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Weeknotes 7.2.20

07 Feb 2020
Prevent Epidemics Flight map, showing inbound flights from countries with confirmed cases of Coronavirus

Busy, busy week! My head has melted.


As part of my work for Resolve to Save Lives, which includes Prevent Epidemics, I’ve been working on Coronavirus related projects this week. As well as creating infographics on how to how limit contact and spread, Brian Suda (my Oxvik partner) and I setup a Coronavirus update page for the Prevent Epidemics website. It takes the existing site functionality, and shows how many international inbound flights there are from countries with confirmed cases, and how prepared they are for dealing with epidemics (called the ‘ReadyScore’).


My binoculars are finally back from being repaired at the Swarovski HQ in Austria! I’ve really missed them, my knackered old bins are no where near as good.

Female Pochard

I’ve also given up on my smartphone on the end of a scope hack that I’ve been using to get reference photos. Instead, I’ve picked up a secondhand Nikon P900, a ‘superzoom bridge camera’ (between a compact camera and an SLR) which although heavier, is giving me much better results. I can leave it on ‘birdwatching mode’ and snap away. The photos themselves dont have the quality of a decent SLR, but it costs a tiny fraction of what an SLR body would cost, let alone the telephoto lens. It has an 83x optical zoom, and is definitely good enough as reference images for illustrating from. The photo of a female Pochard above is a good example!

Bombay Bicycle Club

We went to see Bombay Bicycle Club again on Friday, this time in Birmingham, and it was one of the best gigs in a long time. Seeing them live is really incomparable with their recorded material, and the audience was really up for it. When they announced ‘this is out last song’, a booming voice behind me bellowed “Bollocks is it!”.

Rissington Podcast

The Rissington Podcast

John and I released another epsiode of Rissington, and we’ll be recording the next one on Monday. We’ve had fun resurrecting the old podcast, but we also want to try and mess around with the format. Instead of the (open source) font and UX technique of the week followed by questions, we’ll just tackle one topic. Inspired by a Brendan Dawes tweet, we’ve chosen socks, and are looking for any sock-related anecdotes, so let us know if you have any. We may try something else entirely for the podcast after that…

Weeknotes 19.1.20

19 Jan 2020

It’s been an odd week for web browsers:

To be honest, I loved using Opera, but since leaving them in 2016, it’s felt like something to put behind me and move on. I’m still a Firefox user these days, but occassionally Safari as well. Chrome just annoys me.

In personal news this week:

I’ve been a grumpy sod as my lovely new Swarovksi binoculars (a birthday present from last October) had to be send away for repairs. I loved those binoculars! Fortunately I still have my old pair, but they are terrible in comparison. Apart from the image quality, the focus wheel is very stiff, they’re bigger and heavier, and the field of view smaller. I find I’m missing birds more now – by the time I’ve got them sharp they’ve left. Apparently the repair process takes up to four weeks :(

I went to see the film 1917 and absolutely loved it. The ‘one long shot’ format works so well in making it feel realistic and real-time, and sometimes the building tension was almost too much. One of the best films I’ve seen in ages – incredible!

Finally, last night we went to see Bombay Bicycle Club at the O2 academy in Oxford for the album launch party for ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’. Bombay are one of the few bands that everyone in the family is a fan, so it was nice outing. They are brilliant live (so tight), but dissapointingly after an hour and half wait for them to come on stage, they only played for an hour.

Weeknotes 14.12.19

16 Dec 2019

Last week my thoughts were dominated by one thing – the General Election. I never had any doubts that the Conservatives would win, but the landslide victory was a surprise. I’d always thought that a hung parliament was the best I could hope for, but there wasn’t remotely a chance of that.

I despair. A majority of the country has voted for the vilest, most deceitful party I’ve ever known in the UK. The message is:

If you consistently lie, you win.
If you’re openly racist, and embolden nationalist idiots, you win.
If you avoid scrutiny by hiding in a fridge, you win.
If you promise to fix things, despite being in power for almost 10 years, you win.

We live in a consequence-free world it seems.The biggest reason I’m hearing from people is “Ooooh, but I couldn’t vote for Corbyn”. I didn’t always agree with him (my allegiance is with the Green Party), but he would’ve been infinitely better for the country than Johnson. Whatever the reasons, I’m really depressed about it all.

Weeknotes 7.12.19

06 Dec 2019

Oddly Amazing Animals

I am immensely proud to have been involved in the book Oddly Amazing Animals, released this week. Back in 2009, Cindy Li and Juliette Melton started making an A-Z childrens’ book together, and it had been an ongoing project ever since. Tragically, they never managed to finish, when Cindy died last October. Her loss was felt globally, and Juliette organised help from Cindy’s many friends, determined to finish the book for her. I submitted illustrations for Dart Frog, Vaux Swift and Xenops.

The cover of Oddly Amazing Animals A-Z

All proceeds from book will go to Cindy and Matt’s sons, Apollo and Orion.

