The Graduates continued! Meet some more of the class of 2020

Scroll on down and say hello to the 24 creatives whose work was so impressive they were just a whisker away from making this year’s final Graduates showcase.


We’re always overwhelmed by the quality and maturity on display in the portfolios that are submitted to us for The Graduates. But it’s fair to say that this summer, we were truly blown away. As such, for 2020, instead of just showcasing the work of our 16 selected Graduates, we wanted to also pull together a list of the creatives whose work we felt deserved special recognition as well. (It’s worth saying that the list below is by no means exhaustive and there were in fact many outstanding creatives who we couldn’t showcase this year.)

This is undoubtedly a brutally tough year to be graduating, as we heard from 12 students around the world at the end of Spring. With a global pandemic and recession, and with much of the creative industry in defence mode, there aren’t many jobs or traditional opportunities out there for graduating students. However, the talent we’ve witnessed in submitted portfolios this summer has given us enormous hope for the future. The next generation is not only incredibly creative, but also fearless and eager to reshape society and the creative industries for the better.

So, scroll on down and say hello to the extended Class of 2020!

Graphic design:

Gabriel Abascal

A recent graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, Gabriel Abascal’s refined graphic design practice is full of colour. His final graduate project I And Love And You aims to contextualise and visualise his relationship with himself, love and graphic design. He’s also designed a hypothetical identity for The Vatican, the smallest country in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site, and helped create this year’s RISD Class of 2020 degree show identity along with seven other peers.

Jianzhen Joe Qiao

A recent graduate from ArtCenter College of Design, Joe credits his interest in graphic design to his name: Qiao. Translated from Mandarin, his name means “bridge”, a symbol of connectivity he thinks led him to the world of design. In turn, design for Joe is about the bridging together of subjects. In his wide-ranging projects – from an identity for a film festival celebrating cycling culture to a catalogue design for a group of Chinese artists – Joe enacts a creative problem-solving approach.

Kemi Adeeko

A recent graduate from Ravensbourne University, Kemi studied Advertising and Brand Design and now classifies herself as a visual storyteller with a focus on film and design. Creating inclusive work which tells stories of diversity from around the world, Kemi’s work spans design, music and fashion. She’s collaborated with Apple and artist Shamiya Battles, exploring the narrative of an unsigned artist, and devised a digital concept to share stories of Black people in everyday positive ways.

Lucas Criado Martinez

A recent graphic design grad of IED Madrid, Lucas’ practice is rooted in philosophy. He incorporates philosophical concepts into all his works and more impressively, builds his own theories surrounding graphic design. He is of the mindset that graphic design can both answer and ask questions. It’s up to us whether these things are complex or simple, however. His projects include publication design, album artwork, posters, identities, and a new game designed for getting the player through quarantine.

Mohammed Samad

Mohammed, a recent graduate of London College of Communication’s Graphic Design BA, thrives on finding relationships between the grid and typographic hierarchies. With a keen focus on editorial and type-based structures, Mohammed applies a versatile foundation to all his projects, which stretch across the mediums of animation, posters, type design and identities. A particularly interesting project of his is the exhibition design for 20:20, which explores the stories of 20 refugees who arrived in the UK 20 years ago.

Natalia Oledzka

A multidisciplinary designer with a focus on print, interaction and visual identities, Natalia recently graduated from Washing University in St. Louis with a BA in Communication Design. Winner of a TDK Award last year, a notable project of the Queens-born designer is Grain of Sand. Here, she’s designed a large-scale book exploring the phenomena that is sand and its role as the foundation of our built environment. In another type-design and web-development project, Astro, she creates an interactive typeface based on the position of the user’s cursor.

Ruolan Xi

Recently graduating from AKV St Joost in The Netherlands, Ruolan Xi is a graphic designer with an experimental multidisciplinary approach. Whether it’s publication design, posters or more digital renderings, her projects explore topics such as the impact of the Ancient Greek language on Latin, as well as an investigation into “Leftover Ladies and Wealth” and the conspiracy and economy in China.

