I am a Graphic Designer who takes inspiration from the Doric spoken in North East Scotland. I have been fascinated with Doric since childhood. It started when my family relocated back to Aberdeen, having spent my pre-school years in the tropics of Papua New Guinea, speaking with an Australian accent. In the playground a classmate asked me, ‘Far de ye bide?’ and I was completely flummoxed – I believed they spoke a different language. I soon picked up the Scottish accent and an understanding of the Doric vernacular.

Having lived in many different locations, including PNG, London and Tanzania, I consider myself Scottish with a mix of cultural influences. When I lived in London, I had a diverse mix of friends from Mexico, Algeria, The Basque Country, Catalunya who were all keen to learn and practice their English, but Scots and Doric phrases got a bit lost in translation! I don’t believe you need to have a broad Doric accent yourself to have an appreciation of the dialect and an affinity for the language. For me, Doric gives me a sense of place and a connection to the North East of Scotland and the people. Much like the topography of the land or the design of the buildings can give that sense of belonging to others.

Whilst working for RGU’s Marketing Team, I came up with the idea of writing and designing an RGU Doric Dictionary to be used as a free gift for business travellers attending Offshore Europe, and as a student recruitment tool. I was astounded by how popular the book became and I spotted a gap in the market. I made a mental note and decided that if I published my own Doric book, it might do well. Most Doric books I had read, although the content was good, to me they were not that visually appealing. Using my graphic design skills, I wanted to create a visual Doric book with a contemporary, modern look.

I set up my own business, Bramble Graphics, in 2016, whilst on maternity leave, and wrote and designed my first book, “Doric for Beginners’. I also created a range of Doric merchandise, including greetings cards, prints, bags, coasters, stickers and badges to sell on Etsy and local design markets.

My most recent creative projects are a new children’s illustrated Doric storybook and a Doric Learning App. My new children’s book is called Flora the Foggy Bummer meets the Foostie-McNasties and is about a feisty bumblebee with magic powers who encounters a tribe of litter bugs. My Doric Learning App is still in the process of being created (somewhat delayed by Covid) and is still a work n progress.

I am already planning my next book, which will be about The Peely-Wally family – a Scottish family of hypochondriacs who have to deal with living through a pandemic.

In May 2020, I answered the creative brief set by the United Nations to ask designers and content creators to translate important public health messages into local communities. I instantly knew that the Government ‘Stay Home, Save Lives, Save the NHS’ would have the most impact in the North East if they were translated into Doric. The Doric Coronavirus posters I created reached 1.4 million people on my Bramble Graphics Facebook page and had 12,000 shares on my LinkedIn profile. An amazing response!

You can follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/bramblegraphics and view my Doric gift shop at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BrambleGraphics

Karen Barrett -Ayres 

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