Our DESIGN postgraduates have gone on to do wonderful things. We celebrate their achievements and love these diverse stories about their success.
Designer / Maker / Director
On my MA I wanted to explore sustainable timber and focused on coppiced hazel. I discovered that sustainability is about much more than sourcing timber from nearby, and uncovered two thousand years of craft heritage associated with coppiced wood. This lead me to design products that tackled sustainability from the perspective of slowing consumption and connecting to more meaningful objects.
Everything I have built my career on has its roots in my MA. I learned how to make furniture during my undergrad degree at Lincoln; I developed the means to commercialise it by developing a strong identity and idea during my MA which still drives my business today.
The main challenge was the moment when my tutor (Dr Neil Maycroft) almost completely derailed my entire MA by asking me, half way through my study, “Seb, if you really care about sustainability, why make anything at all? The world is full of stuff.” I had to work really hard to find an answer but this challenge led me to develop a way of designing that tries to improve our material culture, not just create more ‘stuff’. I now carry this strict design ethos through my design work today, which is arguably the biggest success you could ask for from education.
Graphic Design Lecturer
I'm currently a Graphic Design Lecturer and I deliver across a variety of levels where I teach graphic design, motion graphics, creative advertising, printmaking and stop motion.
My MA study focus was Visual Narrative where I created a short animated film 'Goldilocks and the Economy'.
Since studying my Undergraduate degree at the University, I always had a curiosity to tell a story through the art of stop motion. The MA was the perfect opportunity to do so.
The main challenge of my MA work was letting go of pre-existing ideas. I came onto the MA thinking I had an idea of what my final outcome was going to be. The MA challenged me into thinking beyond these ideas.
My MA experience was vital in preparing me for my career and I still make reference to it today. My MA gave me the confidence and knowledge to be able to discuss and challenge my chosen field on a daily basis.
Sarah Nunn (a.k.a. Spadge Whittaker)
Freelance Writer and Author
My latest self-published book 'Braver than Britain, Occasionally' is a narrative non-fiction book, written in a reflective journal style, of my experience conquering Britain's biggest fears. I conquered the entire top 10 list of British fears in 10 months, and decided to write about (and prove) how I defeated each challenge. Another humorous book is currently in progress (no more fear conquering, though!).
I used my MA to investigate the relationship between words and images, with the visual identity of humans being my prime example. I researched and presented my findings around the question, Does appearance reflect personality? My own experience as an identical twin has always bewildered me: on the outside I appear visually identical to another human being, but on the inside we couldn't be more different. I wanted to investigate the diversity within human presupposition, does everybody assume the same thing about a person, based on appearance?
Writing my own brief was a brand new challenge and a tough one at that. It was no small thing to be given an opportunity to self-direct my own study, it has helped me set myself new goals throughout my career and helped me to achieve these goals much earlier than planned. My MA was also the first time I put together and self-published my own book, actually a collection of books, which has led to other exciting self-publishing ventures.
Texture artist, Cinema
For my MA I focused on designing a workspace for creative computer artists. Through the MA I found that developing my design and conceptual development skills helped me develop my career.
The main challenge for me in designing was to let go of what I would want myself but focus on what the target audience wanted since I'm a creative computer artist as well.
Jo De Ruiter
The way I approach my work today, and my ability to critically analyze my own work, I learnt whilst on the MA course. All of which have enabled me to continue to grow and evolve as an artist.
My MA focus was in Illustration. I guess I became interested in it the first time I picked up a picture book when I was a little girl. I’ve collected picture books for years, and always dreamed one day I’d have my name on one. It just took me a few years to build up the confidence and self-belief to pursue it.
The MA experience was invaluable. With the support and guidance from my mentors, lecturers, and visiting lecturers, I built a confidence in my work that I didn’t have before.
The main challenge during my MA was taking critical advice and applying it to my practice. I continue to seek assessment and reaction to my work, as as an illustrator, I’m not creating art for myself exclusively, so feedback is so important.
My biggest successes was finishing a fully illustrated 32 paged book. It really prepared me for industry.
Designer and Adjunct Professor
A few years back I incorporated my creative practice under the name Juniper&Scribe, Ltd. It’s a general graphic design practice, but my primary client base is museums & exhibitions or those types of things for non-museum clients – I use the term “graphics for the built environment”. I operate out of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.
I also am an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) here in NYC. I teach in both the Communication Design and the Visual Presentation/Exhibit Design departments.
For my MA I explored the electronic book and completed a series of media pieces. It was an investigation on how media could be used to illustrate and inform the written word. I’ve always been interested in the book as object and as a vehicle for communication, culture, and creative expression, yet had not been able to explore that within my design career.
The MA allowed me to move into the academic world of design and to explore teaching. It also gave me a necessary break in my career to reassess it and relaunch it in a more independent direction. I used the MA to develop skills in video editing and motion based media – something I was not using in my career before.
I had not written an academic paper since my undergrad (approximately 15 years beforehand). This was a component I found a surprising amount of joy in. In the end, a portion of my thesis was publish by an online design journal:
The experience made me rekindle my love of exhibit design – something I was ironically trying to distance myself from by taking on the MA. And of course the much more amorphous creative & critical thinking skills – something that is difficult to put into words – other than to say I am a better designer than I was before taking on my MA.
Lead Information Designer at infogr8
My MA focus was information and data visualisation. I became interested in it whilst experimenting on the MA with how visuals can be used to document personal daily activities. My experience was very useful for both practical and theoretical understanding of the subject. What I learned is still very useful to me in my career now.
A real challenge of the MA was to write a proposal at the start that would define what it was I would study and learn. It was really useful to do though. My biggest success was developing and refining my work and gaining recognition from the design community very early through the first iteration of my website.