Showing off

A new showcase for up-and-coming designers launches this month, backed by a cheeky creative competition to design a customisable identity for the event and a live illustration project

Anyone looking to discover new design talent should take the time to see a new show, hosted by Young Creatives Network this month.

YCN is a members’ organisation showcasing talented up-and-coming designers. Director Nick Defty claims to have 40 000 members, and works to match them up with available jobs at brand owners, consultancies and publishers. It holds an annual Design and Communication award, and publishes a book of members’ work, but this year it is launching an annual event to showcase work from a cross-section of new and existing members.

Held at the Royal College of Art, some of the finest new talent in design, illustration, moving image and interactive communications, both by new graduates and those already working in the industry, will be on display.

The show’s curatorial board includes an impressive list of creatives, including Jonathan Barnbrook, Adrian Pettet of creative consultancy Cake and Sarah Pascoe, head of art buying at Bartle Bogle Hegarty. On show will be commercial and self-generated work, alongside specially commissioned collaborations. Illustrator Jon Burgerman will be creating a large-scale work live in the space, while designer Alexandre Bettler will be showing his Trestle Tables, which take the form of letters from the Zagreb typeface.

The call for submissions campaign for this year’s event was a special concept in itself. Entitled Show Off, the aim was to create a strong typographic identity, which designers and imagemakers could adorn and customise as their own handywork.

YCN commissioned member Jo Murray to create the simple, shape-based identity, then printed it on to postcards and offered it as a template for designers to customise. ‘The logo needed consistency, so I used similar shapes to allow for a close-knit identity,’ says Murray. ‘The forms are almost asking to be filled in, as the O and W are kept at their most basic, while the S, H and F begin to offer more structured spaces to work within, yet without providing a full letterform.’

The logo takes the form of an accessible, playful image rather than that of a formal, finalised type design, allowing scope for customisation. The results are a diverse collection of one-off postcard designs, which will all be displayed at the showcase.

‘My treatment of the logo was a bit of a happy accident,’ reveals designer Craig Akehurst. ‘I found myself doodling and thought this is an interesting concept in itself. It worked well to highlight the simplicity of the logo, and represents part of the process a designer goes through to develop a worthwhile outcome.’

Illustrator Ben Jones also took a back-to-basics approach, explaining, ‘I wanted the design to have a rough, hand-printed quality so I used Lino, stencils, a printing roller and block-printing ink. I produced the image on my bedroom floor on a hand-made printing surface.’

Other Show Off concepts include embellished envelopes, which were sent out with packs to creative agencies across the country, encouraging junior colleagues to submit work.

If this collaborative spirit has whetted your desire to participate, the private view will host a live illustration project to be completed with Letraset Tria markers, allowing us all to show off a little. l

YCN at RCA runs from 31 August to 3 September (private view on 30 August) at the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7. YCN’s next annual publication, Book 0708, will be published in October

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