Archive for the ‘University of the Arts London’ category

Meet: Steve Watts

Steve Watts

Steve and Angela Watts

Steve Watts graduated from BA (Hons) Product Design at Central Saint Martins in 2007. Originally from South Africa, after spending time in London and travelling the world, he moved to California to pursue his childhood dream of setting up Slyde Handboards with his wife Angela. The idea (a small handboard used to improve your body surfing experience) took off, and they recently received a high profile investment after appearing on the USA TV show The Shark Tank. Find out more about Steve’s journey from studying at CSM to riding the waves of self-employment, and keeping afloat in the competitive surfing industry!

What were you doing before you came to London to study at Central Saint Martins? 

I was doing all sorts of odd jobs and travelled around the world before studying. However, I knew all I ever wanted to become was a designer and the only place I ever wanted to study design was at CSM. The college has an incredible reputation and an awesome tradition of producing the best graduates.  The old campus in Holborn was on the route to a job I had on the Embankment, and I would walk past it every day, dreaming of studying there. I eventually got my opportunity and took it with both hands. There was never any doubt in where I wanted to end up.

I loved my time there, it was a fantastic experience. I was probably the third or fourth oldest in my class, so I’d had some time to travel and realise this is what I wanted to do with my life.  I also had a sharper awareness than when I was in my early 20s of how lucky I was; to be attending not only university, but the school I had always wanted to attend. Like any university, you get out what you put in, and there is no difference with Central Saint Martins.

I think the biggest high was my third year final project pitch, in which I got a first. Believe it or not, that pitch gave me the confidence to stand and deliver for other pitches to come. In fact it was easily the most intense pitch I have ever given.

The lowest point was making the rookie mistake of thinking, “Well I got a first in the last project…”  and then taking my foot off the pedal, by not pouring everything into my second project, which I got a second in. It taught me one very valuable lesson; don’t ever sit back and think, “Well I did well before, so that will just follow on over.”  You are only as good as your current project and always, always put your absolute best foot forward in everything you hand over.

Steve with his Handboard on The Shark Tank

Steve and Angela on The Shark Tank

What were your favourite things to do in London?

There is so much to do In London. From concerts, pubs and clubs, to all the short trips you can take and amazing galleries on offer.  The Tate Modern was one of my favourite places to go and take in.  As they say – “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”

A couple of places that really stood out to me were Hampstead Heath and the hill overlooking London for sundown – it’s a semi-secret spot that just allows you to get out of the hustle and bustle and really take in London from a distance. It’s almost meditative being up there. Also Gordon’s Wine Bar on the Embankment was my favourite bar to just go and chill – the history round there is phenomenal.

How did you make the decision to move to California?

I loved living in London, and took full advantage of it while I was there. However, I grew up near the beach, and had visited California and loved the beach lifestyle there, so I always knew that was where I wanted to start Slyde Handboards.

The support structure in California for new up-and-coming business is also phenomenal, especially within the surf industry. Our offices are in San Clemente, which is about 90 minutes south of Los Angeles on the coast. It’s known as the surf centre of California, which pretty much makes it the surf centre of the world. Our neighbours are huge iconic brands like Stance Socks, Dragon Sunglasses and Rainbow Sandals, which makes our growth that much easier.

Mark Cuban and Ashton Kutcher

Mark Cuban and Ashton Kutcher

Where did the inspiration for Slyde Handboards come from? And how did you turn the idea into a reality?

The inspiration for the Handboard came from when I was a kid. I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa.  To get us out the house my mother would take my brother and I down to the local beach and let us run amok. We would body surf a lot and play in the waves.  It wasn’t long before we started using objects on our hands to get more lift and speed when going down the wave.

I remember using frisbees and flip-flops – anything we could find. One of our favourites was a fast food tray.  We quickly evolved from those objects we’d found to tearing open our old surfboards to hand shape a more refined board from the foam inside. At the time, there was no brand associated with this, even though a lot of kids were doing it. That’s when I decided the brand and product would be something that a new generation could associate with. Those found objects were essentially the early prototypes for what you see on our website today.

Tell us more about your exciting new investors? And what the future has in store?

Our two new investors are Ashton Kutcher and Mark Cuban. Mark is the owner of the Dallas Maverick NBA team, and a billionaire. It’s always good to have a billionaire partner! We pitched the company to them on the US TV show Shark Tank, which is a very similar format to Dragons Den in the UK.  You pitch in front of five investors and they either invest or don’t, all on national television.

I remember watching Dragons Den when living in the UK, and thinking what a great opportunity that would be. Little did I know that, five years later, I would be pitching to Ashton Kutcher, Mark Cuban and the rest of the Sharks, in front of 6.5 million viewers.

We filmed in June of last year and since the deal closed in November of 2015 we have been firing on all cylinders. Both Mark and Ashton have been phenomenal in their support. Mark is amazing with the business, hooking us up with all sorts of amazing opportunities and avenues to grow our distribution channel. And Ashton has been incredible on the social media side, plugging us into his immense network. We are have grown 100% year on year since inception in 2010, and this year we are predicting a million dollars in revenue.

