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Interview: So Young Selects The AUB GRADLIST Illustrators 2020

We are excited to partner with the Arts University Bournemouth to select and show off some of this year’s graduates from the Illustration course.

The work chosen ranges from zines, 3D animation and digital work to ceramics. We caught up with the selected illustrators to get an insight into their work and highlight some of our favourite pieces.

 

Amelia Best @ameliabestillustration

 

Tell us about a typical working day.

I like to always start my day with a coffee and taking my dog Murphy for a walk to wake myself up and allowing my brain to switch on. I like to listen to podcasts when I work or a really good album, as I find it really hard to work in silence. It’s really important to take regular breaks and make sure you stand and have a wonder round the room, or even a little walk round the garden, as working on a screen all day can be harmful. I really love cooking, so will usually be thinking about what I can make for my dinner that evening. Some days you don’t always feel as inspired as others and that’s absolutely fine! I find sometimes starting later in the day or switching up your work pattern is fine if you feel like it will benefit your mind and allow you to produce your best work.

If you could work with a dream client, who would it be and why?

There are so many amazing companies and people who I would love to work with! Recently I have become quite obsessed with children’s clothing, and I think I would love to work with companies such as John Lewis, Polarn O. Pyret (A swedish clothing company), Mini Boden – to name a few! I’d also of course love to be published, so any publishing houses would be the dream.

2020 has been a transformative year so far. How do you see your practise evolving or shifting based on what’s happening around the globe?

I would maybe like to see my work in an editorial setting. I’ve been experimenting a lot with more detailed work and seeing if I can branch out slightly from children’s books. That’s the amazing thing about illustration, it serves so many purposes and can be used in so many different ways. I’d love to refine my style even further so that my work is recognizable and fluent.

Julie Stone @_juliestone_

 

How do you want people to feel when they see your work?

I’ve loved exploring the relationship between artist and viewer during the last two years, and playing with the puzzle-solving nature of visual metaphors in illustration. The enjoyment I get from cracking a topic and finding a way of communicating it within a visual puzzle hopefully is then mirrored by the enjoyment a viewer gets upon solving it. I also wrap up the metaphors in soothing colours and minimal shapes to deliver a calming effect.

How has the Coronavirus affected your final year and your feelings about the future?

My major project was affected by a lack of access to professional printing methods, as I was planning on using a risograph printer. I’ve only done a digital mockup as of now, although I do hope to riso-print the work soon. While my intial thoughts about the future were concern about possibly “skipping” the important rites of passage in art education, such as degree shows and networking opportunites, I’m now seeing some benefits and silver linings. I think the movement of shows to an online space does actually offer more people a chance to find your work. I’m staying optimistic about work opportunites as well, as the AOI has confirmed that illustration is luckily not as affected as some other creative industries due to the increasingly digital and web-based nature of the business.

Tell us about your Final Major Project.

Focusing on the theme of wellbeing, I produced a calendar design and a speculative editorial series. The 2021 calendar is composed of a collection of visual representations of wellness tips, intended to act as a morning mood booster and a gentle suggestion of helpful daily habits. I also produced a series of postcards from each individual section, which will be available to send to loved ones as a caring reminder. I intend to print all components in two-colour riso print, which will provide a texture and vividness that ordinary printing can’t.

The speculative editorial series I did was for an article by Outside magazine about the false promises and expensive but useless products sold by business riding on the wellness wave, and the habits and lifestyle changes that actually work. The title of the article, “We’ve Reached Peak Wellness – Most of it is Nonsense”, was the inspiration for the selected house of cards image, which represents a false “peak” and the real and worthwhile one behind it.

 

Jasmine Pearce @jasminestar.draw
 

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt being at AUB?

I’ve learnt to dive in and do the things that make you uncomfortable or anxious. Some of the best experiences I’ve had which have made me grow as both a person and an illustrator have been from taking chances which have absolutely terrified me – be that pushing my work in a direction I hadn’t thought of or jumping on a coach to London on my own to a protest or a gig. The things that terrify you are normally the things you remember the most after you’ve done ‘em.

