Continuing our series of degree show reviews, Thompson Brand Partners designer Ash Spurr checks out the work on display from the BA graphic design graduates at Leeds College of Art.
"This is Not the End” is the confident and enticing name for this year’s Leeds College of Art end of year exhibition. With the College's reputation as a leading exponent of talent in art and design, expectations of this year’s graduates were certainly going to be high.
It was my first visit to the Leeds College of Art so I approached the show with an open mind and few preconceptions of what I would see. I am pleased to say the show was extremely well managed, with a fantastic poster campaign across the city, promotional collateral sent out well in advance and some helpful, gimmick-free signage throughout the show.
The majority of the work on display consisted of typography design, branding, and illustration, curated well between two rooms. It was clear that many of the students had really embraced the excellent print facilities at the college.
On viewing the work exhibited, it was a tough decision as to who deserved exposure from the show, and it was certainly a close call in some instances. The students I have selected as my own highlights demonstrate inquisitive minds, good technical skills and attention to detail - all of which are important qualities in practicing graphic design. Listed below are some of my personal highlights:
Eddie's work did its job immediately, both as well-produced vinyl sleeves and as a piece of work demonstrating his exceptional grasp of shape and colour. The sleeves didn't really need any explanation; they were well displayed, simple and typographically interesting, too. Sometimes keeping things simple and doing it really well is more than enough.
I would defy anyone to have ignored Yafet's Fontopoly project at this year's show. Another simple idea done very well, Fontopoly has all the hallmarks of a great personal project. The attention to detail and a commitment to typographic restraint are the merits of this work. With laser cut letters, wooden etched box packaging and a good sense of humour, Fontopoly was thoughtfully executed and well displayed.
The impulse for students to design their own display font is common, however Simon Cherry's Marina font was the standout for me. Inspired by typography featured on the side of yachts, Simon's Marina font was well screen-printed and demonstrated a good eye for colour as well as typography.
It was clear that this year’s graduates had paid attention to the details, explaining and presenting their work in a well-considered way that reflected well on the tutors in the high standards set. What did strike me as missing from the work on display, however, was a distinct lack of digital projects, which was a shame considering the potential for experimentation with technology and current expectations from clients to approach projects with digital outputs in mind.
Overall, students really seized the opportunity to show their work off in the best possible way. The students I selected are my highlights from what was a very strong show and served as an exciting starting point for the young new graduates. It is difficult to sum up the excitement and anticipation of an end of year show so I will do it using the students’ own words featured in promotional literature: for them, "this is just the beginning".
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