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    Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi: Ritual (crop)

The Graduates 2014

It's Nice That Graduate and photographic storyteller, Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi

Posted by Liv Siddall,

Going through nearly 600 applicants for the It’s Nice That Graduates was a long process, and in it we saw countless photography submissions. To come across a portfolio like Portsmouth graduate Alecsandra’s was truly special, as her website was utterly brimming with fascinating, in-depth projects that stood out as being truly well-researched, full of passion and rather unique. Her love of storytelling led her to focus on politics, family, tradition and emotion, making her body of work alive with folklore and wisdom. How great is it when someone’s work truly opens your eyes to something you had previously never encountered? Here she is on her degree, her passion for photography, and her future.

Why or who or what made you go to art school

The Waldorf School, where I went to from the first grade until the end of high school, had a great influence on my life. In an institution recognised for their understanding of beauty as well as for their original approach to a creative development of children’s minds, the school’s curriculum and teachers help the students shape their own concepts about life. Here I have studied the classical philology disciplines combined with special courses in art: eurhythmy, painting and music. Consequently, this school had a big influence on my formation as an art lover offering the opportunity to discover some of the great artists of the world and find my passion of photography.

Being in love with photography, I wanted to develop my passion by applying in England for a BA in Photography at the University of Portsmouth. The undergraduate degree has helped me to improve and develop my skills, allowing me to start being part of a professional world. It was my call to go there, and my parents had always encouraged me in my decisions.

Tell us about your best project

I believe the best project is the one challenges and takes you to a new level in your practice. My best project so far is my graduate project – one of the images from this work was the winning image in the youth category at the Sony Awards 2013 and winning me the title of Youth Photographer of the Year. As the work was unfinished, I felt that I wanted to develop it further. Therefore, last winter I started to travel around Romania and document the winter traditions and found the character in the image, thus finding more insights of those traditions. I was really pleased by how smoothly my project developed and how my portraiture and documentary practice came together and took me to a new level in my photography.

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    Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi: Ritual

Tell us about your worst project

It was considered a great project for my first year, being rewarded with a First, but in my opinion I did not have enough abilities and skills to take it to the level I wanted. The brief was called “Autobiographical Practices” and my chosen idea was playing with the fact that human being has different identities and always he tries to hide himself. So I used the concept of having different identities in different moments in our lives. To express my idea clearly, I used different masks and my own body.

I do not consider it such a bad project, but maybe a weak one. It was a good idea, but the lack of editing skills narrowed my project down from taking it to a different level. Using myself in images was an interesting experience, always being inspired by Cindy Sherman, but sometimes can be really hard and challenging.

If you could show one person your portfolio, who would it be and why?

It is one of dreams to meet Steve McCurry and talk to him. And if I could have the opportunity to show my own work, it would be the best experience in my life. He is my muse; he inspires me with his images and the stories behind them. He inspires me with his way of approaching people. I think his advices would be crucial for my practice.

What was the best moment of your three years at uni (extra curricular included)?

I have had many best moments during my three years at university, but the one that have changed my life and my connection with photography, is winning the Sony Awards, Youth Category in 2013. This moment has given me the confidence that all the sacrifices of choosing photography to be part of my future career, is the best decisions.

In addition, the opportunity of winning the Sony Awards leaded me to challenge myself and start my final degree project, documenting the winter traditions in Romania. It made me think further and take my photography to a new level.

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    Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi: Goodbye, Ica!

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    Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi: Goodbye, Ica!

A lot is changing – would you recommend art school to someone who is considering going?

Yes, but I would recommend it to someone with a good financial background. Being an art student can be really expensive, especially with the new tuition fees. Sometimes, the projects cannot continue because of the lack of funding. Also, I would recommend to someone who is really passionate about his or her choice and who keep feeding their talent. In my opinion art schools are for really ambitious people, because there is a possibility to fail and there is a hard way to go back.

In addition, some people say that you can do art without a degree, however I believe choosing a degree is a great opportunity, as it gives you the right environment and people to work with. Being surrounded by people doing the same thing as you can push you further and motive you to improve your skills. It can lead to a competition with your classmates or collaboration, thus giving you the chance to further develop for your future career.

Finally, if your dreams come true, where will you be in a year’s time? 

I would like to start doing an internship as a picture editor for a publication such as The Telegraph, The Guardian or National Geographic and at the same time I would like to travel in the spare time, to get inspired by different cultures and traditions.

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    Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi: Caffe Florian

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    Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi: Caffe Florian

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    Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi: The Carnival of Venice

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    Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi: Untitled

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    Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi: The Feeling of Being Home

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    Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi: Ritual

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    Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi: Ritual

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    Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi: Ritual

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    Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi: Ritual

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    Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi: Ritual

Supported by Represent

We are very pleased that The It’s Nice That Graduates 2014 will once again be supported by Represent Recruitment. The graphic design recruitment specialists have developed a peerless reputation working with designers of all levels and matching them up with the right positions in some of the top agencies around. Represent’s support has helped us grow the Graduate scheme over recent years and we are thrilled they have partnered with us again in 2014.



