Alan Early

Alan Early | Design

As a graphic designer, I see myself as a storyteller, telling stories with both images and words. I have just graduated from NCAD with a first class honours in Moving Image Design, and previously completed a degree in the National Film School IADT. I’ve designed work for a wide range of clients, directed short films, and have written books, and I’ve had work shortlisted in the IDI Graduate Design Awards, the Irish Book Awards and Darklight Film Festival. At the root of all that I do is my deep love of stories and idea generation.

Project 1 | Confab

Social Media is complicated. On the one hand, the negatives of social media use are evident all around us; it helps to spread misinformation, it’s harmful for mental health and it encourages shallow connections. However, there is one major advantage; it allows us to keep in touch with friends and family.

Confab encourages users to get off social media and to foster those relationships in a deeper and more meaningful way. Every day, it offers a different ‘Confab’, a conversation starter that could be about anything from your favourite book to the meaning of life. One thing links these conversations; they can’t be carried out over social media and thereby asks users to embrace having a one-to-one chat. Using soothing gradients throughout the design and a minimalist layout, Confab offers little distraction and zero clickbait.


Project 2 | Fadó

Like everything else, the art world has been hugely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Focusing on one specific area of Irish arts – children’s literature – Fadó (Irish for ‘Once Upon a Time’) allows teachers and parents to connect directly with children’s authors. It gives those authors a platform to host online events, and for the booking of in-person events in the future. And most importantly, it gives children the chance to discover new Irish authors, and to keep in touch with all their favourites.

Fadó is a one-stop shop for Irish children’s literature, with separate platforms for kids and grown-ups. With a bright colour palette and simply illustrative touches, it’s focus is entirely on fostering a love of reading in Irish children.


Project 3 | Patch

The Covid-19 Pandemic has been stressful but for no group of people more so than frontline workers. Briefed with helping frontline workers de-stress, I asked myself how I’ve eased tension during the past year. It’s often said that laughter is the best medicine and it certainly has been for me of late. There is even proof that laughter helps to de-stress, boosts the immune system and releases endorphins.

Patch uses laughter as a mindfulness technique. Rather than encouraging breathing exercises, it encourages laughter. Users will find short curated comedy clips – available as both video and audio for people on the go – that will give them a laugh just when they need it. It has the ability to watch with friends and you can tailor the type of comedy you prefer by giving ratings. Unlike traditional streaming apps, it removes the stress of finding something to watch by also offering a random clip feature. You can also download and share clips with colleagues, for a stress-free laugh.


Project 4 | Uphill Struggle


Tasked with creating a still life self-portrait using objects, I decided to do something a little unusual for a still life. I made it move.

As a motion designer, I wanted to incorporate some small motion into my piece. The gift unwrapping but quickly wrapping itself up is a photograph of me. It indicates my hesitancy to give away much of my personality whenever I meet someone new.

Every element represents some part of my personality, and not always how it might first appear. The chocolate cake does not stand for a sweet tooth but a love of books – and the book that made me a reader in the first place, ‘Matilda’. The ring is my idea of normal life. I wear it every day, except for the duration of the pandemic. When I put it back on, it will feel like life is back to some normalcy.


Project 5 | Paradise for the People

I am a designer that is very comfortable working digitally but when faced with a brief to challenge myself, and to do something that I have always wanted to do, I decided to create a piece completely by hand.

I have always been fascinated by North Korea; the history, the story of survivors, and the often bizarre accounts you hear from inside the Hermit Kingdom. Using North Korean design as my influence, I designed a poster that at once celebrates the ideology of Juche while criticising the failings of the North Korean government. It’s a collage of Paektu Mountain – a regular feature in North Korean design – designed using items and clippings that hint at the hypocrisy of the regime;
rotting greenery, broken electronics. I lettered by hand – something I wouldn’t normally attempt – using references from some North Korean design books.