Archives for posts with tag: Hakim Shujaee

Very recently Britain saw the passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher. The first (and only) woman Prime Minister for Great Britain. The reaction to her death was met with mixed response as some hailed her for being an inspiration to women all over the country whilst many adopted a more hostile reception.

What was most interesting amidst this media frenzy were the front pages of every newspaper the following day. As seen below some went for a more motivating headline: going as far as calling her “The woman who saved Britain” and “The great transformer”. Interestingly some opted for a more negative view with headlines such as “The woman who divided a nation”…

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Accompanying these headlines were images. Each one giving a very different feeling to its viewer.

It’s obviously very easy to form an opinion on someone as high profile as “The Iron Lady” but how easily are we as viewers convinced of a story if there was no accompanying headline or a four-column article to go with a photograph?

How easy is it to take an image out of context and add another headline? The Independent magazine image seen above could easily work for a negative or a more inspirational view of Thatcher. The image looks ominous but also ambitious.

This kind of imagery leaves a lot to the viewer’s imagination.

Let’s do a test.  Look at the image below and try and work out a story for the person in the photograph…


What did you deduce from this picture? Innocent looking? Smart?  Did you predict her to be a victim of murder? Perhaps she was a missing child?

Each interpretation will be different.

This is in fact a picture of Mary Bell.

The well-known serial killer who in 1968 killed two child victims at the age of 9. Now doesn’t that change your whole perception?

Any original thoughts of empathy, pity and curiosity (assuming that’s the approach you chose) are possibly now replaced with a more hostile and unforgiving feeling.  Knowing this information it is now very difficult to imagine her as a regular human being. Even whilst looking at her childhood photographs below you’ll always be thinking about the inhumane crimes she will go on to commit.

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Special news reports and television documentaries have been known to use this technique to gain empathy from its audience.

Biographies both in film and literature often choose these types of photographs to get its viewers to agree with their opinion of the person in question.  Below are a few examples of some film covers.  Without even knowing about the story it’s very easy to get a general idea of the film.  Of course you only think this because of the way the photo has been taken (or the knowledge you have on these people gives you an interpretation of the photograph).

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Another example of how an image can be taken out of context was the incident between ex-Barcelona footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic and current star defender Gerard Pique.

A journalist snapped a picture of the two footballers in a very intimate looking pose. This resulted in a media frenzy as news outlets all over the world jumped to many conclusions. Some going as far as implying a homosexual relationship between the two. The rumours were quickly shrugged off by both footballers.

Much of the take on the ‘pose’ was driven by what is culturally acceptable in some countries looking strange and having a different implication in another. Some individuals and even countries and cultures see such a close contact and public showing of camaraderie as perfectly fine. Whilst in others it is considered behavior best to be kept private. Of course all this was a result of a camera shutter closing at a split second. Seconds later this same shot would’ve had a completely different composition and resulting feel.


Without any guidance, without someone giving their opinion an image can have infinite interpretations.

It is interesting to see what one person feels about an image may not be what everyone else feels. It is therefore important to not be easily influenced by the title on the page but to form your on opinion on the matter.

Remember that an image may speak a thousand words, but perhaps you should only believe half of what you see.

Hakim Shujaee is a Designer at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

If this question was to be asked a decade ago the answer would have been a very simple one. When your time came, everyone you knew told you that “you HAD to get a degree. It’s the only way you’d get anywhere in life.” However in a matter of years the situation has changed dramatically.
The U.K has seen a rise in students aged 18-24 who choose not to continue their education any further. This is largely due to the rise in tuition fees, which has risen from £3000 to a maximum of £9000 per year.
Unable to afford this, most students have taken the option of going straight into employment with what little qualification they have, whilst students leaving university, who cannot find jobs related to their course, have taken part-time jobs to avoid going into debt.

