Brighton Graphic Design & Illustration 2012

The University of Brighton’s Graphic Design & Illustration BA Degree Show is on show in London this weekend, giving us London-based folks the chance to check out some great work from this year’s graduates. Here’s our pick of the exhibition.

small_0.jpg - Brighton Graphic Design & Illustration 2012 - 4506

The University of Brighton’s Graphic Design & Illustration BA Degree Show is on show in London this weekend, giving us London-based folks the chance to check out some great work from this year’s graduates. Here’s our pick of the exhibition.

First up are two elaborate sculptures from Emily Frances Barrett, who was on the Illustration course.

Here’s a detail of the work above:

There were a number of other appealing installations as part of the exhibition. I particularly liked Zoe Landry‘s work, which included this piece, titled The Endless Forest, which contained a 3D forest world displayed within a wooden structure.

Landry, who was also on the Illustration course, also displayed this mix of small sculptures and screenprints.

Matt Chandler, a Graphic Design graduate, presented this installation of his work, which included a number of balloons featuring his contact details, a nice touch.

Nadine Shaban (Graphic Design) displayed a striking set of images inspired by the Egyptian revolution.

Sarah Julia Clark (Illustration), who works under the name Studio Her, created this set of posters exploring contemporary feminism.

Michael Hillman (Graphic Design) is showing a set of lecture posters titled Science or Alchemy.

Alex Wells (Illustration) is showing work with a maritime feel:

Hugo Evans (Graphic Design) has a set of bold screenprinted posters on display:

Mia Warner (Graphic Design) is showing a piece of arresting (if somewhat menacing) calligraphy:

Lucy Kirk (Illustration) draws on her former life as a farmer’s daughter in a set of small sculptures and drawings.

Jon Taylor (Illustration) is also showing a mix of illustration and sculptures, as well as some books.

We finish up the round-up with a set of paintings by Tom Matthews. More of his work can be seen here.

The University of Brighton show is at Netil House, 1-7 Westgate Street, London, E8 3RL all this weekend. You can also view the graduates’ work online at

  • James

    I love this series of posts – it was a great idea opening it up to the readers

  • bede

    Art seems to be taking over design. I was always under the impression that design was centred around an eventual function. I can’t help but feel that self-indulgent work is becoming an increasingly frequent response by many of today’s graduates. Granted, this is graphic design and illustration (illustration being extremely popular at the moment) and most of the serious graphic design responses may have been omitted from this post in favour of ‘what’s hot’, but if this is an accurate cross section of a whole course it seems that there are going to be a whole lot of students untrained in what they may have initially set out to learn.

  • Charlie

    I completely agree with bede’s comment above. I’m a big fan of this course and its graduates but it’ll be interesting this year to see who gets blogged about and who ends up getting the jobs.

  • Some really standout work on this post Brighton – well done!

    After looking at a range of these posts visiting various design shows it’s clear that what ends up on here is determined by what the poster thinks will look visually interesting on the blog and what they can capture in one image.

    I’ve always really questioned the point of degree shows as they generally are done for the majority of graphic design students. I always question them as a way of judging the actual quality of a course and it’s graduates – most design is not ‘designed’ to be exhibited. Complex projects where research, analysis, experimentation, prototyping, evaluating stakeholder response etc lead to a multi-platform or service design outcomes that often fall flat in the exhibition environment. They’re too dense for the passer-by to absorb. The more instant, playful stuff (that may not really be that useful) works better.

    I think it’s time for design courses to really reconsider and come up with new ways with how they provide a window into the practice of their graduates. Industry should and could be much more involved perhaps…

  • pud

    Bede stay in the past!
    you’d better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone cos the times they are a changing well done all of you for being brave and talented.

  • Nawar N.

    SERIOUS ? That’s best pick ?!

  • Vanessa

    I saw the show in Brighton and it was full of work like that shown here.
    Modern, exciting, conceptually strong – but where is the actual graphic design?
    I wonder how these graduates will cope in the real world of designing to a brief and fulfilling your clients needs/desires over your own…
    Should education serve industry or is university the only place where designers get to be selfish about the work they produce?

