A blog tweet

I tried to write a blog post as a reaction to a negative LinkedIn post and then realised it could be a tweet.
Also I make the rules here so its going to be a blog post anyway.

LinkedIn is business Facebook.

Facebook is Bad.

For this and more high quality content please consider following me on twitter, where you will see this post as a tweet.

Ever been ghosted? Ever been the ghost?

In 2019 it’s very easy to talk to people.

Pick up your phone: there are millions of people crammed in there ready to talk to, However this level of distance means that as soon as you put your phone down you are alone again.

This is the problem; you don’t need to tell someone you aren’t talking to them anymore to their face, they aren’t around so you just don’t. This is called ghosting, and you have absolutely done it, It’s because we are humans, we are flawed and we don’t want to cause ourselves any pain so we just let the problem slide under the rug where we leave all the other problems to move around under the rug like a weird spooky blob.

In my life I have been ghosted, it sucks. 
It sucks more when its the elusive professional ghost.
These can come in different guises, today I’ll talk about two:

The Ghost of Invoices Past

Anyone who is a freelancer or has a business knows this one, you send an invoice with terms and then POW they are gone, you start sending slightly differently worded emails, each with a little more pressure, liberal use of the word ‘interest’ and nothing. No answer.

 
 

The best course of action is to work out how long your terms are and then gradually send emails and call weekly and if it gets to it daily. If it gets really bad start posting recorded letters to their business, after you have all these details gather them together and its time to head to small claims. I’m very lucky to have not had to go this far. I’ll say this particularly for small businesses: Get. a. Lawyer. They are great when on your side!

The Mid-Project Ghost

Ahh the mid project ghost, everything is going well you are getting responses, they love your first route! They pick an option and ask for some changes! Then no response!

 
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This has happened a couple of times to me and sometimes its for legitimate reasons, the account manager has moved from the job, the client had to stop a crisis. However when this happens its best to have the contingency plan in place, make sure that you always split the cost out for big jobs: half upfront and half on completion. This means you are protected if something like this happens and means you aren’t thrown in the deep end when your time has been used up on a project without pay, you are worth more than that!

This blog was a thinly veiled attempt to create content around a Despicable Me meme I made.

Death of the Logo

A logo is not an island, it isn’t the be all and end all of brands. The most successful brands build themselves and get notoriety for a whole host of reasons, for example: great UX, tone of voice, exceptional colour palette, ambassador activity, having really great people running the company.

oh. hello.

oh. hello.

It’s understandable that the Slack logo reveal is a big deal to designers, a lot of creative agencies use slack to communicate and it’s a really excellent resource for keeping teams connected.

It’s interesting to me to see that the people who work in design are always so quick to judge when they are the best people to understand the situation the designers of a rebrand are in. It’s hard. It’s a slog. It takes so. much. time. Garrett Miller, From Slack, goes into a bit more of what’s entailed in his thread here:

The weight that words have on the internet seems small to the person writing them, without taking into account how big those words can feel to the person they are directed at.

Im not saying criticism is bad, it’s integral to making design better, however its so easy to slip into the comforting warmth of a negative comment. I’ve absolutely done it before.

I’ll give you an example. Pentagram redesigned the Battersea Dog’s and Cat’s home identity nearly a year ago now, I have worked on and off with the team there to help implement this identity across their brand. Every old piece of signage, letters, uniforms, direct mail, you name it, it needed to be changed. When the redesign came out I was indifferent, sure it was new, but did it work? From working on the inside I can safely say It absolutely does, It freshened up the look of a heritage brand and strengthened their expertise, It’s incredible to see how the identity is flourishing in the hands of their talented in house team.

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All of this would be something I would have little to no idea about had I not worked there, I saw the logo reveal, I had instant opinions, I forgot about it.

That’s the danger of logo reveals, they almost always give you a negative thought to do with a brand and then you don’t see the progress after the fact. Maybe it’s time to lose logo reveals all together?

Back to zero

I started out this new year in excellent fashion, I managed to break my streak on my meditation app. I woke up one morning to see the number ’80’ replaced with a ‘0’. First day - resolution failed.

