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Word to the Wise – Olly Gibbs

Imaginary worlds doodle

What are your memories of being a student?

I spent a lot of my time as a student working freelance and trying to balance my Uni work. Proved very difficult as my uni projects took the hit to the dismay of my tutor. Fortunately he was a great inspiration and gave me the drive to push my work when I slipped. I’m very thankful to him! Aside from that I used to enjoy discussing projects with my mates and helping each other to develop new ideas. The crit sessions were vital in improving methods or coming up with new ideas. And then there was the SU Bar…

What drives you to create new work?

I’m someone who likes to dive into new projects all the time. I’ve got a bit of a scatterbrain approach to doing anything new – I’m all over the place playing with ideas. That’s what I’ve always enjoyed, trying new methods, learning new skills. Just looking at my portfolio shows a diverse range – I’m a bit of a hybrid designer and quite hard to pinpoint! It also proves difficult to choose an image that represents me.

How do you stand out when meeting with a potential client for the first time?

The work is obviously important, but the way you present it is key. If you’re going for a digital job, don’t send a PDF, you know? Aside from the work, selling yourself, presenting the brand image you want to display is what will connect with a client. I’ve branded myself as a bit of a quirky designer who loves detail. You need to live your work essentially and try to express your values in the first meeting. And be confident, regardless of whether you have doubts about yourself, go in guns blazing and win the pitch.

Can you tell us a bit more about the Association of Illustrators?

I was told about the AOI before leaving Uni and they’ve proved to be a highly beneficial support group for me. They’re an organisation of experienced professionals who can provide essential guidance in going into the illustration world. They’ve helped me with pricing up jobs, networking with other illustrators as well as putting on talks and workshops. They’re also great at promoting work of the AOI members through twitter/fb and their magazine Varoom! (Which you get delivered as part of being a member) I highly recommend anyone going into Illustration to join!

Who would you most like to work with in the future and why?

I’m not sure there’s anyone in particular but clients who have the same values as me, are a bit of fun and willing to brave new ventures. I guess UsTwo in Shoreditch would be a great company to make work with as they seem to nail the quirky projects, and their team are very determined and passionate about what they do. I also wouldn’t mind doing more in the field of motion graphics/video – I’m still fairly new with this so it’s something I want to explore.

Word to the Wise – Kyle Platts

Born to Kill_Kyle Platts

Who are the artists and illustrators that inspire you most at the moment?

I’m always attracted to work that is silly and aesthetically pleasing but also has the potential to provoke an erudite discussion. Illustrators and artists I’m into at the moment are Mike Kelly, HuskMitNavn, Jacob Ovgren and Edward Carvelho-Monaghan. Also I went to the Camberwell degree show recently and I was really impressed with this guy from Sculpture named Chris Campbell-Palmer.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received and what advice would you pass on to students or recent graduates?

I can’t really remember getting any life changing advice from anyone, but I was watching this YouTube clip the other day of Jim Carrey giving a speech as he received his honorary doctorate, and his message was that you can fail at what you don’t want to do, so you might as well take a chance on the thing you love. I thought that was a great sentiment to share with graduates. My advice would basically be what he said.

What is your proudest achievement to date?

I’m still super proud of the first book (Megaskull) I got published with Nobrow. I never would have thought that was possible coming straight out of university, but they took a chance on me and I’m really grateful.

What are you working on currently?

I’m currently working on a series of Vice articles and some other editorial jobs too. I’m involved in the Cons Project in Peckham which has given me the opportunity to do some big paintings which I’m enjoying. It’s a Converse project that has transformed a warehouse into a skatepark/ music venue/ gallery.

What are your ambitions for the future?

It would be great to work with animators some time and get my characters moving. Also I’ve been skateboarding most of my life so I’ve always wanted to do a board graphic. I’m doing my first board for Blast Skates this year so I’m looking forward to that.