Sunny Tianqing Li

How does architecture reflect the process of a country’s urbanisation and vice versa? This is just one of many pertinent topics explored in Sunny’s extensive design portfolio. A recent graduate of LA’s ArtCenter College of Design, Sunny, who was born and raised in Beijing, reflected on the aforementioned question in her book design project, A Simulacra of Place: Architecture Mimicry and China's Urbanization. Here, the designer explores the phenomenon of “duplitecture” where entire townships appear to have been airlifted from their historic and geographic foundations in Europe or the Americas and spot-welded onto Chinese cities. Sunny has also worked on an identity for Sternberg Press and Arte Luise Hotel in Berlin in her multifaceted practice.


Julie Lai

The Hong Kong-based illustrator Julie Lai has evolved her flowing illustration practice over the past few years at Falmouth University. With a focus on editorial illustration, Julie’s works are unique in their painterly lines and expressive characters. Her moving works include a visual essay about loneliness in cities, an exploration of Hong Kong culture and identity, and a highly detailed painting inspired by urban explorers and abandoned ruins.

Leah Kwak

A graduate of Toronto’s Sheridan College, Leah’s illustrations have already been recognised by the World Illustration Awards, Applied Arts 2020 and American Illustration 39. When she’s not drawing, you can find Leah taking part in a host of activities that influence her practice – K-pop, playing video games and chilling in her neighbourhood with a bubble tea, to name jus a few. Besides these pastimes, however, Leah’s practice is a masterful demonstration in blending colour, accentuated by stark black lines that add to the illustrator’s characteristically bold style.

Maisie Cowell

Having recently graduated with a degree from the University of Brighton, Maisie’s illustration practice is full of witty quips and dry, hilarious humour. A child approaches an artist at their exhibition opening: “My dad thinks your work is bland and derivative.” A couple are lying in bed, one partner reaches an arm out to the other: “Fuck off,” she says. In turn, Maisie sees her work as a means of working through her anxieties, cleverly using it as a way to poke fun at her own worries and fears.

Mia Sophie Oberländer

A graduate of Hamburg’s University of Applied Sciences, Mia’s illustration practice encompasses witty comics, evocative pastel landscapes and beautifully detailed portrait paintings. Focusing on comics primarily, Mia’s work also touches on editorial illustration and autofiction. Having lived in the German city for the past five years, Mia is extending her stay where she will be studying for a Master’s degree in graphic storytelling and visual narratives. She is also a core member of the team behind Comic Festival Hamburg.

Sara Quijano

Having just graduated from École Professionnelle Supérieure d'Arts Graphiques de la Ville de Paris, Sara’s portfolio features installation, editorial, comics, packaging and games design. She’s collaborated with Pull & Bear in an animated projection for Primavera Sound Festival, contributed to several publications and worked on a couple of music festivals too; a healthy bulk of commissioned work for someone just starting out in their career. Elsewhere in her personal work, she explores Latinx identity in the project L’attente and illustrates the Colombian poet Adilía Lopes’ moving words.


Kevin Williamson

A graduate of Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Kevin studied a BFA in Photography and Art Education. He shares a slice of life in New England through his subtle black-and-white series New Life. Accompanied by hand-written memoirs broken up into short passages of text, the immersive series showcases Kevin’s storytelling abilities, not to mention a considered attention to detail.

Megan Dalton

With a BA in Fashion Photography from Leeds Arts University, Megan Dalton has already been busy working for titles such as The Financial Times and has also been named as a “One to Watch” by Boys and Girls magazine. Working across both digital and analogue photographic approaches, her work additionally extends to a self-publishing practice and each project is imbued with her signature warm tone and keen eye for detail.

