This is Dan Sheerman's old website. He now works at Headscape, and has a new, shinier website.

Dan Brown – Bath In Time

December 9th, 2009

This week’s guest speaker was Dan Brown, photographer and ‘web entrepreneur’ (not the writer).

He started up and still runs Bath In Time photography as a one-man-band, and reinforced some of the things other speakers have been saying. Being passionate about what you do is key, and will lead to success, even if it sounds cliché, he says. It’s really hard starting up by yourself, but a lot of fun having the freedom of doing it that way. It’s all about being lucky with who you meet and networking (his Flickr helped him alot with this); being the guy who ‘knows everyone’ can never hurt, meeting people, and just seeing them around again can sometimes be enough.

I’m now 99% certain I’ll be attempting to go into industry with an FdA rather than sticking around for another year for the BA, strategy being keeping up part time work to pay the rent and bills, and hitting the freelance work as my own small business hard along with networking hard to be able to afford food.

Good news on the networking front; I chased up Keir Whitaker of Carsonified who I met over the summer, who will be able to offer me a work placement sometime in the coming year; really looking forward to meeting the team, it seems like a company who I could learn alot from.

Also got the draft of my upcoming essay/rant/blogXL finished, so that’ll probably get posted on here once it’s all shiny and polished. I figure my blog might have some sort of home environment for a good old ramble about web typography with a hint of CSS3 love/IE hate thrown in.

The cake is a lie.

December 2nd, 2009

Just had a talk with Bella Gingell, a local businesswoman. Some fantastic advice focused more around starting and running a business, and really motivated me to get certain rear regions in gear as well. Lessons learned include:

  • Do written quotes – protect oneself; don’t get shafted by clients who don’t want to pay
  • Put aside for VAT
  • Be careful choosing clients – see above
  • Find an accountant who can be bribed/blackmailed – a good one, and stay friendly, they’re worth the earth if you’re not good with numbers. (Think I’m alright on this one for the time being)
  • ‘Expenditure up, profit down’ means paying less for the taxman, but less luck with bank loans. Plan ahead, and work out if the business can be self-sufficient.
  • Get a business bank account, keep things separate
  • Keep receipts for everything.

Oh, and offers of cake can be seen as a distraction from not actually being very good at what you do. Show off and be memorable with work, not with unrelated gifts.

Definitely one of the most valuable sets of advice from a guest speaker yet.

Whoops, catchup time again.

November 25th, 2009

On a slightly positive note I’ve been too busy to keep updating the blog; work work work. On a slightly negative note, I’ve been too busy to keep updating the blog; work work work.

So, due to all this work, I skipped unfortunately missed a talk from what was supposed to be a guy from ‘Radio’, a Bath-based design firm upon hearing news that it was actually to be a talk from ‘the radio’. I’m sure working at Heart FM’s all good and fun, but so far the same things seem to be happening on a weekly basis; there’s only a tiny bit of relevance to the field I’m actually in. So sorry, Mr Heart FM man, whoever you may have been, I’m a little snowed under.

What I did manage to catch was the session with Jack Owen from Icehouse, very useful indeed, and reassured me that an hourly pricing structure is a widely used thing in the industry, also made me think more about the importance of specific briefs for projects in case things go pear-shaped – though this hasn’t actually been a problem at all with the clients (that’s you, thank-you, lovely people) I’ve worked with thus far. The importance of having a good set of contacts in different fields that one can bring in for projects has also been highlighted again, so keeping colleagues on side will prove wise as well (that’s you, other lovely people).

I will be updating the blog more often, and when I don’t, I shall have to come up with a new way of reminding myself. So far I’ve narrowed it down to either post-it notes everywhere or electrodes attached to various bodily places.

Louise Owen – Portfolio Crit

November 4th, 2009

A great, informal and friendly session with Lucy Owen, also of Ice House Design. She was complimentary of my copy writing skills – yes, complimentary of my ramblings, nothing can stop me now – and seemed to like my portfolio of work. I’m assuming the lack of criticism of my work is a good thing, though I was the first to present… I’ll take it as a good thing, as it’s put me in a ‘sure’ mood of the new site.

