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Wonderwall
8th April 2014

Very pleased with a new web site I have just launched for writer and journalist Mick Wall. Mick has written a plethora of definitive books about the world's greatest bands and musicians and he has a truly unique writing style that we wanted to capture on the web site. This site allows Mick to update his Blog himself, and it will showcase his great writing, as well as becoming an outlet for a series of ebooks that he is about to release. This one was a lot of fun to develop.

 

MIck Wall

out Mick Wall

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Wordpress
25th Feb 2014

I get asked more and more to build custom Wordpress sites for clients. I find the process incredibly enjoyable and merging my high-gloss designs with Wordpress' amazing functionality is something that seems to work really well. One example is CCCPE, a site I just launched.

CCCPE

out Cape Cod's Center for Personal Evolution

Wordpress allows the client to update their blog and other sections of text themselves. This means that the site owner can feed fresh content to their site without having to ask a web designer or developer to get involved each time. It is a fantastic system for both designer and site owner and means that the client has a level of independence that never existed a few years ago.

I can see my Wordpress work eventually taking over my traditional, custom web site designs. I am able to transpose my colourful designs onto the Wordpress framework and customise how everything pulls together, so it is the perfect marriage of form and function. I've seen a lot of content management systems develop over the years, but Wordpress feels the most polished and it offers an ease of use that anyone who can post on Facebook can use. I am looking forward to developing many more and I have a handful in the pipeline right now. It will be interesting to look back in a couple of years and see where this all ended up.

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Inferno
5th June 2013

I have another new book out. Co-authored once again with Mark Oxbrow it's a guide to Dan Brown's novel Inferno.

Secrets of Dan Brown's Inferno

We worked around the clock on this one, aiming to release one of the world's first comprehensive guides to the blockbuster, and we managed to write, research, and format the book in 3 weeks exactly. Having ghostwritten many of these in the past, we had a good idea of what we were capable of and what would be required to be one of the first guides out in the world. So, we knuckled down, didn't breathe a word to anyone, and quietly got on with the job.

And, here it is, three weeks of hell later!

In all seriousness, this one was a lot of fun to compile and write. Just releasing this book feels like an achievement, and releasing it in 3 weeks flat feels insane.

I also designed the cover and there is a web site to accompany the project. You can find out more at: infernosecrets.com

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My New Precious
17th December 2012

I have a new book out, co-authored with my long-term collaborator and close friend, Mark Oxbrow. The book is called Tolkien: The Secret History of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien: The Secrets Behind The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

I am thrilled to have released this book and it is the culmination of a life-long obsession; J. R. R. Tolkien and the universe he created, Middle-Earth - an obsession that Mark Oxbrow shares with me.

I was first introduced to Tolkien aged just 12 and between the ages of 12 and 18 I read and re-read just about every word he had written, as well as absorbing every word written about him.

It was a love-affair that would remain with me. In what was a total coincidence at the time, in my twenties I found myself living in the town in the West Midlands where Tolkien’s ancestors had settled and lived for centuries and Tolkien would later write of this homeland, Evesham, in Worcestershire, declaring:

“Any corner of that county (however fair or squalid) is in an indefinable way ‘home’ to me, as no other part of the world is.”

I spent many years chasing down stories of Tolkien and investigating the hidden corners of Worcestershire. I uncovered all the locations that had made their mark on Tolkien and entered into his fiction, because quite simply, the Vale of Evesham had become The Shire, the famous home of the Hobbits in both The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings.

I have always wanted to tell some of these stories, so with the release of The Hobbit movie upon us, Mark Oxbrow and myself decided now was probably a good time to write this book.Tolkien: The Secret History of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Ringsis really only part one of a series of books that we plan to release. There will be more secrets to come, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, our first offering is available as an ebook from Amazon on all their international stores and we have deliberately kept the price low so that we can share the magic of Tolkien with as any readers as possible. A couple of popular Amazon stores are below:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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The Heretic
9th August 2012

I was talking in my last entry about ebooks and the future of publishing. Well, staying in the same vein, I have just released a brand new digital magazine with my long-time collaborator, Andrew Gough. We have called it The Heretic Magazine and we are covering anything alternative; history, religion, science and everything else in between.

We have been discussing a product such as this for some time, and then Apple released their authoring software iBooks Author. The software streamlines the process of designing multi-touch books for their iPad iBooks App. So, we dived right in and are proud to announce the release of Volume 1 of The Heretic Magazine.

The Heretic Magazine

You can see more examples of my design work for the magazine on my portfolio page for the product.

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Secrets...
27th February 2012

I've worked with Mark Oxbrow many times in the past and have always enjoyed the process. So, when it came to his latest ebook I was delighted to work with him. This time I created the cover for his book, as well as handling the formatting of the Kindle ebook itself.

