DJCAD Degree Show Picks

Degree Show is the biggest, most flamboyant event in the calendar of any art or design student. I was lucky enough to exhibit at this year’s record breaking DJCAD Degree Show, alongside a very talented class of 2018. Though I spent most of my time during the show in the Social Digital 18 exhibition space, I did find time to sneak off and enjoy the rest of the show. Here’s a few of my favourite finds;

Graphic Design

The class of Graphic Designers this year has consistently been one to watch. Strong pieces of editorial design paired with colourful, fun “RGB” social nights made sure that the small collective of designers caught the attention of many throughout DJCAD. Exhibiting in a space accented with deep blue walls, the group showed personal projects consisting of videos, animations, posters, tickets, editorial pieces and much more. The work of two designers in particular stuck in my mind during my brief look.

Stuart Butler’s work was tucked in a corner, which had its own atmosphere of calm, amongst a room which was often popular with spectators and had characteristic creaky floorboards. Stuart’s work consisted of an exciting, playful animation for GiffGaff; the concept of a travelling jukebox displayed through hand drawn, colourful moving shapes set to time with upbeat backing music. The designer’s second piece of work was truly unique. High contrast posters adorned the walls, advertising an exclusive, secret music and arts event in the most hip of venues – abandoned railway tunnels near Glenfarg. The concept of utilising such a space to attract young music and arts fans and create a community around such events was intriguing, and the story being told so well through dramatic photography and strong branding made it feel completely real. I’ll be first in line for a ticket to the first intimate gig there! Thirdly, Stuart Butler showed what can only be described as doing the near impossible – taking a bouldering publication and making it beautiful. The Graphic Designer also boasts a stunning photography portfolio, from portraiture, to landscapes and even a splash of street photography. His bouldering publication played on this skill, with clean, classy pages displaying not only elegant text (with words from Francis Sanzaro) but also floods of light images of the rough natural detail of rocks in the wilderness.
You can see Stuart’s multi-disciplinary portfolio on his website, and see regular photography updates on Instagram.

Fabio Maragno is a well known name in the art school, as he has not only produced wonderful Graphic Design, but was also Creative Director of the University magazine, The Magdalen. I want to say that Fabio’s work “shouted” minimal beauty at the show, but it didn’t shout, that’s too loud a phrase. It grabbed attention subtly and whispered soft tones of clean and elegant, yet powerful design. A monochrome space was accented by a touch of soft sandstone colour through the Untitled x Scotland publication. Printed on tactile GF. Smith papers and hand bound with copper staples, the magazine showed off the very best of Fabio’s layout design, alongside photographs of primarily rural Scottish landscapes, all by Scottish photographers. My favourite aspect to this publication was that as the first page was turned, a striking green panel page on it’s own was revealed, crediting each photographer. Attention to such design detail and beauty further than just typographic layouts is a prominent feature in Fabio’s work, and ran through all of his pieces shown at Degree Show. As well as designing for print, the designer created an online curation platform of every day objects through a live website which acted almost as an online exhibition showing strangers’ favourite objects. Taking the idea of minimal ways of living, the project made me think about how to curate my every day life and the objects that featured in it.
Fabio persues “beauty as a form of clarity” through not only his personal folio, but also through a refreshing curation project – Untitled.

 

Interior & Environmental Design

The newest member of the Social Digital family, Interior & Environmental Design (IED for short) practice human-centred design in the spaces around us and the objects within them. Their space at Degree Show was, like ours, designed by them. Impressive, yet practical wooden structures accented by vibrant yellow acryclic squares played host to finely made scale models of environments ranging from rehabilitation centres to railways, paired with thick workbooks showing thoughts and ideas come to fruition.

The work of Madeline Ellis, “DENSITY”, which featured some of my favourite visual imagery from the whole of Degree Show, aimed to look at how social housing could be provided in Dundee, in a modern way within the Dens Road Market. The designer used old monochrome images with splashes of strong red hues to tell the story of a proposed social housing scheme which provided more than just shelter for those who need it; it considered conveniences such as shops and even cinemas. Such a socially-centred concept, shown through such striking visuals (Madeline had gone as far as to screenprint cool posters) made this one of my top picks from the IED show.

 

Fine Art

Fine Art is one of the most popular spaces to view at the Degree Show year in year out, and it’s easy to see why. One of the biggest departments, there are often countless varying projects to peruse, set over many tucked away locations across the art school. Lately, Fine Art has seen a shift in style; contemporary issues are being bound in to the work of artists, resulting in pieces which really shout about the state of our society and stray away from the traditional. However, one of the pieces amongst the Fine Art show that caught my eye most was, in ways, very traditional.

Walking into a space and being greeted by soft pink walls is not something (as a tomboy) that I’d expect to like. In the case of Ciara Neufeldt‘s Degree Show space though, I was immediately charmed. The artist sat at a beautiful hardwood table, which I had excitedly seen being constructed during my days in the workshop working on Uachdar. Light wood stained with a very dark oil resulted in a table which played on the natural curves and flows of wood grain, contrasted with a touch of the industrial through metal legs. Around the pink space were shelves filled with wonderfully curved ceramics; from bowls, to cups, to teapots and spoons. Each pottery piece was painted in vivid colours with thick paint strokes depicting colourful patterns. The whole space was overwhelmingly happy and bright, with natural light spilling in and illuminating the careful craftsmanship of the ceramic collection.

 

Textiles

Had I had more of a fashion sense, I’d have loved to have pursued a career as a textile designer. The opportunity to work with hundreds of fabrics, each with their own character and printing techniques fascinates me, and the Textile Design class of 2018 certainly revived that fascination. In the old Crawford Building of DJCAD, a library of striking patterns on gowns awaited. Amongst silk shirts and soft curtains, a collection of knitted work with a political theme shone.

Never would you expect to find a knitted Jeremy Corbin and Nicola Sturgeon (both looking their cutest in wool) done in such a professional, yet playful way. Rhia Cook, the designer behind the work aimed to get young people into politics, as it is so often seen as  a boring thing that does not affect us; in reality, politics really do affect us. The touch of  having politics and current issues embodied in such fine knit work combined with the element of collage made this collection of work stand out against the rest, for me (as well as being influenced by the wonderful knitted bicycle tank top for Jeremy, that I would quite like for myself…). To see the vintage bicycle pattern that caught my eye, and the rest of Rhia’s work, head to her Instagram feed.

 

Illustration

In terms of geography, Illustration is the furthest from Product Design in DJCAD as can be. As a result, I came across very few sneak peeks of what to expect from the class of 2018 at Degree Show, and so was pleasantly surprised at the show. Prints and publications, as well as ceramic and full size wall art was boasted in Illustration’s Degree Show space, which was never short of spectator attention. Being a lover of all things print, the range of printing techniques amazed me, with even skateboards being printed on by Duncan Delatousche. It was the work of Chris Hampton which provided the biggest sense of wonder and excitement at such a discovery.

Having found my latest love, the comics of Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz, I instantly took a liking to Chris’ cartoon-esque work using bold shapes and contrasting colours. The illustrative style of much of the designer’s work reminds me of the styles found in illustrations from the 1960s and 70s, with thick black lines used in a minimal fashion to frame characters on eye-catching backgrounds. I can’t get enough of this work. Head to Chris’ impressively visual website to see why I love his style.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed what I managed to catch of DJCAD’s Degree Show this year, and it was a delight to show my work amongst so many interesting pieces by others. Having taken far too few photographs, I look forward to following everyone’s journeys after DJCAD and hopefully seeing their work through that.

With some free days before work, is it time to pop down to Glasgow School of Art’s show… ?

– J

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