Our aim for the company is to get as many people involved in this awesome water sport as possible. To grow the brand through worldwide events and spread our distribution channels to other countries that have a huge surfing and beach market, including Brazil, Australia and the UK.

Steve and Angela at their warehouse space in San Clemente , Ca

Steve and Angela at their warehouse space in San Clemente, Ca

What advice would you give to any UAL graduates wanting to turn their ideas into a successful business? 

Choose something you love to do and never, never, never give up!  We have pitched to a lot of people and we heard NO a lot of times. Honestly, I didn’t care. I always had the attitude “your loss“.  You have to believe in what you are doing and believe you are supposed to be in that room. In the end you are offering them an opportunity too.

Also be prepared to eat very cheaply for a while (unless you have a surplus amount of cash), because unless you are very lucky, it will take time. Another thing to remember is that often when you are design and art oriented, generally speaking you do not focus so much on the numbers, and this is all an investor cares about. Know your numbers inside and out, and if you don’t, partner with someone who knows how to make your proposition as viable to an investor as possible. It doesn’t matter if you just invented the lightbulb, if your numbers don’t match up no one will give you a second look.

Try to remember these guys have money because they don’t waste it, so know what you can bring to the table in the way of return on their investment.  Also be charismatic; there are many investors that will invest in you. Mark Cuban is one of these investors that like to invest in a person, so bring your “A-schmooze” game and impress them with you passion and commitment to the company, and to getting their money back as quickly as possible!



Review: LA London Transplants 2016 (An Exhibition from the UAL West Coast Alumni Association)

LA London Transplants opening night

LA London Transplants opening night

Over 300 people attended the opening night of the London Transplants Exhibition on 19 April 2016, which was held at Wallspace Gallery, LA.  The exhibition was organised by the UAL West Coast Alumni Association.  Now in its third year, the exhibition featured the work of 20 UAL alumni, ranging from artists who graduated in the 1950’s up until the present day. The work shown covered a broad range of different mediums, including contemporary art, photography and film and animation.

Angie Stimson, President of the West Coast Alumni Association

Angie Stimson, President of the West Coast Alumni Association

The night was a great success for all involved.  A DJ played a mix of British 80’s and 90’s music (with a Prince tribute thrown in), with the addition of a couple of scantily clad servers helping get the party started! To top this, many of the alumni exhibiting also ended up selling their work.

LA London Transplants Opening Night - waiter

Many thanks to Angie Stimson, President of the UAL West Coast Alumni Association, and all the other UAL alumni involved, for organising and curating such a brilliant exhibition!

Wallspace from outside

Wallspace Gallery, LA

Click here for more images of the event.

If you are based on the West Coast, and want to be involved in future alumni activities in the area, get in touch today!

An angel rises in Islington as emerging star artist creates celestial public sculpture

This week, rising star artist Alex J Wood was announced as the winner of the prestigious Picton Art Prize, as his winning work ‘Celestial’ was unveiled at a ceremony in Islington. The award-winning artist revealed his dramatic bronze angel sculpture on Wednesday, launching north London’s newest piece of public art.

Celestial, 2016. Artist: Alex J Wood. Image courtesy of Picton Art Prize

Created in the London Bronze Casting foundry, the impressive bronze sculpture will stand at 2 metres high, and is located as a centrepiece within Picton’s Angel Gate development, EC1.

Recognizing new talent

The Picton Art Prize judges comment that: “British eccentricity is a significant area of Alex’s practice, as well as the notions of obsessiveness through the creation of very intricate models. He combines lo-fi materials such as paper or wax with a high art material such as bronze, juxtaposing the two materials together to create amusing sculptures that portray narratives relating to human endeavour.”

Tim Hamlin, of sponsors, Picton, said: “We are delighted to announce Alex J Wood as the winner of the Picton Art Prize. In developing the prize, we specifically wanted to recognise new and emerging talent. We are thrilled to support the talent developed at UAL, which is reflected in the high quality of the shortlist.”

Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor, UAL, said: “It’s vital that we support our students and graduates in the early stages of their careers, offering them opportunities to develop their practice and extend themselves, as well as high profile platforms on which to showcase their work to new audiences. The Picton Art prize offers just this.”

A rising star artist

Alex J Wood graduated from Chelsea College of Arts in 2014, with an MA in Fine Art. In 2014 Alex was the first Foundry Fellow at Camberwell College of Arts where he created a series of space travel inspired bronzes including ‘Fly Me to the Moon’, a bronze space rocket based upon the 1902 Georges Méliès film “A Trip to the Moon”. ‘Hidden Depths’, is verdigris green patinated bronze with an ambiguous form now in The Patrick and Kelly Lynch collection.

