Every year we receive hundreds of brilliant applications from emerging creatives as part of our annual showcase highlighting fresh talent, The Next Generation (formerly known as The Graduates). We were so impressed, we’ve decided to celebrate an extra 19 candidates as part of a longlist of creative excellence. Below, you’ll find a myriad of stories from all over the world and across a range of discipines. It’s the cherry on top of The Next Generation 2021, meeting those who were just a stones throw away from the showcase. That being said, it’s worth mentioning that this list is just a handful of exceptional creative talent we witnessed this year and there were many more people we would have loved to spotlight.
From investigative documentary photography to tongue-in-cheek Juicy Couture urns, a self-taught illustrator expressing her depression, sculptural dolls exploring nightlife as a queer person and much, much more; meet The Next Generation continued.
Having grown up as a third culture kid, Corinne explores graphic forms as a shared space for communities, memories and multiplicity. During her time at the Rhode Island School of Design, she found herself enthralled by the ability to re-engage and celebrate stories that are often forgotten through zines, publications and letterforms. In doing this, she started to look at her work as a means of decolonising through the subversion of control systems imposed upon her (i.e. the modernist agenda in graphic design or the Latin writing system within the context of her Filipino culture). She takes ownership over these forms by bastardising them through a personal perspective and view. This is particularly explored through her project Barangay where she designed two typefaces embodying the memories of her childhood.
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Corinne Ang: Barangay (Copyright © Corinne Ang, 2021)
Based in the Hague, 郝可欣 (Kexin Hao) blurs the boundaries of design, film, performance, and music, as well as physical boundaries between art and non-art space. In her recent works, Kexin investigates themes of the body, rituals, health, collective memory, and retro-futurism. Visually, she swings between intimate close-ups on personal stories and wider collective narratives; between a past of political heaviness and flashy modernity rendered in humour and sarcasm.
Kexin’s graduate project Total Body Workout sees history unfold not in chronological order but a head-to-toe sequence. Based on nationwide physical exercise routines and mass gymnastic performances in Asia, the Eastern Bloc and the United States, it proposes a recomposition of existing corporal movements and a reconfiguration of the past in the present and asks: “How is our body scripted and shaped by the times it lives in? How are national agendas and political ideologies woven into bodily semiotics? How does one’s body memory become an integral part of hegemonic historical narratives? And how do we inhabit a historical and totalised body?”
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Kexin Hao: Royal Nail Salon (Copyright © Kexin Hao, 2021)
Kristiāna is a graphic designer and co-founder of the artist group 3/8. She has an interest in designers’ impact on the world, the invention of new creative working methods, and critical thinking. Her work often involves extensive research intertwined with the execution of visual instructions, finding the most fruitful processes in self-imposed rules.
Her graduation work Polycultures is a testament to that. A designer’s de-composition of the stereotypical visual representation of nature in the global capitalist culture – one that often takes the form of a fragile, blue-skied, green grass meadow landscape – Kristiāna traces these images to the practice of monoculture farming in industrialised agriculture. By appropriating default design tools as planting machinery (symbol sprayer tool) and common visual elements used for efficient production of “design monocultures” (ready-made buttons), Kristiāna’s work manifests and stimulates the growth of new visual landscapes, accenting the designer’s role and accountability in shaping the collective understanding of the environment.
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Kristiāna Marija Sproģe: Polycultures (Copyright © Kristiāna Marija Sproģe, 2021)
Radek is a Polish graphic designer based in the Netherlands working with typography, code and printed matter. His interests lie in rediscovering value in archival and historical materials and examining transformations of visual languages.
In Paper Thread: Kowary Carpet Factory, for example, Radek based his work on research and materials he gathered from a now-derelict carpet factory in the southwest of Poland; a region with a long and complicated history, with Czech, German and Polish cultures intersecting in one place. The carpet factory in the town of Kowary operated from 1856 until the market crash of 2008, following two decades of neglect during the new, free-market economy. Travelling to the site, Radek saw a lack of institutional agency to archive the legacy of the factory’s workforce, which was almost entirely comprised of women.
To bring new attention to the story of Kowary, Radek produced a publication and exhibition with a visual language inspired by shapes he saw in the hand-painted pattern papers, which were used by carpet designers to programme the factory’s weaving machines.