Natalia González Acosta

A graduate of Anglia Ruskin University’s Photography BA, Natalia González Acosta’s practice stems from a love of social documentary photography. In turn, she utilises the act of photography as an opportunity to gain access, and is particularly interested in “the ethics of representation”. This is notably explored in New Citizens, a project where Natalia explores the link between citizenship and identity following the Brexit referendum in 2016.

Sapphire Stewart

A photography graduate of Bath Spa University, Sapphire’s works have a characteristically personal touch. Documenting her sister’s road to recovery from an illness in Melissa, Sapphire’s poignant photographs weave narrative and heartfelt emotion together through analogue 120mm images. Additionally, she explores life in quarantine by photographing her partner, capturing the everyday nuances experienced during lockdown.

Sirui Ma

Sirui may have only just graduated from London College of Communication’s Photography BA, but she has already been commissioned by i great number of acclaimed clients. With a focus on fashion photography, Sirui has worked for the likes of Reebok, Nike, Carhartt WIP and Gap, to name just a few. Having already snapped up a host of fashion editorial commissions, the photographer also dabbles in portraiture and street photography.


Charlotte Strike

Packed with humour, Charlotte Strike’s animations are sure to make you laugh. Having graduated from Kingston University with a degree in illustration and animation, Charlotte’s short but snappy films grabbed our attention right from the off. She’s animated visuals to accompany the sounds of cooking baked beans, created a 56-second film about an extremely charming salamander named Professor Lew, and brought a gentle tingling sensation in Beam of Life, an animated short following how the light falls, set to the light hum of soft bells.

Lotte Cassidy

The Arts University Bournemouth graduate perfectly encapsulates the feeling of the British seaside in one of her graduate films, Strange Seaside. With a charming, slightly naive aesthetic, Lotte takes us on a day out by the shore in this hilarious (and highly nostalgic) two-and-a-half minute animation. In other work, similarly touching on quintessential British culture, Fancy A cuppa? reimagines Lotte’s grandmother’s memories over a cup of tea while in Nice Sausages, Lotte shares some astute observations of British cafe culture.

Sofia Johnston

A recent graduate from Leeds Art University’s illustration course, Sofia presents a range of hypnotic and surreal worlds in her polished animation practice. In Roaming – 360, Sofia creates an interactive world which can also be experienced in VR and 360 video viewing software. Exploring how technology affects the way we view art, Sofia’s impressive character and world-building design can be fully experienced in this immersive project. In other work she tackles editorials for both hypothetical and commissioned clients, while in Phenakistoscope, Sofia delves into old, lesser-used forms of animation.


Ben Dawson

Take a trip to the Wild West with this Kingston grad and his cowboy-themed work. Showcasing a multitude of skills from 3D rendering to environment building, video editing, motion design and sound editing, the fine art graduate contemplates the fusion between the virtual and the real. Using the Wild West as the vehicle for exploring such ideas, Ben’s digital practice examines notions of digital infinity, imposed pastiche and hybridity.

Xander Opiyo

A multidisciplinary creative specialising in lens media and art direction, Xander’s work spans film, collage, print and photography. A Fine Art graduate from the University of Delaware, Xander’s portfolio includes the film production for an experimental short, exploring his own emotional and psychological experiences. He also combines a stream of consciousness with photography and illustration in a collective diary and made collages in response to world events through the lens of Black America.


Scarlett Yang

Scarlett Yang is a multidisciplinary designer who has just graduated from Central Saint Martins’ BA womenswear course. Across a variety of mediums she explores tactility and tangibility in both digital and virtual realities. For instance, in her project Decomposition of Materiality and Identities, she describes a circular ecosystem where “garments grow, decompose and shape-change”.

Supported by


Pinterest is thrilled to sponsor the bright creatives in The Graduates. Pinterest is where people go to find inspiration and create a life they love. From interview wardrobe ideas to cocktail mixes, Pinterest is there to help realise your ideas from the epic to the everyday.

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