Nick Blakeman is perhaps the only one of our grad lineup to have surmounted a physical obstacle to achieve his place in The Graduates 2012, having (figuratively) climbed Everest for one of his final year projects. “What kind of designer engages in such a herculean feat to further his craft?” I hear you quizzically ask; well, you’re about to find out.
Creatively, the Kingston graduate is the kind of fellow the word polymath was invented for, brimming with ideas and a constantly open-minded attitude towards experimentation. A quick peruse of his portfolio demonstrates more than a handful of aptly-applied processes and media, switching comfortably between crisp print work and ambitious 3D projects while maintaining a clear, communicative concept.
Can’t visualise what the collective volume of cigarettes smoked by a supposed quitter might look like? Nick can. Looking for a utilitarian piece of furniture that’s simultaneously table and chair? He’s got that sorted too. He’s even thought about the potential of one day printing an actual human being. Pretty mature stuff for a man whose mum still buys his cutting mats for him (there are some pretty gratuitous shots of bottoms on his website though).
Nick’s development as a designer hasn’t been without its share of sacrifices. As well as his epic physical pursuits he’s also had some social challenges to overcome, ditching friends and a social life to concentrate on his creative passions, though it’s probably best that he explains these delicate matters:
Why or who or what made you go to art school?
I wanted to be an architect for most of my childhood, so from a young age I thought that I would end up doing something creative. I lost interest in academic subjects in sixth form and excelled in art and graphic design and I think that was when I decided for sure to pursue a creative career. My mum has always encouraged me to keep being creative and has never been reluctant to indulge me in overpriced cutting mats or bone folders.
What’s the best mistake you made when you were studying?
To the sixth form college that was a bit away from home and not the one that all my friends went to but was the only one nearby to offer a graphic design course. I really regretted that at first; for having no friends and having to commute for two hours a day, but in hindsight I’m definitely glad I chose graphic design over friends. Art foundation and university has more than made up for it.
If you could show you your work to one person, who would you choose and what would you show them?
I’d show Edmund Hillary the photos of me and Alex (Brown) climbing Everest on a ladder in our back garden. We climbed up and down this ladder just over 1,600 times, which is equivalent to the upwards and downwards climb of Mount Everest. It was really hard on a ladder, but obviously nowhere near as difficult as the real thing. So yeah, I’d show Edmund Hillary those photos to make him regret bothering with the real Everest. All you need is a big ladder from HSS.
Can you give us one prediction about your work for the next year?
Hopefully I’ll do a lot! I want to keep doing a bit of everything for as long as possible and get a job at a studio where I can produce work that makes me happy. I’m looking forward to meeting and working with new people, and I’m excited about working commercially to see how it differs from the freedom of university. If, on top of all this, the work I do earns me enough money to afford rent and food, I’ll be truly happy. Overall it’s safe to say that I’m very excited.
What’s the best thing you saw in the last three years?
A few months ago I discovered Bjarke Ingels Group, a Danish Architecture firm. Among other things, they’re responsible for Copenhagen’s power station blowing smoke rings instead of having a normal chimney. They also put a ski slope on the roof and a lift on the side to take people back to the top. There’s a TED talk by Bjarke Ingels in which he says that sustainability is fun and not boring. I definitely thought sustainability was boring before watching that talk, so I’d recommend it.
We are delighted that once again top creative recruitment agency Represent has teamed up with us to support our search for the cream of this year’s crop. Represent Recruitment Limited help some of the worlds most talented graphic designers find new work. We work with designers at all levels, from Junior through to Executive Creative Director. Our business thrives through the networks we develop and our impeccable eye for great work. Formed in 2003 Represent operate out of offices and gallery space in London, EC1.