Work Experience

One of my best ever ‘jobs’ was the year I spent at The Lake District National Park as work placement from college. I loved it, and it gave me a sense that I should give something back in the same way. The difficulty is I’m not really geared up for taking on placement students as it’s just not practical. Our co-working space lacks the physical space for someone to sit, work is often under NDA, and it’s hard to schedule it around workload.

Having said that, on Monday I finally managed to make it work. Our neighbours daughter, who is studying illustration at college, came into our co-working space for work for a day. She clearly has great talent, and I hope I managed to convince her that ‘digital isn’t cheating’ ;)

Jack Whitehall

On Monday evening I took my son Dan to the New Theatre in Oxford to see Jack Whitehall. Not my normal cup of tea, but I know Dan likes him, and he was entertaining. I do wonder how much material he would have if it wasn’t for his Dad though…


Back into Oxford again on Tuesday night, this time to see Ride play at the Oxford Town Hall, a lovely venue that has previously hosted Smashing Conf. We could only get balcony tickets, which wasn’t the best view, and were denied drinks up there! Anyway, the music was wonderful. Supporting were The Soft Cavalry, a new band from Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, and her husband Steve Clarke. I’d seen them only a few weeks before at the Mirrors Festival at Camden’s Roundhouse, but this was a much larger venue and all the better for it.

Ride then played a blinder for a solid two hours, although missing out one of my favourite tracks of 2019, “Clouds of Saint Marie”. It’s a song that screams of summer, so maybe they thought it wasn’t appropriate, but I was a bit miffed.

Hicks Made pottery sale

Leigh’s pottery skills have come so far this year, and our house is starting to overflow with the fruits of her labours. On Thursday she held a sale, ranging from the early learning pieces, right up to her work of ‘now’ which I love. I bought a lovely pot for my desk to keep my Apple Pencil close at hand, and I love how the design reminds me of a rolling landscape.

One of Leigh Hicks ceramics, a small white vase shaped pot with an abstract black and white line design evoking a landscape

Weeknotes 30.11

30 Nov 2019

Hen Harrier over Otmoor at dusk

Finally getting back to some bird illustration

With the darker evenings, I’m finding it easier to sit down and do some personal illustration again. This week I did this painting of a Hen Harrier flying over Otmoor at dusk in Procreate. It was inspired on a photo I saw on the Otmoor Birding blog, and I wanted to to try something looser and with a different kind of light to my normal artwork. I find this kind of low light inspiring to see and very hard to do.


I’ve been in knee-deep in Statamic again this week, setting up a website for one of Resolve to Save Lives projects that currently uses Squarespace. The growth and new content of the site demands more flexibility, and Statamic is my go-to CMS for doing this.I’ve been working part time with Resolve since January, and it’s provided a welcome change. I’ve tended to do mostly do icon and identity projects in recent years, and while I still enjoy them, it’s great to be working on print and web projects again.

My part in Corbyn’s downfall

Our internet provider at the co-working studio sent us a warning email this week. An IP address at our account was being used to launch a Denial of Service (DoS) attack on Jeremy Corbyn’s website. It quickly became clear that my Mac Mini (that was being used as my Plex media server) had been appropriated by hackers. Needless to say, I was horrified to find out that I’ve been part of the problem with all my port forwarding fiddling.


It’s sorted now, but I need to rethink my Plex setup. I’m not keen on having to have the Mac Mini on as well as the drive where everything is stored (a Thunderbay RAID drive). It creates another layer where something can go wrong, and wonder whether I should move to a NAS drive? I also wonder whether it matters to me anymore to run a Plex server. I use it mostly for my music collection, and the ever-expanding library of family photos and videos. I don’t tend to use it so much for Movies and TV shows though – streaming services are so good these days, and it’s pain having to be a ‘server admin’. I did once try a hosted Plex server, which was a great ‘hands-off’ and reliable and fast solution, but also very expensive with a 8TB+ library. I’d love a solution that I could sync/upload to that didn’t require me to maintain a local server.

I’ve become one of THOSE

After 47 years on this planet, I left a (paper) cup of tea on the roof my car and drove off. I’d forgotten about it until I reached a roundabout and had to brake suddenly as someone cut me up. Then the tea fell off and down windscreen, leaving a a nice milky smear everywhere the wipers didn’t reach. I’m impressed that it stayed upright for half a mile though.

Rissington thing

As “John”: eludes to in his week notes we had an interesting offer concerning the podcast, that is both scary and exciting (for us anyway). More on that in the New Year!


I can’t stop playing New Hell, the album by “Greet Death”: that I mentioned in last week’s week notes. It’s going to be in my top three of the year, without question.

Looking forward to…

Next week, I’m seeing RIDE and The Soft Cavalry play in Oxford on Tuesday!

Weeknotes 22.11

22 Nov 2019

Weeknotes 15.11

16 Nov 2019

(Just like many others, I’m giving the idea of week notes a go)


Call Jon on +44 (0)7917 391536
Tweet @hicksdesign.

Alternatively, pop in for tea and cake at the studio…

Wenrisc House
Meadow Court
Witney, OX28 6ER
United Kingdom