Gradwatch 2018: Creative Ieuan Lewis, Kingston University

Graphic Design graduate Ieuan Lewis is one of the 10 creatives we have picked to feature in our annual Gradwatch showcase; putting the spotlight on art and design graduates who we feel produce outstanding work

Posters for a proposed festival to celebrate the heritage of motor racing in Bexhill. The posters combine colour swatches from the Bexhill Museum and shapes inspired by the design of the Bexhill Seapollet car. A collaboration with Scott Coleman

Ieuan Lewis’s portfolio spans prints, furniture, textiles and animation. Projects range from a conceptual installation highlighting the gruelling conditions in sweatshops to a play mat that doubles as a literacy teaching aid and an animated film about an Inuit living in Alaska. His work demonstrates strong concepts and equally strong executions – showing a creative thinker who isn’t afraid to experiment with new mediums.

Creative Review: What sparked your interest in graphic design?
Ieuan Lewis: Growing up, art and design were the subjects I enjoyed and felt at home with. As a dyslexic, reading and numeracy came less easily but I loved films, comics and cartoons. It wasn’t that I wouldn’t have enjoyed reading – it just wasn’t really something I got on well with when I was young. I really enjoyed Herge’s Adventures of Tintin and I guess that the satisfaction I got from these more visual formats sparked my interest in visual communication and [later] in graphic design.

PIKS – a set of table legs that can be applied to any flat object to create a table. Created by Ieuan Lewis, Harry Hobbs, Jay Daniells and Charlie Jeffries

CR: Can you tell us a little about your approach to design and your work?
IL: I like to call myself a creative as that allows me to adapt and learn new things. The idea of not being able to try something new because I am labelled a ‘designer’ is something I find really limiting. If a project lends itself to a particular approach, I think it’s important to explore that avenue. It might not always be the right way to go about a project but in exploring a new technique or method, you will find something new that benefits and enriches your practice.

I enjoy experimenting with different styles [and tend] to gravitate towards imagery and tactile communication. I believe in accessible design – I think that great work can be produced without it being pretentious or difficult to understand. Whatever media I use, what matters is making a connection with my audience, grabbing their attention and stimulating their emotions in some way whether that’s making them happy, sad or even angry.

When It’s Hot it Makes Mistakes, a collaboration with James John Nuthall and Stephen Pelling. The project is a criticism of sweatshop conditions – a printer was set up in a hot and humid room and the resulting prints displayed together to show how excessive heat can cause malfunctions

CR: Who or what has been a particular source of inspiration to you? And where do you find inspiration for new projects?
IL: I have always found the collaborative elements of design extremely appealing as they allow me to work with a range of different creatives. This is something I have particularly enjoyed about the design course at Kingston as we work in teams, take on roles and solve problems.

I have been hugely inspired by the work of Aardman Animations – the eye for detail to tell compelling narratives is something I have always found really interesting. I have been able to draw influence from meeting some fantastic creatives from Wieden + Kennedy, Clapham Road Studios, Passion Pictures, Aardman, BMB and The Brothers McLeod.

I think it’s really important to try and meet and chat to people who have been working in the area that you are entering or interested in. For the short animation I am currently working on with a friend we messaged so many studios, arranged visits to chat and pick people’s brains. It was great to discover how many people were happy to help, giving us time and advice. Meeting other creatives and seeing their work and work spaces has been hugely beneficial. I think it’s really important not to believe that you are the one with all the answers.

Noah, a play mat and typeface to help young children learn letterforms. The project was inspired by Lewis’s research into visual learning techniques used by dyslexics. “I used my cousin’s handwriting as a starting point and tried to refine the way he uses form in his letters, by dissecting the lines and curves into colour coordinated parts: green for diagonal, red for vertical, blue for horizontal and yellow for curves,” explains Lewis

CR: What are your plans for the future now you’ve graduated?
IL: I am currently co-directing a short animated film called Uki. It’s a stop-frame animation about an Inuit living in isolation in Alaska, his world destroyed by an oil spill. I started working on this short as a self-initiated project in university with co-director George Warren. The project snowballed towards the end of university when the film was selected as one of 13 shorts commissioned by the Animation 2018 Programme by the BFI and BBC Four. We received a production grant to help us develop the film, which will be screened at BFI Headquarters in Southbank and shown on BBC Four later in the year.

As well as working on my short film with George, I am working as a designer and runner for Passion Pictures. I have been extremely lucky to get an opportunity to work at such an exciting studio with really good people on such a broad variety of projects.

A still from Ieuan Lewis and George Warren‘s forthcoming film, Uki

CR: You studied at Kingston – what do you feel you gained from your degree course? What was the most important thing you learned there?
IL: The most important thing about going to university for me was spending five days a week with my friends who are also really passionate and enthusiastic about learning new things and creative practice. Kingston was my first choice university and I was really attracted by the ideas-based approach in first year, which I think provides such a solid footing for future work. We were encouraged to share ideas and to not keep things to yourself which has really set me up well for the workplace. The best work is done collaboratively with really exceptional teams, so to have experienced that sort of collaboration at university is a real benefit going into industry.

CR: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given so far?
IL: If I was to choose one bit of great advice that has really resonated with me it would be the advice I received from architect Sir Richard Rogers, who designed the Pompidou Centre and other famous landmarks. I interviewed him for my dissertation and at the end of the interview, I asked him what advice he would give me as a young creative starting out. He told me to be very aware of my abilities and to find a workplace where I could fit in and where my abilities would be allowed to flourish. This advice has really made sense … as much as the quality of the work should always come first, I think working in a studio with really great people is just as important because of the creative energy this creates.; @ieuanlewisdesignMore from CR’s Gradwatch scheme here