Posted on November 10, 2009 · Posted in Personal

I’ve just launched another competition on 99Designs to develop a cartoon character that I’ll use to brand this blog. I just can’t bring myself to post a photo in the heading and I felt that a cartoon would be reasonable given that I’m already mixing work and personal stories in one place. The distinction is rather vague anyway.

Here is the design brief (see the site for the full details and attached images if you are keen on having a crack):

brief overview

I’m a Fellow at the Shuttleworth Foundation where I work on a bunch of projects all related to using technology to drive open education in South Africa. Projects like supporting communities of practice that share content online, developing open assessment banks of items to save teachers time and working with volunteers to write textbooks that are free and open.

I keep a blog related to all my projects and, contrary to popular wisdom, personal stories. I use categories to separate the two.

I can’t face using a “thoughtful” photo of myself as the headline image to my blog and a cartoon depiction would be more fitting, especially seeing as I’m mixing my personal and work blogs. I’m quite taken with this crowdsourcing idea so I’m here to try to get the cartoon made.

brand name

Mark Horner

target audience

The audience is the general public, a mixture of work related visitors, information seekers and those seeking personal updates. Some of the cartoon features will resonate with work related visitors and some will resonate with those interested in personal stories.


I want a cartoon that will ultimately be part of the header on this blog:

Cartoon content all clearly visible:

1) My cartoon self on a camping chair with a laptop (Lenovo T500 if it mattered ;)
2) A bottle and glass of red wine
3) A potjie on a fire in the background, this image captures the idea quite well:


Cartoon styles I like:…/final.jpg

I’m not tied to the style, but I’d like something that will scale down reasonably well, not to an icon size but possibly to fit on a business card.

I’ve attached some pics and sketch to help out. I’m not a designer so please use your own judgement as to the best way to include the elements and don’t feel you have to stick to the attached sketch – its just an idea.

The final files need to be in a vector format suitable for printing purposes as I may need to include it on printed media as well as png files for web-usage.

About the Author

Mark Horner is the CEO of Siyavula Education, a social enterprise working in the school sector in South Africa. While working as the Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow for Open and Collaborative Resources, Mark was able to transform the Free High School Science Texts (FHSST) project, which he co-founded, into Siyavula Education. In this process, openly-licensed, collaboratively authored textbooks have been printed and distributed nationally in South Africa. Working at the intersection of community, openness and technology; Mark intends to leverage this success to make Siyavula an innovative, technology provider in education that works effectively as part of the education community to ensure better learning opportunities for all. A recent notable event being the delivery of Siyavula's textbooks over Mxit, the most popular mobile chat solution in South Africa. Mark has a PhD in physics from the University of Cape Town and conducted his research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California on the results from the STAR experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. His work is carried out in the belief that the liberation of information and support of education in South Africa will lead to a peaceful and prosperous future for all South Africans.