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The Graduates 2014

Meet incredibly unique and very talented It's Nice That Graduate, Joe Lillington

Posted by Liv Siddall,

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.

Joe has just graduated from Falmouth University and is already collaborating and doing freelance work, but then again why wouldn’t he be? With draughtsmanship skills this good he could probably have just skipped out on University altogether. My one piece of advice to him would be to get his hands insured, those babies are precious. Here he is.

Why or who or what made you go to art school?

I think I just knew that art was what I really wanted to do, then during my foundation course I was sure that I definitely wanted to go on to do illustration, and just went from there.

Tell us about your best project

One of my favourite recent projects is probably my 7 Wonders of the Ancient World booklet. The concept was quite simple, just introducing what they were and where they were built, but I just really enjoyed creating the different atmospheres in each image and interpreting the research I did on them to create what they might have looked like, as well trying to create a sense of a narrative happening in a real place around each wonder in each illustration.

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    Joe Lillington: Romani Book of Words

Tell us about your worst

I found the illustration I did for Ambit magazine pretty hard work, mostly because it was aimed at a much more mature audience than my usual work. The first version I did looked much too like my young audience illustration. It was a bit of a challenge to tweak my visual language to suit the story and eventually I just redid the whole thing, which was a good idea in the end because I think it turned out nicely, and contrasts well with some of my lighter work.

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

I don’t think I can think of a particular person, if someone has an idea for a fun project or just likes my work, I’ll show it to them!

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

This year I went with the illustration course to New York, which in itself was great because I’d never been before, but it was made better because we were able to get appointments with lots of art directors from various publishers and other places to show portfolios which was a really encouraging end to the degree. I just wish I had gone for longer because I was so busy I didn’t get to see as much of the city as I would have liked!

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    Joe Lillington: Ambit Magazine

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

I would if it was possible for them to go, because I think there are lots of benefits from going which aren’t just what you get taught on the course. I think that developing your visual language while you are surrounded by people who are also trying to develop theirs makes it more fun and makes you want to push yourself, I think it leads to more opportunities for collaboration and interesting ideas than if you were just working away by yourself. 

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

Hopefully I’ll be freelancing, maybe illustrating a book or two? Working on illustrations where I can have fun with interpretation, like in my 7 Wonders, maybe for museums. And also helping to develop Fold Collaborative – a group of illustrators I’m a part of. If I’m busy and finding exciting new projects to work on, that would be great!

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    Joe Lillington: Zaftig zine

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    Joe Lillington: Fold Collaborative

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    Joe Lillington: London Stories

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    Joe Lillington: London Stories

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    Joe Lillington: Light Grey Art Lab

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    Joe Lillington: Light Grey Art Lab

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 worked across online, print, events and latterly Features Editor before leaving in May 2015.

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.

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    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!

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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

    When I was finishing up my final project at university I’d wake up, have a slice of burnt toast, then hobble across slippery cobblestones to a windowless library. When Barnaby Kent woke up on the days that he was working on his graduate project he awoke lying on a bed of luscious leaves in the jungle, and he’d have fresh passionfruit for breakfast before taking a walk in the mountains. It’s no wonder that his work is so magical.

  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.