Degree shows: Central Saint Martins Graphic Design

Gavin Lucas checks out the work on show at this year’s Central Saint Martins Graphic Design degree show. There will be more CR posts from degree shows throughout this week…

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Yesterday, after checking out the Kingston show in Shoreditch, I popped round the corner to have a squiz at Central Saint Martins Graphic Design degree show. Students on the course were clearly encouraged to explore various areas of design including illustration and photography. I liked what I saw so here are some highlights…

Henry Hadlow‘s The Golden Cockerel book (title page shown above) is an illustrated edition, he explains “of a gruesome Russian folk tale first written down by Pushkin. The illustrations reference the formal conventions of Indian miniature paintings and also the symmetry of Russian nesting doll illustration,” he continues. Here is a selection of spreads:


I really liked these posters by Carolina Andreoli which visualise personal data – such as food stuff’s eaten over a certain period – or relationship between friends and the places she met them.

“These four posters explore issues regarding the active user in music through time and the loss of a physical element in music collecting,” explains Matteo Peolo of these posters which make up his Tangible Object project. Note the graphic representation of vinyl bottom right and also the ones and zeros representing binary digital coding in the poster top left.

I’m not sure my photos do it justice – and I’ve seen this idea before, but Ellen Li’s Paper Lettering project caught my eye. Li had made letters out of strips of coloured paper but photographed them from such an angle as to replicate the thick down strokes made by a calligraphic pen. Here’s a detail:

Top marks to illustrator Dominika Lipniewska for turning her exhibition stand into a beacon of colour. Here’s a closer look at her work:

These three framed posters (above), which seemed to contain a jumble of illustrated typographic forms, drew me to the stand of Shotaro Ishii. I then found a concertina book full of illustrated type – with the contents of the illustration relating to a historic person, place or happening that begins with that letter. Here are some images (apologies for my poor photography):

Joo Hee Kim’s Salmon piece was created initially by producing linocuts – which were then scanned and manipulated using Photoshop. Love the framing – here’s a closer look:

The highlight of the show, for me, was the illustration work of Jianhui Li – whose illustrations of a little boy getting his hair cut really appealed…

Jamie Hearn’s Uniform and Livery project saw him separate logos from packaging – to explore how a brand is made up of both typography as well as colour and form…

Bjørnar Pedersen showcased his collection of shots of London Church signs in one huge print (above). Here are some details:

And finally… this portrait of Jarvis Cocker is by Brendan Olley – who had some cracking large scale photographic prints on show.

What I’ve rounded up here really is just the tip of the iceberg –- there’s a lot of great work on show – and much work that needs to be seen in the flesh, handled or viewed on screen that, for obvious reasons, isn’t best represented on a blog. The show is open through Sunday June 20 at Nicholls & Clarke, 3-10 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6PG.

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  • I’ll start off by saying I do like much of what has been shown here but – you knew it was coming – much of what has been shown is what I would call Illustration. The actual Graphic Design craft element and the craft of setting a page seems to be pretty much non existent. Maybe it is just that a beautiful poster will take the attention of most eyes over a well thought out layout or perfectly set piece of type,

    I’m sure though there is much more to the show than is shown inthis little snippet – if only I could get to London to see for myself I might not come across as such a moaner!

    The illustrations by Mr Hadlow, it must be said, have a lovely geometric quality to them.

  • Rob

    Shotaro Ishii is my new favourite thing. OW! So nice.

  • The show is also open Monday 21st, 12-4pm. And there is plenty of Graphic Design craft to be seen!

  • Hi CR Blog people,
    Would you be able to edit your post to add a link to my site:
    Handy HTML: Henry Hadlow
    You could also consider adding a link to the show catalogue:
    Many thanks!
    Henry Hadlow

    @Neil – I think you got it in one. My portfolio does include a wide range of work, but I picked this because I thought it would stand out, and with 176 students exhibiting, this becomes quite important! Typography is well taught at CSM, but I think many students were thinking along the same lines, and exhibiting more attention-grabbing things.

  • This degree show is so diverse, and the designs are so professional and well conceptualized. My favourite designer from the pieces above is Carolina Andreoli her simplistic minimalistic style mixed with a rainbow colour pallet is used to convey facts and data.

  • A highly polished degree show here. Some great work from Dominika Lipniewska, loving the Russian dolls

  • Matt

    Lets see the work of some other institutions’ graduates. There is some very nice work here (better than other years) but it is very predictable of CR to prioritise CSM.

  • shotaro ishii

    I am so pleased you to pick my works at csm degree show.
    I dont have website yet but when I am ready, I will put it down here.
    Thank you

  • Mark Sinclair

    Not all the shows begin at the same time, so if CSM starts early, then we’ll naturally go and see it early. We can’t really write about the shows that haven’t happened yet.
    Secondly, if you scroll down the front page, you might see that we have already been to a few other degree shows: Free Range Photography and Kingston’s graphics/photography and illustration/animation.
    Here are the links:
    I’ll be blogging about Wimbledon’s today and checking out Southampton Solent later. And we’re going to as many others as we can this week and next.

  • David W.

    i am assuming this article has suffered due to the subjectivity of the author (and you will probably argue the same of this post) but there is very little graphic design or typography of note on show. some nice illustration but little else. typographically the golden cockerel book and Shotaro Ishii’s book are lacking even the most basic of principles.

    there is nothing new or particularly exciting to see in any of the examples in my opinion. i rather like the church signage but photographic collages of signs is hardly a revelation. my favourite of the bunch has to be Carolina Andreoli’s series of prints but once again it has all been done many many times before.

  • Tony M

    @ Matt

    Why bother writing about other colleges when they’re shit?

  • James

    Im guessing Tony M went/goes to CSM

  • Tim S

    Accomplished work on the whole, but I don’t see anything here that isn’t already in existence out there in the commercial world. One could pretty much go through these examples and say “This is in the style of so and so”. Presuming this is the best stuff of the show, I’d say CSM has lost its way a bit over the years judging by this selection alone (I haven’t been to the show, so I’m punting here). It now seems to be pushing its students to emulate what is already dominant, rather than rejecting it and setting a new agenda. That’s what CSM was always about. That’s how it got a reputation as a hothouse for slightly dysfunctional but highly original idiot savants.

    Its good work, some of it is really lovely, but its not knocking anybody over with the shock of the new in my humble opinion.

  • I left feeling a little disappointed, there was definitely some great work on show (a lot of it included in this post), but I felt quite a few pieces missed the mark through (seemingly) lazy production or a lack of attention to detail.

    Most of what impressed me was in the illustration section. Although not in the illustration section (but leaning heavily towards illustration), I would say Shotaro Ishii’s work was some of the most interesting in my opinion. He was selling small concertina books of his illustrated alphabets too, great stuff!

  • The Jotta degree show directory is now featured on our site. Including Camberwell College of Arts along with many more across the country. Check it out.