New talent 2017: Best graduates outside London

Tayia Dussie 

  • University: Manchester School of Art
  • Course: BA (Hons) Illustration with Animation
  • Project: When I'm 6

For her final year project, Tayia Dussie wrote and illustrated a children's narrative, looking at colour, shape, pattern and character to communicate fun while telling different stories. 

Recently, she’s been working on a dark tale, O'l Higue, based on West Indian folklore from the villain’s point of view, which was highly commended by The Macmillan Prize for illustration. “In contrast to this,” she says, “When I'm 6 is a brighter, happier tale set in a circus. It depicts a child's wonder at all they see and their desire to become what they admire.” 

After graduating, Dussie hopes to create commercial work and further her education.

Ben Grimes

  • University: Manchester School of Art
  • Course: BA (Hons) Graphic Design
  • Project: MOFO

“MOFO – Mock Font – is a project that explores and challenges the stereotypes associated with the Japanese aesthetic,” explains graphic design graduate Ben Grimes. An Eastern-inspired typeface, MOFO is legible as English when viewed from a different angle. “The work highlights the danger of using aesthetic references from foreign cultures in a superficial way,” he says.

Grimes fell in love with the Japanese language after studying it as part of his degree. “In the Western world, we often receive a very stylised version of Eastern language and culture, with the language being exploited by fashion brands for its cool and trendy aesthetic. I wanted to protest this by manipulating the fluid forms of Japanese characters and making people think twice about what they are actually looking at.” 

In a year’s time, Grimes hopes to be continuing to explore the connections between language and design, and combing this with his interest in theatre and set design. 

Lily Soltanahmadi 

  • University: Manchester School of Art
  • Course: BA (Hons) Graphic Design
  • Project: Assembly

Graphic design graduate Lily Soltanahmadi put together concept branding for a new creative space during her final year. Tasked with turning a historic building into something beneficial to a city, she chose York’s former fire station – which is under threat of being demolished – and crafted the branding for a café bar, Assembly. 

“Assembly celebrates the history of the building and provides a creative atmosphere to help bring the community together,” Soltanahmadi explains. “In a year’s time I hope to be working for a branding agency.”

Luke Rowland

  • University: Manchester School of Art
  • Course: BA (Hons) Graphic Design
  • Projects: Posters; Europa Std typeface

Inspired by modern European typography, Europa Std features a larger contrast than standard sans-serif typefaces, while remaining clean and accessible. “Throughout Scandinavia and many other European countries, clean, bold typography is widely prominent within the cities,” explains Luke Rowland. 

“Typefaces are often very basic, but retain a style that’s intrinsic to their surroundings. Europa Std aims to explore and highlight these subtle styles and express them enough so that the typeface holds the same aesthetic value, wherever its use may be.”

Lauren Dugan

  • University: Manchester School of Art
  • Course: BA (Hons) Graphic Design
  • Project: Love Letters to Gaia

“My final year project was centred around the theory that Earth is a living, breathing organism,” explains graduate Lauren Dugan. She produced a set of powerful, large-scale monoprints depicting mankind's dismissive, passive attitude to the damage humans are doing. Dugan also created a series of letters written by 'the last human alive', lamenting the loss of the Earth’s spirit.  

“I spent a lot of time investigating the relationship we have with Gaia [the personification of the Earth] and finding ways to portray this as being as important as the connections we have with one another,” she says.

“If my Love Letters can make at least one person more mindful about their treatment of Earth, then my work has been a success.” 

Next page: Our pick of the graduates from Arts University Bournemouth

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Julia Sagar
Editor-in-chief retail

Julia is editor-in-chief, retail at Future Ltd, where she works in e-commerce across a number of consumer lifestyle brands. A former editor of design website Creative Bloq, she’s also worked on a variety of print titles, and was part of the team that launched consumer tech website TechRadar. She's been writing about art, design and technology for over 15 years.