Talent Spotters: Norwich UA

Over the course of this year’s degree show season, CR readers will be guest blogging reviews of shows up and down the UK (and beyond). Here, Bobby Burrage of Norwich design studio The Click visits the Norwich University of the Arts Graphic Design and Graphic Communication shows

Over the course of this year’s degree show season, CR readers will be guest blogging reviews of shows up and down the UK (and beyond). Here, Bobby Burrage of Norwich design studio The Click visits the Norwich University of the Arts Graphic Design and Graphic Communication shows

It’s 11 years since I was furiously spray-mounting, cutting, trimming and steaming through endless ink-jet cartridges in the early hours of the morning – all in preparation for my degree show. The result, of course, didn’t fully reflect the blood, sweat and tears that went in to producing what was adhered to these two 8 x 4 foot exhibition panels.

Before visiting this year’s NUA degree shows, I reminded myself of the paramount importance this single career-defining exhibition holds for each and every student. Some will get multiple job offers before the foam board displays are torn down next week. Some will have to attend dozens of interviews and, perhaps, endeavour to impress during several placements before finding the right agency or studio for them. And, of course, some just won’t make it in the design industry at all. Much of this fate depends upon what is on display during a single week in early summer. It brings back fond memories – the buzz, the fear, the excitement, the anticipation.

I focused my search on the third floor of the Gunton’s Building, which plays host to the Graphic Design and Graphic Communication exhibition. I’m pleased to report that there is a vast array of talent on display. And, here are my personal highlights:

Morgan Swain’s Classic Roald Dahl book jackets were a standout piece – a great idea, beautiful hand-drawn typography and intelligent execution.

Morgan’s book jackets were accompanied by three elegant packaging ranges: J2O fruit drinks, Batiste Dry Shampoos and Chocolu Mexican Sauces.


Anthony Blease also created packaging for a range of Mexican Sauces. A clever use of a paper wrap around the bottle sets this project on fire!


Alisa Barter‘s From His Royal Highness cake shop packaging demonstrated some well crafted typography and delicious packaging.


Mimi Van Helfteren‘s Carluccio’s pasta and pasta sauce packaging stopped me in my tracks – especially the advertising. Also, you must check out her packaging for Copella juice drinks on her website.


Sam Bristow-Bell‘s concept for Mikado biscuit sticks involved some very cool graphic characters, a brand story and an app to accompany it.


Jason Drake‘s identity for Latitude Festival was rather nice – particularly the map and mobile app. He also redesigned a popular triangular savory snack. How do you open yours?!


Nathan Whitmarsh created himself his very own monogram, which is used on his stationery and business cards, as well as some wonderful book jackets for Brothers Grimm fairy tales. The illustrations are fantastic – you need to get close up to appreciate them fully.


Matthew Callaby has already had a commission from Sony Music as part of their Brit Awards after-party invitation and collateral. Not bad before graduating hey?! Matthew’s illustration skills are very impressive, coupled with a good eye for production and finish.


Jacob Leslie‘s work quietly occupied the very far corner of the top floor studio. It demonstrates great thinking and, for a young designer, it pushes the boundaries of graphic design. In fact, he refers to himself as a graphic communicator. To start with, he created a mobile app, named Geographic, which tracks your journey using GPS and outputs info graphics visualising how the same journey may look ten years on – based on global warming forecasts and research. For example, part of your journey may be under water! This is a thought-provoking piece of work, which could easily be transferrable to many other issues.

This experimental approach was also evident by in an interactive typeface created by Jimmy Jarvis. Using a mobile device, you slide up and down four controls, allowing you to create infinite variables of the type – with varying colour, fragmentation and legibility. Seeing some fun and exploratory projects among the more conventional redesigns of breakfast cereal and olive oil was refreshing.


Jacob and Jimmy collaborated on the next-door project which allowed users to design their own record sleeve or music poster. In fact, play your favourite track, and allow the software to do it for you! The set up (pictured) creates a line-drawn pattern in front of your eyes.

I suspect we’ll be witnessing far more of this type of innovative project at NUA’s degree shows in years to come – which can only be a good thing. That said, I do love a classic old-school logo…

Luke Thompson‘s Worker Bee tea and coffee identity caught my eye – a strikingly simple and witty idea coupled with equally non-fussy execution. Likewise, the packaging would stand out on any supermarket shelf. Luke has also created some lovely packaging for Smoothie Safari children’s drinks.

A special mention should go out to the tutors at NUA – who continue to nurture great designers year-in-year-out.


See all the students’ work on the Norwich graphics degree show website here

Norwich University of the Arts (NUA)’s Degree Shows are on until 2 July, open from 10am until 5pm daily (closed Sunday).

Bobby Burrage is creative director at The Click.


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