New talent: Royal College of Art 2015 show

RCA grad show

This year's graduates were keen to investigate the digital impact of our world

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

We visited London's Royal College of Art to take a look at the work of the Visual Communication, Illustration and Animation graduates. With course leaders Adrian Shaughnessy and Rathna Ramanathan, the students executed an interest in exploring the digital impact of our world as well as gendered stereotypes and politics.

Here, we pick 10 of the most impactful projects, that showcase a range of creativity; from animation to visual communication, stop-motion to illustration, these final projects are a perfect example in the sublime, the weird and the wonderful.

Can't make it to the show? Be sure to check out the CSM stand at D&AD New Blood next week, and come and say hi to us on the Computer Arts stand too.

01. Kai Matthiesen

rca grad show

Matthiesen wanted to investigate what cultural characteristics can be applied to typography
  • Course: Visual Communication
  • Project: Aby Warburg

"The biggest challenge for me was working with psychological studies and really taking their outcomes to heart," explains Kai Matthiesen, who along with the Aby Warburg typeface, also created the 'Rhetoric of Typography.'

"In the studies people tended to respond more broadly to typography; script/brush typefaces were perceived as emotional but traditional categories such as Geometric, Serif and Grotesk typefaces were perceived similarly. This really brought home that designers and non-designers do perceive type and design in general very different."

"I found that it is not a question of designing a perfect lettershape, but rather that the letters have the right combination of traits for a wanted effect. Having this research to go by provided a couple of new design rules that was very helpful as not to get lost in the process of drawing."

02. Sebastian Koseda

rca grad show

Koseda was inspired by the work of humanist Leon Battista Alberti
  • Course: Visual Communication
  • Project: Les Debris Numérique

Avoiding the security at the Louvre, you could say RCA graduate Sebastian went above and beyond for his final project. 'Les Debris Numérique' is a creation unlike any other; "I had to move out of my flat (which I loved) and make serious cutbacks – the project engulfed all my attention and energy which is a positive in the long run."

Digitally pirating the iconic sculptures, the project sees Koseda then physically replicate each piece, with the imperfections as important – if not more – than the cleaner outcomes.

"The whole thing has been such a learning curve, from working with concrete to welding steel; the whole concept is based on embracing these imperfections and the fragmentation of a process, so it's a case of becoming comfortable with the unfinished," he explains.

03. Laura Gordon

rca grad shpw

Gordon was more hands on in this project, using a lathe and a sewing machine
  • Course: Visual Communication
  • Project: Austerity — Prosperity

Exploring the visual language of post-2008 austerity, Laura Gordon took inspiration from this year's general election. "Despite an increasingly pluralist political landscape, the mainstream economic agenda continues to be set by the ruling coalition government.

With this in mind I charted the changing austerity narrative in the lead up to the election through the @Conservatives twitter feed."

"People seem to be engaging with the objects in the show and understanding the project on multiple layers which is what I had hoped. Whether that's simply making the connection between the tweets and the objects, or going a little deeper into the tension between designer luxury and austerity rhetoric."

04. Jamie Kendall

  • Course: MA Animation
  • Project: Is It Just Me?

"At the start I produced a lot of disparate imagery and written pieces, which were all very different to my previous work," explains animation graduate Jamie Kendall. "I was working outside my usual process; I had a lot to pick and choose from in order to craft the final film's narrative and style."

Showcasing a breath-taking execution, Kendall used a narrow colour palette to highlight the importance of his subjects. "I'm extremely proud of the small team I collaborated with, especially on the sound side of things (Simon Haines and Daniel Cross) as they really helped create the tension and put life into the world around the character. The film taught me a lot about what I want to make and how I want to direct."

05. Oliver Binnian

rca grad show

Tagged pictures from Google Earth were replaced with Binnian's own photos
  • Course: Visual Communication
  • Project: Screen Effect

Combining the digital with the traditional, Oliver Binnian's project is one you have to see up-close and personal. Taking his own photos of Google map points and placing them within a stained glass artwork, it's hand-made brilliantly bridges the gap between the old and the new.

rca grad show

Binnian wanted to address the contemporary notions of the sublime

"The biggest challenge was definitely working on the stained glass piece," Binnian explains. "I taught myself how to do it through YouTube tutorials, but every stage managed to take longer than I had expected! I'm now looking to keep developing this project looking at contemporary versions of the sublime, but to change the context of the work to new locations."

