The portfolio of graphic design student and It’s Nice That Graduate Tilly Thompson is sophisticated, beautifully presented and contains projects of real depth. While Tilly stood out to us, it’s taken some time for the student to find what she was good at and get recognition. “When I was younger I was never especially good at anything. It was only halfway through secondary school that I started going to life drawing classes and realised I could draw,” Tilly explains. “I had some great art teachers who helped me to ditch biology and join their class. There were seven of us from that same class who got onto the foundation course at Kingston, so they were definitely a bit of a powerhouse.”
Attending Kingston University, Tilly had to make the most of her journey into London: “I commuted every day and most weekends so I’d say I probably spent 70% of my time at university with Transport for London. If there was a bachelors degree in graphic design and trying not to cut your fingers off with a scalpel on the tube, I’d probably do quite well in it.”
TIlly’s stand out project is Richard Serra: Rigging as a Hand Extension, a book she designed about the American sculptor’s installation team. “I got in contact with them after going to his exhibition at the Gagosian gallery because I wanted to know how they got such huge plates of steel into the space,” Tilly explains. “It turns out they had to take the walls of the gallery off and then rebuild them after the sculptures were in place… There are a lot of glossy books on Richard Serra but not a whole lot on his team so I thought it would be great to catalogue the previously unseens photos.”
The graphic designer was keen to match the aesthetic of the book to the tough, labour-intensive tasks the team take on: “The work they do is anything but fancy so I produced it on a Riso machine so it didn’t feel too precious,” says Tilly. It’s a fascinating subject and the detail Tilly has managed to include is fantastic, especially when combined with the clean, fresh layout that allows our focus to remain on the book’s content.
“I commuted every day and most weekends so I’d say I probably spent 70% of my time at university with Transport for London. If there was a bachelors degree in graphic design and trying not to cut your fingers off with a scalpel on the tube, I’d probably do quite well in it.”Tilly Thompson
But not all of Tilly’s projects have had this level of careful consideration applied to them, and she admits her worst project happened in her first year: “I did a project with my friend Hannah where we tried to make a chair out of Pringles.”
Addictive snacks aside, during her time at university Tilly has found that trusting her own judgement is imperative to a successful project. “I spent my first and second year constantly asking my tutors for advice and help on everything and my work was always awful. Sometimes too much help can lead to projects that don’t feel like your own,” Tilly explains. “In my final year we were left to our own devices which was really good for me. I had to have the guts to make a piece of work from beginning to end without constantly questioning it.”
The person Tilly would most like to show her portfolio to is Es Devlin. “I’m really into set design and a lot of my work revolves around trying to work with spaces and objects in an interesting way, even if I’m working on a page. During university I assisted Sarah Parker, Emma Roach and George Lewin and they helped me get a better feel for materials… I would love to show Es some of my work and talk to her about some of her set designs from Kanye West concerts to operas. It’s this kind of breadth and variation of conceptual work that I find really interesting.”
It’s more than an interest for Tilly though, as in a year’s time she’d love to either be “designing sets and then making books about the sets. Or making books and then designing sets about the books.” With her keen eye and thoughtful treatment of her subject matter, we’re in no doubt that she’ll make it happen.
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.
About the Author
Rebecca became staff writer at It’s Nice That in March 2016 before leaving the company at the end of 2017. Before joining the company full time she worked with us on a freelance basis many times, as well as stints at Macmillan Publishers, D&AD, Dazed and frieze.