging that one) and the few Pentone mugs we have left.

For his generous advice on the production of the boxsets, we want to thank Jack Jackson of Polite, an independent art publisher from the same hometown as us. Among many other things, Polite produces postcard sets on behalf of artists and photographers including Peter Blake, David Shrigley, Kevin Cummins, Harry Hill and Factory Records. We’ve used the same format for the Pentone Boxset, and we’re pleased with the way it’s turned out. (There’s a subtle nod of respect to Polite in the layout of the text on the boxset cover, but this is a more upfront thank-you.)

Buy the Pentone Boxset
More on After Hours
More from Polite 

After Hours at the Jerwood


Things have been busy lately in the run-up to an unusual exhibition hosted by Jerwood Visual Arts at Jerwood Space in London. After Hours is a collection of personal projects by graphic designers. It opens this week and runs from 15 May to 23 June.

The exhibition is curated by Nick Eagleton of The Partners, who has gathered together a great list of contributors, including Robert Ball, Anthony Burrill, Phil Carter, Michael Johnson, Joe Phillips, Alan Kitching, Magpie Studio, Craig Oldham, Jack Renwick, Steve Royle, Jim Sutherland, Alex Swatridge and a selection of projects from the Young Creatives Network.

My contribution is a collection of 30 framed Pentone swatches, pictured above on our kitchen floor, but hopefully on a gallery wall by now.

Pentone is a project that began in 2006 when we produced a mailer of nine swatches, each containing a sample of a written tone of voice – a verbal play on the Pantone colour-matching system. It later evolved into postcards, greetings cards and mugs. But I’ve always felt it should turn into some kind of ‘definitive’ collection at some point, and this exhibition has been the catalyst to make it happen. The 30 swatches are mainly new ones, with a handful of old ones mixed in – Pentone Boring remains as dull as ever.

To coincide with the exhibition, we've produced a Pentone Boxset including all 30 swatches, more of which to follow.

There will also be a reading table at the gallery featuring publications from the contributors, with Disappointments Diary and Corpoetics both included.

As well as contributing to the exhibition, I’ve been working with curator Nick Eagleton on the writing that goes around it. The principle has been to keep it simple – it’s more about celebrating the contents of the exhibition rather than theorising about them. To that end, the opening panel in the exhibition contains a rhyming list of the many and varied items on display, an evocative taster to set the tone. For the detailed analysis, there will be a couple of talks at the Jerwood Space over the course of the exhibition, going into the thinking behind the work and the wider questions it raises.

I’ll write more about the exhibition over the coming weeks. For now, here are a few related articles:

Design Week feature
My contribution to a related Design Week voxpop
More from johnson banks
Details and visitor information