Regulars / The Graduates 2016

Tom Joyes’ astute cultural distillations through data, design and film


Jamie Green

Tom Joyes studied communication design at Glasgow School of Art. Politically-minded, his work is a clever distillation of the contemporary political and media-saturated climate, making inventive use of his skills in design and filmmaking.

Tom consciously avoids gravitating to a particular style or signature aesthetic in his work, concerning himself instead with the context and content of the subject at hand. “I am interested in what the concept of a ‘style’ actually means for designers…I mostly work with subjects that I feel socially or politically connected to and discuss themes of technology, media and consumption,” he says.


During his time at art school he found himself questioning the notion of the designer as creator, and the role of designer as curator. “Recently, my work has explored removing this hand completely, designing systems and machines that essentially act as mediator in the equation,” he says, expressed through projects like Uncertain Media (

His home city of Glasgow was the natural choice for Tom, which he describes as having: “a complete lack of pretension, and is small enough to provide a low-risk environment to freely create whatever you like, without fear of scrutiny or failure.”

Nevertheless, he spent time deliberating between Glasgow School of Art’s sculpture and environmental art course, and the communication design course he eventually went on to pursue. “I was swayed by the design school, where communication design was known for being extremely open and research-based, and I was interested how these approaches could cross disciplines, bridging art and design,” he says.

He pinpoints this openness and the multidisciplinary nature of the tutors and teaching as a driving force behind his work, with an emphasis placed on “thinking laterally and questioning conventional ways of doing things.”

Allowed to direct the content and briefs for his final year of study, there was little Tom didn’t find himself enjoying, able to pursue his interests and ideas through experimentation and exploration. Although he admits that “the film Visually Similar was definitely an endurance task to create. The project took six months to complete and involved downloading 10,000 plus images manually from Google.”

As such, most of his projects are born out of a culture for collaboration and self-initiation shared among his peers at Glasgow School of Art. “In our course, we would often facilitate our own discussions as a group, questioning why things are done a certain way and what we could do differently. I’m certain my peers will form a base for future collaborations and I look forward to this beyond graduation,” he explains.

Uncertain Media was his favourite major project, bringing together many of the key avenues of concern and interest he developed during his time at Glasgow School of Art. “It’s basically a search engine that collates top YouTube search results and plays them simultaneously in a composition of vertical bars, creating an overload of audiovisual content,” he explains. Mediating the tagged content in this way, the project becomes a cultural comparison tool which hall calls “both a source of productivity and distraction in my own practice,” which simultaneous analyses the surface-skimming tendencies of internet browsing habits that inspired it.

“Uncertain Media offers a new level of analysis and interaction with what is relatively static media, where users become active critics of content than simply passive consumers. This is an idea I’m interested in pursuing,” he says.

Tom is sticking around in Glasgow with his fellow graduates for the time being, sharing a studio in the city while keeping his eye out on internships and residencies, both at home and abroad. “I see myself working abroad, particularly in Amsterdam, as I feel connected with the ideologies of Dutch design and find its focus on political and technologically driven work and attitudes towards the field of conceptual design very forward-thinking.”

As such, he hopes and recommends “exploiting the next two years of free movement before Article 50 hits hard.”


Tom Joyes: Grey Propaganda


Tom Joyes: Grey Propaganda


Tom Joyes: Design on Demand

G . F Smith

It’s Nice That’s Graduates 2016 is kindly supported by G . F Smith, whose gorgeous range of papers and services can be just the thing for new and soon-to-be creative grads. The 130-year-old paper company has a long history of working with designers and artists at all stages of their careers, with its high-quality and innovative paper products offering a huge range of creative possibilities.