New talent: Edinburgh Napier degree show 2015

If you're looking for the best new graduates for your studio or agency, don't miss Computer Arts' New Talent special, issue 243, featuring the team's handpicked selection of the UK's best graduates – on sale 24 July 2015.

Edinburgh Napier University’s degree show and festival of creative industries kicks off on 22 May with public entry to the exhibition from 11am and a talk from Vaughan Oliver in the evening. (If you’re lucky you can still pick up a free ticket.)

Tonight, it’s industry, friends and family only – but we’ve taken a sneak-peak and, like last year, there are some outstanding projects on display.

Unsurprisingly, given the past 12 months, many have a political or social message. We were especially taken with Cameron Knott's sharded typography – but it's not the only example of strong concept and fantastic execution that you'll see in the projects collated here.

If you’re in Edinburgh, the show is well worth a visit. Over 300 new and emerging designers, photographers, film makers, art directors, advertising directors, musicians, journalists, creative writers, publishers, television programme makers and actors will exhibit over the course of the degree show.

The festival runs until 31 May and you’ll find all sorts going on alongside the exhibitions. Here are 10 highlights – in a raft of great design – to look out for at the graphic design show…

01. Gregor Johnstone

  • Course: BDes (Hons) Graphic Design
  • Project: The Lonely Words Club Band

In a world of abbreviated language and emoticons – ruled by instant messenger, social media and abbreviated language – we're losing our words. But they're not lost. Gregor Johnstone's Lonely Words Club Band is a band of wandering minstrels, set on stopping the demise of language with its 26-piece typographic orchestra of instruments.

Johnstone researched the demise of words, choosing some that are already lost alongside other, better known words, and giving them to final year music student David Neil, who composed five pieces of bespoke music.

Gregor Johnstone's Lonely Words Club Band literally plays words. "Each song was made to sound like the word that was being played," he says

It's a playful collaborative project that pushes the boundaries of graphic design, using music to connect people to language.

In 12 months' time, Johnstone hopes to be working at London. "I would hope to be working in London, at an inspiring studio, learning as much as possible and having an input too," he says.

02. Jacob Capener

  • Course: BDes (Hons) Graphic Design
  • Project: Creative Destruction

Jacob Capener is a designer, photographer and illustrator. His final year project tells the darker story of the creative process, capturing the struggle for ideas using an explosive mixture of physical sets, 3D animation and graphics.

"I wanted to find out how a creative person, such as a designer, uses destruction to achieve ideas," he says. "In finding out how or when destruction is used, I discovered there's a story to be told in how we get ourselves out of a rut, creatively speaking."

Bold, graphic images from Jacob Capener's degree show

The most challenging part for Capener, he says, was using the different media to tell the story, from live action sets to Cinema 4D. "I really wanted to create a spectacle, to reflect the explosive, destructive moment of an idea emerging. Bringing these together required a lot of edits and a lot of planning."

You can see more images on Capener’s Tumblr.

03. Cameron Knott

  • Course: BDES (Hons) Graphic Design
  • Projects: Welcome to the United Kingdom / Drowning In The Med

Cameron Knott's dramatic series of 3D typographic posters explore the prejudice and bigotry surrounding asylum seekers. Set to serene backdrops, jagged shards of glass represent the intolerance created by politicians and the media.

"The project portrays a frightening picture of a system that manipulates the fear and intolerance that exists in public opinion towards immigrants," explains Knott.

Large scale typographic posters make the UK look quite welcoming from a distance, but as you get closer the typography changes

Drowning In The Med is one of a series of 3D acrylic posters containing water that draws attention to the tragic stories occurring in the Mediterranean. The sinking boat here, he says, portrays the negative effect of prejudice on immigrant's lives.

Drowning in the Med is one of a series of 3D acrylic posters by Knott, containing water

"The negative rhetoric that surrounds immigration is so vivid and shocking I didn't know whether I was going too far when I visualised the comments," says Knott. "But I decided that if these comments were enough to shock me and make me feel uneasy, then they are getting the message across."

04. Ross Sneddon

  • Course: BDes (Hons) Graphic Design
  • Project: The Dirt Between Our Keys

The Dirt Between Our Keys is a dark, slickly edited short film by graduate Ross Sneddon. It uses motion graphics cut with live action sequences to explore 'catfishing' – the problem of identity theft on social media.

Poster from Ross Sneddon's degree show project

"I wanted to find out if this was something distilled in keyboard culture and what it means for our growing connection to technology," explains Sneddon.

"Getting the right tone of voice to tell the story was a huge task, but gaining consistent user feedback was hugely beneficial in overcoming that challenge."

05. Charlie Jennings

The grass on the table represents life being brought back to the stories in Charlie Jennings degree project
  • Course: BDes(Hons) Graphic Design
  • Project: Talkin' Bout My Generation

Charlie Jennings' final year project re-imagines the value placed on the elderly in society, challenging stereotypical prejudices by demonstrating the true value of this demographic. "The elderly have so much knowledge and limited time left to share their stories before they become 'confined to books'," says Jennings.

The Living Data Visualisation of Earth – a collection of "moments in people's lives that they believe are important and younger generations could learn from" – contained within acrylic tubes shows the time left before unique personal knowledge can no longer be shared.

Stories range from a personal account of the moon landing to the Holocaust. "This has the smallest amount of time left, as there are less than 100 people left to tell this story," says Jennings.

Half-price CA subscription offer!

We know it isn't always easy being a new graduate. So to celebrate 2015 degree show season, get an incredible 50 per cent off an annual subscription to Computer Arts magazine. For just £39 you'll receive an entire year of industry insight, opinion and inspiration, delivered to your door.

Plus: sign up by 7 July 2015 and you'll receive Computer Arts' New Talent issue, featuring an extensive guide to 2015's most outstanding design graduates – and a very special cover designed in response to a joint brief with D&AD New Blood (have you taken part?)...

Next page: five more outstanding design graduate projects...