Best of the Grad Shows 2016: New Designers

Be inspired by 8 brilliant art and design projects from this year’s best graduate designers and illustrators from across the UK.


Make your way through the maze of the Islington Business Design Centre and New Designers reveals a lot of really exciting new art and design. 

Though seen by some as less prestigious than D&AD’s New Blood and – thankfully – less squashed, with more space for institutions to show work, New Designers still shows an overwhelming amount of varied work. But, helpfully for us, nearby competition is a great way to find art and design that truly pops, even without much elbow room.

As well as the wide range of disciplines at Part 2 of the exhibition - which covers furniture, product and industrial design, spatial design, graphic design, illustration, animation and motion & digital arts – there is also the full spectrum of topics, from the relatively normal to the pretty freaking weird. 

And, then, of course among all that are countless projects inspired by Game of Thrones. And, inexplicably, lots of bunnies (why this year? Why ever?). Though, as far as we’ve seen, the two have never been celebrated together.

Here, we’ve waded through the Game of Thones tributes and countless breeding-like-rabbits rabbits to round up the graduate illustrators, artists and designers to watch out for.

Read more: See the best of New Designers 2015 

Image: Like the ocean, Cambridge School of Art gradute Katie Holmes’ quiet, delicate and calming drawings are hard to stop looking at. Katie has done both typographic and illustrative justice to Dylan Thomas’ gorgeous Under Milk Wood

You can easily imagine Cambridge School of Art graduate Brian Tyrrell’s gorgeous, flowing work gracing a top newspaper, magazine or best-selling book. The illustrations shown are inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s story.

Image: The Thousand and Second Tale of Scheherezade by Brian Tyrrell


Once again showing Brian’s flair for narrative work, these illustrations (shown), which were created by digital collage and colouring of Victorian woodcuts and engravings, are inspired by Angela Carter’s The Snow Child.

Image: The Snow Child by Brian Tyrrell

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We were immediately intrigued by University of Portsmouth graduate Harry Lewis-Irlam’s project as it’s bound in spandex. Yup that tricky, stretchy, often sweaty material that gym-goers wear, which is surprisingly revealed as logical once you open the book.

“Gym culture has been one of the fastest growing parts of our society. Its developed its own language, stereotypes and is now more like a religion,” explains Harry on his website.

After obsessing over the gym throughout university, it has become Harry’s mastermind subject, one that he has only built on in intense, exhausting gym study sessions – and channelled into this richly designed, gorgeously balanced, with type so beautiful it matches any gym-goer’s body.

Image: Gym Vernacular by Harry Lewis-Irlam


University of Hertfordshire graduate Lilian Leung project won the New Designers Sky Creative Award – and we can see why.

Dual is a forward-thinking, elegant website that, according to Lilian’s Behance, “allows users to easily track and consolidate their social media accounts to enjoy their digital assets and allow them to be passed onto future generations” – so you can solve that creeping problem of sorting your digital assets after death.

Image: Dual by Lillian Leung


Image: Fetish London, based on London’s fetish scene and created using digital painting and collage, by University of Hertfordshire grad Aiden GD Moore.

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We just love Cambridge School of Art graduate Ollie St Clair Terry’s evocative, warm and confident style. Pictured is part of a narrative series of images designed for a 32-page book with a tale adapted from the Native American legend How Coyote Stole Fire

Image: How Coyote Stole Fire by Ollie St Clair Terry


Falmouth University graduates rarely disappoint. Oscar Mitchell’s work stands out in any busy room – even one at New Designers. It is mature, versatile and, of course, absolutely beautiful. And I’m already emotionally invested in his wonderful characters.

No wonder he won the Society of Artist Agents Associate Prize. 

Image: Flying Machines by Oscar Mitchell


University of Portsmouth graduate Ryan Robinson has long been a hip hop fan. But his project falls for no exhausted tropes of the genre– a black and white image of a famous artist with text slapped on it, for example.

Instead, Ryan expanded his love for hip-hop into new territory: politics, authority and clean, beautiful design and typography.

Image: Hip Hop Politics Authority by Ryan Robinson.

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Each song featured in the book has been decoded using symbols and abstractly linked to the subject, which readers will grow increasingly familiar with as they read.

Image: Hip Hop Politics Authority by Ryan Robinson.