ECA Degree Show 2016: Graphic Design and Illustration

There's a wealth of eclectic ideas flowing forth from ECA's Graphic Design and Illustration students – we throw ourselves headlong into the melee for a closer look...

Feature by Lauren Rook | 17 May 2016

With the 2016 Graphic Design and Illustration degree shows fast approaching, the corridors and stairs at Evolution House are overrun by bright-eyed soon-to-be graduates. Amongst those students leaving Edinburgh College of Art, many have plans to pursue careers related to their final show work – in the midst of this busy time, we take the opportunity to catch up some of the graduating class and find out what’s making this year such an exciting one across both disciplines.

The studios are situated opposite each other on the fourth floor, though Illustration boasts a bigger space and stunning views over the Grassmarket. The undergraduates are slotted into individual desks towards the back, casually seated at their chaotic work stations. Mhairi Braden and Peony Gent sit back to back and are first to discuss their upcoming work – like many of their peers, they explain how their degree shows are a culmination of four years' hard graft. Peony states that her final work will be a display of "lots of little ones" such as ceramics, own narrative, comics, sketches and photography work. In contrast, Braden's pieces includes mono prints and screen prints inspired by her personal relationship with nature and paganism.

Of the other students, Paige Collins explores a sense of place through location drawings and floral prints and Celeste Clark presents a mix of personal projects and small editorial illustrations, as well as some comics and "quirky Virgin Mary portraits." There's also Hari Conner, who creates screen prints as well as an animated comic based on a fantasy theme, while Molly Soar also produces large scale screen prints, in addition to record sleeves and an observational book on the theme of people throughout time.

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More on ECA's 2016 degree shows:

 Design, Film and TV & Animation


Across the corridor and clearing the space in preparation for the degree show, we find Graphic Design students removing the last of the items that helped them through their final year at ECA. The once heavily cluttered studio is having its walls stripped as Fourth Years address the spaces in which their work will go. It's here that James Crossley and Nick Merdasi talk us through what to expect this year: Findlay is focusing on ritualistic behaviour to create textiles, ornaments and a video piece, whereas Merdasi explores comic book formats to produce a personal narrative while avoiding traditional layouts.

In contrast to Illustration, Graphic Design students have produced work that is it completely organic and separate from what they’ve being doing in previous years: Michelle Maxwell, for instance, has been researching death and rituals to produce a video piece and hopes to install a maypole in the Graphic Design studio, while Ben Shmulevitch is pursuing a project that he has always wanted to do by creating a book and an exhibition space on his grandfather’s experience of the Holocaust. Finally, in a nod to tradition, Rachel Millar is "rejecting computer-used stuff" to create large scale hand-drawn type.

This years Graphic Design and Illustration degree show at Edinburgh College of Art is tipped to be an eclectic range of skill sets and final outcomes. Challenging what each discipline fundamentally entails, the graduating classes of 2016 have successfully pushed the boat out. This is one that cannot be missed.

Go with the Glow – Wanshu Li

Want to know more about this year’s ECA degree shows? Read our guide:

ECA Graphic Design and Illustration Degree Show 2016, 74 Lauriston Place, 28 May-5 Jun, 11am-5pm