Graphic and digital design students wow at ‘Emerging Irish Design Exhibition’ in UL

AIT Design students were selected to exhibit their Graduate Show work at a prestigious national design showcase that opened June 26th at the University of Limerick. The DRS2018 Best of Emerging Irish Design Exhibition forms part of a wider biannual Design Research Society Conference, dedicated to showcasing the diversity and quality of design education in Ireland. This year’s theme, Catalyst for Change, reflects how design shapes daily life, influencing how people interact with each other and with their environment.

Final year BA (Hons) Graphic and Digital Design students, Michael O’Riordan and Ryan Hoey, showcased their mixed media projects at the four-day event. Michael O’Riordan’s work, entitled Rec’d, is a hyper-real portrayal of the issues surrounding data protection and surveillance in the modern era. Inspired by recent scandals such as Cambridge Analytica and society’s ever-waning grip on online identity, Rec’d is an ominous reminder that Big Brother is constantly watching and that Orwellian paranoia is suitably justified.

“Zine Girlz is a communal call to action, a creative space that urges artists to find the time for themselves.”

The mixed media work reveals itself as an antidote to chaos by helping society protect itself from an onslaught of digital connectivity. It drip-feeds viewers content stickers, posters and images directing people to a website with all the information one needs to regain their right to privacy. Echoes of Huxley’s Brave New World and, of course, Orwell’s 1984 permeate the work while the exhibit’s name, Rec’d, is a clever play on words blending the notion of being Recorded with the internet slang REKT.

Expressing his delight at being selected to partake in the emerging artist showcase, Michael O’Riordan said: “Being given the opportunity to exhibit my work to an international audience made up of design luminaries is an honour that helps raise the profile of young artists like myself. I’m eternally grateful to my lecturers at AIT for all their help and support over the past four years, particularly Stephanie Smyth without whom none of this would ever have been possible. Being selected for the showcase reaffirms my belief that choosing to study at AIT was the right decision.”

Ryan Hoey’s project, Zine Girlz, is a platform meant to liberate artists from the overbearing and sometimes stifling structure of corporate design. It provides a space for designers needing to flex their creative muscle in a responsive and personally driven way. Ryan believes too often designers sacrifice their personal needs and desires so that they can reach the dizzying heights of professional design. “When the majority of our time is filled by what we have to do, with little of what we want to do, then we may begin to feel uninspired, unmotivated and creatively unsatisfied,” he said.

Zine Girlz is a communal call to creative action, a creative space that urges artists to find the time for themselves. It offers designers the freedom to create whatever they want and encapsulate that idea in a zine. The zine is then featured on Instagram – #zinegirlz, and on the Zine Girlz website which acts as a creative hub reminding us that we all have the power to chase ideas and that we are not alone in this pursuit. For more information visit www.thezinegirlz.cargocollective.com

“Rec’d is an ominous reminder that Big Brother is constantly watching and that Orwellian paranoia is suitably justified”

Commenting on the exhibition, Stephanie Smyth, Lecturer in Visual Communication, said: “Being selected to participate in the Best of Emerging Irish Designers showcase is a testament to the students’ hard work and commitment and is reflective of the quality of design education they’ve received at AIT. We are extremely proud of Mikey and Ryan, their work and the evolution of our own course offerings which are developed to ensure students are appropriately challenged; provided with a diversity of approaches; and enabled to realise their individual creative vision – ready for a profession that is in a constant state of development.”

The Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Graphic and Digital Design is focused around contemporary design practices and aims to develop students’ critical awareness of professional design practice. The course has innovated around the integration of theory and practice to prepare students for a career as a graphic and digital designer in an industry which is in a constant state of development. Students learn to communicate creatively and strategically, acquiring the latest industry standard technical skills and become capable of working across media platforms and multi-channel approaches synthesising Ideation, Graphic Design, Data Visualisation, User Interface (UI), User Experience (UX) and Experience Design (XD).

Athlone Institute of Technology offers a suite of Design courses including a BA in Graphic Design, a BA(Hons) in Animation and illustration, and a one-year add-on BA (Hons) in Graphic and Digital Design. AIT Design students enjoy one-to-one learner/lecturer interactivity and have access to purpose-built studio space and production facilities. Further details about Design at AIT can be accessed at http://design.ait.ie and via the faculty’s Facebook page.

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