Over years of putting together innovative degree shows and churning out ideas-based projects instead of aesthetically pleasing ones, Kingston’s graphic design students have established a firm place for themselves in the industry as thinking way outside the box. Joel Antoine-Wilkinson is the next in line proving this tradition to be true. The graphic designer is fresh from a degree at Kingston, where he worked on projects including a campaign intended to help young people connect with the NHS, using distorted mirrors in public bathrooms, and an exploration of man-made limits which took him inside the barriers at the British Museum and the National Gallery.[link]
“I’ve always been interested in visual things,” Joel says, of his early interest in art and design. “At the end of primary school me and my friends were obsessed with cars and the PlayStation games Need for Speed and Midnight Club, so we made a really badly put together car zine documenting our favourites.”
“I was pretty bad at art in secondary school, and managed to scrape a C grade at GCSE, but luckily I got onto a foundation course, which I loved. I realised art at secondary school is very different to design at university.”
After spending a year studying graphic design at one university Joel realised that establishment wasn’t for him, and so started again at Kingston. “I had fun, worked hard, struggled, stressed out and met some amazing people, who I hope I’ll be friends with for a long time,” he says. “I also did projects that were not really graphic design, like selling water to buy a kayak, which me and my friend rode down the river.”
As for the best project in his portfolio, Joel reckons it was one about gravity. “The brief was to communicate a scientific term of our choosing, and I picked gravity,” he explains. “Gravity is the warping of space-time by a large body of mass pulling smaller matter towards the core of the large body of mass. I wanted to communicate this through a publication, so as the reader approaches the middle of the book the content is pulled closer and closer to the gutter, but once the reader passes this point the content slowly begins to move back closer to the edge of the page. Seeing as gravity is the warping of space-time, the content also begins to warp towards the centre of the book, changing from a dry scientific essay on gravity to a science fiction piece of writing, written by myself.”
“I had fun, worked hard, struggled, stressed out and met some amazing people, who I hope I’ll be friends with for a long time. I also did projects that were not really graphic design,” he says, “like selling water to buy a kayak, which me and my friend rode down the river.”Joel Antoine-Wilkinson
It might sound a bit nuts, but the project is executed beautifully. “This project really taught me how to typeset well, and to consider what the audience gains from reading it, as well as having some fun with the writing, and adding some humour to the project. Over the last year I realised that I do actually enjoy editorial design, and playing with type.”
“My worst project was probably my first self-initiated project in the second year,” Joel says. “I had this idea to remind people to turn their lights off by creating a light bulb which inflates after a light has been left on for a certain amount of time. The idea was it would gradually fill the room, so that the person has no choice but to take notice.
“I quickly realised this idea didn’t make sense, and even setting it up just to make a film would cost a lot of money. So instead I proposed a lampshade made using thermochromic ink, that would reveal facts about the effects of energy usage. This was proposed by badly colouring a cheap lampshade from the 99p store with a sharpie. I was really surprised I even got to finish my presentation with what I had in front of me. I really started carefully choosing the subject matter of self-initiated projects from that point.”
Joel has a wise word or two for students thinking of entering competitions. “Although I did learn from it, doing a D&AD brief made me understand how valuable time at university is to be doing projects that you find fun and interesting. University is not about winning competitions.”
As for where he’d like to be in a year’s time, he has both reassuringly humble and extravagant ideas. “A year isn’t really that long, so realistically I would be happy to make money from doing projects that excite and challenge me. But since this is about dreams, please see Drake’s music video for Started From The Bottom, from 12 until 16 seconds in, for further information. Oh, and to work with Olafur Eliasson!”
We are very pleased that The It’s Nice That Graduates 2015 will once again be supported by Represent Recruitment. The graphic and digital 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 2015.