  • HI everyone,

    This is Jake and Laura from the University of Brighton Graphics and Illustration, currently sitting in the shop at our exhibition at Netil House, London Fields. We think some interesting points have been raised, particularly that questioning the role of an art degree in result of job prospects, as well as observations of often self indulgent practises. As a year group we are very self aware of our practises and their development over the course of three years as well how we might go about fitting them within a commercial context. We are also aware that these practises are in a state of progression and are yet to be fully formed in terms of the reality of the commercial world.

    Our show is named ‘Now What’ to explore the uncertainty of graduating students attempt to bridge the void between our University bubble and the creative industry. Aware of the lack of comment displayed and encouraged by other graduates shows we have based our catalogue around curating a selection of articles that explore these topics of discussion, in conjunction with an evening of discussion which will be taking place tonight from 7PM – 9PM. We hope to be raising the issues that have been discussed in these posts and would like to extend the invitation to anyone reading this and anyone at CR to come and question the future of creative industry we are about to enter. Please check the link below for details of speakers and some of other topics we hope to discuss but we will also be leading a discussion of the all the points raised in this thread as well.

    Hope to see there. Now what?

  • @DarrenRaven

    Well put! Agreed.

    Always found it strange exhibiting. It was never the intention to exhibit the work, and then the work suffers from it because it doesn’t fit into the exhibition scenario.

    Fellow students have even purposely thought out projects to be exhibition friendly. It’s distracting.

  • Joe

    A question for Bede’s comment, what constitutes serious graphic design?

  • Ex-Brighton Graduate

    You can’t really comment on the work without an understanding of the original brief – it doesn’t often look like commercial work because it hasn’t been diluted and bastersized by a committee.

    University is all about pushing boundaries and challenging convention – a degree show that looks ready for the working world is a shit degree show.

  • nanette

    Having worked as a professional designer in the 80’s and now as an adult Ed art tutor I do feel there is a fine line in education between being ready for industry but having an opportunity to really explore your individualtity without full industry constraints while at Uni.

    From my experience the client is seldom art/design savvy but unfortunately has control of the budget and effectively your artistic balls. It is so, so important as the designer to be able to hold on to the essence of the big idea and make compromises while still keeping it visually coherent and fit for purpose. If you are not encouraged in that freedom while at college and only design within the limitations of the known or accepted – originality will be lost. Personally I think the culture of discovery is being lost in this risk adverse society.
    Surely the class of degree awarded reflects the students professional industry understanding and being able to use the specific technology skills with sophistication?

  • You are a carpenter

    and who you are

    is your chisel.

    Now make me a fancy stool.

    Just how I want it,

    and I’ll give you £50.

    No sculpture.

    Good luck Grads. Go for it!

  • I couldn’t disagree with you more Ex-Brighton Graduate. The idea/position that a college course and it’s subsequent degree show is the last chance for graduates to produce and then show their last gasp experimental, free work (and therefore better work) before they’re shackled by the drab, grey, uncreative practice of industry is lazy thinking.

    It’s lazy teaching too if that’s your approach. I can’t think of anything that could undermine a graduate’s confidence more than leaving college from a bubble where everyone thinks your practice is great and then being faced with the actual reality of most design practice and design companies etc who have no idea of how to employ you or your skills.

    I think it’s a false dichotomy to separate college learning and real world practice in this manner.

    From looking around there’s a growing movement of interesting events/activities etc occurring in and around a lot of degree shows – activities intended to facilitate dialogue and spaces for people to share and engage with the spaces between education & industry. This is what I’m thinking is more important to look into and develop rather than hold onto the art school degree show.

    It’d be interesting to see design courses shed the end-of-year degree show format and develop the talks/discussion, workshops, shops, events and other entrepreneurial aspects that really show the skills and understanding of 21st century communication design graduates.

  • Rachel Campbell

    I’d just like to give a shout out to the Graphic Design course at The Edinburgh College of Art.

    The course had lots of industry input over all 3 years, with visiting designers and companies setting projects for students and offering industry feedback every term. We had a very varied course which gave us the skills to go down a number of routes – from the handcrafted of printmaking, calligraphy and letterpress to computer classes in Dreamweaver, After effects, In Design, Illustrator and Final cut pro.

