Author Archives: Creative

Nice to see you, to see you nice…

The comedy carpet that is. The promenade at Blackpool received a make over last year and you have to say she’s all the better for it. Driving in for the first time in years it was barely recognisable. Bloomfield road has finally been completed, the climbing walls are a great addition but its the sea front and the Comedy carpet that makes all the difference. That said, turn 180 degrees and you’re back in familiar territory. More of a Susan Boyle than the Carol Vorderman of makeovers.

To be fair it was only the comedy carpet we were there to see. Reading about it in Creative Review (and hearing all about the install from Dave Elinor last October) a number of the design team had to see the work for themselves. On a glorious May evening both Daves, Bobby and Michael made the trip up the M6 to inspect this typographic treat.

Visiting this fabulous feast of fonts had been on our to do list for some time. Now more than ever, seeking out inspiration for our own internal typography project. A brief visit, (it was a school night after all) we headed straight to the recently laid carpet beneath the legendary tower. Whilst appreciating the piece as a fine example of design it has to be said much of our time there was spent wondering just who said what?

For those who don’t know what comedy carpet is, it is a design collaboration between Gordon Young and Why Not Associates, commissioned by Blackpool council as part of their sea front regeneration. Referencing the work of more than 1,000 comedians and comedy writers, the carpet gives visual form to jokes, songs and catchphrases dating from the early days of variety to the present.

Often recognising the jokes, we were just unable to put a name to who said what. Some were obvious. There is a huge strip dedicated to Morcambe and Wise, another to Peter Kay but it was those from the classics that kept us guessing. Luckily there is a key on the website to reveal all.

“I told you it was Tommy Cooper.”

Some quick snaps, some dodgy chips and a quick walk through the amusements we picked up the obligatory rock and headed home. Suitably inspired, it is now time to create our own homage, less of a comedy carpet and more of a CIC wallpaper. A little less concrete, much more foamex we hope to install our new graphics later this summer. Inevitably, you can find out more about our progress here, on our blog.

If we take nothing else from this we now have a reason to visit Blackpool. Try it, you might like it.





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Unexpected inspiration

Hoping for a relaxing break to recharge the batteries he found that three weeks in the South Atlantic could throw up more inspiration than any number of design books, blogs or museums. Cruising around South America had it all. Just like the trip to London in October it was a reminder to keep your eyes open and take in what is around you. There was so much more creative on show than you could imagine, with Buenos Aires the real highlight.

The streets were abundant with creativity. The Argentine Tango could be found on every street corner. Paintings and murals, graffiti that would be frowned upon back home, jet washed and forgotten about, was here for all to appreciate. These gave each district its own distinct personality. La Boca in its blue and yellow and its passion for football, Caminto has its delightful, playful rainbow of homes steeped in tradition and the shopping district has its own graphic style of street art. Characters you’d be happy to have sitting in your vinyl toy collection.

An example of the 'street art' in the shopping district of Buenos Aires.

Moving on from Buenos Aires and on to Uruguay it was evident the creativity was not confined to the Argentine capital. Plastic mermaids (created to demonstrate the time plastic takes to erode) adorned the Punta Del Este Coast along with a giant ‘hand in the sand’, perfect photo opportunities for the tourists. Being South America, with its unrivaled love of football, the Museo Del Football was an obvious tourist destination. Along side the obligatory trophy much of the exhibition was centered around the art of football, posters from all of the major tournaments. It was a football loving, designer’s dream.

Mermaids at Punta Del Este


Artwork from the Museo Del Futbol in Montevideo

Of course design wasn’t the only thing on the menu. Unrivaled scenery, canoeing around Tierra Del Fuego and a full circle of Cape Horn helped to make this a real holiday to remember. The opportunity to witness a volcanic eruption, penguins in the wild and whale watching all added to the renewed energy and enthusiasm for the year ahead. It just goes to prove inspiration comes easiest when you’re not actually searching for it. When all you want to do is shut off, keeping your eyes open might be all that you need.







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Christmas is Coming

welcome to the CIC advent calendar…


Partly to promote our new website but more because we wanted to, this year we decided that rather than send out branded Christmas cards to our clients we would create an illustrative advent calendar for the world to see. The stats were considerably better than expected – with consistently higher (often more than double) visitors recorded throughout the month!

Each day through December we revealed a new festive image that illustrated a ‘CIC’ acronym. Do let us know what you think in the comments, and of course look out for next years!

 01 Chocolate in Calendars


02 Cashiers improve checkouts


03 Clothing’s inevitably comical


04 Crikey it’s cold


05 Christmas involves cooking


06 Cliff infiltrates charts


07 Cocktails invite chaos


08 Crackers include crowns


09 Camels in convoy


10 Charades is challenging


11 Cutting into cake


12 Check it carefully


13 Cheeky Irish coffee


14 Christmas inspired crafts


15 Choirs in chorus


16 Cheeky impatient children


17 Collecting identical cards


18 Carolers in costume


19 Cranberry is crucial


20 Children in concert


21 Chocolate increases chubbiness


22 Candles in churches


23 Climbing into chimneys


24 Celebrate it’s Christmas

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The future of animated gifs?