In 2015 Alex was shortlisted for both The Mark Tanner Sculpture Award and The Henry Moore Plinth Prize, and in 2014 he was selected for art residency in Beijing. In April 2013 Alex was resident artist at Tokyo Wonder Site in Japan, and exhibited in Tokyo and London.

Alex was recently commissioned by Penguin Books to create a sculpture for Foyles Flagship London store. Whilst studying for his MA Fine Art at Chelsea, Alex was the 2013 recipient of The Patrick and Kelly Lynch Scholarship. His work is held in various private collections in the USA and Europe as well as the University of the Arts London collection. In both 2013 and 2014 he was shortlisted for The Clifford Chance Sculpture Award.

The judges

The Picton Art Prize juding panel comprised artists Susanna Heron and Nick Hornby; Head of Arts and Culture for Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Adriana Marques; Picton Asset Manager, Tim Hamlin; and Director of External Relations, Central Saint Martins, UAL, Stephen Beddoe.

Read more about funding and mentoring at UAL

Discover fine art courses at UAL

See Alex J Wood’s prize-winning Angel sculpture at Angel Gate, Islington, EC1

Read more about Alex J Wood

The power of The Collective

Gone are the days of getting discovered in obscure downtown galleries – it is the era of The Collective. Assemble – part architects, part designers – proved just that when they were the first Collective to scoop the Turner Prize last year. Death of the Turner? Or just a new way of practicing art?

Here, UAL talks to Steph Wilson, 23, founder of the Lemon People who says the Collective just well may be the way of the future.

Lemon People group shot

You’re the founder of the Lemon People who are…
We’re a London-based collective made up of artists, writers, photographers, filmmakers and musicians. We work as individuals, mostly as freelancers, but a lot of our work wouldn’t be possible without the combined effort of the Lemons. Plus, our never ending favours to one another means our creativity is never hindered.


Alice Zoo

Do you actually just need to be in a Collective to afford studio space and have enough money to study and have a social life?
No, but it definitely helps. Being in a Collective just adds more reason to go out of our way for each other. There’s an element of knowing that if a fellow member succeeds, then that success will lead back to the Collective. That way, you and your fellow Lemons work will be seen more frequently.


Elliott Arndt

Do Collectives get noticed more?
In a literal sense, yes they do. By having our work all linked to Lemon People it all leads back to one place – increasing the views of our website, and our collective’s work. We become more noticeable.

Steph Wilson_ two girls

Steph Wilson

You all look like models! Is there a conscious effort to look a certain way as an artist?
Yes, I intended to make an art collective/model agency hybrid. Really? No. We just got lucky.

Elliott Arndtlemon

Is there an ‘audition’/ hazing ritual process for becoming a Lemon?
We’re all close friends, so, to become a Lemon I guess you’ve got to get on our good side for, on average, about five – 10 years. I’ve known most of the girls since we were about 12. We all went to school together. Either that or you could donate £100k to the Collective. We’d let you be a member for that, too.

download (3)Steph Wilson

What is it about Collectives that make them powerful?
It serves as a kind of comfort knowing that there are people who have got your back. We know that if a job comes up that I can’t do, it’s not a wasted opportunity and it’ll go to a Lemon and vice versa.

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Do you operate almost like a ‘dysfunctional’ family and tell each other when one of the Lemon’s work is not up to scratch?
If a dysfunctional family means that I am the angry nagging mother that says how shit something is occasionally, then yes. It’s difficult when people are at a risk of being offended. I’m a fan of being as blunt as possible, regardless of how tactless it comes across as, and I’m sure I’m hated for it. But hey, someone’s got to do it.

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What are the biggest tensions/ most frustrating thing about being in a Collective?
Ego. Almost all of us are quite strong characters with our own minds made up about certain things. Ego and stubbornness often gets very frustrating, and we still need to learn to curb that into a positive asset by asserting official roles when working together collaboratively as to not trip over each other.

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If you could come up with a new ‘model’ for how artists work, what would it be?
I would design a laissez-faire art system. I liked how when I did a 6 month foundation course at UAL’s Chelsea College of Arts, it was based on positive criticism, led by an experienced figure. But essentially, you’re left to your own devices. To learn in an environment, where you are free to simply soak up knowledge and experience- would be a good structure. Constantly meeting useful and interesting people always gets you so much further than a piece of paper.


Alice Zoo

What are your predictions for the ways artists will work in the future?
People are getting quite lazy, so I hope it’s not just online stuff or work so abstract you eat it by accident at the private view. As young people get more savvy – because they have to – hopefully this will lead them to become even more creative in order to survive. I just hope it doesn’t turns into the very wealthy taking on their mother’s art gallery and only exhibiting their very wealthy friends’ shit work.


Steph Wilson

Sex? Politics? What do you think will always be the ‘best-selling’ subject as an artist?
Oneself. We’re all obsessed with ourselves; what we think, how we feel, what our shit looks like, everything.