    We were given the tools of our craft in our first year, and spent the next 2 years honing these skills and choosing which route to utelise in answer to briefs. In my final year we were given the option of doing a personal project for 5 weeks or doing 2 industry briefs over 5 weeks. I chose the aformentioned and worked with Emperor and Elmwood on projects they set, visiting them for the brief, for a pitch of my work and a crit of the final piece. Earlier that year the whole class had already taken part in an industry brief for a cashmere retailer which resulted in commissioned work for a number of years after for a few of us.

    The year we graduated the tutors decided to set up 4 class agencies with a mix of year groups and a graphic design agency parent to advise and help each team, who worked on real projects by taking on freelance work they found. It not only gave students the chance to meet and network in real agencies but get a feel for working in teams and working at different levels within. A real success that has continued to be part of the course.

    There is a real balance of play, experimentation and pushing yourself as well as reigning it in and subscribing to a brand and brief. Our degree show had a mix of talent and work, one person had purely handprinted and crafted work whereas another had used the computer for all of their work – we really had free reign to answer briefs and choose the briefs we wanted to focus on.

    I think the Tutors clearly have a great relationship with the Edinburgh Design Agencies and utelise this to its students advantage and long may it continue.

    Thanks to Zoe, Mary, Jeanette, Mike W, Mike I and Derek.

  • Well Rachel, that’s a pretty unnecessary shout out.

  • bede

    The perceived integrity of a creative concept (by both the designer and audience) is, in my opinion, completely different to the function of a creative concept. An outcome should, above all, answer a brief. If you think that doing work for a real client will bastardise ‘pure’ and ‘untainted’ ideas you must be doing it wrong.

    Designers are problem solvers. Simple. We work on a brief to deliver the best possible solution to our client’s needs. We work both for the client and for ourselves. We want to create great work for the client, and great work for ourselves. If we take a live brief and create a self indulgent response that fails to take into account the client’s needs, are we doing our jobs properly? Personally, I don’t think so…

    It seems that the have blogs barraged us with so much purely aesthetically-focused work that design schools now feel the need to focus on concept above all else in order to appear forward thinking. Where does this leave the students? Where will this leave design in a few years? Universities have a responsibility to teach the fundamental fact that a designer’s purpose is to fulfil a brief, and it seems that they are not doing this.

    If a designer can’t design what are they, an artist?

  • Geofff

    bede your judgement is purely based on a selection of work pulled from it’s original context and placed within a commonly aesthetic orientated environment. If a designers purpose is to fulfil a brief than how can you criticise work without knowing the brief in which it manifested itself from. Surely this is an issue in the way these shows are documented rather than the education received on the course itself. Darren Raven also states a valid point, there is a need to re-consider the context in which we showcase the work from the Design and Illustration courses. More often than none these shows become wallpaper like and there is often a large number of moving image work that is rarely ever showcased.

    I feel your views of design education are narrow minded and some what bitter. A universities responsibility isn’t just to provide the fundamentals of a discipline but also to nurture the creativity of it’s students even if that sometimes means catering for their interests in self indulgent practises. Such practises allow for experimentation without the limitations of a set brief. I feel that these outcomes begin to shape a more interesting visual and conceptual language that is vastly more original then say a student who spends the majority of their time experimenting within the tight limitations of commercially orientated briefs. The last thing we want is a selection of students that spend three years working towards the same language that we will find 1000’s of other students already speaking, and if ways to avoid that include a blur between the lines of art and design and other disciplines then so be it. Students are tapping in to these cross disciplines because their ability to understand it’s commercial viability is more matured than that of the student twenty years ago.

    To assume that these students now have an inability to answer a brief without producing a self indulgent response is idea based on viewing this ‘non serious design’ within these ‘barraging blogs’. This is seems to be you failing to widen your scope in which you source your ‘serious design’ Your views on these cross overs are purely defeatist, where you should be excited about the possible work surfacing from these new hybrid disciplines, it’s about time we saw some change.