For our Talent Spotters series, Gemma Germains of Well Made Studio in Liverpool picks her favourites from the Liverpool School of Art and Design show, including Dave Dodd’s response to the notorious bigots of the Westboro Baptist Church
We keep a close eye on the Liverpool School of Art and Design. It’s our old territory and somewhere down the line these students tend to become our staff and our competition.
It’s always struck me as a huge shame that students can’t present five years after graduation, when they’ve settled into themselves. Instead, we’re all supposed to make huge assumptions about raw talent.There was plenty of good work on display at this year’s degree show. There was even some great work but it’s hard to guess who, of this graduating year will re-emerge with a plan and a portfolio.
Here are the graduates I want to hear more about in the future.
Dave Dodd‘s God Hates Figs DIY protest kit complete with a cut-out loud hailer made sense and made me smile. As he describes it, “The Westboro Baptist Church are famed for their talent of putting bullshit slogans onto badly designed placards and slinging verses of fire and brimstone. This publication is a call to arms. A sort of ‘start your own protest’ kit to use in retaliation to the WBC by using humour rather than hatred.”
“One of the initial problems with this idea of using their nonsense as a way to get back at them is that frankly no amount of irony can make “God Hates Fags” “Jews killed Jesus” etc funny,” Dodd says. “That was of course until I realised that most of these slogans are one or two letter changes away from sentiments that are vaguely surreal yet just as batshit.”
Anyone who needs more from a campaign is a spoiled brat.
90’s inspired (aren’t they all?) illustrator Jessica Heaton has clearly got a great eye for colour and an already well established style to build on. Her giant banana prints are bold and beautiful but there’s real magic in her sketch books. Her MIA posters with the singer depicted as a hen, flower and beach ball (above) were particularly gratifying.
Matt Sharp‘s skateboard exhibition identity managed to convey all the key messages without reverting to tired skateboarding cliches. He nailed movement and energy with handpainted type. Sadly, I think he missed a trick by presenting alongside a plain white quarter pipe screaming to be painted.
Sweary Naomi Chevanne‘s close up calligraphy showed she’s clearly given colour and texture a lot of thought. Naomi’s work also reminded me as an established ‘creative professional’ what an odd situation these graduates must find themselves in.
Degree shows are a performance where the imbalance can be felt by those who have the power to hire and commission. Naomi’s takeaway print did a great job of deflating big egos (like mine).
Also by Naomi Chevanne, this Sad Clowns series was created by painting directly onto silkscreens, a process introduced to Naomi by illustrator Kate Gibb
Honestly, I’m glad this isn’t my degree show. As an industry, we know young talent has been exploited. This is the first generation who have to do more than complain about it. This generation have to come up with a workable alternative. Those who do will be the ones we all see more of in the coming years.
Gemma Germains @wellmadestudio