There was a time, believe it or not, when graphic design classrooms had no computers and students were required to make everything by hand. Of course, with technology dominating almost every aspect of our lives now, that’s no longer the case. But that doesn’t mean the unique learning experience a handmade design offers is any less important.
Aware of the benefits of hands-on work can offer designers, Shillington’s graphic design course (opens in new tab) includes a brief to create a handmade design from scratch. Out of the 30+ briefs given during the three month full time or nine months part time course, the handmade project is a firm favourite among students, offering the chance to move away from a computer screen and create something amazing with their hands.
Here you’ll find 15 inspirational handmade projects by Shillington students, which include everything from flowers and origami to a very unique record sleeve and film poster.
Theodora Lamprinaki – Wonderwall by Oasis
This striking record sleeve design for the 1995 Oasis single Wonderwall was created by Theodora Lamprinaki. Using the string art technique of weaving coloured string around nails to create patterns, Lamprinaki chose this method as a way to represent the connection of a soulmate, metaphorically referred to as a wonderwall. The shape of circle represents wholeness and perfection.
Amy Forsyth – Frida
A movie poster design for 2002 film Frida, a biopic of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, by Amy Forsyth. Both the type and the portrait of Kahlo were created using hand-sewn appliqué and embroidery in a colour scheme inspired by the most common colours in Kahlo’s vibrant paintings: green, yellow, orange and blue.
Molly Keene – The Girls by Emma Cline
A book cover design for Emma Cline’s 2016 debut Novel The Girls by Molly Keene. A minimalist design using a hand-printed popsicle stick set into a popsicle and then melted represents the book’s main themes of infatuation, loss of innocence and decay. The idea of a melted popsicle reflects the book’s idea that nothing can return to what is was before that summer.
Stephen Nutley – Get Out
A movie poster design by Stephen Nutley for the 2017 thriller Get Out, directed by Jordan Peele. The design combines a china teacup and silver spoon, important motifs in the film, and homemade fake blood to cleverly embody the film’s storyline and themes of racism, slavery and trauma. The drip of the fake blood also references the film’s references to “the sunken place”.
Mario Baltodano – The King of Limbs by Radiohead
A record sleeve design for Radiohead’s 2011 album The King of Limbs by Mario Baltodano. Taking inspiration from the album’s opening track ‘Bloom’, the design uses collaged photographs coupled with dried flowers, mirroring nature and the natural decay of living things. These major themes run throughout the album, which is also reflected through natural sounds, including bird song and wind in the song themselves.
Kerry Underhill – Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes
Kerry Underhill’s record sleeve design for Sound & Color, a 2013 album by American blues rock band Alabama Shakes. The titular song is about a colourless, silent world devoid of both sound and colour. This design flips this concept on its head by using both elements, sound and colour, very literally – paint was laid on a vintage speaker and, with the volume cranked, was allowed to “dance” creating a colourful visualisation of sound.
Martina Larrarte – Carmen
A poster design for George Bizet’s 1865 opera Carmen by Martina Larrarte. The opera follows the story of the attractive, flirty Carmen who escapes prison by seducing a guard, José, before the two run away to the mountains. There, she falls in love with a bullfighter Escamillo and plans to elope with him. José is blinded by jealousy and stabs Carmen to death.
The design uses two major elements of the opera – a hand folded origami bull to represent Escamillo and a draped red piece of fabric to represent Carmen and her traditional red flamenco dress, the red muleta used in bullfighting and, finally, Carmen’s murder in the bullring.
Joanna Dudderidge – Sound and Vision by David Bowie
Joanna Dudderidge’s record sleeve design for Sound and Vision, a 1977 song by David Bowie. The design was inspired by Bowie’s lyrics “waiting for the gift of sound and vision” and tries to capture the anticipation of sound in a still image. Using handprinted everyday objects, suspended by wire as if suspended in mid-air – capturing the moment of silence before they inevitably crash to the ground.
Adam Waldock – Migration by Bonobo
A record sleeve design for Bonobo’s 2017 album Migration by Adam Waldock. Throughout the album Bonobo returns to themes of nature and migration which are reflected in this design through hand folded origami birds, nature’s most prevalent migrators. The album also shows how Bonobo’s creation is a passage of learning and solitude – mirrored by the design’s single yellow bird.
Ashley Gordon – The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k
A book cover design for ‘The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k’, the 2015 book by Sarah Knight. Created by Ashley Gordon, the design uses both hand lettering and embroidery to recreate the ‘Not Sorry’ flowchart from the book, which guides the reader how to prioritise what’s really important. The handmade elements embodies both the magic the title names and the sense of irony it invokes.
Martha Hindle – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Martha Hindle’s movie poster design for the classic 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The eponymous characters’ rebellious character and iconic blasé nature to school and authority is portrayed through the use of chewing gum hand-stamped with the film’s title, creating a simple but effective design. A type lock-up behind the photographed design is a callback to the memorable roll call scene from the film.
Lynette Spry – The Secret Garden
A book cover design by Lynette Spry for the classic children’s novel The Secret Garden, written in 1910 by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The book’s main premise of a secret garden discovered by an intrigued young girl, is shown in the design through flowers being arranged to appear to grow through the word ‘garden’ cut by hand out of a sheet of card. The flowers chosen were taken directly from the story, with Spry using only flowers mentioned to have grown in Mr and Mrs Craven’s garden.
Sholto Douglas – Raw Power by Iggy Pop and The Stooges
A record sleeve design by Sholto Douglas for a special edition of Iggy Pop and The Stooges' Raw Power, a classic proto-punk album from 1973. A deep red vinyl is encased in a handmade concrete sarcophagus with debased typography – the raw nature of the material reflecting both the album’s title and content. The only way to get into the record is to use brute force, or raw power itself, to break through the concrete shell.
James Shakeshaft – Letters from the Road by Jack Kerouac
James Shakeshaft’s record sleeve design for Jack Kerouac’s spoken word recordings Letters from the Road – famous for its snapshot into post-war America, delivered in Kerouac’s fragmented style. The content and delivery is echoed in the design using literal snapshots of post-war America overlaid by hand with strips of coloured acetate, which obscures parts of the narrative in a similar way to how Kerouac tells the story.
If you want to start making your own handmade projects and become industry ready in just three months, head over to the Shillington website (opens in new tab) for more information on how to sign up – it could be the best decision you ever make.