I've become very involved with ebook formatting and now spend a lot of my time overseeing such projects. With the rise of Kindle and ebooks in general I can only see this side of my business growing. I find it fascinating and the work feels truly revolutionary and groundbreaking. It is quite enlightening getting in at the ground floor and being a part of something this big right from the start. I compare it to the early days of the internet back in the 90s, when no-one really knew how far it was going to go and where it was going to lead. We probably don't know the full answer, even now, but I think we all have a much clearer idea. Ebooks right now are so new and fresh, it feels the same to me. The software is still in its infancy as far as I can see, and so is the hardware. So, we can expect huge developments and changes over the coming years. With Apple changing the game once again after announcing iBooks Author, the scene is set for a furious push into the future. Ebooks are going to be such a huge deal a few years from now.

Mark Oxbrow's book shows what can be done. He and his coauthor had a great concept for a book; a guide to Stieg Larsson's novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But with the Hollywood film by David Fincher suddenly upon us speed was of the essence. With Kindle ebooks it meant he could take that idea and publish it under his own imprint and have the book up for sale within days of finishing the manuscript. With the film being released this was critical. Suddenly things are possible that publishers could only dream of a decade ago. And not just publishers, now everyone has access to this technology.

Some things will never change; you still need a good, compelling cover, and you need a great idea for your book to be a success. Of course, it helps if you can write too! But, you no longer need a major publisher to bless you with their patronage. Now you can get your book to market yourself.

Things are about to get very interesting.

Secrets

Go and check it out.

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A New Book
6th September 2011

Everywhere But No Place

This post isn't just a piece of shameless self-promotion...yes, I wrote this book, but I did also design the cover, so it has a fitting place here on this blog!

Publishing this book has been a dream of mine for a long time, and it is good to finally see it out there. The cover is also something I have been toying with for some time and I was pleased with the finished result.

There is also a web site to accompany the book's release.

Everywhere but No Place

Go and check it out.

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Time...
8th January 2011

Maybe I should stop dating my blogs! It has been a year since my last I note. While it has been a very busy year, I am not sure where that year went.

So, what have I been up to? Well, one project I have recently finished is a new site for William Henry. I'm particularly pleased with it and the design took a large part of the year to develop and finalise.

The final theme, featuring a complex and whimsical clockwork device, deals with time and the galaxy and the starting point for the design was a photo of a very famous clock in Venice, in St Mark's Square. William sent me a photo of the clock that he had just taken while on a research trip in Venice and he asked me to see if I could feature it in some way in the new design.

 

I loved the image so much that it went on to become the centrepiece in our epic new layout.

William Henry

You can see the complete design on William's web site.

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A Facelift
31st January 2010

Well, it has been some time coming, but I have finally fnished a redesign of this site. It has taken the best part of a year, because I had to juggle my workload and fit it around all of my other work. The downside of being a graphic designer is that everyone else's site takes precedence over your own and you have to fit your own designs in betweeen everything else!

So, I planned to do this in 2007, and even when I started, in 2009, it took forever to complete because I had so much work on. But we are there now, and finally I have a design that I am pleased with.

For too long my clients have had better sites than my own, but now things are a little more even!

I am hoping that it still looks fresh in a couple of years' time, because I am not keen to do this again for a while! But for now, I am very happy indeed with the new look.

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Decoding The Artwork
19th October 2009

For years we have been awaiting Dan Brown's next novel and now the wait is finally over. Hot on the heels of The Lost Symbol is Decoding The Lost Symbol, a book that Simon Cox has released as the ultimate guide to the new fictional episode in the life of Robert Langdon, Brown's protagonist.

I became involved with this project years ago and I mocked up covers for Simon's book as early as August 2005. Dan Brown's project was known then as The Solomon Key, and we were working towards releasing a title called Unlocking The Solomon Key. Then we heard that there had been a title change and we had to start again.

Now that this book is finally out, I'm very happy with the final cover that I designed. I also worked on the interior plate section and on top of that I provided research for Simon's book as it had to be written in record-breaking time.

It is great to see the book on sale in UK bookshops (US to follow in early November) just a month after the release of Dan Brown's own title, and after putting in so much work on this project over the years it is satisfying to finally hold the results in my hands.

out icon Decoding The Lost Symbol

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Into The Duat
15th June 2009

After months of work, the web site for Into The Duat. has finally been launched. This is an extension of my long collaboration with Simon Cox and we are now working under the umbrella of Henu Productions with a team of very talented individuals.

From a design perspective, I am pleased to see the site live as it is the culmination of about three years work. While much of the behind-the-scenes elements were designed some time ago, this current version of the site sees all of the ideas I had for the site tied together under a new skin.

The overriding visual element is the Bug in the header. Duat is term for the Egyptian afterlife and while Egypt is not the only topic we will cover on the site, it still remains a strong influence. So, the idea was to try and conjure up a Scarab beetle for the 21st Century.