Meg Nixon

Meg Nixon

The worse the break-up, the better the art?

You can cry and scream, or you can do what these 12 artists did…

1. FEEL THE BURN: Microwave the evidence

Hansika Jathnani - London College of Communication, BA Photography

Hansika Jethnani, Xhibit Artist, London College of Communication, UAL

“My long distance ex-boyfriend broke up with me over a WhatsApp conversation. Breaking up in person was impossible, and so it happened over a cyberspace of floating words instead. Like the anticipation of heating something up in the microwave – I was in constant agony waiting for a reply. When I heard back, it was gut-wrenching words that broke my heart. I put Polaroids I photographed in the microwave. What I photographed did not matter – it was what happened to the Polaroid once popped into the microwave that did. Burnt and damaged they resembled me through the wretched phase of my relationship.” – Hansika Jethnani, Xhibit Artist, London College of Communication, UAL.
See it now: Xhibit 2016 @UAL



“Ex-Axe”: Museum of Broken Relationships.

Forget storing memories of your ex in a tattered shoe box – display the remnants of your break-up in the Museum of Broken Relationships instead! Sheer exhibitionism? Cathartic relief? Closure? Whatever the motivation, you are free to share in and gawk at others misery in a united “we’re so over you” front. From a toaster stolen out of spite, to a used axe that a spouse had used to smash up every bit of her cheating husband’s furniture – there’s something for everyone. Even Jeremy Clarkson revealed to Sunday Times readers that he was impressed: “…most of the world’s museums are filled almost entirely with stuff that’s not very interesting. (This) was the only museum I’ve visited where every single thing on display was utterly fabulous. Certainly, I must confess, as I moved from exhibit to exhibit, that I felt a tinge of fear that the next would be a teddy bear with a severed head and a short accompanying story about a former local newspaper reporter with an interest in cars and a very small gentleman sausage . . .”



Allison Wade/ Huffington Post

“I obviously date the wrong people,” artist, Allison Wade told The Cut after she received a text message from an ex telling her: “I’ll contact you after the burial”. She never heard from him again. It prompted her to comb her phone for other break-up texts and used these, along with inspiration from rom-com clichés to create a series of Break-up Text paintings, which showcase the messages she’d sent and received at the end of various relationships. Dizzying texts: “WTF!!! You left for Ibiza without me,” to “Sorry I have been out of touch this week. There was a snowstorm and I have been watching movies,” to “on Zanax at the airport had a panic attach please stop calling me” are juxtaposed against jaunty colour hues – perhaps a nod to the cold nature of screen-based communication.



You can cry or you can show them how good you can look – which is exactly what Alexis Housden, London College of Fashion, UAL student did when he based his MA16 Menswear show on a break up. “When someone leaves you, you think you are going die but you don’t – everything ends up OK and life continues – the world continues to be light and wonderful.” Housden’s collection represents mourning, anger and then rebirth.



The Scream, Edvard Munch, 1893

It may very well have been a break-up that led to expressionist, Edvard Munch’s seminal work: “The Scream.” It’s 1892 and Munch confesses in his diary: “I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature…” His misery may have been born out of an ill-fated on-again, off-again affair with his cousin’s wife – irrational bohemian Tulla Larsen. The affair ended with a bang, when Larsen shot off one of Munch’s fingers with a revolver during an argument. Adding insult to injury, Larsen went on to marry one of Munch’s colleagues.



Sophie Calle, Take Care of Yourelf, Artation

French artist, Sophie Calle received an email sent to her by a boyfriend intent on breaking up with her. It ended with the words, “I would have liked things to have turned out differently. Take care of yourself.” And so, she did just that. Calle sent the letter to 107 women from different professions and backgrounds—a psychiatrist, an author, a rifle shooter, an opera singer, a family mediator, a lawyer, even a parrot—asking them to interpret the text. It resulted in her 2007 tour de force, Take Care of Yourself that saw an entire gallery taken over with interpretations and performances of the letter. The repetition of the original letter, played over and over again, led Calle to focus on the project – not the man. Voila! Take her of herself, she did.



Matthew Broderick & Helen Hunt, 1987, Old Loves

Old Loves. The name invokes images of elderly lovebirds, but it’s actually an exhaustive catalog of celebrity couples who are no longer together. From Matt Damon and Winona Ryder, to Matthew Broderick and Helen Hunt, and Cher and Gene Simmons. The ex-files are out.



Screenshots of the Facebook breakup tool, New York Times

Not only does Facebook have a dedicated Compassion Team – it also has tools that allow you to digitally fade out former lovers. Product designer, Emily Albert got thinking when she found it difficult to face her former flame’s Facebook post. Solution? Create a tool that prompts users to choose from a variety of phase-out options after changing their relationship status: “Take a Break. Here are some changes that might be helpful. We won’t notify Taylor of any changes you make. See less of Taylor. See Taylor on Facebook only if you visit his profile.”



