All posts by Pete Fairburn

It’s National Stationery Week!

I love stationery, but I draw the line at rulers!

Did you miss it? 27th April saw the start of National Stationery Week ( ) This annual event is set up by the London Stationery Show ( ), which also supports World Stationery Day on 29th April.

This is not an obscure celebration like National Zipper Day (29th April, FYI)! True, zips are important, but there are always buttons, poppers . . . even Velcro.

When it comes to writing and drawing though, these skills have been a vital part of human history all through its many ages. We really don’t give it a second thought, writing a shopping list, jotting a phone message down or taking the time to write a special card to someone.

When we’re young, writing and using stationery equipment, helps us in developing fine motor skills. As we get older, our writing ability may even be a deciding factor in our success in securing a job!  In fact many areas of employment still require highly detailed hand drawn plans and designs, clearly annotated. Handwritten love letters should never go out of fashion – who’s going to keep a bunch of emails and copies of texts in a keepsake box to re-read when you’re having a tough time, or taking a trip down memory lane?

Technology is a wonderful thing, but the very fact that tablets and PC’s are providing the facility to take handwritten notes or drawings, proves that the keyboard has severe limitations. Hand drawn designs still carry depth and power, that can’t be fully re-created by CAD.

So we urge you, keep improving your handwriting & creativity, dismiss those flimsy free bank pens, throw out your dried out fibre tip markers and your inch long coloured pencils ( and rid yourself of that nasty chipped ruler ( You may have missed National Stationery Week,  but you can always update your stationery with us at any time!!




The Art Student Essentials

GCSE Art Equipment – What are Your Options?

Art sounds like an easy option when deciding what GCSE options to take, but now is the time to remove those rose-tinted spectacles.

The contributors of lament over the realisation that taking Art as a GCSE IS a serious option! They talk of sleepless nights . . . sons & daughters disappearing under copious amounts of course work . . . endless deadlines to meet.


The two main points for both parents and students are:

  • Be Organised – get going on your projects as soon as you get them. Get your parents on board – no, really, they can help with remembering your deadlines and providing your kit . . .
  • Have a good quality kit – check the contents every half term

Oh, and a couple of unofficial ones . . . art is subjective, not everyone will like what you produce – Don’t worry about it, but take constructive criticism on board.

Don’t be a perfectionist! If you are, you’ll struggle; art encompasses lots of ideas, but especially in developing your unique interpretation and expression along with recognised techniques.

For additional advice and samples of student work at GCSE level, visit: You’ll find some inspiring ideas here.

The first place to go to when working out what your son or daughter needs is the school or academy itself. They should be able to provide a list for you to follow.

Before you race down to a discount/99p store – please remember that you really do get what you pay for! As a parent myself (whose son is just about to take GCSE Art) I have made this mistake once, but never again.

For example: There is nothing more frustrating than using a flimsy plastic sharpener that takes chunks out of a cheap pencil with an eternally breaking ‘lead’.  What an utter waste of time!

At DesignDirect we can supply and deliver much of what your child needs, from recognised brands that you can rely on.

Here’s a suggested list for you:

As the coursework progresses additional items will need to be purchased along the way, but these items provide a really good base kit to work from.

Best wishes to all of you taking your options and commiserations to all affected parents!

Has CAD Killed the Manual Drafting Art Form?

There can be no doubt that Computer Aided Design (CAD) has revolutionised the way designers create the latest masterpieces. Whether a 300ft skyscraper or the tiniest mechanical instrument, CAD allows the user a fully rotatable 3D digital model of his product, allowing a clear view down to the very smallest detail. With CAD’s wealth of advanced editing and visualisation features, why would anyone choose to design their products by hand? Has Manual Drafting been completely outdone?

In short, no.

Many top designers recognise the unique benefits of the manual design art form. While most utilise the many benefits of CAD, they are often used side by side with the more expressive design methods of hand drawing, offering them the opportunity to create a far more personal product design. Watch a video of what you could achieve!

There’s no undo button! 90% of the time, mistakes are a bad thing. We wish we could simply undo and carry on. This isn’t an option with pen and paper; when a designer inevitably makes a mistake, he is forced to adapt. Suddenly an accidental squiggle becomes a quirky design feature, a wonky line becomes an abstract idea. Hand drawing promotes evolution of our designs, allowing us to create new, unique products that may never have been born with a computer.

Tip from the college days when your drawing slipped off the edge of the table and fell upside down – suddenly you realised that it was showing you a different aspect to the design. Try drawing your plan on tracing paper and then turning sheet over and looking the mirror image!

The Personal Touch

Like your handwriting, every designer has their own unique style. Technical drawings created with the human touch often feature an individual flair that can’t be achieved with computers. They may not have the pinpoint accuracy, but there is often emotion portrayed in a hand drawn piece, something impossible to achieve with a machine.

Lastly, manual drafting takes skill! An incredible amount of patience, a steady hand and an eye for detail are all vital in producing high quality technical drawings. When you produce the perfect drawing that meets your vision though, the sense of achievement and satisfaction you feel is nothing short of incredible. Why not give it a try?

With a huge range of craft materials, high quality technical pens, pencils and drawing boards from all the major graphic design brands, Designdirect supply everything you’ll need to get started!

Check out what this artist can do! -