Word to the Wise – Holly Stevenson

Sunshine, 2013, Collage_Postcard archive with magazine cut outs

What is it that excites you about the idea of fiction or storytelling in your work?
I am intrigued by the idea that fiction has the power to intervene with the truth, intrinsic to this intrigue is my view that capitalism’s deployment of psychoanalysis has created a platform for fictitious moods which arbitrate our existence via forms of advertainment: My work researches the Western drive to have a good time, a concept I have termed as the Palmy Bonheur mod.

How did you find your MA at Chelsea College of Art prepared you for what was to come since graduating? Are there any areas that you feel could have been improved?
College is a bubble… I think UAL is very conscious and caring regarding the fact that student artists have to leave and try and become ‘real’ artists.

How do you sustain your art practice?
I sustain my art practice with persistence, friends and books.  

What has been the most exciting thing that has happened to you since graduating in 2011?
It’s not happened yet, when it does I will let you know. Though, I always get excited about new shows, I’ve two group ones coming up one at the MK Gallery curated by the artist and Wimbledon MA graduate Scott Mason and another curated by Jeremy Cooper and Art Circuit in the Atkinson Gallery.

What are your goals for the future?
My goals for the future are to publish a book of fictions in conjunction with showing a body of ‘Palmy Bonheur’ collage works.

Word to the Wise – Helen Ingham

If_image 2

What is it about the process of using letterpress that you enjoy?
Many things!

Working with a process that can be very structured and organic at the same time. Letterpress can be a very disciplined process and was developed as such in the printing industry, but in a way that gives you more freedom. I instinctively know what will work so I don’t have to worry about details, I can just cut loose and have a bit of fun, the brief allowing, of course!

I also enjoy working with type, large and small, producing finely crafted items in multiple, or not so finely crafted and more expressive!

I love working with different papers and inks. Also machinery, of course, having a mechanical mind!

The big surprise has been “making friends” with maths! There is a lot of arithmetic in letterpress and being fairly crap at maths, like a lot of people who work in visual communication, I’ve found the aptitude with numbers I’ve gained, almost by accident, really useful in other areas of design, especially when planning and visualising work.

How do you employ the different attributes of both digital and analogue printing technologies to create diverse effects?
Making letterpress blocks with digitally generated artwork and laser cutting is the main way. There is much I want to explore with digital print and letterpress and I have loads of ideas, however the big problem of course, is time!

How do you find the time to continue to make works whilst also teaching at CSM, among other places?
After graduating, I decided I wanted to make my living from letterpress printing, but also wanted the freedom to produce my own work as well. My technician role at CSM is term time only, so during the holidays, I have plenty of time to develop other work.  I try not to waste any time, if the weather is too cold for printing (and it has been extremely cold in my own workshop at times), I do something else like cutting lino blocks, updating the website or research. I’m always on duty.  If I’m travelling on the train, I’m drawing or researching more work.

I know my strengths, I’d rather spend my time printing or working towards printing, rather than dealing with clients, mailing out printed items or managing online shops, all of which I’m not very good at!  I usually get someone else to sell my work for me and negotiate deals.  TAG Fine Arts sell my limited editions and do a very good job at the major art and print fairs.  The Art Market are my illustration agents.  I also have other sub-agents licensing my prints for digital reproduction with clients like John Lewis and Art Online.  Everyone charges commission, of course, but that’s OK if they are bringing more work in.

I do a couple of select art fairs a year (by ‘select’, I mean fun for me as I have to sit behind a stall!), one is held in a cafe in Luton and nothing is priced over a fiver.

Time management is essential. I have a small pocket diary, which travels everywhere and potential work is booked in, so nothing clashes; the difficult part is remembering to look in the diary, of course. As well as timetabling, I have to factor in other things, like travelling between teaching locations and trying not to overdo it and getting enough rest after a really busy spell.  Letterpress printing can be quite demanding physically, so I keep myself fit, try and get enough sleep and make sure my diet is good and plentiful. I’m lucky in that I’m rarely ill.