So is it all worth it in the end? Did the past 3-4 years at university make any difference to your future? The question that is rarely asked is whether all the education received from university makes a difference in the world of employment. Is it possible to move up in this world without a standard degree qualification? Speaking as a designer who narrowly escaped the wrath higher tuition fees I can speak from the design side of this argument. Here is what I learned from my past 4 years as a student and what pitfalls current and future students should avoid.

Personally I feel that my own university education only helped to a certain extent. Whilst throwing money at an institution is not the answer to all of life’s problems I feel as though I expected a lot more from them (especially for the amount I had to pay over 4 years) than the limited time I would get with tutors in return. A lot of my design instinct primarily came from college education and self-interest in my area of design. A good portion of my growth came outside the classroom in libraries and online tutorials due to my own curiosity. It says a lot when services you can get for free do more to further your future than the one you pay £3000 per year for. Don’t get me wrong though, I am not saying that my university didn’t teach me anything. However I feel that they have promised me more than they could deliver. Overall the experience I got from university was great. The interaction with my peers and challenge of pushing myself to greater lengths was exciting. But speaking in terms of the quality of teaching, I wasn’t entirely satisfied. Of course this could simply be the university I went to or only my course in particular. There is no way to know now whether it could have been any different had I gone elsewhere. I think the same rings true for any course outside of design where you are left to your own devices to think more independently.

There is also the unrealistic expectation that with a university qualification you will be an expert in all areas when your education is finished. However this is entirely untrue (as myself and many other design students before me have learned). There are many skills, many advices, and a lot of information that a student cannot learn about in their three/four years regarding the fast paced world of design. Things like client expectations, the quick turnaround with some projects, tight deadlines etc. The biggest shock for me was how fast paced design studios are in comparison to the lenient two/three weeks you get on a single brief.

In the design world one of the most important factors in gaining employment is experience. This brings up the age-old contradiction. How can you get any job experience if no one hires you without any? Some ways around this include freelance work, entering design awards & competitions and work placements. These are areas you can focus on where your qualification isn’t more important than your ability to speak and work as a designer. The pitfalls of looking for a design job without degree qualifications are the level of work you find. No one expects to land the role of creative director within their first year so naturally you’ll have to start at the bottom and work your way up. It will be tough at first but ultimately it will save you spending £27,000+.

The best advice I can give is to do your research. Go to the university you want to join and ask questions. Ask as many questions as you want. Find out about your surroundings, what the living standards are like, where is the nearest superstore, how long does it take to travel from A to B. Ask current students what they think about the university. Remember, they will give the most honest answer (it’s not their job to sell the course). Never stop questioning even after you have settled on a decision. Bear in mind that if the worst of the worst comes you can leave or still complete the first year. You’ll have one bad year instead of four.

Hakim Shujaee is a Designer at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

Since the start of time the word ‘failure’ has always had a negative connotation attached to it. The very mention of it in the same sentence as your name is an excuse to feel ashamed and inadequate. The average human being is overcome with emotion as he/she makes a mental list of what went wrong in their lives and how it all led to this devastating day of doom. However it’s never wise to have a defeatist attitude over a simple thing like failure.

As a designer we have to develop thick skins as it is sometimes the case that we are deemed to have ‘failed’ with an idea.  The reality is often very different.

This is the perfect time of year to look at it as a life’s lesson in human development. Here are some of the reasons for why failure can be a good thing.

Making Mistakes.

Making mistakes is a very important process in the world of design. It allows you to take in all the data from your latest endeavour and analyse what you did wrong and how you can improve. It’s highly unlikely that someone gets something right the first time of asking. Everyone will have a different approach to dealing with their failure. Every mistake should be treated as a lesson.

Taking Risks

With accepting failure as a possibility in your life you also invite the urge to take risks. Years ago most businesses would discourage this type of mindset and as a result would settle for mediocrity. However recently with the economy suffering the only way to survive and be noticed is to take risks that would set you apart from the competition. In fact its been reported that current employers recently choose to look at both the success and failures of candidates mainly for the reason of separating the risk-takers from the regular workers. The risk-takers have a better record of being hired.

