D&AD: Private view - Michael Johnson, Problem Solved

For this special edition of Private View, my task was to preview some of this year's D&AD New Blood graduate exhibitors and get inside the heads of this year's up-and-coming, keen-bean twentysomethings. You might already know that packing your folio full of "real" projects was dumped years ago in favour of the new Holy Grail of self-expression. I call them "me" projects. Some students still occasionally do set briefs for D&AD Student Awards, but most of the current educational energy comes from the problem, brief, and solution all emanating from the same student. This way of working is a bit hit and miss, but sometimes self-immersion produces the good results. "Me" can mean more, it seems.

A few years ago, a bunch of my students were obsessed with their childhood memories. In Edinburgh, this has now become Pillow Talk, a typographic interpretation of dreams, written on a pillow. Freaky, but good. The same college has sent some title stills for Timekode, a time-based piece, which first struck me as great but now reminds me of a winner at last year's D&AD by Ross Cooper (the circular video clock, remember?)

Without knowing their background, it's tricky to comment on some of the ideas. Poltisloe Owl is an illustration based on the Ordnance Survey map of an area containing Poltisloe House, in the shape of an owl. So is it famous for Hedwigs? If so, great but if not, what's with the owl?

Other illustrators have been illustrating the Lord of the Flies in Stockport (that's where the college is, not the setting of the book, dummy). Quite nice. The underwater still, LR5 Submarine, from the illustration course in Blackpool, struck me as a good change from the usual 3D renderings of planes, trains and automobiles.

The typographical illustration of Misery from Weymouth strikes me as, well, miserable. I feel like I've seen that distressed, black-letter, red-black-and-white thing too many times, and if you're going to spin it into something new, it needs to be one heck of a googly.

I think the exhibition's going to be worth the trip just to view the interactive environment that re-enacts The Stabbing of Monica Seles. That's got to go down in history as one of the greatest project titles ever.

From peering at the image, I can just see the words "remember to grunt" in the bottom corner. Very funny. I can't wait to see the real thing.

I know I'm biased - I'm just finishing my fourth year as examiner there - but the pick of this bunch really does seem to have come from Glasgow.

I'll admit I don't entirely understand the implications of Ahh Baby, which apparently examines the visual saturation of our urban landscape (there's me thinking it was a high-heeled boot on a wooden background).

But the Duchampian genius of the Lost Scruffy typeface (also from Glasgow) gets my best of show. Now, I know we've all seen type from ring pulls, potatoes and paper clips before, but it takes quite a wonky view of the world to see the typographic temptation of cable ties. Fantastic. Give the girl a first, that's what I say.


Student: Laura Grant

College: Glasgow School of Art

Course: BA (Hons) Visual Communication (Illustration)

Tutor: Steve Rigley


Student: Katherine Ross

College: Stockport College

Course: BA (Hons) Design and Visual Arts (Illustration Pathway)

Tutors: Ian Murray, Gary Spicer


Student: Janlun Lee

College: Glasgow School of Art

Course: BA (Hons) Visual Communication (Illustration)

Tutor: Steve Rigley


Students: Mateen Khan and Dave Longshaw

College: University of Wolverhampton

Course: BA (Hons) Graphic Communication

Tutor: Paul Hale


Student: Nicola Hollick

College: University of Plymouth

Course: BA (Hons)

Design: (Illustration/Graphic Communication with Typography)

Tutor: Peter Jones


Student: Catriona Allison

College: Edinburgh College of Art

Course: BA (Hons) Visual Communication (Graphic Design)

Tutor: Zoe Patterson


Student: Ian Peters

College: Blackpool and the Fylde College

Course: BA (Hons) Information Illustration

Tutor: Paul C Bennett


Student: Alex Haley

College: Edinburgh College of Art

Course: BA (Hons) Visual Communication (Graphic Design)

Tutor: Zoe Patterson


Student: Steve Palmer

College: Weymouth College

Course: HND Graphic Design

Tutor: Sally Hope

All of the work shown in the Private View pages, as well as the creative

work from more than 1,500 graduates will be exhibited at D&AD New Blood

from 28 to 30 June as part of D&AD Congress


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