Yep, this is a resolution post.

I was damn proud of meditating for 80 days, I always made room for it and it became second nature and then one day I just forgot.

I felt genuinely sad and disappointed in myself. I don’t think that’s the aim of the app.

This feeling sucked and really make me not care about getting back and surpassing 80 days, its so far away! This mentality is I’m guessing the same as going to the gym, eating healthily, all the classing resolutions. As soon as you slip, its a long slide all the way down and a longer climb back up.

To contrast this I recently deleted all my Tweets, I’ll wait for the applause break, and realised a few things in doing this.

  • My tweets meant nothing to me

  • I felt so much better after deleting them

If I cant remember what I tweeted a week ago, what is the point in it floating around the internet? In a positively Marie Kondo moment I decided and immediately did something I thought I wouldn’t do - I deleted it all and started over. It felt great, I’ll even do as far to say it was joyful.

I feel free to tweet - or not tweet - whenever I want now, I have more fun with it and I feel more in control. I’m considering doing the same thing with my Instagram, however I feel more attached to what I see than what I say. Maybe that’s all the more reason to do it.

In these two instances I lost or let go of a lot of things and the most peculiar thing happened.

Nothing.

Nothing happened.

In times like this the only thing you can do is keep going.

I know thats a phrase you’ll hear often, even more often is ‘its not how many times you fall, its how many times you get up’ what I would like to add is this: If theres a bit of time between falling and getting up that is totally fine, be kind to yourself and know your limits, they are nobody’s but your own.

This post may or may not have been a trick to post this video of a small bear climbing up a hill.

Happy New Year, yes it’s the 16th January

Harry

Gaming Zen - How to win inner peace

Okay It’s the second of January, This title was a little too clickbaity for my liking. However the topic seems appropriate and i want to get some clicks in right at the start of the year.

Let’s talk about meditiation.

For the last 73 days I have been using an app to get inner peace (without referring to it all the time I know how ridiculous I sound and will continue to sound throughout this post.)

I haven’t been talking about it too much, mostly because I know how it sounds to others, see: talking about dreams, podcasts, something your cat did. (Actually I would like to hear about what your cat did)

I have been meditating with the help of the app Calm, It has impacted my life in the most profoundly positive way.

I started out using the free trail of headspace, I had found myself at home alone for a week and decided to try and get myself into a routine, I had wanted to for a while but had no idea how and after many failed attempts to I wanted to see if meditation was a thing I could a) do and b) continue to do. I continued with Calm because of the age old reason - it was cheaper.

 
 

I believe its actually the gamification of the app that made me continue, I am on a 73 day streak mostly because the app tells me I am, its what helped me build out the rest of my morning and helped me slow my life down a bit first thing.

If you have seen any of the blogs I have written here you will know that I talk about being flawed a lot so for context here is what a regular morning used to look like for me

7.30-8.00am - wake up, always a bit too late

8.00-8.10am - shower as fast as possible

8-10-8.30am - try to drink a coffee whilst putting on clothes

8.30-9.30 - jump on my bike or run to the tube and get to wherever I was working

That’s one hour of condensed stress, no time to reflect, no time to breathe.

Now my morning looks like this (usually..)

5.30am Wake up

5.50am get to the gym

5.50-6.50am work out

7.00am come home and meditate

7.15-8.00am get ready, shower, have a coffee

Now I know 5.30 is awful, it truly almost always is, but its so much better to get up and get moving than wake up at 7.30 a groggy mess. If anything you are groggier earlier so it goes away by the time you leave for work. Science, probably.

Take all this with a HUGE pinch of salt - honestly do what you feel is best for you. If I wake up late, or am ill, or convince myself I’m a lazy lump I’ll grab 10 mins of a lunch break to meditate or do it just before bed.

Meditation has helped me shape my morning, boy do I love a routine, it has also helped me shape how my mind deals with problems, It has helped me become more aware of my emotions and helps me acknowledge them before proceeding. It has made me just a bit happier, which I don’t think is ever a bad thing.