Learning Curve

With every failure you are building up a deep understanding in your field. Something that, in the following years, is known as experience. Thomas Edison failed 1000 times when inventing the lightbulb. When asked about it he remarked “I have not failed a 1000 times, I have found a 1000 ways that won’t work”.

Persevering in your field of study ensures that you have a better understanding of your subject than someone who has only studied it once. You, through experience, know what you should or shouldn’t do therefore giving you an edge against someone who doesn’t have that level of experience. Through your past failures you end up gaining a better understanding of how things function.


There will always be a correct method or certain rules for doing things. There is always a right way and a wrong way. However to do something unprecedented certain rules need to be changed or bent accordingly.

Only by ignoring what’s already been advised several times can you really hope to create something unique.

Trying out strange new methods can take you to different paths and help initiate new ideas. After all someone, somewhere, must have broken a rule or two in order to stand out from their competitors today.

Failure should never be viewed in the negative sense. Every failure should be viewed as an opportunity to try harder next time and learn from your mistakes.

Remember, you are in the same company as many others who have failed.

1. Albert Einstein – 1921 Nobel Peace Prize in Physics

Wasn’t able to speak until he was almost 4 years old. His teachers said he’d “Never amount to anything”

2. Michael Jordan – Professional American Basketball Player

After being cut from his high school basketball team, he went home, locked himself in his room and cried.

3. Walt Disney – Co-founder of Walt Disney Productions 

Was fired from The Kansas City Star newspaper. His boss told him he ‘lacked creativity and imagination’

4. The Beatles – Winners of 7 Grammy Awards 

Rejected by Decca Recording Studios, who said ” We don’t like their sound” and “They don’t have a future in show business”

5. JK Rowling – Author of Harry Potter book series

Had her first Harry Potter book in 1995 rejected by 12 different publishers. Including Bloomsbury (who finally purchased her manuscript) who told her to “get a day job.”

Hakim Shujaee is a Designer at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

It’s the argument that has always been the center of debate amongst designers.

Has the arrival and constant updating of design software made the average designer more creative or more lazy.

Having started my design course during Adobe’s CS2 reign I must agree with the former opinion. I believe in embracing the hard work some software put into making an otherwise difficult job more simple. It’s this shortcut method however that irks traditional designers. The fact that the younger generation don’t appreciate the hard work their predecessors put into making typography work. Or how in their time transparency meant sticking a sheet of tracing paper over their drawings (which they drew BY HAND!) Some go as far as calling the process an easy way out. This is obviously far from the truth since being accomplished in any given application takes years of practice and hard work just like any other medium. There is also the strong correlation between those who produce great designs on computer and those who have a good understanding of design principles.

However I’m of the belief that the computer is simply a tool that when used correctly could work wonders. Giving someone a top-of-the-range iMac pre-installed with Adobe Creative Suite doesn’t necessarily make them the best designer in the world. To me ideas are what matter the most in design. It doesn’t matter what techniques you know on a mac if you have no understanding of colour theory, composition or typography.

Over the years there have been very few who have managed to excel in both worlds. The most notable being the late Steve Jobs of Apple computers. Having recently finished reading Steve Jobs’ Biography by Walter Isaacson I came to wonder whether we’d ever see another pioneer like him again. Here was a man who embraced both technology and the important role that product design played alongside it. Anyone can make products, but for Apple it was all about making the best products that would benefit the user’s experience. He was by no means perfect when it came to his attitude or his lack of empathy toward his employees but it was this strict no nonsense attitude that contributed to some of Apple’s best years.  This was because Apple constantly chose to evolve with the times and embrace (sometimes create) change.

I like to believe that design based technology has come a long way since it’s humble beginnings. Ideas that could only be imagined before can now easily be put to action within hours or days.  In a business where time and quality means everything we should welcome the improvements the world of design development brings.

Hakim Shujaee is a Designer at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

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