Are you able to use your teaching as a research resource in your designs and prints?
Yes, in that I never stop learning and the people who teach me more than anything are the students I deal with – that might sound like a cop-out answer, but I can assure you its true!

To what extent do you think that design is something that can be taught?
I believe there are principles behind good communication design, which can be taught. Once the practitioner knows these, they can develop their own way of working.

What is next for Hi-Artz Press?
I have a print research project on the go, which is in progress and now I’m off for the Summer, I can give it some more attention.

I am also in the process of building a more suitable workshop at the side of my house, this one will have running water and heating, unlike the one I have now which is little more than a shed!  We certainly ain’t rich, so it’s me and my husband Ricky, who are doing the building, so it’s a good job we are fit!

Also, music has always played a big part in the visual work I do and I am playing again after a few years off, while I studied and developed my career as a printer. I play mandolin with The Shooting Stars, a five piece western ‘n’ rockin’ band and I’m pleased to say I’ve been able to produce most of our printed items, including the cover of our 10″ limited edition green vinyl EP, which was recorded with Ricky’s 1950s American valve recording equipment.

Having a hand in all the creative processes involved with this EP project myself has really ticked a lot of boxes in one go for me.  I’m now planning more artworks based on our music.

We have a gigs coming up at festivals in Italy, Austria, the UK and Belgium over the next few months.

Here’s a link so you can see (and hear) the EP

Word to the Wise – David Ottley

David Ottley image

Who would you most like to create work for?

I do have a dream project list – it goes a little something like this;
Re-design a national or regional newspaper
Design the shirt numerals for the England Rugby Union Team
Design an experimental low impact signage system for a national park
Design a book celebrating Brutalism for Phaidon Publishing using my typeface Erno
Design, publish and distribute a commercially successful text typeface

How did you juggle working on projects whilst setting up your own business?

I’m not a natural business person – but I understand how design does create value for my clients. Graphic workman has grown and evolved around my work rather than setting out with a business plan and quarterly aims, therefore the process of building the business has been quite organic and gentle, becoming more serious over time.  My advice would be to employ a good accountant and get your head around a few simple accounting and project management concepts, then when the time comes to manage your business it won’t seem like such a dark art.

How would you suggest new graduates pursue a freelance graphic design career?

For anyone considering entering the graphic design profession I would suggest that any graduate find work in a studio where they can learn professional skills and methods of working. I started out working for Turnbull Grey and spent four years learning how to manage projects, speak with clients, present work and think commercially about graphic design. Once you reach a senior level and have a good solid skill set it’s much easier to pursue a freelance career as your skills are much more valuable and transferable to a potential client.

How do you go about meeting new potential clients?

Finding new potential clients is always a challenge, as a small business I often struggle to find the time to actively market myself or call people up and introduce myself. So I rely on word of mouth and opportune moments to seek out new work. I do believe that if you produce good work, are easy to work with and are easily approachable then clients will find you.

What are your goals for the future?

I’m in the process of starting an exciting relationship with an up and coming type foundry and am working on my first commercial typeface for them. So that may be one of the dream jobs ticked off the list in the not to distant future! As always I want to continue to produce creative and engaging work for clients that I enjoy working with – I don’t have plans for huge studio expansions – rather the other way. I want to keep Graphic Workman niche and specialist and concentrate on developing typographic projects and keeping really hands on with design – after all that’s why I started out in the first place and has got me to where I am today.

Word to the Wise – Emma Kalkhoven

black and white and colour

What were the most important lessons that you learnt at Chelsea College of Arts and Central Saint Martins?
I think both at Chelsea and at CSM, I learnt to be self-motivated and self-reliant, both very necessary skills for self-employment!

What would you say are the benefits of working collaboratively for Black + White + Colour?
The best thing about working collaboratively is that you can never predict what the outcome will be – and if you’re stuck you always have another person to bounce ideas off.

What has been the most challenging part of setting up a design collective?
I think particularly at the beginning, it’s hard to organise and set aside time to work together, as we’ve all also got other commitments at the same time to keep us afloat!