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You can try Calm for free here - www.calm.com

and you can get a free 7 day trail of headspace here - www.headspace.com
(they are offering a 40% discount for 2019 - that’s way cheaper than calm)

The obligatory album of the year post

Just when you thought you were safe from another year end roundup list..

I wanted to make a little review of a few albums I loved this year, when I made theNot Jerks playlist last year it was out of frustration that a handful of artists I had listened to and supported had turned out to be jerks (see: Me Too) I also wanted to see if I could write reviews as I never had before. Be kind.

This year I made a concerted effort to find artists that are not (at the time of writing) jerks. I found more artists than ever that I truly loved and some incredible albums.


BOYGENIUS

boygenius - boygenius

boygenius - boygenius

The EP I have played most in the last few months is the self titled project from Boygenius. Written and recorded over one week, Prolific artists in their own right, Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers have created a perfect collection of songs, each beautifully crafted and heartbreakingly raw. It feels like a great privilege to be alive at the same time as such incredible artists.

Listen to - Me & My Dog, Ketchum ID.


SOCCER MOMMY

Clean - Soccer Mommy

Clean - Soccer Mommy

In ‘Cool’ Sophie Allison grits her teeth through jealousy in defiant and wishful lyrics ‘I want to know her like you’…’I want to be that cool’ It’s a track that stays with you, through the build up of layered instruments and into the woozy guitar trail out. It’s a song that speaks to the ache of so desperately wanting be a part of something. You can see from even a first listen that Sophie Allison is unafraid to speak about her complicated emotions. After listening to the 10 short tracks of ‘Clean’ you will immediately want to start over and you absolutely should.

Listen to - Cool, Your Dog.


JANELLE MONAÉ

Dirty Computer - Janelle Monaé

Dirty Computer - Janelle Monaé

Holding nothing back and fully embracing her identity and asserting her power as a once in a generation artist, Dirty Computer is a departure from her android persona and as such is a more real and braver record than she has ever released.

Lyrics filled with empowerment, truth and vulnerability all the time coupled with tracks that dance across the full spectrum of genres, tied together perfectly taking you on a journey through each track to the triumphant finale of ‘Americans.’

I had the privilege to snag a ticket to her sold out roundhouse show this year, If you have not seen Janelle Monaé live you need to sort that out ASAP.

Listen to - Django Jane, Americans.


SNAIL MAIL

Lush - Snail Mail

Lush - Snail Mail

At just 17 years old Lindsay Jordan wrote a near perfect song ‘Thinning’ and in the two years after followed it up with an album full of promise of what is to come. It seems that young solo indie rock artists are rightly getting their time in the spotlight and Snail Mail is no exception, watching live performances it feels impossible that this three piece band isn’t made up of more people with the complexity of the guitar parts when she plays rhythm and lead at the same time with ease.

If this album is any indication, Snail Mail is only just beginning.

Listen to - Pristine, Speaking Terms.


NAO

Saturn - Nao

Saturn - Nao

If there is anything bad to say about Nao it is this, her voice is so impossibly high (for me) I will never sound good singing any of her songs.

Which is to say there is nothing bad to say about Nao, there is nothing bad to say about her second album ‘Saturn’ either. The follow up to 2016’s ‘For All We Know’ is a step up from an excellent first release from an already prolific artist. A successful recording artist and guest on tracks for Disclosure and Mura Masa, Nao has released two albums that cement her as the artist she should be recognised as.

After listening to Saturn go back to her back catalogue, you will absolutely not be disappointed.

Listen to - Make It Out Alive, Curiosity, If You Ever.


Other albums that would make this list too long:

LUCY DACUS - HISTORIAN

KACEY MUSGRAVES - GOLDEN HOUR

NONAME - ROOM 25

SOPHIE - OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-SIDES

The Compassion Revolution - Case Study

A SERIES OF CASE STUDY BLOGS | STUDY ONE
THE COMPASSION REVOLUTION

I worked with popular YouTuber Alayna Fender on her brand Identity for ‘Compassion Revolution’ her mindfulness teaching brand.