Revenge Dioramas, Facebook Page

Want to live in a world where your ex gets run over by a train? Where lovers rule and the cheats who have wronged them perish in a dinosaur attack? Well, now you can thanks to artist Laura Stokes and her collaborator Nichole Cordin who have created ‘Revenge Dioramas’ – based on break-up fantasies, which they photograph and post to their Facebook pageCountless stories of betrayal inspired Stokes to make her revenge dioramas: “I realized this is really a thing that women in particular need,” she told Mashable. “We need to laugh at men. With all the headlines about men taking away our reproductive rights, denying us justice in court for rape and sexual harassment, refusing to listen and believe women about their experiences, there’s a lot of justified rage in women right now,” she said. “This is just one way to feel some catharsis about that, to strike back just a little bit.”



Untitled, 2012. From the series Beth. Matthew Swarts.

Constantly comparing? Hard to let yourself fall for new love? Matthew Swarts dealt with these questions he split up with a long-term girlfriend and then found a new one a year later. He channeled the change-over in two photo series. In Beth, he manipulates old photos of his ex-girlfriend so she slowly fades from view. In The Alternatives, he manipulates images of his new girlfriend to represent the complicated process of forging a new bond.

11. GET A MAKEOVER: “Love Raised Me Lipstick Saved Me.”


Angelique Velez

New York City based make-up artist, Angelique Velez founded Breakups to Makeup, an accessory & apparel line, showing that makeup is more than a simple product – it’s art. And sometime the only thing better than saying it – is wearing it.



Nicole Leth. Instagram: sex.icecream

Take a leaf out of Nicole Leth’s book and rebound from a break-up by launching a business and becoming ridiculously successful. Founder of Sex + Ice Cream, a clothing brand that could be described as “breakup art,” based on “graphic patterns, bright colours, traditional fiber techniques mixed with modern processes, and honest storytelling of my girlhood.” Every fiber of Leth’s being goes into her designs—she’s literally personally attached. “All of the patterns and prints I use are scanned directly from my diary,” she told Nylon.

Meet: Rebecca Moyster

Rebecca Moyster studied BA (Hons) Textile Design at Central Saint Martins, graduating in 2004. After a successful career working in product development at Burberry and the Designers Guild, she decided to quit her job to follow her dream of perusing her own idea. This led to her launching the highly original and successful luxury balloon business, Bonbon Balloons.

Rebecca Moyster with balloons

Rebecca Moyster with some of her Bon Bon Balloons

After graduating from Central Saint Martins I got an internship with Burberry, and I ended up staying there for two and a half years working in product development.  It was quite different to textiles design, hard work but really fun. I developed the lines for the handbag and jewellery runway collections.  After a few years I moved to the Designers Guild, still working in product development, but with more management and pure fabric development.

Then, four years ago, I just decided to leave my job and start my own business.  I didn’t really have a business idea, I just knew that I wanted to go out on my own, and it was now or never.

About a week after quitting my job I had the idea for Bonbon Balloons. I was looking at some sketch books on my table, and I saw these Tim Walker photographs with giant balloons on the sea and my brain started ticking… Giant balloons… Why don’t you see them? They’re amazing! I also started thinking about the balloon string and how it usually just a plain bit of string that gets ignored, and I thought how cool it would be to have decorative string. It escalated really quickly. I thought of the name that night and registered it, but I didn’t know anything about balloons. So then I spent the next six months trying to learn and making mistakes, working on the identity of the brand, how I wanted it to look, the logo, photography etc. and then launched it. That was four years ago, and we have been trading ever since.

I have never had to spend much money on marketing because the balloons promote themselves at events. Instagram didn’t exist when I launched on social media, I was just using Facebook and Twitter – and I got picked up by blogs and press straight away, and the momentum started to build from there.  Then the first company that contacted me were Dior in Paris. It blew my mind, I nearly fell off my chair in the one desk studio in Angel I was renting at the time.

Bonbon Balloons

We are a luxury balloon company who work with each client in a really bespoke way, creating something exactly to their preference.  Everything is from scratch and so creatively we never get bored, it’s always different. We work with luxury fashion brands, PR companies, events, venues, weddings, parties as well as individual clients.  We also offer the ‘balloon in a box’ service which enables you to order a balloon with a personalised message – the balloon gets delivered and floats up out of a beautifully packaged box when opened. They are really durable and will still be floating five weeks later (they last longer than flowers).

We source our balloons from a traditional balloon supplier, but we use them differently. All the confetti we use is hand cut and hand inserted into the balloon, so we can use any colour/pattern. We design and make everything in the studio, and everything is hand crafted. Nothing is off the peg, and we adapt it for every client.

We’re now based in a studio in Dalston, and I have a team of three people working with me in the studio. When we have larger jobs we call on other freelance creatives.  We’re not a traditional balloon company – there’s nothing we could have ever been taught from another balloon company – so the people that work for us don’t have to have any experience working with balloons, they just need to be creative and have a really good eye. It works really well because we have a great collective of different backgrounds when we do events.