How do you go about finding work – or does the work generally find you?
We were lucky enough to win the pitch to design the CSM degree show identities last year, and off the back of that CSM have given us some other projects. We’ve also had quite a few projects through friends and family. The UAL website, Creative Opportunities, is also a good place to look.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?
We’re always collecting things we see and like, but inspiration mostly comes from discussions we have together, rather than direct visual references.

Word to the Wise- Crispin Finn

Art is Work

How did your collaboration come together initially and how does it work?

Crispin Finn started out as a hobby and an extra curricular activity – it was a guise under which we could make things that didn’t fit in with our other day jobs – Roger being a fine artist painter and Anna a graphic designer. All our early work was made for screen printing so we imposed the 3 colour restriction at the beginning purely for printing and practical reasons, and in turn it became a way of informing how we composed images, and helped us develop a clean and economic aesthetic.

We discuss ideas together initially then try and work them up through hand drawn visuals and then onto the computer. We both art direct as a project takes shape, so it’s a very collaborative process. We also share the other duties of screenprinting, meetings, online and wholesale orders and admin.

Where did the name for the brand, ‘Crispin Finn’ originate?

The name Crispin Finn came from combining Roger’s middle name (Crispin) with Anna’s then nickname (Finn). We liked the way they sounded together, and the idea of creating an autonomous pseudonym to work under together.

Why did you choose to limit yourself to working exclusively in the colours red, white and blue?

We’ve always loved these colours and how they work together on airmail and other ephemera – there is a real history to this colour palette. During the 1940′s/50′s a huge amount of promotional matter appeared in these two primary colours because the pigments were cheap and more readily available. When we first began collaborating and decided to use screen printing as the primary means of producing our work, we realised that if we only used these two colours on white it could work from a practical point of view. From then on it became a bit of a challenge to see how far we could take it, and was a key factor in establishing our design rules and aesthetic. Ultimately it evolved into an identity.

What has been the highlight of your work to date?

The overall highlight has been to take Crispin Finn from what was essentially a labour of love to a full time pursuit. We love the variety of projects that we get invited to work on and that leads to a great range of design and illustration work, as well as being able to continue develop and make our own work and products. It’s amazingly exciting and we feel very lucky to get to work with some really brilliant clients as well as each other.

What’s next for Crispin Finn?

We work on around 4-6 projects at one time, some ongoing and others with a very quick turnaround. We’re currently working on projects for several clients including Byron Hamburgers and Camden Town Brewery, are creating an identity and packaging for a new food company, have just finished a large scale hand painted mural for a drinks company, two new print editions for two exhibitions, illustrations for Shots magazine, graphics and collateral for Branchage Festival in Jersey and on top of that are also making a new range of our own items for Design Junction in London in September.


UAL Alumni Support Next Generation of Creative Talent

Thanks to donations from our generous graduates, this academic year the UAL Alumni Association is thrilled to have been able to grant hardship funding to 58 final year students. With many third year students already struggling with debt and in need of costly materials for their degree show, these awards provide support when it is needed most. They give students the opportunity to stop their part time job, spend more time in the studios, buy materials required to realise their creative ambitions and limit their financial anxieties.

CSM Degree Show 1, 2014 (Copyright: John Sturrock)

CSM Degree Show 1, 2014 (Copyright: John Sturrock)

We asked some of the recipients of this funding what it meant to them.

Work by Mary Lister

Work by Mary Lister

“I am not the most well off person and neither are my parents and I hate having to scrimp on an idea or even change it altogether through one simple factor, that I cannot afford to make it.  The Award given by alumni gives you that extra boost and opportunity to go for that idea that might cost you a little extra.  Thank you to those Alumni who support me.  It means so much.” Mary Lister, BA Fine Art 



Troy Bohn

Troy Bohn

“I had been struggling tremendously with funding my art and was anxious about how I was going to afford to create something appropriate for my fast approaching degree show.  With the Award given by alumni I was able to relax and stop my worrying and just develop the art I so desire to create.  The art I am making has grown and is still growing in its potential. I thank the alumni for this opportunity.”  Troy Bohn, BA Drawing 