06. Oliver Smith & Francesco Tacchini

RCA grad show

Smith and Tacchini bring data into the physical world
  • Course: Information Experience Design
  • Project: Network Ensemble

With a computer constantly in the palm of our hands, or in our pockets, we often take wi-fi and data for granted. Oliver Smith and Francesco Tacchini collaborated on a unique project, which saw the data received within the showroom transferred into a physical, moving sculpture.

rca grad show

The pair had to work out how to physically represent so much data

"The aim of the piece was always to take the intangible, digital force of the network and use it to modulate or affect the physical world, but the speed of communication was such that some of the physical outputs (such as the solenoids) couldn’t keep up," the pair explain.

"We spent a lot of time with the raw data, parsing, filtering and categorising it to ensure that we could properly actuate the surroundings while retaining the overwhelming, natural intensity of the communications."

07. Tilly Symonds

rca grad show

Symonds wanted her viewers to physically interact with the digital aspects
  • Course: Visual Communication
  • Project: Hyperreality

"My body of work explores and creates hyperreality; an inability of consciousness to distinguish reality, allowing for co-mingling of the physical and virtual dimensions," explains Symonds, who's project bends the mind with both a digital projection and a physical subject of rock, water and sand.

rca grad show

Her work questions the screen-based environment we now live in

"I began to create moving image work that echoed both the tactile nature of the material world and the refined HD aesthetic of current digital technology," she continues.

"Instead of looking backwards to analogue techniques I wanted to interrogate how this digital/physical relationship can be pushed forward into more contemporary digital mediums and how people in the modern day can physically interact with the digital environment."

08. Minna Sakaria

rca grad show

Queer Type flips the stereotypical font choices for boy's and girl's clothing
  • Course: Visual Communication
  • Project: Queer Type

Noticing the gendered aspects of typography on children's clothing, Minna Sakaria set to swap these traditional choices to showcase 'Queer Type' – a duo of inverted typefaces to execute a 'queer' communication. "A masculine message is often more neutral than a feminine, which made it tricky for both type-inversions to be equally effective," she explains.

rca grad show

The shirts have proved popular, showcasing an a market for non-stereotypical products

"In the end I accepted that this is the case and embraced it. It adds another layer to the discussion about constructed gender to talk about neutrality privalege. Many have said they want to wear one, which I think indicates that there might be a space for more ambigious non-stereotype communication."

09. Carolina Celas

rca grad show

Celas wanted to turn the home into a place of belonging and imagination
  • Course: Illustration
  • Project: Summer Time

"I think the biggest challenge I faced was creating a narrative without losing the concept I had worked on for months," explains illustrator Carolina Celas. "How can you feel at home? How can I transmit something so personal, yet individual? At the end, I think I found a really good balance."

"I think I achieved my goal in transmitting the idea of the home as as a journey in construction and not just related with a place, but with different things that evoke memories, feelings, intimacy, belong and aspirations. The idea of freedom into a house through your imagination, and that feeling of comfort you get by places and objects."

10. Thomas Harnett O'Meara

rca grad show

O'Meara created all the models himself – down to the tiny details of each plant
  • Course: MA Animation
  • Project: I'm Good With Plants

Tim lives in a greenhouse suspended by a crane above the city. He has two wishes in his life; to steal the office plant next to the water cooler at work and meet Francesca, the hot line operator that he calls from a phone box in the street each day. O'Meara's 'I'm Good With Plants' is as heartwarming as it is inspirational and unique.

rca grad show

The short stop-motion animation has all the key ingredients for a charming execution

Creating the models with a small team, this short stop-motion animation is charming and life-affirming, with the execution easily compared to the professional executions of Aardman and co. The tiny details are what makes this project a stand-out effort; you'd be hard pressed not to fall in love with it.

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Sammy Maine

Sammy Maine was a founding member of the Creative Bloq team way back in the early 2010s, working as a Commissioning Editor. Her interests cover graphic design in music and film, illustration and animation. Since departing, Sammy has written for The Guardian, VICE, The Independent & Metro, and currently co-edits the quarterly music journal Gold Flake Paint.