There was a logo already, which could be changed entirely, however having that in place was a great stepping off point. I asked questions to begin with including what the brand was about, where they wanted it to go and what kind of visual style they liked as well as brands that were aspirational to her.

Having the aspirational brands and some idea of the kind of style that was required, I started researching, I choose areas from the answers and build on them as well as getting an idea of some colour palettes and visual styles along the way. My research usually has me picking things I like for any small reason, it could be as big as the whole structure of a piece or as small as the line thickness on a logo.

Alongside the research I will be sketching out ideas and shapes, I’ll then try and get something to fit together with my research and refer back to the answers to see if I’m on the right track.

When I build my first round of ideas I’ll work up my sketches to a point where I have up to three robust options to choose from. I’ll set these out in a presentation, first of all in black and white - I’ll do this to give each option the same chance, if I throw colour in now there are too many variables and the logo has to work on its own first without colour before it can be built into a full brand.

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With this round I’ll write my reasons why each logo is the way it is, and I’ll ask for responses with pointers like what did you like, didn’t like, why do you like them etc

Round 2 is refining the logo based on the clients feedback, In this instance, two logos were liked and I was asked to incorporate them together. This worked well as they were similar looking and had a theme that gelled together well. At the same time showed how this logo could be applied across some different areas and introduced colour.

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Round 3 and 4 then were refining the style more, this was through some concerns about the number of sun rays, I also redrew the shape out to get the structure right.

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Finally the completed package was delivered as the separate assets in all colours and file formats, as well as a PDF to show how to apply the logo and suggestions on imagery and colour codes.

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The result is a logo that has a welcoming circular shape and shows a sun rising in the back brining the dawn of a new day, the leaves at the front curled together to show that mindfulness and compassion go together hand in hand and the earthy bright tones of the palette keep everything grounded.

Thank you for reading, 
Catch you next time.
H

How to be chaotic minimal

My life is based around keeping everything minimal.
less stuff, less choices, more freedom. In theory.

However I’m not a shiny airbrushed Instagram influencer, things creep up without noticing and that stellar Pinterest worthy morning routine can be broken by eating a cookie for breakfast, forgetting to put coffee grounds in your keep cup, sipping on hot water and wearing what you are 80% sure are yesterdays socks. 

Ladies, Gentlemen and everyone in between, my morning.

Ladies, Gentlemen and everyone in between, my morning.

For example, I recently found myself in a place where I had a gap that I wanted to use to find new clients or take on a new project.

So I did a few things;

I reached out to some old clients via email
I reached out to some potential new clients via email
I started this blog (not too much work at all..)
I scoured Twitter, Instagram, even (shudder) LinkedIn for the inkling of a lead.
I asked friends
I did not ask family (never work for family. The golden rule of design)

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Then I wait.
I wait some more.
Before long I fully freak out and think I’ll never get work again.
So I start the whole routine over, again, and again.

Out of this bleak crisis cave of my own creation, to my utter surprise jobs start coming in
proposals! Small logo jobs! Websites! Can you make me a flyer for my friends party? (No mum, no I can't) Guest blog posts! 

Actually the last one is a lie, but you have to put out in the world what you want from it. The secret and all that.

 

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I think my point is this, 

I can hold it together up to a point and then I get too comfortable, take on more and more things until my beautiful minimal life is catapulted into the giant pile of things to do and little time to do them, like some sort of self sabotaging time hoarder.

Life has a way of working out, however giving life a bit of a nudge when it’s not can't hurt. 

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Of course with a little wiggle room and planning everything can get done, (google calendar is my best friend) I’m not here writing this to sugar coat that freelancing dream of getting home at 6 and playing video games in a pristine flat whilst eating a kale salad whilst you rake in your cushy day rate.

Every freelancer has done a late late shift or pulled an 18 hour day once in a while and finished it all off with a shame deliveroo, but keeping yourself accountable and giving yourself a tiny breather to plan can make all the difference.

Keep it simple, don’t freak out and put coffee grounds in before water, for the love of god.

Thank you for reading, 
Catch you next time.
H

This one weird trick will improve your life

If there is one truth about life it is this: If you tell someone they should listen to a podcast they absolutely won't do it. It's the same thing as explaining a dream to someone, you both know that its a waste of time.