When you’re setting up on your own you almost have to have a big heap of nativity – I look back four years on and I’m not the same person I was.  Now it feels really reckless just giving up my career to start my own business.

The most daunting thing I faced was the constant mistakes. Still now we make mistakes, but at first you make LOADS. And obviously you learn from them, which is the lesson, but it’s still really hard to swallow. You’re constantly not quite sure how to do things because there’s no handbook on it.

BonBon Balloons on location

I was also following a business model that I’d never seen before, so there was nothing to compare it to.

Something that is a constant challenge to us is those that see our ideas and also want to pursue them. It does strengthen the trend, but we also have to be really mindful of copyright, because there are certain companies who have really infringed on our copyright. We are putting ourselves out there on Instagram all the time and telling everyone what we’re doing, so it is part of it. The way we deal with it now is to just create something new, we never sit with the same ideas, which keeps things really fresh.

We are constantly expanding. The next step is to expand to international markets, so we can offer the services we offer in London in other places, inflated. We want to take what we have done here and bring it to other places.

Creatively we want to keep working with the great brands that we’re working with, pushing things and doing new installations. Our business is great because it’s totally led by who we work with. We’re usually given free reign with the projects as well. The team love it because one week is never the same as the next.

Get yourself a BonBon Balloon today.

Follow BonBon Balloons on Instagram.


Shakespeare 400 at UAL: Costume Designs from WWII to Today

Joining activities across the UK to mark Shakespeare’s legacy on 23 April, Shakespeare 400 has been created to explore Shakespearean costume design and theatre across UAL.

The website showcases the original watercolour sketches of costume designs for some of Shakespeare’s most famous characters from the WWII era, inlcuding John Gielgud’s Hamlet in 1944. These feature alongside some of UAL’s latest student designs showing how Shakespearian costume design has evolved to celebrate Shakespeare’s 400 year legacy.

Richard III Costume by Jeanetta Cochrane, 1944, alongside costume design for Richard III in 2014

Richard III costume design, 1944, by Jeanetta Cochrane, alongside costume design for Richard III in 2014, by Laura Albeck, UAL student

All the original watercolour sketches from WWII era, held by UAL at its Central Saint Martins museum, are by costume designer, Jeanetta Cochrane. The designer, who studied at Central Saint Martins (formerly known as Central school of Art & Design), went on to teach at the college in 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War, and led it from the 1930s through the Second World War, up until her sudden death in 1957.

Commenting on the costume designs, Judy Willcocks, Head of Central Saint Martins Museum, said:

“Jeanetta Cochrane was a real inspiration. These beautiful Shakespeare costume designs show her desire for greater historical accuracy in theatrical costume. I’m delighted they are now curated online for everyone to see so her creativity and memory can live on.”

Jeanetta proposed a building of a professionally equipped theatre with adjoining workshops, costume cutting rooms and design studios for students. Named after her, the former Cochrane Theatre in Holborn (next to the original Central Saint Martins), was opened in 1964 although sadly Jeanetta did not live to see it. The Cochrane Theatre closed in January 2012 and Central Saint Martins, part of UAL since 1986, moved to their new site in the highly-successful art-led regeneration of the King’s Cross area, including the new Platform Theatre.

Nigel Carrington, Vice Chancellor of UAL, said:

“The creative practice-centred approach, exemplified by Jeanetta Cochrane, lives on in the philosophy of all UAL colleges today. Providing a liberating platform for creativity to thrive, UAL has produced multiple winners in the most prestigious art and design awards including the BAFTAs, Golden Globes and Oscars. Over the next five years, UAL will invest more than a quarter of a billion pounds on new buildings in regeneration priority areas of London to keep innovation and creativity at the heart of the capital.”

Shakespeare Now – Latest UAL Costume Designs & ‘Shakespeare in the Park’:

For contrast, the latest Shakespearian costume designs from UAL show how Shakespearian costume design has changed over the last 70 years. The costume designs are from two UAL colleges: Central Saint Martins and Wimbledon College of Arts. These prestigious costume and theatre design courses have produced the likes of Jenny Beavan, Oscar winning costume designer for Mad Max: Fury Road.

Gasholder Park, King's Cross

Gasholder Park, King’s Cross

Joining events across the UK for Shakespeare 400, is ‘Shakespeare in the Park’; UAL Central Saint Martins’ production ‘Brave New World’, performed outside in the Gasholder Park in King’s Cross, London. The play takes a radical approach looking at the role of women in four of Shakespeare’s late plays by using only the acts which contain women. The 5 act play will be performed on 22 & 23 April by students from the prestigious MA Acting course which has produced stars such as Edward Holcroft, known for his role in Kingsman: The Secret Service and Wolf Hall.

Costume designs for this production are by Laura Albeck and Sonia Birman, Performance Design and Practice Students at Central Saint Martins.

