Students & Alumni. MA Graphic Design.
Lexi Curtis is a student on our MA Graphic Design degree, as well as the Course Representative and President of the Z.A.M.P. (Zines And Mini Publications) Society.
What do you hope to do when you graduate from ARU?
I would really love to work as part of a graphic design company, especially one that specialises in branding and strategising. I really enjoy combining art and design with problem solving so I feel that I would succeed best in that field.
What one thing inspired you to do get involved with graphic design?
I think that before I can give the why and how I got into graphic design, I have to establish how I got into the creative field in the first place. Before I did graphic design, I got my BA in Illustration and the reason why I got into to illustration is because I like to tell a story. Illustration has the ability to tell an entire story in a single image or it can accompany a book to bring a world to life or even be used in strange ways such as decorating the back of a skateboard. Illustration is flexible and versatile, it only requires an artist to love drawing and love telling a story.
While I love this part of the field, it was only after I graduated that I realised that in order to be successful with illustration you kind of have to stick with one style. This did not work for me, I’m someone that loves to experiment with methods and medium. I can create an abstract painting for one project and a stop motion animation for the next. I love being pushed out of my comfort zone and the professional world of illustrators just wasn’t cutting it.
That’s when I turned to graphic design. Designers such as Barney Bubbles were prime examples of constantly changing style and I wanted that flexibility. Graphic design has the understanding that each problem you approach will have a different solution, it focuses more on how you think and I enjoy the ability to change my method or medium depending on the problem. I look forward to the new problems that I encounter in the world of graphic design and the interesting solutions I can create.
What's the most valuable thing you will take away from your course?
Just because the world is turning digital does not mean I have to turn away from analogue. Seeing a lot of mainstream design and illustration being done with digital methods made me feel that I had to approach it in a similar way if I wanted to be successful. I hadn’t realised how much producing work this way, copying the mainstream work and solely producing digital art, had been draining me of my creativity. Getting my hands dirty and creating physical work has redefined what graphic design is for me and I look forward to continue finding new ways to create.
Which aspects of your course have most helped your career development, and why?
Linking back to the previous question, I think before I got caught up with the trending graphic design and I wasn’t really playing to my strengths by producing solely digital art. This course has really pushed me and given me the confidence that my work, even if it uses traditional methods or isn’t extremely modern, has a place in the graphic design field.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Narrow down the field that you are actually interested in rather than being too flexible and agreeable to any creative department. Pick an area and talk to the people that work there so you can curate your portfolio. I spent too long trying to be an all rounder without actually showing my capabilities so make sure that your strengths shine in your portfolio. Also don’t be afraid to talk to people via email or phone calls, make those connections!
What is your favourite thing about studying in Cambridge, and what have you learned about the city that you didn't know before?
I’ve really enjoyed the people that I’ve met here. They’re truly fantastic and have made my experience with the city what it is. The city has also been great for interesting cultural experiences, such as salsa dancing or Chinese hotpot. It’s been great having the means to access them and having the friends to go with.
What projects are you currently working on, both on and off the course?
I’m currently working with the Wordsworth Trust as part of my course. I’m really excited about the project, its about connecting Wordsworth and his poetry to a younger audience and I already have a few ideas on how to accomplish this. This project also resulted in an amazing trip up to Grasmere in the Lake District and that was lifechanging, I’m definitely hoping to go up again to get some more inspiration.
As for personal projects, I’m always making a zine or two and currently I’m working on some based around world-creation mythos, which has led to some interesting research. I love making zines since they’re typically short projects and I can cover a variety of topics and mediums with them.