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Radek Górniak: Paper Thread: Kowary Carpet Factory (Copyright © Radek Górniak, 2021)
A recent graduate from the Department of Applied Arts, Faculty of Fine Arts, MSU, India, Shaily has a keen interest in type design and typography. For the past three years, she has been developing typefaces in multiple Indic scripts as well as Latin. She aims to pursue a career in type design and explore the possibilities of designing display type for Indic scripts. She recently launched her first type family, Balcony, launched on MyFonts in February 2021. Her work has been commended by Sharp Type, New York, as part of its Women of Typographic Excellence award hosted by The Malee Scholarship 2020. She is also a recipient of the Certificate of Typographic Excellence, an award given at the 24th Annual TDC Typeface Design Competition by the Type Directors Club students’ category of Type Family. The winning project, Balcony, has been featured in the German publication Page Magazine. Balcony is a display type family inspired by motifs of metal safety grills. The family comes in four weights (Thin, Light, Regular, Bold) and two stylistic sets including dingbats. It supports Western and Central European languages.
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Shaily Patel: Balcony (Copyright © Shaily Patel, 2021)
Jann Choy is a multidisciplinary designer working between design, creative coding, 3D, fabrication and moving image. She often works with data to explore the symbiosis of humans and technology, creating tangible outcomes that blur the boundaries between physical and digital. Always curious, Jann creates speculative work to investigate topics. For example, her curiosity for decentralised communications led her to make a wearable alternative communication device. “Experimenting and thinking through making brings me great joy,” she says.
Liǎn (脸), an experimental mask that explores the relationship between one’s online persona and offline self, and which merges her Malaysian cultural tradition with a fascination for modern technology. It responds to the wearer’s real-time online emotions through code and soft robotics; its transformation is dependent on their online sentiment. The concept and design are heavily inspired by Chinese face-changing opera art (变脸) and online avatars, two avenues Jann tells us she’s always been intrigued by.
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Jann Choy: Liǎn (脸) (Copyright © Jann Choy, 2021)
Nothing excites graphic designer Kara Garnier more than trying to re-transcribe things that visually move her. With a range of techniques under her belt, she is dedicated to the learning process. Kara’s practice revolves predominantly around music as in her mind, it is “the most difficult and the most beautiful thing to restore”. Using Blender and its many possibilities to explore this notion, Kara is also interested in music and love which form the two main pillars of her work. She hopes to collaborate with creatives who have similar passions in the future and ultimately, convey messages through graphics when words are not enough.
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Kara Garnier: Birth (Copyright © Kara Garnier, 2021)
María Guðjohnsen is an Icelandic graphic and 3D designer based in New York. She has exhibited shows in Reykjavík and Berlin that play with the intersection of reality and virtuality. The artist’s works depict utopian realities inspired by the future, science-fiction and computer games.
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María Guðjohnsen: Koi (Copyright © María Guðjohnsen, 2021)
Alexandra Dautel is a French visual artist and photographer based in Paris and Lausanne. Her interests are mainly in investigative documentary photography; mixing photographs, archives, texts and testimonies. In her multi-layered artistic practice and research, she searches for truth and sometimes justice, and her investigations are always based on the human and the social kind, exploring power structures, mental manipulations and new ways of living.
Her project May You Continue to Blossom is an investigative documentary about an Israeli community, which defines itself as a school. Through extensive digital research, interviewing present and past members of the community, the book exposes the ambiguity and the violence of a place that at first glance seems utopian. Using varying perspectives, the visual language reflects the contradictions and the complexities of the community and its history, as well as the gaps and grey areas.
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Alexandra Dautel: May You Continue to Blossom (Copyright © Alexandra Dautel, 2021)
Having just left full-time employment to dedicate all his time to his creative practice, Gabriel Gayle is a self-taught photographer from London. His body of work is inspired by his own experiences which he turns into “mental images”, akin to the documentarians he has admired from a young age. Being open to world around him is therefore important to his practice, as the more he observes, the more inspiration he finds. To date, he’s worked in the realms of editorial, fashion, portraiture and documentary photography and up next for the photographer is a catalogue of eyes titled My Little Book of Eyes.
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Gabriel Gayle: Rada (Copyright © Gabriel Gayle, 2021)
The London-based photographer may only be 19 years old but that hasn’t stopped him from collaborating with a range of creatives from musicians to publications such as Guap, on top of a myriad of personal projects. He views photography as an important way of further understanding himself, using memories and his surroundings as fuel for inspiration. As well as photography, music is another means of escape for Joe. Looking for the unexpected beauty in an environment, Joe’s experimental practice investigates adolescent expression and how this interacts with mundanity.
Recently, he’s been contemplating the coldness and hopelessness of lockdown in a new project. Creating imaginative interpretations of his surroundings during the winter of lockdown, Joe found ways of rethinking what’s around him through the recent project. Shooting using only street lights, he wanted to perpetuate the dark and ghostly narrative felt over lockdown.
