The graphic design course blog for
HND Visual Communication at Edinburgh College

Magfest 2016

20 September 2016

Magfest is Scotland's largest festival dedicated to magazine publishing and is held annually in Edinburgh. This is its fifth year, and was the biggest yet, with more than 300 delegates and a great city-centre location at the Central Hall, Tollcross.  The theme for 2016 was 'fight for your audience', and all of the talks loosely addressed the state of the sector and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Magfest attracts publishers, illustrators, journalists, photographers and designers (professionals and students), and of course educators. The format consists of keynote speakers on the main stage, broken up by short panel discussions, breakout workshops in other parts of the venue, and short talks by up-and-coming magazine publishers.

This year the list of speakers was exceptional, the pitches by new magazine publishers was a minor revelation, and the general organisation, promotion and networking opportunities of the event were all first rate.  I attended the morning sessions and some of the afternoon talks - a group of our HND Graphic Design students spent the whole day and had a great experience.

My program copy, beautifully typeset by Eric Campbell.

The morning highlights included the opening speaker, Vanessa Kingori MBE from GQ Magazine, who set the tone for the whole event by looking at the challenges facing the publishing industry, and the opportunities of new technologies and superior content. It was immediately clear after a few minutes that we were all in for an absorbing day, especially when Vanessa played a cool clip of David Bowie in 1999 predicting that the internet would alter how we communicate in ways which "we can't yet even imagine".

Also up in the morning was the CEO of News UK (and former editor at the Scottish Sun), David Dinsmore, who described the huge operation the group runs across the nation, and the many successes of Scotland's best-selling tabloid newspaper.

Next up was Holland's Ernst-Jan Pfauth from De Correspondant - a Dutch-language digital magazine of crowd-sourced journalists which is ad-free and uses a disruptive strategy to operate outside of the commercial constraints normally associated with magazines.  Original content, beautiful design, and an inspired subscription model have been key to this title's rapid success. For me this was the highlight of the day, and with hindsight, a talk like this about publishing would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

We also had an interesting diversion into modern Scottish politics with Angela Haggerty, editor of CommonSpace, talking about the vacuum this news platform has filled in terms of balanced journalism in post-indyref Scotland. Angela also talked about a social media platform funded by Common Weal, called 'CommonSocial'.

Lunch (in a metal box) is served.

The early afternoon talks included Terri White, Editor-In-Chief of Empire Magazine (and a former editor of Time Out New York), who discussed current trends in film magazines and the risks publishers need to take - which she duly demonstrated by playing a hilarious x-rated Empire infomercial delivered by Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool - google it.

In between these keynotes I really enjoyed the short pitches from all the new publishers, in particular the titles She is Fierce, Counterpoint, and Nutmeg stood out.  It's a pity I missed Astrid Stavro and Primate's Espen Brunborg, who talked about editorial design and web design respectively, but I'm reliably informed by our students that these two talks were superb.

And with workshops on comics, infographics and etc, there was something for everyone at Magfest. The free (and rather excellent) lunch, a set of great freelance stalls, and a fully stocked shop of Scottish titles all added to the sense that Magfest is firmly established as a brilliant event for creatives and publishers, and probably doesn't need to fight for its audience next year.

Our YCN winners!

8 September 2016

Our YCN Winners Catriona Munro and Liam Philp attended the YCN Awards at the Barbican in London with tutors Chris Hughes and Alex Gunn.  The students were commended for their response to the Orchard Pig brief. This year YCN saw the biggest amount of entries in its 15 year history, with Art Schools, Colleges and Universities from all over the world submitting competition work.

This is the 13th and 14th YCN Awards our students have won since 2008.  Catriona and Liam are just entering their final year of study on our Visual Communication / Graphic Design course and have a very bright future.  Well done guys!

More photos of the evening here on the YCN website.

Adobe BC

3 September 2016

Two of our final year students, Liam Philp and Matt White, devised the 2016/2017 Induction Project, entitled  'Adobe BC'.  The guys put together an awesome opening presentation and devised an ice-breaker task, then pitched the two-day project - to name and brand a stone-age design agency, and then sell the wheel by creating a poster.

As usual, we requested that no computers could be used, so that the whole project was hands-on. This year we decided to bring our NC group into the mix, giving us a group of almost 60 students, working over two days in groups of 5 or 6, with each group led by a final year student.

On the first day, the groups named and branded their companies. Matt and Liam supplied 10 slabs of stone on which each team had to create their mark.  On the second day, the teams set about promoting the invention of the wheel.

The winning team were 'Jakulating Nutz', led by Dora Bowman (HND2) and Aga Pomaranska (HNC).  Well done guys, we loved the ideas but the copy was a bit suspect...

A Brief Student Show was like this...

16 August 2016

Our annual Industry Night & Show - A Brief Student Show - was held at the Fruitmarket Gallery back in June, and turned out to be our biggest and most successful yet. More than 200 industry practitioners, designers, graduates and employers assembled to view our students' work and celebrate design education.

With the new term just a week or so away, we thought it might be nice to look back at the show with this short film of the event, when some of our mentors gave their impressions of the work this year.

You can also go to our flickr stream and see photos from the event, taken by our resident photographer Derek Anderson.

Showing Off More Winners

12 June 2016

On the back of A Brief Student Show, our hugely successful one night exhibition last week at the Fruitmarket Gallery, we've had a flurry of award wins for our design students, across all three study years - NC, HNC and HND.

In the NC year (our introductory foundation year), Aga Pomaranska won both the Richard Demarco Award and the Creative Student of the Year Awards at the College's internal prize-giving event - a first for our courses. One of the most influential figures in the Scottish arts world, Demarco is a co-founder of the Traverse Theatre and founder of the Richard Demarco Gallery. As a Trustee of the College, his award is given each year for outstanding achievement in Art & Design at the College. Aga will be continuing her studies next year on the HND Graphic Design course.

Aga Pomaranska with her Awards

In the HNC year, Catriona Munro and Liam Philp both won a YCN Commendation for the Orchard Pig brief. YCN is an important award, with thousands of entries from UK and international Universities and Art Schools, and these wins represent our 13th and 14th Commendations since 2008. The guys can now look forward to an exciting visit to London in September for the YCN Awards.

Finally, HND student Charlie Law had to leave the our final show early to get to Edinburgh's Corn exchange for the Marketing Society Awards, where he had been shortlisted for the Star Creative Student.

Charlie with presenter Laura Whitmore and Star Awards Chair, Paul Condron.

Charlie fought off competition from nominees at DJCAD and ECA to pick up our 4th win in 5 years at Scotland's showcase celebration in the Marketing sector.  Charlie starts a placement at Digitaslbi this week and will be the toast of the agency. Well done to all!

Marketing Society Scotland 2016 Award Winners
YCN 2016 Student Commendations
HND Exhibition Sampler from A Brief Student Show

National Galleries One Week

6 June 2016

As part of our annual end-of-year event at the Fruitmarket Gallery on 9th June, we'll be exhibiting our most recent One Week project, where our students took on a live brief from the National Galleries of Scotland, in collaboration with their mentors in design agencies Whitespace, Multiply, Realise, Teviot, and Blonde. Check out our short film of the project -

Part of the Edinburgh College Glow Festival, 'A Brief Student Show' is on at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, June 9th from 6-9PM.  If you are planning to come along but haven't let us know yet, you can register at