Tell us about your Final Major Project

The comic I created for my final major project first started as an idea when I went on tour with Maja, the founder of Queers To The Front booking agency. It was mainly a passion project heavily inspired by my interest in LGBT musicians like St Vincent, Marika Hackman and Anna Calvi as well as really getting into 90s riot grrrl. Femme Switch is a comic about an imaginary queer-feminist punk band which highlights the lives of queer individuals who work in the music industry. It has a little bit of fantasy and magic in it but also has some real life incidents I’ve come across whilst playing gigs in the past. I had a lot of fun creating this especially whilst in lockdown, missing out on playing and seeing music live.

If you could work with a dream client, who would it be and why?

Hands down, I’d love to work with the amazing folks at Milk! Records in Melbourne. Set up by Courtney Barnett in 2011ish, I’m a little bit in love with every artist on their roster. They are all lovely people and they have morals and ideas similar to my own and a great ‘vibe.’ I’d love to create some illustrations for their merch or album designs one day!

 

Vinny Luscombe @bigvinnyhere

 

If you could work with a dream client, who would it be and why?

Brad Pitt, we could get a bunch of green screens and remake some of his most iconic scenes; I’d have to CGI every other character, every environment and all the props; it’s such a bad idea that he’d really have to give it his all.

2020 has been a transformative year so far. How do you see your practise evolving or shifting based on what’s happening around the globe?

At first I didn’t want to make any content that commented on Coronavirus because I was too worried that I’d just try to joke about it and make light of a very real situation, but I do think there are some positive impacts my work could have on people, I just have to find the right way of doing it. The BLM movement has definitely made me think more about the violence in my work, what I promote, what I consume and where it all comes from; together we can all become kinder more considerate individuals.

What direction would you like to take your work post higher education?

I want to make my own videogame because the Triple A industry is filled with boring ass games plagued with microtransactions that are the result of staff being horrendously overworked. Also I want to make an industrial metal album, probably remix it to; Björk Telegram style.

Lotte Cassidy @lotte.cassidy

 

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt being at AUB?

Be playful! Have fun with your work! Be messy! Don’t be confined to a sketchbook – draw BIG! Don’t overthink an idea or drawing, just draw it and see where it takes you. It might be completely different to what you set out to do and that’s okay!

What informs your practise? 

I am interested in both documentary and abstract animation and how they can work together pushing the boundaries of illustration. I like to find the strangeness and humour in the ordinary and enjoy exaggerating the absurdity of these everyday encounters to make weird and wonderful images.

I am inspired by photographers and film makers that capture a sense of place through characters and their environments. I am also interested in reportage illustration and how these observations and interactions can evoke a narrative.

What direction would you like to take your work post higher education?

I would love to make more animations, perhaps in editorial and advertising sectors. I also want to further my ceramic work as I found I was able to translate my visual language into clay due to its unexpected nature.

 

Beatrice Simpkiss @beatricesimpkiss

 

What informs your practise? 

I am inspired by chaos and colour. However especially for my most recent project, travel and seeing the world informed my practise. After visiting Marrakech, Morocco at Christmas,  I found the city to be a chaotic and energetic city, full of colour and noise. This led me to want to try and encapsulate this experience visually.

I really enjoyed working on this project and exploring a journey through this city, I focused a lot on details and overlapping narratives of the busy Moroccan market stalls. I wanted the exploration to be through the eyes of a tourist, exploring cultural elements of Marrakech, from the Souks to the city’s practise of Islam.

Primarily through my degree, I have mainly created illustrations which suit the children’s book industry,  the tactility and naivety of imagery especially. However I want my work to be multi sector functional and be able to be translated into other editorial areas of illustration.

I believe my work could be defined firstly, through bold colour and a combination of textures and secondly, through my inclusion of typography into my images. I feel illustrators often view text and typography as a separate entity to their illustrations, however I like to challenge this by using text as a visual and communicative tool

How has the Coronavirus affected your final year and your feelings about the future?

Coronavirus definitely affected my university experience, especially due to lockdown and the  university being closed, during a soon-to be graduates peak and most important last months. However luckily, due to creating my work digitally on an Ipad pro, working at home became a new normal and my tiny student bedroom became my new studio. Although lockdown and Covid, has had its struggles, it definitely taught me that I am able to work effectively in stressful conditions, definitely a useful lesson.

I feel optimistic about the future, it seems the creative industry is incredibly resilient and is still functioning during this crisis. Although it is definitely a challenge to graduate into this weird new world, it seems every generation has their own struggles to overcome.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt being at AUB?

