Celebrating ACE Programmes

When I was asked to write a post for our internal newsletter, I thought providing an opportunity to reflect on the question ‘What is postgraduate study?’ could be interesting and revealing for us in MA Graphic Arts, but also more broadly for others in the faculty at a point of change, curriculum reviews, and further unknown futures. Thank you to our students, staff, and alumni for sharing some of their experiences and perspectives. Stephen Monger (Programme Leader MA Graphic Arts)

My own background in city wayfinding and information design means the metaphor of finding our way seems to come to mind in so many contexts. But specifically for Graphic Arts at Postgraduate study, the concepts of orientation and exploration particularly resonate. I often lead the first module of the programme and as students come together for the first time as a community of researchers and practitioners, as new colleagues and friends, there is a process of individual and collective orientation to where they are in relation to their own practice, their diverse experience that led to the course and to look beyond themselves to a community of practitioners in their field. Whether continuing from education or returning to study after working in industry, the opportunity to venture out into unexplored terrains and explore ideas both conceptually and practically, guided by students’ own questions, continually develops their sense of themselves and their work and opens up new and exciting spaces that offer directions for their personal practice as well as contributions to the discipline. Harriet Hand (Associate Lecturer in Graphic Arts)

Aside from the course content the chance to interact and build relationships with creative individuals from different backgrounds has made my masters invaluable. The beauty of postgraduate study is that you have the chance to work with individuals who are at different stages within their creative journey; some have already worked in industry and are willing to share their knowledge, others have come from allied subject areas eager to learn new skills. Lucy Slade (current PG student)

During my time on MA Graphic Arts I have been able to adapt my own way of working, and dip my toe into multiple areas of design that I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced. The journey, as a whole has been an exciting one and has given me a great opportunity to create new friendships through some lovely and like-minded people.

Postgraduate study in general has opened my eyes to the importance of research, testing methods and creating multiple outcomes before finalising a design. Be it through the various and engaging workshops the course offers, or the guest speakers who have all given an exciting insight into their specific practice. It has enabled me to become more experimental in my approach and create work that I feel truly embodies what I am and where I want to go after the MA. Martin Shepherd (current PG student)

In the first year of my MA in Graphic Arts, I submitted a competition entry to the ITV Creates project, which was a brief that would see 52 practicing artists create a television ident revolving around the ITV logo. For each week of the year, these identities would be broadcast in-between programs live on television.

Part of my research for the submission consisted of watching all of the current artists’ creations, and through aligning this with my own developing practice; I pitched a typographical idea for the project. It consisted of over 900 cubes that from one angle looked to be an accumulation of random blocks but from the front, it revealed (through a pixelated version of the logo) what was actually at the centre of it all; and this was ITV.

I was incredibly excited to find out that they chose my idea to be produced. I then spent the next few months creating this 3D type piece, alongside juggling my on-going uni work for the course. It took a total of 98 hours from start to finish to create, and roughly 40 of those hours were spent painting each of the cubes. Each one was coated with two layers of a white primer and then sprayed in 22 different colours, the ITV logo colours were hand painted onto selected cubes on the front at the very end.

After it was created, I travelled up to London’s Holborn Studios for a full day of filming my work. I arrived early and had a chance to meet the curator, producers, and crew whilst the studio was being set-up. I spent the next five hours stacking the cubes into place, one by one. It was hard work, but with music playing and the excitement of seeing the finished piece in such a professional context, I joyfully carried on.

A few months after it was filmed, the ident aired and it was really cool and quite surreal to see my own work on the TV. I received a lot of nice messages from friends, family and people I hadn’t actually spoken to for a while saying they’d spotted it as well. Another couple of months after this, I was invited to the end of project party at h Club in London. This was unreal fun and a great opportunity to meet some of the artists, a few of which I still keep in touch with now, through Instagram.

The entire project was a whirlwind of fun, excitement, nerves and learning. It’s allowed me connect with an established community in the capital city and due to the professional nature and status of the ITV brand, it’s me helped attract the interest of the design industry in Bristol; where I’m now currently on placement for an agency called Mr. B & Friends. Ash Kayser (Alumni 2019)

Cover image: Samah Al Ansari (current PG student)