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I didn't choose this lifestyle. It chose me.


Welcome to my blog. Instruct is the design agency of graphic designer John Owens, based in Central Manchester.

My main work site can be found here:


Long time… no type!

Rant Posted on Tue, September 01, 2009 11:24:46

I’ve just realised it has been over 1.5 months since my last blog post, whether anyone reads this or not that amount of time is way too much!

But in my defense for the last month I have been in China and Japan, so now I’m back and raring to go with my new purchased robots and lots of print work. Over the coming week i’ll upload some print that I have found and try to keep things a little more regular.

Manchester Procession

Rant Posted on Tue, July 07, 2009 14:51:46

I had the pleasure of attending the Manchester Procession at the weekend, curated by Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller. Celebrating a modern mix of people and culture that make up Manchester the whole thing worked really well. Marches included boy racers from Stockport, Big Issue sellers and Manchester’s forgotten landmarks.

More information and on going exhibition Manchester Procession

New York

Rant Posted on Wed, April 15, 2009 13:22:53

Managed to attend the opening party for Urbis’s new exhibition ‘New York’ last week. As the title suggests the gallery has opened up its space to native New York artists from all disciplines. Some of the interactive sound installations were great fun and the night went very quickly due to the free whisky (yes whisky, no beer!)

Check out the exhibition details here

New York

Rant Posted on Wed, April 15, 2009 13:22:36


Rant Posted on Sun, March 01, 2009 20:29:49

I wonder when this will stop?

Safari 4

Rant Posted on Fri, February 27, 2009 16:39:53

Well it’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything due to work, home and the new Safari 4 Beta playing up on me. You would think apple would really test it to the extreme before going public beta but alas no. You cannot view hotmail, it locks out so a pretty big flaw there and for some strange reason you have to click a few times for things to become responsive. Hopefully they will have this all ironed out soon enough and if you want to have a dabble yourself I’m sure you know where to go but if not

Apple Safari 4 Beta

Invaders Must Die

Rant Posted on Mon, February 23, 2009 11:01:38

One thing that any iconic band in my view should have is iconic record sleeves. From the Beatles revolver to Hendrix’s Experience record sleeves introduced me to the world of graphic design. The early tDR warp sleeves, Mark Farrows legendary Deconstruction records work and Me Companys early CGI collages were snapped up as soon as a new release came out regardless of the music. I still proudly have my record collection on show, thousands of 12″s and limited editions from so many bands and so many legendary designers.

So when it comes to legendary bands releasing new albums the artwork is a key element and when the Prodigy release a new album its a must. I’m a massive Prodigy fan and could attribute the band for introducing me to loads of electronic music and influencing my work when studying art/design. Their iconic Music for the Jilted Generation sleeve summed up the country’s youth in 1994, rebelling against the newly installed Criminal Justice Act and the music also reflected this with the anthem ‘Their Law’, a two-fingered assault on the powers that be. Rolling off the back of massive festival gigs and hit records the Prodigy unleashed album number 3 and their finest moment, The Fat of The Land. The Sleeve for this was designed by talented XL Recordings in-house designer Alex Jenkins. Alex has already designed some great sleeves for the label but his iconic crab image for the album fitted perfectly and became a symbol for the band. 

The crab was a master stroke, the album was hard hitting, twisted and totally anti-pop and Alex used an image far removed from the dirty-style graphics emerging around 1997. It would of been easy to use images of war, guns and power to represent the music but he chose the option of a striking image with minimal text and importantly a small band logo.

His artwork for the singles, Firestarter, Breath & Smack My Bitch Up were also as striking, complimenting the album as a set.

Which brings me to 2009 and the release of the Prodigy’s 5th Album, Invaders Must Die. A long time has passed since the Firestarter days, they have sold 16m albums worldwide, released a less successful follow up and nearly split up in the process.

More importantly they have left XL Recordings and are now on their own label, so you would think more quality control.


I had the first glimpse of the Prodigy’s new artwork a few months ago and I thought it may of been a quick mock up but how wrong was I.

Gone is the iconic album sleeve, the iconic image and hook, in with the Guns and War! This new design and direction is everything that shouldn’t be on a Prodigy sleeve for so many reasons. 

I have had a listen to the album and if anything it reeks of nostalgia, retro and a band who are back on form. The artwork just does not represent the music at all, It seems lazy and badly thought out considering the heritage of Prodigy artworks. Using the ‘Banksy’ style effect and cliche images of war and destruction the artwork seems to have been rushed out. 

The album is out today and to me is one of their finest efforts to date, it’s just a shame the artwork does not match the great legacy of Prodigy covers from the past.

The Prodigy

Invaders Must Die E-Flyer

Insect Design


Rant Posted on Fri, January 23, 2009 10:24:21

Well I think you would have to have been living under a rock, or in a cave to have not had the images of Obama beamed into your home this week. I say cave maybe Osama has a slingbox set up so he can catch his favourite shows and watch his speech when In hiding. Of course that bit was me just being silly as Satellite Wi-Fi costs a fortune but It has been Obama overload of late. Like the majority of people I’m really positive about his appointment and It’s been interesting to see how graphic design has played a massive part in spreading his message, most notably the very iconic poster designed by Obey.

But of course with any historic event there is always someone trying to cash in with fake posters and even an Indonesian look-a-like but this had me in stitches…

Yes this is for real, the Obama Action Figure™ make a real change in the world by changing his posable arms for a Samurai sword! 

I love Japanese toys and my office is adorned with Kubricks and other goodies but this is a bit much for my shelves.

Buy Here

London v.2

Rant Posted on Tue, January 13, 2009 13:14:10

4 hours broken sleep, It’s far too busy here and I’ve got toothache! Still I’m going to Barcelona this weekend so I can take some more grimness.

So I’ve been here a few days and felt compelled to post about a place I’ve wanted to eat at for ages. It’s called Wahaca and is strangely located bang in the centre of London in Convent Garden, mostly near all the touristy places. It was voted best cheap eat in the UK by the Observer last year and after spying on the menu a few times I’ve been chomping to go. Well I can safely say I was not disappointed and would recommend it to anyone, great food, atmosphere and some really nice branding.

All of the food is locally sourced, even materials in the restaurant is reclaimed and it has an overall modern feel with excellent Mexican beers. 

Anyway I found the menu idea was great as it doubled as a sort of newsletter, really nice uncoated stock and designed by Burocreative

Have a look next time your around that area


Wahaca Menu/Newsletter Pdf


Rant Posted on Sun, January 11, 2009 14:06:24

Well I’m packing my bags and off to London for 2 weeks working and I’m not sure exactly what projects I’ll be working on. It seems commonplace for people to spend a period working at our head office in London when they start with the agency so should be fun. I used to work in Farringdon for an Architects 3 years ago, I still lived in Manchester and would travel down for certain projects so happy to be able to come back (and go back to sunny Manchester of course).

So anticipating all this I bought myself a new suitcase, one that wont fail on me like so many others had. I’m actually excited about using it sad as that is, all those pockets and clips just have to be used so I’m stuffing everything in it! I think the excitement stems from going to Thailand last year and living out of my backpack or maybe It’s just a man thing?

Still its a nice peice of kit and design was conceived in partnership with Belgium product design agency Maximaldesign

Samsonite Freeminder

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