Just over a week ago It’s Nice That’s Jamie McIntyre and I took a train from London to Glasgow to the much-antiticipated Graphic Design Festival Scotland. We had been invited by Beth Wilson and James Gilchrist, two students who had recently graduated from Edinburgh College of Art. During their degree the two had found themselves working best when together, and decided to form Warriors Studio as a duo. They began thinking about the climate of graphic design in Scotland, the need for something new and exciting and – most importantly – what the hell they were going to do when term ends and they were turfed out to fend for themselves.
They devised a plan: hire out a huge space in Glasgow, fill it with students and anyone who wanted to learn about design, and then invite some of the world’s most exciting designers and influencers to come and spend days doing talks, workshops and crits. Simple huh? What Jamie and I found upon arriving was one of the most electric, exciting atmospheres you’d ever hope to stumble across in an enormous tower block in the outskirts of Glasgow.
When we arrived on Thursday morning, the students were hard at work on a two-day brief around the theme of “attention” and were being guided by a host of fantastic mentors that James and Beth had invited to help out, including Freytag Anderson, Recoat, MadeBrave and super-fun Risotto Studio. Once the mentors had selected two people from each group with the strongest idea, we were then invited to select the winning three. In third place we awarded Rachel Davey for her fantastic motivational GIFs designed to give yourself some attention rather than others (which you can see over here), and we awarded second prize to Amy Watt for her fantastic project that involved getting the attention of a boy in the studio called Frank via a series of small, riso-printed love letters and notes.
First place was awarded to the wonderful Molly Wilson who decided to spend her two days matchmaking Edinburgh College of Art with Glasgow School of Art in a bid to smooth over a notorious rift between the two. Her method of sending unreachable tutors from each uni a hand-printed note with a fresh red rose attached in order to make sure it got to them straight away rather than sitting in an in-tray was inspired – and we totally admired her courage and execution.
The days that followed were spectacular too. On Friday night we wandered over to an enormous space in Glasgow’s town centre where James and Beth had been busy curating a huge poster exhibition. With over 2000 entries from all over the world they then recruited some helper judges and whittled it down to 80 final winners. The posters were celebrated with a big party put on by Beth and James where the students and workshop participants were able to let their hair down and have a few bevvies to celebrate the past few days of hard work.
The atmosphere was electric, the winners of the competition were announced, and it was great to see everyone having so much fun with the new friends they had made in the past couple of days. The night ended in Glasgow’s Student Union where the judges, students and mentors danced the night away under disco balls with lots of 20-year-old art students and cheaper-than-your-average rum and cokes. Brill!
Over the weekend a whole bunch of creatives such as Eike Konig of Hort, Freddy from Kesselskramer Outlet, OK-RM and 44 Flavours took over the space and presented the crowds with two-day workshops and talks. The atmosphere was one of happiness and celebration – a whole host of people coming together with nothing else in mind other than creating something, using their hands and making some friends along the way.
What James and Beth did took months and months of planning and a lot of favours from friends, family and next door neighbours. What they ended up with was a spectacular event that brought hundreds of people together from all over the world to celebrate creativity. Their bold move of inviting high-profile designers from all over the world to contribute paid off – they all came. It just goes to show what you can do with a great idea, the balls to get something off the ground, some perseverance, and a few favours. James and Beth of Warriors Studio have just arrived on the scene, but the success of this fantastic, fun, inspiring event is proof that they’re going to be around for years to come. Watch this space, and see you next year at Graphic Design Festival Scotland.