I truly believe that podcasting is the next big advancement in entertainment, you can passively listen to improv whilst doing the ironing, to a murder mystery whilst commuting to work even a fall asleep to someone talking about Dr Who. In a world in which multi tasking is a daily practice using podcasts to get your message across is critical, be it starting your own or using podcasts with a similar audience to your brand to promote your product.

If targeted podcast advertising is anything to go by i'm a perfect candidate for a new mattress, subscription underwear and a new website. (Yes this is a Squarespace site and yes I did use the offer code 'weird' for a 10% discount.)

pretty fancy, right?

pretty fancy, right?

Personally, I love hearing people's lived experiences. It opens my eyes to other peoples lives in a way that, short of talking to them one on one, is incredibly valuable to me as a designer and human. (very separate things.)

My pet peeve in a brief is when complex, unique humans are grouped into mass swathes of the population. Millennials, Mums, everyone. How can you target a product to every single mum??

As designers everything we do is for people, we use what people say and work out what they mean then explore ways in which we can give them what they want in a way that makes them want it. So why not listen more?

Here are a few podcasts I love for you to not listen to:

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You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes
One of the first podcasts I listened to was you made it weird. It opened my eyes to the value of long form interviews (episodes can be as long as 3 hours) I love the conversational nature of the show and have heard pastors, comedians and musicians talk about what life is to them. The conversation usually revolves around three topics: comedy, religion & sexuality.
MUST LISTENS - TIM MINCHIN | JENNY SLATE | MELISSA VILLASEÑOR

Design Matters with Debbie Millman
The giant of design podcasts Debbie Millman has been talking to designers about design for over 13 years. One of the first, and greatest, design podcasts.
LISTEN HERE

Queery
Within a relatively short period of time Queery has become one of my favourite podcasts, Hosted by comedian Cameron Esposito, Queery is a 1 hour conversation with a person who identifies anywhere under the queer spectrum. 
MUST LISTENS - STEPHANIE BEATRIZ | JEN RICHARDS | VIVEK SHRAYA

Wonderful
Griffin & Rachel Mcelroy talk about things they think are great. A very sweet, wholesome and cheerful look at the value of appreciating the small things.
LISTEN HERE

The Creative Exchange
Filmmaker and youtuber Sara Dietschy talks to creative people about what makes them tick. Great in depth conversations with entrepreneurs & creative people. Available on youtube as a video as well as audio, a really interesting way to get coverage across different platforms. 
LISTEN HERE | WATCH HERE

A Piece of Work
Abbi Jacobson takes you on a journey into different styles of art in collaboration with the MOMA. Short episodes which show Jacobson in a different light to her improv background and a really accessible primer to ways of appreciating art.
LISTEN HERE

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If you see someone smiling a big cheesy grin to themselves on the tube, they are listening to a podcast. You also look like that too.

Thank you for reading, 
Catch you next time.
H

Glug London - Collaboration is King

Last week I attended the Glug London event ‘Collaboration is King’ the night featured speakers and teams talking about collaboration and what It meant to them. (As well as more free cans of trendy soft drinks and stickers than I could stuff into my backpack.)

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Vikesh Bhatt - Amplify @misterbhatt
Talked to us about what mutually beneficial collaborations can do for businesses to build on an experience, In the case of Uber + Spotify working together to create a great night out experience from home to cab. He also talked about the intention being right before you jump into a collaboration, don’t do it as a box checking exercise and really think about what each party could bring to the partnership.

Robyn + Henry @robynhfrost @Hfoenader
Robyn + Henry are a creative team that work in the advertising world, they talked about the more in sync way they approach projects, each bringing their own expertise to every part of the process. Freeing themselves from the rigid art director/ copywriter binary and giving themselves the space to creatively tackle projects together. They also made a great point about accessibility in the industry, making sure that they help champion minorities by getting in the door and helping others through too.