Something to consider may be regularizing ‘who’ is speaking my site. The main page is deliberately third person, but it was questioned if the rest of the site being written in first made perfect sense.

Tips for getting work placements include… Actually, I’m going to keep them to myself. If you happen to be reading this after my interest in your place of design, they’re all my own ideas, heheh. No, tips for work placements were just that, to be oneself, and only apply for places I have a genuine interest in.

That’s all from me for the day. I’ve just rediscovered, been abnormally amused by, and been playing endlessly with the Extrude tool in Illustrator on some of my typographically created images, so I’m off to do that for a few hours. It’s the little things that make my day.

P.S. Also! Also! I’m proud of the fact I’ve just taught several people where the ‘#’ key is on a Mac (Alt+3 in case you were wondering); including Catherine. As I said, it’s the little things.

What’s that you say? The new look Sheer-Design is now live?

November 4th, 2009

Well how jolly spiffing. And just in time for a visit from Louise Owen tomorrow (well, today now), who’ll be giving us some portfolio feedback, so I can rip it all apart and start again. Again. Hopefully not, but you never know.

At the moment, there is no support for Internet Explorer 6 or below. And when I say ‘there is no support’, what I actually mean is, ‘I haven’t got round to adding the error message for the fact that there is no, nor will be in future, support’. I beg of you, if you’re still that god-awful abomination of a browser, either upgrade it, give me one good reason in the comments box why you can’t and I’ll be sympathetic, or lump it.

All that’s left to do now is figure out how to use WordPress’ tags to get the blog in tune with the rest of things. I really do apologise that this bit’s the most frequently updated (albeit with my nattering) part of the website, and it’s the (only, hopefully) bit that looks ropey.

‘Phwooarrr’s and ‘uegh’s about the new site in the comments box are always appreciated. (‘Phwooarr’s substantially more, but I know there’s just no pleasing some people.)

The newest member of the sh’Mac family.

October 30th, 2009

Prologue/Disclaimer: Yes, I name my Apple products, generally prefixing them with a bit of my surname. I’ve done it for ages, I know it’s weird and nerdy, but “frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”.

As you may, or may not be aware, roughly about a month ago, my 2 year old 24″ iMac suffered a what can only be described as a severe case of ‘deadness’. Worryingly reminiscent of the way my old iBook G4 popped its clogs, I arose one morning, pressed the power button, and… pressed the power button… and er, pressed the power button. Oh no. The usual diagnostics tried – resetting PRAM, VRAM, PMU, taking the RAM out, getting down on one’s knees and looking up at the sky begging his holy Jobsness to make it work again – an appointment at the Genius Bar at Cabot Circus in Bristol was booked.

The iMac was taken in for repair, but no matter how many parts were replaced (eventually, it was all of them), there was no life left; she could not be revived, even the hard drive platters weren’t recoverable. I can’t praise the Genius’ and the store’s service enough, keeping me constantly updated as to the state of sh’iMac, and eventually, her time of death call. Apparently noone could figure it out, whatever had hit first, had a knock on effect to the rest of the hardware, one of the Geniuses called it his “nemesis”. Heheh.

I was over the moon to be told I was to receive a replacement, and popped down to pick it up. sh’iMac 2.0 was promptly plugged in and booted, MobileMe synced all the settings over from the cloud, and what I’d been using in the mean time on sh’MacBook (see disclaimer), and Time Machine recovered what I needed from my most recent backup (apart from my accounts; apparently M$ Excel files don’t like being backed up – handy).

And that was that, I was up and running again.

Until yesterday, when sh’iPhone S’s (see disclaimer again) caller ID displayed “Apple Store, Bristol”. I was told there had been a bit of a kerfuffle, and unfortunately, the machine I had been given was not available as a replacement unit. I was however, blissfully overjoyed to find I was to be given one of the brand spanking new 27″-ers. I really have been having a rather delightful spree of luck over the last few months, which makes a nice change.

And so “sh’iMac S” (because she’s a little bit faster) arrived home today, and her hard drive is already a clone of what was before, thanks to the Time Capsule. AND she came with one of the new Magic Mice, which is progressively growing on me. All I can say about the new 27″ iMac so far from first impressions of use, is that it’s absolutely positively monumentally massively huge. I’ve never had so much screen real estate before, even being used to a 24″; the resolution is almost preposterous. I think she’s going to be very happy settling into her new spot here with the rest of her family.

