The UK's biggest graduate show for visual communications, D&AD New Blood, took place at the start of this month at Old Spitalfields Market in London. Craig Oldham combed through the work of 700 graduates from 50 different universities and 85 different courses to pick out the best for The Drum.
"New Bastards. That’s what they should call this exhibition.
Why? Because you’ve got these young and talented bastards coming up with these ideas you couldn’t dream of. You just think, God, they’re on my heels already and I’ve been doing this for years! They haven’t even graduated properly yet!
I spent the full two days here and even with all this time to take it all in, D&AD New Blood is just an overwhelming experience for the senses. With such a wide cross-section of creative talent on show and over 100 stalls, it’s difficult to know where to look.
The buzz at the Private View especially was amazing, but you really do struggle to take it all in. The Private View is great for both students and industry – but you have to come back and take another walk or two round to really have a proper look at everything, because if you even blink you’re bound to miss another amazing piece of work.
So what was good this year? Well one thing that struck me this year was the amount of courses that you visit and don’t immediately know what it is they do. Aside from the illustration and photography – of which I don’t think I’ve seen an average piece of work yet – the work encompasses so many different disciplines and the idea effortlessly spans mediums, it’s a sign that they’re being taught broadly and being prepped for the next step.
Northumbria University has been the talk of the show through the guys on its animation course and this zoetrope piece is just outstanding. Cutting-edge is a phrase that gets used far too much to describe nothing, but it’s fully warranted here.
This zoetrope seamlessly blends the oldest form of moving image in with a newer form of technology of 3D printing and then on a record player. You could almost call it hacking; real innovation between mediums to create something awe-inspiring.
Another university that stood out for me is Norwich, which I’ve found myself repeatedly coming back to. So much outstanding work to choose from, such as these neon book illustrations from. The design is confident and mature – and you have to remember that the content of these books is pretty serious but they’ve found a way to express them in a fresh and interesting – but relative – way.
Falmouth University really impressed, Nathan Smith in particular is one to watch for the future – a newly crowned Yellow Pencil winner for his packaging design work on the Purdey’s brief.
As for individuals? Well the first I have to pick out is Steph Hamer from the University of Central Lancashire UCLAN (Graphic Design). She’s already earned a Best in Show and you can immediately see why with this rebranding project for the Harris Modern museum, proposing to reinvent Preston Bus Station as a contemporary arts venue. The way in which she’s captured the subtlety of the subject and paired it with this wonderful typography, it’s stunning.
Eve Warren at Leeds College of Art too. I love these copper creations, but the whole of the Leeds contingent are pretty fantastic.
Sam Holyhead from Sheffield Hallam is another name to watch too. A bit like the zoetrope from Northumbria, his work has that ‘hacking’ quality, taking a classic sensibility and blending it with new media. Who wouldn’t want to get their hands on stamps you can design yourself? Just a bloody brilliant idea.
Ruta Paskeviciute: simply one of the best designers I’ve ever seen this week. I was lucky enough to meet her at a portfolio surgery earlier in the week and the work just blew me away. Her project is about dreams – connecting over 70 different stories from her friends and colleagues and linking them together through these beautiful images to tell a visual story, rather than words. It’s again something wonderful to look on but with valuable and interesting content.
Preston Illustration is also well worth a mention, its whole show has been brilliant; I can’t single out just one. It’s another example of one of the courses that shows a diversity within itself.
While I would have liked to have seen some more ‘crazy’ shit, I’ve never seen a generation that’s so industry-ready. They’re all so savvy. They’re not just replicating ideas they’ve seen or things they admire, they’re incorporating them into their work and taking them further to create something new and amazing – and it’s bloody exciting.