So, our Scarab, who during the working process has been known as The Bug Who Runs The World, not only provides a modern take on a very old concept, he also sits firmly connected to the heart of the internet, something that is at the core of Into The Duat as we strive to use new technology to bring our content to our viewers.

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The Long Trip
14th September 2008

My latest book cover is a design for Daily Grail Publishing who have just reissued Paul Devereux's The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia.

The Long Trip

A massively important release when it originally came out, it is great to see it in print again.

“The Long Trip endeavors to show that the twentieth-century psychedelic renaissance is not an anomaly but part of a long line of psychedelic traditions that have inspired some highly creative cultures ... Devereux presents a broad range of archaeological, ethnobotanical, and pharmacological information about psychedelics in clear, very readable English...” Shaman’s Drum

The Long Trip

Amazon UK
Amazon US

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New Portfolio PDF
1st July 2008

Well, it is summer again and time to release a new Portfolio Highlights PDF.

Portfolio Highlights '08

I particularly enjoy putting this together because it allows me to reflect on all the wonderful projects I have worked on during the last twelve months. I used to do these twice a year, but due to my heavy workload I am only going to create them once a year from now on. There were loads of projects I couldn't fit in, and as the title suggests, this PDF contains just the highlights - as well as things I am particularly pleased with. As always, there is a balance between print and web work.

This year's PDF is the biggest ever at 44 pages, but I have managed to keep it to just over 33MB in size.

I am also starting to turn my attention to a redesign of this site. You know the story, there is never enough time to work on my own stuff, but I am seriously starting to think about it and produce mock-ups. Hopefully I can have it up before 2010!

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End of the World?
16th February 2008

I've worked with New Dawn Magazine for a few years now, but they have exceeded even their usual high standards with their latest Special Issue. Just released, this issue, Special Issue No. 4 is titled Prophecies and Predictions. Is 2012 going to be the end of the world as we know it, or just another date in the calendar? I designed the cover for this issue and it was a lot of fun as always.

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Darklore
6th November 2007

I have recently been working on a book just released by Daily Grail Publishing called Darklore. I designed the cover along with a number of illustrations.

Darklore

Volume 1 is out now and it is a great read. Greg Taylor from the Daily Grail sums it up better than me when he describes what Darlore is all about:

Welcome to the premiere release of Darklore, a journal of exceptional observations, hidden history, the paranormal and esoteric science. Bringing together some of the top researchers and writers on topics from outside of mainstream science and history, Darklore will challenge your preconceptions by revealing the strange dimensions veiled by consensus reality.

In Darklore Volume 1 you'll find discussions of subjects such as the age of the Sphinx, 'Flying Triangle' sightings from yesteryear, evidence for the afterlife, the strange sounds heard during paranormal experiences, new revelations about the Knights Templar, psychedelic use in ancient Peru, Bigfoot strangeness, the Hellfire Society, Roswell, and much more.

The idea is to release these on a regular basis so don't miss the first instalment of what will surely grow into a great series.

For more details on the look of the book, check out my portfolio page for the project.

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Pyramid Mystery No. 312
12th August 2007

Earlier this year I accompanied Simon Cox to Egypt where we were doing some research for an upcoming book project. While there we visited once again the Layer Pyramid at Zawiyet el-Aryan, south of the Giza pyramids.

This hard to find pyramid is way off the beaten track and usually deserted. It doesn’t help that the name Zawiyet el-Aryan has reportedly not been used in many years, so asking for this small village only produces puzzled looks.

Today this pyramid is a mystery, and we know hardly anything at all about it. Dated to the 3rd Dynasty and given a tentative construction date of 2,600 BC it is only attributed to this era because of its method of construction, marking it as a possible 3rd Dynasty monument. Some have suggested that it was made by a pharaoh called Khaba, but only because vases bearing his name have been found in a nearby tomb. That is literally all we have to tie him to the site.

All of this of course is just conjecture, the best guess of academics, and the truth is, nothing is known about the Layer Pyramid for certain. 

For example, it is said that this pyramid was never completed because no casing stones have ever been found, but it could be that these were simply removed in antiquity, as with other pyramids, including the Great Pyramid at Giza. A complex set of magazines and galleries exists beneath the pyramid, and while they don’t prove by themselves that the pyramid was ever completed, they do indicate that construction had progressed to quite an advanced stage at the site.

So, who did build the Layer Pyramid and when?

 

The view of the Layer Pyramid from the nearby village

 

The exposed, interior layers are all that remain today

 

On top of the pyramid, with Simon Cox (far left)

 

Filming with Simon Cox

 

Inside the underground passages with Ahmed Abo el Ela

 

The false entrance that leads to a dead-end

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The Occult
5th July 2007

Today sees the release of my latest book, An A to Z of the Occult. Once again written with Simon Cox, it is the fourth in his A to Z Series.