R.I.P. sh’iMac: 2007-2009

Long live “sh’iMac S” =)

(and now, at 3:19am, I’m off to say my thankful prayers to his Jobsness, and the team at Cabot, and grab just a few hours of much needed rest. Goodnight world.)

STTA Forum now in Beta; Live imminently.

October 30th, 2009

I was contacted by an existing client to design and implement a forum for one of the sites I already manage for them; it’s taken some tinkering, a little cursing, and a lot of coffee, but it’s now setup in style with the current website. Just being tested for ‘workingness’ by the moderators, and it shall be live for the Table Tennis community fairly imminently at

Interest in a potential (not too distant) future project from a contact of the same client has also been expressed, just waiting to hear back on more details.

The catchup(/excuses) industry talks entry.

October 30th, 2009

So I haven’t really been keeping the blog up to date with my inane ramblings lately, It’s been a tad busy with Uni/Freelance Design/O2 Work/Other Odd-jobs to say the least over the last couple of weeks. Deadline for Typography project (and Photography for that matter) is very fast approaching, really need to polish that off over the weekend with a bit of luck, which should give me half a day or so to finish off the new portfolio site (yes, it’s nearly done) before a visit from the next industry mentor this coming Wednesday. At least that’s the theory. In practice, it’ll end up with me burning the candle at both ends like I’ve been doing for most of this week in a crazy attempt to get things done.

Which leads me (vaguely) onto what I should have posted weeks ago…

14th October saw a visit from Nadine Wickenden, a local children’s illustrator. She was a delight to listen to, and really had a unique style. Personally illustration isn’t my one of my strong interest areas, and children even less so (!), however, she did provide a useful insight into the financial side of freelancing, with the best advice being to put aside a set amount each month so as not to be surprised by the taxman at the end of the year. Good plan, and something I intend to start “continue” doing. The week after would have introduced Jack Own of Ice House Design, unfortunately he called to cancel. Damn and blast. Hopefully we’ll get to see him soon enough, if it’s possible for him to reschedule.

This week it was the turn of Andy Fuller to enlighten us to the world of his business branding agency, and on a side note, by complete coincidence, I’d actually met him last weekend when he popped into O2 after losing his iPhone. Small world. Designbull consists mainly of Andy’s creative side, and a colleague who provides most of the technical bits where web is concerned. Unfortunately most of his web work was outsourced, thus no opportunity for a placement in that area. Double damn and blast. Nevertheless, some great insight into working freelance and building up a team of trusted colleagues in different areas of the industry to join forces with when needed, and a really nice style of corporate branding, similar to the kind of clean, modern, fresh work I’d like to be doing.

Session with Tom Maurice of Sunhouse Creative

October 7th, 2009

Some very useful info gained, along with a presentation of an impressive portfolio of work to gain inspiration from. Advice about the importance of portfolio (possibly even above qualifications) was interesting, leaves me further pondering the importance of doing the third-year of BA Hons, or whether to stick with just two years of FdA, then beg/borrow/steal/grovel/work-for-free for industry experience to further build up my work as a freelancer…

Useful contacts gathered from Tom to look into/chase up include:

Mike Bennet of E3
The SouthWest Media Group (Ueghh, all Flash site)
Pete Whitehead of ‘Radio’ (That’ll be fun to find on Google…)

Apparently being in the position to both design and code is a desired skill in the industry and will serve me well, so there’s a big plus, this will hopefully become my ‘key selling point’ to potential employers/clients.

Any-who, work on the new site is further progressing, I can’t wait to just get it all coded up so I can start badgering both the contact I briefly met from Future, and hopefully make contact with Keir Whitaker, who I bumped into by chance over the summer. Can’t be promoting a site I’m still not too sure about now can I?

“Oooh man, I LUUUURRVE de cake…”

October 2nd, 2009

First photography challenge of this year, go out, and within two hours, find a cake, and make it look appetising.

(click to enlarge)