BA (Hons) Design for Art Direction at London College of Communication is a unique course that explores the practical, conceptual and managerial skills relating to design and art direction.

As students from the course prepare to exhibit in LCC Degree Shows for the first time we decided we’d sit down with 2 of the final year students preparing to exhibit to find out more.

We caught up with to Pixie Tan and Jam Steward and asked them about preparing for the show, what lessons they’ve learned over the 3 years, what they’ve got planned for after graduation and to see if they have any advice for the future years.

How does it feel preparing for your Degree Show?

Pixie: It’s been a little stressful and nerve-wracking – despite the various briefs set out to help prepare for it and being the first Design for Art Direction students to show makes this extra intimidating but nonetheless quite exciting.

Jam: Equally exciting as it is terrifying. It’s such an amazing opportunity to exhibit your work within an institution which is renowned for its quality of graduates, which also creates a lot of pressure. Especially as this will be our course’s first graduate show we have a name to make for ourselves.

Can you tell us a bit about the project you’ll be showing?

Pixie: My research for my final project has been an investigation in education and labour, largely with an interest in how young creatives can navigate through the precariousness of graduation through collaborations and collective actions. As a mode of research, I conducted a couple of sessions of talks/discussion and worked on pieces of texts with other creatives which will be offered as free resources for degree show go-ers to assemble their own “Graduate Self Help” book. This will be exhibited alongside a film I made about interdisciplinary design which features a functional conveyor belt made in the 3D workshop.

Jam: I’ll be showing a project which collates about 2 years’ of research and practice, it will manifest as a video and a printed catalogue housed in a modular, purpose-built display structure. Essentially it is an instructional guide on how online networks can be utilised for a new queer existence.

Over the course of this degree, I’ve taken interest in many areas of research, in particular, queer theory, identity politics, internet discourse, automation, and futurism. So with this project, I’m bringing together these areas of interest to create an outcome which I can present when people ask “what are you interested in?”

As the first Art Direction students to be going through this, can you give some advice for the students to follow you?

Pixie: Use the facilities in the College to your best advantage! Spend as much time in the workspaces in your first and second year – you will learn as much about yourself as you will about design processes. Also, the tutors and technicians at LCC are such gems and can teach you so much if you approach them with genuine interest.

Jam: One of the main things is to come with an open mind, and to be interested – if not infatuated with something. Also be willing to work with other people, and be organised with your time.

What are your ambitions for when you leave LCC?

Pixie: I’ve found great interest in research and interdisciplinary practices and hope to be able to further pursue that with studios such as FranklinTill, The Future Laboratory, and Studio Toogood.

Jam: The dreaded question for every graduate… I’m currently working on a few collaboration projects outside of uni; one of which is Scamp, a recently relaunched bi-annual fashion and art zine which I am the art director for. I’m also soon to be exhibiting at a new weekly club night called ‘Groin’ at Corsica Studios in Elephant & Castle. So with these projects, I’ll get to work with new people which will bring new opportunities for further collaboration.

How has your view of the course changed over your 3 years?

Pixie: As the first batch of BA (Hons) Design for Art Direction students, I saw how the course took shape under the leadership of our tutors who responded deftly to our needs and curiosity, creating a space for us to question and experiment. I believe that this has helped formulate my investigation for my final project which has been about challenging ‘One size fits all’ educational formats.

Jam: From day one I felt at home on the course but through the 3 years it’s grown so much from just one small class to a network of people who are all here to collaborate and to learn from each other. The amazing thing about joining this course at the beginning is that we made it our own. Tara Langford our Course Leader and tutors have listened to us more than I could have hoped for, which has helped to build an incredibly strong course.

Are there any skills you have now that you weren’t expecting to gain when you started?

Pixie: I’ve learned to communicate succinctly to others about my projects through methods that better suit me (such as writings or concept boards). I’ve never expected research and critical theories to become such a crucial part of my practice.

Jam: Writing was never my favorite practice, nor my best. But through this course, I have been encouraged to use writing as a tool to imagine and to create things that wouldn’t be possible in the world that we live in. I’ve also been shown that academic writing doesn’t have to be dry and inaccessible, it can be really enjoyable and enabling.

Jam Steward, Research Publication for Grindr Proposal, preview on Issuu

What have you enjoyed most about the course and LCC?

Pixie: Our course leader Tara and the team she has put together for the course has been so integral to my experience at LCC and it has been incredible being under their tutelage. I also really enjoy attending the various workshops across the College under the guidance of the technicians who have helped me so much over the past three years.

Jam: The variety available on this course is probably its strongest asset. All of the projects we have worked through have been so varied in outcomes and processes. So working through all of these has probably been the most exciting part of the course.

Follow Pixie on Instagram and visit Pixie’s website,  or follow Jam on Instagram and visit Jam’s website.