More than a photo, but not quite a video. These stunning ‘cinemagraphs’ could well be the future of the animated gif.


During a recent trip around the blogs, on a research mission, we were fortunate to come across these beautiful images created by New York Fashion Photographers Jamie Beck & Kevin Burg. The subtlety and intrigue of these images amazed us all and we could not wait to start playing! It really was a genuine ‘why didn’t we think of that’ moment!

Animated gifs are nothing new and neither is video for that matter. What these images do is breathe new life into an old technology. The internet and modern browsers have improved so much since animated gifs were the only option for movement on a web page. Where we are most excited about these is their potential within email marketing – most of the popular email clients have recently started supporting gifs, and those that don’t will still display the first frame.

A quick search of our servers threw up a load of videos from Rob’s recent trip to China – the perfect starting point. Here are our early experiments with this new(ish) technique. Let us know what you think…
































A designers’ day out

This week the design team took a well earned trip to the Capital. Reward for their efforts over an extremely successful year we thought it time to get some inspiration from The Big Smoke. We had it all planned out well in advance, Design Museum, V&A, Eleven and if we had time maybe even a dinosaur. What we hadn’t planned on was the heavy legs and weighty shoulders by the end of the day. Apparently we covered over 18,000 footsteps, (Dave, being the gadget freak that he is, had his 3DS with him counting each step around the capital). Quite an achievement we thought until Google books actually informs us this is merely an average day for the typical Amish farmer.

We got to the design museum (via Starbucks) for around 11.30am, absorbing the influence that Kenneth Grange has had modernizing Britain over the years. It was incredible to see how much one man has shaped product design over 50 years. You think of it he’s designed it. Ok, not that, but most other things. However, for us, specialising in printed material, it was actually more interesting to see the designs used to advertise these products and compare to those today. The gentleman lovingly watching his wife knock up a fetching cravat for their son was just lovely.

Venturing upstairs we took in design classics, from the mini to the iPad, motorway signage to Dyson’s new fan. It also gave us the opportunity to learn about the designers in residence where we found a guy unable to finalise the perfect stool design and another producing wondrous works in chipboard.

From here we ventured to the V&A. A brisk walk across Tower Bridge to Tower Hill station we hopped on the tube to South Kensington. Here I should point out that Bobby Mills whipped his ‘Bridge’ camera from his bag for the first time. Bridge, I understood, was a link between point and click and the more advance SLR cameras. In this case it seemed to be a camera to only use on bridges. On them, beneath them pictures of them, bridges were all he took. The V&A wasn’t really for us, the “Make it” exhibition the only real stand out display. Admittedly if you love marble sculptures you’d be in your element but having been to Florence recently I’d seen all I needed for a while. What we’ll really remember the V&A for is being disciplined for taking photos where we shouldn’t have “I’m scanning a QR code” didn’t quite cut it. Brilliant.

Clock ticking we decided to skip the T-Rex and head straight for Eleven, the highlight of the day. Ben Turnbull’s Supermen exhibition is just fantastic. Modern day heroes, portraits of 911 firefighters created from comic book collage. If you like comic books and art (stuff it; if you like anything creative), you’ll love this:

Books bought and bags full we left for Oxford Street and Covent Garden. No number galleries can ever really inspire in the way people watching, shop windows and the creative independents can. Johnny cupcakes, (great sweets by the way) and Kidrobot (thanks for the keyring) proved highlights along with the Everything exhibition in Selfridges.

Drinks, Tapas and a chance meeting with super animator Jonny Grew followed before we had to head back to Stoke on the trusty train. 8pm in October, it had in fact been dark for an hour or so but this didn’t stop Bobby asking “are we in a tunnel?” A great day was had by all, recharged and inspired with plenty of laughs it’s now time to get back to work.

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It’s the taking part that counts…

… Which was fortunate!


After nearly 10 years of talk, 2010 saw the formation of CIC FC, a 5-a-side team with big ambitions. It was decided a modest start was best, (we didn’t want to upset the more established teams), so we joined the lowest (read easiest) possible league available. Things didn’t quite go to plan:

team name


 2*  0  16  21*  288

* 10 of these goals were awarded when the opposition failed to turn up.

On a plus side, only last week the official playstation magazine ran a competition to find the saddest football story on twitter. Our story wasn’t quite sad enough to claim the first prize but we did get a copy of Fight Night for the PS3, apparently to toughen us up. More likely to get used taking a beating.

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