AUB has offered an amazing three years to experiment. One of the main reasons I chose the illustration course was the open minded and experimental mindset of what defines the practise of  illustration. Rather than trying to make us fall into styles and trends, AUB encouraged us to develop our own visual language through experimentation, our interests and industry practise. The support and opportunities the course provided were amazing.

 

Amy Leonard @amyleonardart

 

What informs your practise?

I take inspiration from the world around me, drawing from places I’ve visited and people I’ve met. I’m interested in overlooked and mundane settings, and capturing the essence of a person within a portrait. I also love cinematography and take a lot of inspiration from film and photography.

How has the Coronavirus affected your final year and your feelings about the future?

The university closure was definitely and unexpected part of my final year. It was hard saying goodbye to the university sooner than I thought, and it happened very quickly. The studio space and facilities were a massive part of my University experience and practice so I found it hard when I had to then work in my room in my house. Also not having a graduation or summer ball in my third year was so disappointing but Ive learnt how to work, and make the most of situations under any circumstances now.

The future feels both scary and exciting, I am keen to just get my work out there and seize every opportunity.

If you could work with a dream client, who would it be and why?

I would really like to work with publications such as The Guardian, The New Yorker and The New York Times. I would also love to work with British Vogue, as that has been a big part of my life growing up.

 

Mary Flora Hart @maryflorahart

 

Tell us about your Final Major Project.

For my FMP I actually did 4 separate projects, this was so I could focus on multiple areas of interest. The most successful I feel was Urban Eden. I really enjoy drawing big scenes with a lot of attention to detail, especially nature orientated. My plan with Urban Eden was to explore a modern world with a a little psychedelic overgrown twist. I picked everyday, quite relatable places that aren’t too interesting but have a lot going on that I could focus on and add to. The intention of the final images was to be made in murals, potentially in places like offices to encourage green initiatives.

If you could work with a dream client, who would it be and why?

Although much of my work is currently editorial based, I would also love to create more work within the music industry, specifically within the genres of hiphop and RnB. Something like creating album artwork for record labels such as Warner Music and Def Jam or marketing visuals for festivals like Lovebox would provide me with so much joy as a huge part of my life is revolved around music.

2020 has been a transformative year so far. How do you see your practise evolving or shifting based on what’s happening around the globe?

I wouldn’t actually say my work has transformed too significantly as a result of the current state of the world. It’s nothing new that there are a constant string of problems that need addressing. Throughout a lot of my work I like to bring attention to these problems, whether thats sustainability, feminism or movements like Black Lives Matter. I think it’s important to always be aware of current affairs, and to use whatever you do to bring attention or correction to these issues. Despite this, there’s also still loads of things worth celebrating and I like to think my work often focuses on these positives.

 

Yasmin Thompson-Lamont @june.in.bloom

 

Tell us about a typical working day.

A workday for me can differ, but typically I prefer to work in the early morning; experimenting with ceramics and pottery and then in the evening I’ll jot down more ideas or illustrate something that I’ve thought of earlier that day. I prefer not to be too organised otherwise I think my creativity can lose momentum and I get too bored of a particular plan. Some days are full of experimenting and learning new artistries, other days are spent at home, illustrating silly stories or doodles. It’s all about finding a balance.

If you could work with a dream client, who would it be and why?

I would love to make ceramics or illustrations for a popular high street brand. It would be amazing to see my creations within stores I’d usually buy from! I’d also love to make tableware or similar for popular art galleries or museum cafés/restaurants. I just want to be able to produce work that becomes part of someone else’s life. Someone’s favourite mug or a persons beloved plant pot. It would be a dream to have my ceramics take life within someone’s home, I think that’s the biggest honour for an artist; to make something that people want to have as part of their safe place, their existence.

What advice would you give students starting the course in September?

University is such a weird, wonderful, swift thing. It’s going to be the best and the worst of times. You’re going to hate it and then never want to leave it. Just remember to truly experiment with your work, talk to as many people as you can, try your best and never give up. It’s okay to struggle and trip up. Take as many risks as possible, learn new mediums and find something you love making. Just enjoy it while you can! As soon as you know it, you’ll be opening your final major project results, graduating and answering questions for So Young Magazine.

The brand new issue of So Young is out now. SOLD OUT in print but you can read the digital edition below.