New UAL Alumni Group in Denmark

Alexander Hinnerskov studied BA (Hons) Product Design at Central Saint Martins, graduating in 2007.  He has recently moved back to Denmark after ten years in London, and is launching a new UAL Denmark alumni group to establish a creative network for all alumni in the area. 

Alexander Hinnerskov

Alexander Hinnerskov

After completing my foundation in Denmark, I started applying for university degrees in design and architecture. After some frustration, a good friend suggested that I should also look abroad. Knowing that I wanted an international and creative career in design and innovation, the obvious choice for me was Central Saint Martins. Although I knew there was a slim chance of being accepted (as the competition is so tough) I still went ahead with the application process. I remember distinctly my surprise and excitement the day I received a letter inviting me for an interview. In the end, I got through and there was no doubt in my mind to accept my place on the BA product design course.

Choosing a degree at CSM is the best decision I have ever made. It has enabled me to meet and work with amazing people and collaborate on a variety of projects. I have always challenged myself and my creative process trying to exceed expectations regardless of the brief. Having studied at CSM has always meant having the creative edge, and what better place to study than the international creative hub that is London?

My classmates are spread out all over the world but I manage to keep in contact with them. This has given me the big advantage of an international creative network. I also teach short courses at CSM, which has been a great way to stay in contact with my academic roots as well as teach and thereby learn new creative skills.

Since graduating, I have worked in a variety of creative design roles both full-time and freelance. These have included making design-art furniture pieces, leading various visual merchandising projects on store layouts and window designs, residential interior design, lighting design, cardboard sculptures and most recently teaching branding and product design. I have also always had small creative projects on the go to support my need for a varying creative outlet. These have included self-initiated projects or collaborations always with the objective of making quality and quality making. The focus in my career has always been to work with the creative process to produce a range of innovative concepts, and to execute these with the utmost attention to detail.

Having relocated to Copenhagen after 10 years in London, I was amazed to find that there was no UAL alumni group in Denmark.  UAL educates some of the most creative minds in the world so creating an alumni group here has a lot of potential. I think that the aim of the group will be up to its members – whether that be establishing a creative network, finding collaborators for projects, setting up exhibitions or just meeting for a drink now and again. Personally I have found that the best way to make things happen is through your network.

If you want to be a part of the new UAL alumni group in Denmark, please join the Facebook group today, or get in touch with Alexander at

Find out more about our UAL alumni groups and Associations around the world.

Part Of Us: Auction & Exhibition 25 April 2016

It is one of the largest contemporary humanitarian crises we’ve faced.

The numbers of displaced refugees seeking asylum from war and persecution is on the rise. A recent survey in a  Calais camp showed 61.1% of children stated they ‘never feel safe’. Violence, health issues, and concerns that the camp could one day be demolished were areas of gravest concern. One 16-year-old respondent said: “In Afghanistan there’s 80% chance to die, here there’s 100% chance”.

Matteo Giutini

For Temor Alkaisi, 24, a refugee from Iraq who fled to the UK when he was 17, it was art that saved him.

“Art isn’t our thing back home. But art is like therapy. I’ve experienced trauma repeatedly and witnessed horrific violence against my family back home. I had no idea what I was going to do when I first came to the UK. I was lost and had no confidence. But finding art helped me re-focus. It gave me the freedom to express myself in a way that nothing else could.”


Temor Alkaisi

PART OF US: Auction
See first-hand how art is responding to this crisis in PART OF US – a very special one night only auction and exhibition event to be held at Central Saint Martins, UAL on Monday 25 April 2016.

A live and silent auction featuring the work of UAL students, staff and alumni will be offered. Proceeds will directly fundraise for charities on the ground in the border of refugee camps of Calais and Dunkirk, providing critical services for refugee communities including basic survival, legal aid, mental health services and art therapy, as well as collaborative youth group projects. These charities include: Refugee Community Kitchen, Art Refuge UK and Humming Bird Project, as well as the legal and humanitarian focused Refugee Rights Data Project.

Mustafa Boga

Chloe Bennet

Chloe Bennet

Auction: pledges
In addition to the selected artworks, a series of pledges have been donated ranging from luxury beach-side escapes – including 34-foot sailing yacht in Valencia, to an Art Deco style boat in the beautiful Discovery Bay Marina, Lantau Island, Hong Kong – award winning jewellery, cocktail and dance classes. Also up for auction is a complete tour of Central Saint Martins’ Head of College, Jeremy Till’s eco straw bale house.

Jeremy Till

Jeremy Till: Tour of 10 Stock Orchard Street, lunch and book on the building.

HK yacht

Two- night B&B in Art Deco style boat in the beautiful Discovery Bay Marina, Lantau Island, Hong Kong. Flights not included.

Alongside the auction, PART OF US will display an exhibition of the work of artists and initiatives which voice perspectives on the current crisis.

