“I remember when I told my parents I wanted to go to art school,” graphic designer Tommy Spitters tells us. “I said that I would rather look back and be glad I took a risk than not take the risk and regret it. I guess I went to art school to avoid the nine to five office job that I would have hated, which would otherwise have been my future.”
Tommy’s experience in having spent three years studying Graphic Design at Brighton has had a huge impact on the work he makes now, which channels frustration with political systems and public injustice into sharp, informative and concise visual forms, or looks at the place of Brutalist architecture in urban settings. “I guess I would sum it up with a mix of anger and optimism,” he says of his degree. “Being the first year to pay the increased fees definitely had an effect on us as a year group, but instead of letting it ruin our time, we used it as a driving force to work harder and to fight for what we believed in.
“I think the most important thing I learnt was that it’s okay to be angry and to let that inform your work. Most of my work this year has been political in some way, whether it’s been about the housing crisis or NSA surveillance. It’s this anger or dissatisfaction with the state of the world which has lead me to make the kind of work I make today. I wouldn’t have learnt that lesson if it hadn’t been for the people I spent the last three years with, who are collectively the most angry group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending my time with.”
“I think the most important thing I learnt was that it’s okay to be angry and to let that inform your work. Most of my work this year has been political in some way, whether it’s been about the housing crisis or NSA surveillance. It’s this anger or dissatisfaction with the state of the world which has lead me to make the kind of work I make today."Tommy Spitters
Tommy’s most accomplished project took on the Greek election, which took place earlier this year, and tried to make sense of the country’s current political situation by considering its past. “I was interested in the sort of political landscape which would allow a far-left socialist party to form a coalition with its militant right wing counterpart,” he explains. “I decided to make a large run of double-sided newsprint posters which featured a brief history of Greek politics and economics, and which would provide a consolidated overview on Greece. I wanted it to allow people to understand why the events of the past six months have played out the way they have.” It’s a subject which the media is still struggling to make sense of now, which shows his ability to identify an interesting story. “It was the first project where I remember looking at it finished and feeling completely happy with what I had done.”
Contrary to many of our Grads, who believe their worst work was made in their first year, Tommy found the first semester of his final year more of a struggle. “I remember seeing Charlotte Basset say in her Graduates interview last year that the same thing happened to her: the pressure of third year and the desire to constantly be making your best work resulted in the complete opposite of that. I kept that in mind a lot during the first few months and it was only when I decided to stop worrying about my work and just get on with it that what I was doing started to improve.”
If he could show his portfolio to one person, it would be the brilliant Ken Garland. “His work has not only stood the test of time, but he’s never been taken in by his own legend, and is constantly denying his own importance,” he says. “Ken regularly came into Brighton whilst I was there to give lectures or look at the graduate shows, and I regret never asking him if I could show him my work.”
He has modest aims for the year ahead; if all goes to plan he’ll be “not homeless, not hungry, not working that aforementioned nine to five office job. I’m trying to not think of anything in the long run, I’m just going to take things as they come and hope for the best.” With a mature, passionate and informed body of work behind him and plenty of ideas and energy to create more of it, we see him going a long, long way.
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.