Posted by Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She is also a regular guest and sometime host on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: The Graduates 2014 View Archive

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    It was something of an honour to have illustrator Jean Jullien in the studio to help judge this year’s It’s Nice That Graduates. Not only is he a really nice guy, but he’s also one of our favourite artists who – in our eyes – can do no wrong. His style is effortless and full of humour, grinning at our modern world through a wry squint – an ability that most of the great illustrators through time have nearly all had in common. Another thing we can all learn from Jean is that he works harder than most people we know and rarely says no to a project, making him in-demand and always on everyone’s radar. Here he is on what he learnt from helping us judge the It’s Nice That Graduates 2014.

  2. Michael

    Graphic designer and Manchester School of Art student Michael Crook is the 15th and final of our Graduates of 2014, securing a spot up there with the best of ’em with his incredibly sharp and effortless-looking design. The projects he won us over with include an identity for an event called The Science of Fashion in which he used thermochronic ink to create a disappearing design, a book about American hobo culture and the secret written languages nomads use to communicate with one another, and an original take on book cover design, in which he made Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 look like a book of matches ready for the striking. Read on to find out about his favourite project to date, and the perfume-soaked tab he’s hoping never to encounter again. Well done Michael!

  3. Main

    Our penultimate It’s Nice That Graduate of 2014 is Falmouth Illustration grad Lauren Humphrey, whose style is fun and playful and brilliantly authentic without sacrificing her message. It’s not often that you find a creative fresh out of university who so effortlessly aligns meaning with a recognisable and accessible aesthetic, but Lauren does so effortlessly, combining a style she has firmly established with the brief she’s set. She’s one to watch out for! Find her in a swanky studio, or potentially restoring an old boat, before you even know what’s happening.

  4. Charlotte

    University of Brighton graduate Charlotte Bassett’s work is so carefully considered that if you saw it in an art gallery or publishing house, nobody would blink an eyelid. There’s nothing rash or impulsive about her design, which focusses primarily on “curation, interdisciplinary collaborations and publishing”; instead, she combines diverse elements and a thorough knowledge of her subjects in a measured, sensitive and effective manner to create lasting impact.

  5. Grads_judge_accent

    We’ve almost finished our selection of It’s Nice That Graduates 2014, and we’ve well and truly established that this year has produced some of the most talented and exciting creative talent to date. We had a selection of handpicked judges to help us select the entrants who most deserved to make it through to the final 15, and in corner of publishing are Lydia and Lucy from Accent Magazine, “a global celebration of lives lived outside the ordinary.” They kindly left us with a few nuggets of wisdom for new graduates to show what they were looking for.

  6. Grads_thursday_17

    Going through nearly 600 applicants for the It’s Nice That Graduates was a long process, and in it we saw countless photography submissions. To come across a portfolio like Portsmouth graduate Alecsandra’s was truly special, as her website was utterly brimming with fascinating, in-depth projects that stood out as being truly well-researched, full of passion and rather unique. Her love of storytelling led her to focus on politics, family, tradition and emotion, making her body of work alive with folklore and wisdom. How great is it when someone’s work truly opens your eyes to something you had previously never encountered? Here she is on her degree, her passion for photography, and her future.

  7. Tris

    Sleek vintage cars, mousetrap swings, chance encounters with rainbows and days out at the races all feature in the varied portfolio of Tristan Cluett, a recent graduate from Kingston University. He’s spent three years immersing himself in his medium, getting out in the field to shoot cyclists in action or creating polished sets in the studio to provide backdrops for his unusual ideas. What seems key to the success of Tristan’s work is his openness to experimentation – he’s not content to be a one-trick pony – and the level of polish he applies to every one of his projects.

  8. Hannah

    LCC Photography graduate Hannah Burton has spent her three years of undergraduate study working out ways to get as close as possible to her subjects. She’s worn their clothes and camped out in their rooms for shots in which she embodies the subject, trawled east London’s Gascoyne Estate, getting to know its inhabitants as she shoots their pictures and explored her personal relationship with her mother in a series of intensely revealing portraits.

  9. Main4

    David Doran is an illustrator so on top of his game that he’s already knocked up a cracking client list, and he’s only just finished his degree in Illustration at Falmouth. It’s not hard to see why, though – his skill is second to none, interweaving layers of soft texture, muted palettes and characters so animated that you almost recognise them, to create some of the snazziest tableaux we’ve seen in ages. We can’t wait to see what he’s got up his sleeve next, but in the meantime, get a load of this! Cor.

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    We love Josh King. He was one of our favourite grads two years ago – his ideas and way of looking at graphic design with actual humour rather than just making stuff look nice was totally refreshing. When we asked him what his best mistake was while studying, he answered: “I once made petrol scented candles. It wasn’t a mistake but it could have been. Luckily no one got hurt.”

  11. Joe

    Much like the content of most of Joe’s work, opening the email attachment of his portfolio when he applied to The Graduates was like stumbling across buried treasure in ancient ruins. To see such honest, informed and unique work that shows dedication and a two-fingers-up to common, trendy illustration is just such a joy that I can barely contain myself.

  12. Main3

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  13. Alice

    Like the large majority of my generation I spend a disproportionate amount of my daily life on the internet, but probing the way that digital spheres function within our actual lives is a task which requires a very specific – and hard to come by – kind of creative brain. Cue the arrival of Alice Stewart, a digital and interactive illustrator from Kingston University whose handle on internet-driven concepts is second to none.