“in glasgow it's easier to stand out” – five graduates shaping the city's art reputation

It’s time to flock north of the border! This year’s Glasgow School of Art design graduates tell i-D about their work, and how the city gained its reputation as Britain’s new art mecca.

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20 June 2017, 7:20am

Jyni Ong, 23, London, Communication Design

Identity Vessels, Jyni's final work at GSA, is a collection of anthropomorphic ceramics that reflect her personal observations, as a first generation Brit, of cultural identity in modern Britain. View her work here.

How would you describe your work to a stranger?
Multidisciplinary. It overlaps ceramics, illustration, graphic design and performance.

What do your parents think of your art school education?
They think it's great! My mum's a therapist and has helped me use my work as a means of self-expression. I think that's why my work has become so personal and hands-on.

What got you through degree show prep?
Junk food -- especially crisps! And the support of my family and friends.

Why do you think Glasgow's a great city for artists?
It's cheap, affordable and diverse. There's a thriving community that's accessible and accepting, where people can expressed their ideas freely. It's not a competitive atmosphere, but it challenges you to be better.

What advice would you have for someone just starting at art school?
Try and have fun! Don't try and make the work that others want you to make, or "good work" by anyone else's standards. Just try to make work that you want to explore and find fulfilling.

Henry Spiers, 24, Glasgow, Graphic Design

Inspired by changes in privacy laws due to heightened national security, Henry's graduate work -- Mastering the Internet -- gives an imaginary police force that specialises in surveillance a physical brand and identity. View his work here.

How would you describe your work to a stranger?
Fashion, but it transcends into graphic design and video.

What do your parents think of your art school education?
My mum and dad are both really supportive. I think they're a little bit worried about me getting a job, but they've been pushing me to come to art school ever since I said I wanted to.

What got you through degree show prep?
Coffee, because you're not getting much sleep, and music too. People in the class are quite supportive of each other, which is nice. You have a shoulder to cry on if things go tits up!

Why do you think Glasgow's a great city for artists?
It's a lot smaller than London, and since there's not a style embedded in Glasgow, it gives people the opportunity to push the boundaries a bit more. If you're in London, you can get caught up in waves, but in Glasgow it's easier to stand out.

What advice would you have for someone just starting at art school?
Don't try and tie yourself down! You'll find your niche soon enough. Don't take your tutor's advice on everything at first. If they tell you not to do something, try it out anyway. Be confident!

Fred Wordie, 22, Oxford, Product Design

Fred's graduate work is Liner-Notes: a quarterly publication that aims to bring a physical, personalised quality to music streaming services like Spotify. Each issue, split into seasons, gives the artists you listen to a cut of your subscription fee. View his work here.

What do your parents think of your art school education?
Disappointed at first I think, they always thought I would do engineering at university. However, I think they have come round to the idea of having a pair of creative kids, as my sister is a London-based art director.

What got you through degree show prep?
Planning, organisation, my girlfriend and sleep.

Why do you think Glasgow's a great city for artists?
It's pretty cheap.

What advice would you have for someone just starting at art school?
Get comfortable with making your studio your home, it's not only where you'll work but also where you'll mainly socialise for the next few years. Also don't take design too seriously, I have found that I come up with my best solutions when I approach problems in a playful way.

Hannah Tan, 22, Belfast, Fashion Design (Menswear)

Hannah Tan's graduate collection, Lim Geok Hong, mixes technical sportswear styles with soft, typically "feminine" fabrics. It was inspired both by her late grandmother, and the way our relationship with fashion changes with age. View her work here.

How would you describe your work to a stranger?
It's always evolving, but it's menswear that focuses on tailoring and silhouette.

What do your parents think of your art school education?
Expensive, but they're really supportive! Maybe in the beginning, they might have been a bit apprehensive, but I've been fortunate to have amazing opportunities during my time at GSA. Now, they're just really proud and want the best for me.

What got you through degree show prep?
Coffee and pesto pasta. I live for the stress so I don't actually mind being so busy! I'd probably prefer to be working constantly.

Why do you think Glasgow's a great city for artists?
It's got a real sense of community and inclusiveness. Everyone's really supportive and it's been great being a part it -- and judging by the response we got at Graduate Fashion Week in London, we're starting to put ourselves on the map!

What advice would you have for someone just starting at art school?
Have fun, experience everything, and take every opportunity! GSA is great for that; we have a lot of great people here and you can make so many connections.

Kitty Byrne, 24, London, Architecture

Kitty's revolutionary work aims to find an architectural solution to air pollution in cities. She won this year's Glasgow School of Art Sustainability Prize.

How would you describe your work to a stranger?
I think they would know what architecture is, but it's pretty hard to define! Designing space, maybe?

What do your parents think of your art school education?
I think my dad wishes he was here, because he would have loved to have been an architect, but they're both doctors. I've gone rogue!

What got you through degree show prep?
A lot of techno music and coffee.

Why do you think Glasgow's a great city for artists?
It has a good community that sticks around post-art school. Collectives form [at GSA] and continue to work together. It's encouraging; you don't want to leave to London because you have everything here. It's affordable -- and fun.

What advice would you have for someone just starting at art school?
In your first years, don't listen to anything your tutors tell you -- experiment with everything. If you're interested in something, just do it. But later on, listen to your tutors, because they're usually right then!

Credits


Text Douglas Greenwood 
Photography Trackie McLeod