Participating artists
Carolina Rapezzi is a photographer who just returned to England from a trip to the Calais refugee camps in March 2016. From this she has produced photography and a short video. Her previous work includes photographic series such as Minors on the Move (2015).

Carolina Rapezzi 2016_Page_09

Young Roots is a charity organisation active in the UK which have equipped children and youth affected by migration with cameras and asked them to document their experiences. A selection of these candid moments will be on display.

Young Roots

The Refugee Phrasebook Project is ‘an open collaborative project to provide important vocabulary to refugees. It assembles important phrases from various fields and encourages designers and experts in the field to improve on the material. The Refugee Phrasebook is a multilingual tool that provides basic useful vocabulary related to the most common immediate needs.’

Refugee Phrase Book

Nana Varveropoulo’s photographic series No Man’s Land No Man’s Land is ‘a collaborative project that explores experiences of indefinite immigration detention.’


Zory Shahrokhi is ‘a British- Iranian visual artist based in Greater London. Her practice developed through a concern to explore cultural/political agendas, employing performance in relation to installation and photography.’ We are hoping to feature her project Waves (2007) or some of her more recent textile works.


Behjat Omer Abdulla, ‘is a Kurdish visual artist who works with mixed media, mainly drawing, photography, and video installation, in order to listen to peoples’ stories and try to create a platform for debate around the issues raised. His work raises questions about identity and people’s position in the world.’ His self-portrait will be exhibited.


Saf Suleyman’s short film Bilaadi, screened as part of the ‘Global Movements’ event at London Short Film Festival 2016, portrays Shafik and his young family, who escaped Syria two years ago. “Since settling in Istanbul they have been coming to terms with their pasts and attempting to build a future, wherever that may be. “I am happy here, but I want to go back to Syria.”


Ana Cvorovic was born in 1981 in former Yugoslavia and now lives and works in London, UK. Her 2014 work Discharged or 2016 work A Fleeting Freeing.


The evening will also see the launch of a long term mural project with Artolution. Join Part of Us and celebrate the power of how art can shape its community.

Part of Us hero

Event details
The programme for the evening is as follows:
Exhibition opens at: 5pm
Drinks served from: 6pm
Event and Auction start: 7pm
Location: 1 Granary Square, Kings Cross, London N1C 4AA
Booking required.
RSVP via Eventbrite

For any press inquiries or other information, please contact or refer to our website:

Collaborators include Counterpoints Arts, S.T.A.R, Refugee Phrasebook, Artolution, Carolina Rapezzi and Young Roots.

Design Creativity Partners Up with Social Sciences to Tackle Big Public Policy Issues

University of the Arts London (UAL) and King’s College London have started a new partnership to bring together staff and students on research, teaching and public engagement to tackle some of the biggest public policy issues.

Image (c) Ana Escobar

Image: copyright (c) Ana Escobar

A joint collaboration between the Policy Institute at King’s and the Innovation Insights Hub at UAL, presents a unique context for students to explore, develop and assess the intersections between design and policy. The collaboration includes two new joint PhD studentships bringing together UAL’s design thinking and King’s policy expertise, to contribute to the emerging field of policy innovation.

Announcing the plans, Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor of UAL said:

‘This is an exciting step which combines UAL’s expertise as one of the world’s top five universities for art and design, with the wealth of knowledge in the social sciences and technology at King’s to bring about positive change in policy. It builds on UAL staff collaborating for over a decade with government policy makers to help them generate and prototype new creative solutions to some of the biggest public challenges.’

Professor Evelyn Welch, Vice Principal, Arts and Sciences of King’s College London, said:

‘We’re delighted to be partnering with UAL on this innovative new project. The Policy Institute at King’s is one of the many parts of the university which make King’s one of the top twenty universities in the world and we hope that collaborations of this sort will help to make King’s an even stronger world leading education institute.’

The partnership will see the first joint fully-funded PhD Studentship in Design Thinking for Policy Making Practice between UAL’s Innovation Insights Hub and the Policy Institute at King’s. This post will lead the research in further understanding how policies can be developed and tested using approaches from design. The work will be supported by interdisciplinary and interfaculty research seminars, exploring future joint research projects.

Dr Lucy Kimbell, Director of the UAL Innovation Insights Hub and leader of the PhD Studentship in Design Thinking for Policy Making Practice programme, :

“We’re looking to bring imagination, creativity and science to the forefront of public policy, exploring design solutions for today as well as future generations. This programme joins our current project in collaboration with Policy Lab in the Cabinet Office, delivering training on design thinking for civil servants and supporting the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre to develop an EU Policy Lab.”

Professor Jennifer Rubin, Professor of Public Policy & Director of Analysis at King’s Policy Institute, also commented:

‘There are many areas where policy thinking has not yet caught up with and responded to people’s behaviour and needs in order to improve outcomes. We are delighted that this partnership will bring together rigorous social science, policy and design thinking in new ways to help tackle societal challenges.’


The first three-year joint PhD students will start in October 2016.