Darren Cudjoe-Cole

Darren Cudjoe-Cole

“As a father of 2 and a husband studying full time has been difficult financially, and any help in between student loan is welcome. I’d like to thank those involved in making this possible and hope it continues for future students. Thank you.” Darren Cudjoe-Cole, BA Sound Art & Design 



Nell Allen

Nell Allen

I would like to thank the alumni for the money they have given me.  I had been struggling to decide how to move forward with my degree show piece but now I have been able to buy the materials needed to produce the work that I had been planning (dreaming of) without cutting corners.  I hope with the money given I can do the best work and go into the world with the best chance.” Nell Allen, BA Painting


Our students are the future of the creative industries.  In the current economic climate, the number of students needing support is growing and many alumni share our concern that the cost of pursuing a creative education might dissuade some of the most talented young people from taking up their places or lasting throughout the duration of the course.  We believe that the success of UAL depends on the diversity of the student body and any support to help us generate funds to support students from low-income families is enormously appreciated.

For more information on how you can take part and support our creative future, please contact Caroline Archer, Acting Head of Alumni Relations (, or visit our dedicated webpage

If you are a current or prospective student wanting to learn more about funding opportunities across our Colleges and courses, please visit the Scholarships, Bursaries and Loans page.

UAL welcomes seven new funded research students in September 2014

Seven UAL students have been awarded funding to commence postgraduate research study in September 2014 through the TECHNE London and South-East Doctoral Research Consortium and the London Doctoral Centre for Design (LDOC). TECHNE and LDOC offer Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) awards, which are highly competitive nationally. This means that the UAL has achieved double the number of AHRC studentships than were awarded in the previous AHRC system. Congratulations to the successful UAL applicants whose names and titles of their research are listed below.

TECHNE AHRC studentships 
(Techne is a term in philosophy[1] which resembles epistēmē in the implication of knowledge of principles, although techne differs in that its intent is making or doing as opposed to disinterested understanding):

Jonathan Gilmurray,(LCC) Ecoacoustics: ecology and environmentalism in contemporary music and sound art

Asa Johannesson, (LCC) Looking Out, Looking In: Representation and the Viewer in Queer Photography

Louise Marshall, (LCC) Deep Listening: the strategic practices of female experimental composers post 1945

Jennifer Murray, (CCW) Manuscript fragments and the bindings from which they were removed – recording the evidence

LDOC AHRC studentships
(London Design Oriented Consortium):

Berthe Fortin, (LCF) – Ritual Created Around the Crafting of Costume

Lucie Russell, (CSM) – WHAT I SEE I OWN? Can fashion/media body images via the process of drawing be re-appropriated to positive effect as part of the creation of a social innovation design tool that can be accessed or shared with groups to question negative body image/s and to build well-being and “body confidence”?

Julia Schaeper,  (LCC) – From small change to big impact: How design approaches can help to transform healthcare

Half term Family Community Day


Thursday 29 May 1.00–4.00pm
Platform Foyer Bar at Central Saint Martins

Are you a student or staff member with children or other caring responsibilities?

We invite parents and carers to bring their children to this family-friendly networking event, taking place during half term.

This is a chance to meet others at UAL, share experiences, and discuss how we can improve support for carers at UAL. We will also host creative workshops for the children.

Since the UAL nursery closed in 2010, staff and student carers have been almost invisible across the colleges. There are a number of issues faced, which include: restrictions on access to buildings for those with children; a lack of spaces to breastfeed; timetabling that interferes with nursery/school hours; means-tested bursaries that don’t take caring costs into account; individuals being denied Carers’ Allowance; and lack of appropriate student housing.

These are just some of the reasons we need to get together and work out some solutions (while having a cup of tea and a chance to get messy, of course). Come along and bring the family!

RSVP by email to

Shelly Asquith
SUARTS President