The Best New Illustration and Graphic Design Talent from the Central Saint Martins grad show

Our continuing search for new talent took us to one of the UK's leading art schools, where we found a lot surprises.


Central Saint Martins' graphic design grad show wasn't what we expected. You have certain preconceptions about the work produced by CSM students – and grad shows in general – and this exhibition managed to confound them.

Firstly, we go to grad shows to discover new talent to inspire you (and us). So it was surprising to see work by artists we know and have covered. Thomas Hedger – who we last wrote about in 2016 – is probably the best known, having created editorial illustrations for The Guardian and The Telegraph.

Thomas' illustrations have been largely simple and vector-based, with on-point use of geometry and halftones. But for his final project, he's applied his aesthetic to large plastic panels – which he describes as totems – for a project called Plastic Fantastic.

CSM is also associated with heavily conceptual work, but this year's show was dominated by accessible, dare-we-say-it commercial projects – definitely more ready-to-wear than the couture pieces you associate with the institution. There was also less sexually explicit work than in previous years – proof perhaps that body parts and the interactions between them aren't as shocking as they once were. 

Graphic designer – and self-described reptile enthusiast – Jordan Smith's tickets for San Francisco's sadly now closed Xanadu Gallery are simple, elegant and beautifully conceived.

Jordan's used a shape inspired by the spout-like doorway to the Frank Lloyd Wright building that housed the gallery to cut into patterns drawn from the gallery's collections at various points in its use. A cutout on the ticket sleeve reveals the ticket, with that same area removed from the ticket to turn into an extended stub when you've visited the gallery. 


AutoGraphic turns machine learning into a tactile experience. Dublin-born interaction designer Daragh Anderson built a physical machine that learns aesthetics. It creates designs with a randomised text and graphic elements. You tell it whether you prefer what its created over its previous output by hitting green and red buttons, and from that it learns what you like – or over time what everyone likes.

And if you like what it's created, it prints you a postcard.

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Alva Skog's illustrations have been featured on design blogs over the last year, following her D&AD New Blood Award in 2017 – so as with Thomas Hedger is was great to see her exploring new mediums in her final year project.

Large-limbed characters feature heavily in Alva's work. For her Future Identities project, she imagines how gender identities might look in the future when the masses have rejected the constrictions of traditional male and female roles to discover something more interesting – but without focussing on their sexuality as so many representations of non-binary identities do.

Alongside textured vector illustrations that she's known for, Alva has created a series of 3D-printed characters that you can buy from Unique Board.


Inguna Ziemele's social media-friendly animations weren't just on display within the graphics department, but were shown on screens in the VIP bar for visiting industry leaders (and press). 

Also an illustrator, Inguna's bold linework and 'disturbing but in a friendly way' characters work best when animated as loops – with the movement providing a focal point for your eyes to start exploring what's around.

Her showreel has a fun narrative to it. Watch it with sound.


Etta Voorsanger-Brill's work is more what you expect from a CSM grad show – exploring feminism through activism, ephemera and an exhibition about serial killer/feminist icon Aileen Wernos

It's the ephemera that appeals most. Riso-printed to tie into the concept of feminism as a DIY culture, these travel and ticket stubs act as keepsakes of moments in feminist history – reminders of a journey that hasn't ended yet.

Photos from the show shot on the Huawei P20 Pro phone. Read our P20 Pro review.

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