Sarah + Jules @BBC_Creative 
Sarah + Jules are a creative team at BBC creative, helping everything from promoting CBBC to older kids to the great BBC Three ‘Sorry not sorry for being me’ season. Their talk focused on how they work as a duo and showed some older student work which was great to see, you could really see the progression from students into professionals and showing some of their more recent work really highlighted that. They also put up this truly iconic slide.

image from a tweet by @itsjuliahardy

image from a tweet by @itsjuliahardy

Middle Boop @Middleboop
Gordon Reid had the task of bringing the evening home with a double length talk due to a speaker dropping out. He talked about skill swapping and playing to your strengths, knowing when to ask for help and what you can offer in return. 

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I was left thinking about my own practice & why there aren’t more partnerships in the design world.
I also learned that if you want to make a quality presentation chuck in a couple of quality gifs.

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The best (and most fun) creative projects I have worked on have been in small teams of people with diverse skills, so I understand the value of breaking down roles that Robyn + Henry speak of, choosing someone because of skill could mean that you choose a classically educated writer to help out visually or a developer working alongside a strategist, I could only see that as being beneficial to a project.

It reminds me of the term 'T-shaped designer' from Tim Brown of IDEO. (That's two IDEO references in two posts, if you are counting) Recognising your core discipline as the vertical stroke and your skills and experiences that can feed into that as the horizontal stroke. For example, My core discipline is Design, however my horizontal stroke could be filmmaking, strategy, content creation or even cooking.


There just needs to be a different umbrella term than ‘creative.’ eurgh.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you feel like people need to be exactly how they trained? Or maybe a little more fluid in their work? 
I’d love to know your thoughts. Send me a tweet or drop a comment below.

H

 

 

In case you were wondering, this is the best gif of all time:

(not a sponsor)

(not a sponsor)


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Harry Thory is a designer & moving image creative.
He is available for freelance work, you can see his portfolio here 

The first step to being sort of good at something

Firsts are hard. In particular firsts when you are an adult. 
It's easy as a child to start things. You just start.

Before you realise what a crayon is you have picked it up and have made something. In the case of two year old Harry, it was on the freshly painted walls of the family living room and that thing was a Sharpie dog. You start scrawling out words and getting messy with paints and just let it happen. No fear, no consequences. (Well, sometimes consequences. Imagine a two year old trying to scrub a beautiful Sharpie dog off a beautiful white wall.)

As an adult things are different, there are nagging doubts that pop into your head (what if I fail? what if it's bad?) and in my case I constantly put things in the way of doing something outside of my comfort zone. 

Here's what I wanted to put in my way before starting to write this blog:

Get a cup of coffee
Make sure I'm wearing the right clothes (no sweatpants allowed)
The right kind of background noise
Is the flat clean?
Let me check my emails...
What's happening on Instagram? (The answer is nothing. Nothing is ever happening on Instagram.)

I know full well that doing things is the best way to get good at things. I know that just do it is the easiest said and hardest done phrase. Looking at you, Nike.

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Full disclosure, I'm not a writer. I'm not even a good speller (sp?). I'm dyslexic. I procrastinate about writing constantly. However, against all those thinly masked excuses for why this blog may well be terrible, I am persisting even though I still have doubts (I'm doubting right now!)

I'm writing a blog simply to get better. In the same way that I recently started running, I'm not expecting it to be easy before, during or even after, but in the end it makes you a bit better than you were before the run/writing/thing you are putting off.

I have been reading the brilliant book Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential within Us All by David & Tom Kelly of IDEO which speaks of doing just this, starting and persisting. It includes simple exercises you can do on your own or in a group and reframes fears into possibilities to give yourself a little nudge in the right direction. I mapped out this post using techniques from the book and now its an actual real thing!
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So, here we are at the end of this post and I have successfully written a blog about writing a blog. 

I want to thank you for reading this little blog, I don't know where it'll go and I don't know what I'm doing but I'm doing something. If you feel like finding out then follow my Twitter for updates. See you in the next one.

H

I confess, I did have to make the coffee.

I confess, I did have to make the coffee.


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Harry Thory is a designer & moving image creative.
He is available for freelance work, you can see his portfolio here