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Joe Puxley: Toby (Copyright © Joe Puxley, 2021)
Megan Dingwall is a Glasgow-based artist whose work currently focuses on storytelling through the use of sculpture, photography, and illustration, and explores themes such as narrative, performativity, and femininity. Dolls are prevalent across her work and a motif that aims to reflect on her own experiences and stories from within the queer community, predominantly referencing club culture and high femme aesthetics. “I feel that especially during a time like this they present some sort of retrospective or pre-Covid nostalgia,” she explains.
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Megan Dingwall: Bloody Mary (Copyright © Megan Dingwall, 2021)
Hong Kong-based creative Alistar Huang’s practice encompasses illustration, graphic design and photography. Fascinated by pop culture and Hong Kong culture, she creates vivid and surreal dimensions through everyday explorations and observations of the uncharted world. “My practice is inspired by my experience, feelings and daily life events,” she says. “I express my accusation and condemn the evil within society through my practice.”
In one project titled New City, a dystopian graphic novel, Alistar conveys her fears and anxieties about the future. The story takes place in an imaginary world – a highly regimented metropolis with mass surveillance and propaganda where “there’s no consciousness, no awareness and no wisdom remains in the inhabitants”. We follow a protagonist who works as a surveillant. Tasked with keeping citizens in line, he has to monitor and report whoever poses a threat to national security. But strange things keep happening. In turn, New City asks “What would you do if you were in deep water?”
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Alistar Huang: 嘉年華酒樓 (Copyright © Alistar Huang, 2021)
Beyza Durmuş is a self-taught, disabled, queer illustrator and graphic artist based in Turkey. Her practice is a personal one and a space for them to talk about depression, grief and other individual narratives. “I find it very inspiring to be that vulnerable while I create something,” she says. Contrasting the somewhat heavier themes in her work is her aesthetic. They use bold colours, textures and naive line work to “tone down” their pieces. Having worked across a variety of outputs, Beyza mainly utilises digital mediums, fond of the freedom it affords to make endless mistakes and still create something they love in the end.
In the past, Beyza has worked with the Nearness Project, All My Friends Zine and their work was featured on the latest cover for Sick Magazine. Projects in which she gets to see her illustrations become an actual object are her favourite and so another zine is currently in the works.
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Copyright © Beyza Durmuş, 2021
Tactile, unique, textured and emotional, Harriet Yakub’s stylised illustrations and animations are inspired by the internal voice of humanity and the nuances of everyday life. She tends to observe life through a lens of playfulness while picking up on the layers of emotional ambiguity and enjoys balancing those opposing qualities in her work.
Although primarily working with line drawing and digital colouring methods, Harriet also explores mixed media collage, painting and sculpture, always aiming to keep an element of tactility in a digital age. In turn, there’s a child-like quality across Harriet’s portfolio and she describes how tying together her work is her “introspectively whimsical observational response to the world.”
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Copyright © Harriet Yakub, 2021
Graphic designer Julia Chu’s work engages audiences with humor and playfulness. She tells mundane stories from unusual angles, illustrating the unfamiliar. Her graduation thesis tells the life story of a fantastically bizarre balloon while exploring themes of companionship and realism. Julia focuses on motion and narrative work, and she “aims to spark joy with her practice.”
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Copyright © Julia Chu, 2021
Laina Deene is an illustrator and animator based in Brighton, particularly interested in creating pieces that draw from literature, memory and the natural world. Her main inspiration comes from reading, exploring and observing.The illustrator uses organic mediums that allow room for mistakes and unpredictable marks to occur on both paper and in 3D. Currently, Laina is working with digital mediums in an attempt to retain the apparent naivety in handheld materials but on screen.
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Laina Deene: Italy (Copyright © Laina Deene, 2021)
Rowena Lloyd is an animator, illustrator and designer based in Melbourne. She seeks to explore the otherworldly through geometric, sci-fi-inspired abstract imagery that visualises sensory experiences in vivid colours and textures. Her process continually feeds into and draws upon music, and the majority of her work is based within Melbourne’s music community, creating event posters, live visuals, album covers, and designing for independent music publications. Rowena is currently in the final stages of production for her graduate film A Drawing Is An Idea, an improvised hand-drawn animated short that explores the deeply personal relationship human beings form with the practice of drawing.
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Rowena Lloyd: Point (Copyright © Rowena Lloyd, 2021)
Hailing from Brighton, Tabitha Weddell is a multidisciplinary artist making playful, tongue-in-cheek work. Through her practice, she explores how one idea can take different forms, and she has a strong interest in community and public engagement. Her most recent project You Urn't This is based on an exploration of funeral obituaries, cremation urns and vessels. From Juicy Couture tracksuits to streetwear brands, she explores the reinvention of classic urns to match the personality of die-hard designer brand lovers.
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Tabitha Weddell: You Urn't This (Copyright © Tabitha Weddell, 2021)
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.