In the first of our 2013 student show reviews, Pete Bastiman, until recently creative director at BJL, visits the Traverse Theatre to check out the work on display from the HND Visual Communication students at Edinburgh College. If you would like to review a show for us, or have your show reviewed, email firstname.lastname@example.org
So there I was, quietly going about my freelance business when The Drum called to ask if I'd like to review the 2013 show at Edinburgh College. I've been away from Edinburgh's advertising and design scene for five years, so Cameron Clarke at The Drum thought it would be good to get a fresh perspective on what's happening.
This could go two ways, I thought. I'll either be blown away by the high standard and have lots of great things to enthuse about and in the process people will think "what a nice guy, it's good to have him back". Or I'll struggle to find a good word to say and people will think "Who is Pete Bastiman anyway? Knob".
So let’s see which way it went. Am I safe to stay or am I on the first train back down to Manchester?
I'm pleased to say, and all those students exhibiting will be pleased to hear, that I thought overall the quality of work was of a high standard, with many standout pieces, which I will come on to soon. There was a lot of craft on show, attention to detail and the standard of finish was at a level I could have only have dreamed of when I was putting my final degree show together with rub-down Letraset and Pantone film that you peeled off. But that was 20 years ago. Technology and design has moved on, thankfully, and it showed here.
My only criticism, without risking being run out of town, would be that there was some style over substance. There was a lot of re-skinning websites, or applying a design to an app on a mobile phone, which looked nice, but will nice get you anywhere? Very rarely. I overheard someone say "ooh, I like the colour wash" which to me summed up what I mean. I wanted to see more ideas; they are what engage consumers whether in advertising, design or digital.
Talking of digital, I also felt much of the design was for print, which isn't a bad thing; I would have simply liked to have seen more design for web and more motion graphics, which feels more current. That's just my broad brush stroke of an overview. Overall, there was a lot of great work on show, including my top three, which are in no particular order.
Katy Johnson - 'The Type Boutique'
Katy's brief was to create and brand an inspirational occasion gift. Her love of typography led to the creation of a company and product 'The Type Boutique' that specialises in bespoke high quality, hand-crafted typographic products. I thought this was very current and immediately marketable, Katy could start making money out of this idea tomorrow. I thought it was well thought through, simple and beautifully executed.
Michal designed and named a magazine about Edinburgh creatives that featured local designers, illustrators, photographers and graffiti artists. Michal combined typography, editorial and branding to create a fully rounded piece of work that, as you walked into The Traverse, caught your eye immediately across the room. Michal was a graffiti artist for 15 years so has always been interested in typography, so it was no surprise that he created his own typeface for the magazine too.
Robyn looked at all the briefs and decided she didn't like any, so made one up. I liked this approach as it mirrors what you need to do once you enter into the big wide world - find something you like or are passionate about and it will show in your work, which it did. Robyn tackled fakery, a big issue in society and one that we just overlook and accept. Robyn told me she could have tackled it from either a positive point of view or a negative one. Research told her that fakery can be good because people can hide from reality, but it can also be bad and cause distress and harm. But instead Robyn just went for raising awareness and letting people make up their own minds. She also decided to use Channel 4 as a platform to advertise a four part series divided into four topics: history, politics, entertainment and documentary. So there you have my honest appraisal of the work on show. I think the future of Scottish advertising and design is looking rosy, with some future stars to watch out for. What was also really encouraging was seeing some of the industry's leading designers giving up their time to mentor, which I think is really important as it not only helps bridge the gap into the the real world, it means these guys get first dibs on the talent coming through and stops the students going south. Which is where I might have been heading had the work not been so good. You can see more images from the show on We Love Design, the college's graphic design course blog