This one was a lot of fun to write. Since my late teens I have taken a keen interest in the subjects covered in this book and it is great to be able to release some of the material I have acquired during those twenty-plus years of research.

The occult has had a lot of bad press over the years and is still viewed as something of a taboo subject. Why this should be became very clear to us during the writing of this book, because we realised that what we today term 'the occult' seems to encompass anything that cannot be explained by the twin pillars of mainstream science and religion. Today we rely heavily on these two disciplines, expecting one or the other - or both - to have all the answers for us. So, it is no wonder that the occult is often viewed as frightening and something to be feared if it lies outside the comfortable and familiar fields of religion and science.

The A to Z format of the series works very well when looking at the varied subjects found within the occult and the book itself is rather like a Grimoire of essays examining the esoteric.

On a design note, I also put together the cover and this one is my favourite jacket from the A to Z Series. The fantastic photo on the front was taken by Dawn Allynn and it was great raw material to mould into a cover image. Photos like that are a designer’s dream.

An A to Z of Atlantis - Spread

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Atlantis
5th November 2006

Just a quick plug – my first book has just been released and is out now in the shops. Co-authored with my friend and prodigious author, Simon Cox, it is titled An A to Z of Atlantis.

An A to Z of Atlantis

The book serves as a guide to the many mysteries that surround the fabled lost continent. Quoting from the Introduction:

There can scarcely be another subject that has courted as much controversy over the years as that of Atlantis. Thousands of books have been written about the lost continent, literally millions of words, and today the subject generates just as much interest as it has in the past, if not more.

An A to Z of Atlantis is the latest book in this long tradition. However, unlike many of the books published about Atlantis, the purpose of this A to Z is not to promote one particular theory or to argue why one location is any more likely than another to be the site of Atlantis. Rather, we gather all of the disparate strands together into one volume in order to try and present the reader with the broadest possible range of ideas.

Both myself and Simon have been fascinated by the subject of Atlantis for many years, so it is great to be able to get some of our ideas and theories down on paper at last and out in print. It should be a great read whether you are new to Atlantis or a seasoned seeker of the lost continent, and hopefully we have something new and enthralling for everyone.

On a seperate note, I also designed the cover and it is one of four covers I have designed for Simon Cox's A to Z Series.

An A to Z of Atlantis - Spread

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The Hilton Heist
4th September 2006

It’s being reported today that London-based guerrilla artist Banksy has struck once again. In a highly imaginative coup he swapped 500 copies of Paris Hilton’s new album with ‘doctored’ versions of the CD. These altered CDs were then slipped back into record shops across the UK. They still contained the original bar code, so customers bought the Banksy versions without knowing. Genius.

These Banksy versions of the album have new tracks, supposedly just breakbeats with Hilton samples over the top – her repeatedly saying ‘that’s hot’ – a phrase she uses on one of her mindless TV slots. The titles of the tracks have also been changed from the original running order and the CD now contain such gems as ‘Why Am I Famous?’ and ‘What Have I Done?’ As well as the remixing the CD sleeve was altered and the front cover changed to show a topless Hilton, while other ‘messages’ were inserted into the booklet such as ‘90% of success is just showing up.’ The image behind the CD itself shows Hilton with a dog’s head.

For people who aren’t familiar with the work of Banksy, his website is well worth a look. Is it art? It is in my book. In my opinion art should make you think and Banksy's work certainly makes you do that.

'Withus Oragainstus.'

For fellow Londoners or anyone interested in seeing more of his work there is also a Flickr group that documents all the instances of Banksy street art in the city.

I've seen a few pieces round here where I live, but my favourite story is how a sign on the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens that gained one of Banksy’s rats was pinched and sold for an extortionate amount of money online. It’s a good job most of his work is found on solid walls or someone would no doubt nab them too. So what next? Are buildings with his graffiti on the side going to be sold for a fortune because they have become a piece of art?

This is what I love most about Banksy, the fact that unlike a lot of so-called contemporary artists he really seems to be blurring the boundaries between what is art and what isn’t. Oh, and there's also the fact that he shakes up the world a little every now and then, and boy do we need that.

Anyway, bringing this post back down to earth, I guess it’s only a matter of time before these Paris Hilton CDs turn up on Ebay!

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Older Entries

Home of the Guanches - 25th July 2006

Egyptian Guidance - 8th July 2006

A Thorny Issue - 19th June 2006

Chapel of Rest It Was Not... - 14th June 2006

Tube Companion - 15th May 2006

The Fairy and the Gardens - 12th May 2006

A Book and a Blog - 8th May 2006

A Week in Cairo - 6th May 2006

Corpus Callosum - 2nd May 2006

Mosaic Colour Palette - 28th April 2006

Gnostic Info - 17th April 2006

 

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