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Meet the Graduate Makers 2021 – Rhys Stawiska, BA Graphic Communication

Rhys moved from Leeds to Norwich to study BA Graphic Communication. Rhys’ work is all about the use of typography and design to project key messaging. We spoke to them about graduating, maintaining creativity in a pandemic and the graduate showcase.

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Tell us what your work is about, and how you come up with the concepts.

My concepts often come to me at 2am in the morning. After a long day, I can suddenly envision a ‘good’ starting idea.

I’ll often see some notes in my phone written in gibberish but hey, at least I know what they mean!

My work brings together the use of colour, typography and imagery to demonstrate important messages.

My ‘No Pride in Poland’ project is probably the best example – with a custom made font and colours picked straight from the country’s flag – it highlights the injustices LGBT+ people face in Poland. Just like my course says, it’s all about communication!

Why does creativity matter to you?

Creativity to me is a rebellion against conformity. It allows me to express myself with an infinite number of mediums – and to put all those emotions into something physical lets me make my mark on the world, however small it may be.

Rhys Stawiska

I still remember how badly my parents wanted me to study computer science or engineering, but I knew that it was never the right path for me to take in life.

“Choosing creativity was that first step towards taking control of my own life, so to speak – and so permeates every aspect of my day to day.”

Why should people visit the Graduate Showcase website?

I know it’s easy to sit behind a screen and flick through images for an hour or two – but you should know that every single finished piece has weeks of work put into it.

Looking at our work and visiting our websites and social media really helps us grow as artists and you never know – you might find the perfect freelancer or designer there for your next job!

Hey, even if you’re just there to browse, there is so much talent on show that I’m sure something will make you stop and stare.

Rhys Stawiska

Who inspires you in your practice?

My personal practice is inspired by all walks of life – from Dutch painter Piet Mondrian to Mariko Tachibana, a UI Designer for games such as Splatoon.

On a more local note there’s of course Jo Stafford, co-founder of Print to the People, which still to this day inspires me with how they introduced printmaking to an entire community.

Gabbi Minas, an illustrator (and graduate) who gave me a workshop at Print to the People – and whose colourful work I’ve admired since.

SpaceLaika (otherwise known as Anna Orlova), a concept artist, comes to mind too. It’s always people with bright, new ideas. If their work is dull to me I find it hard to take inspiration! Finally, everyone who designs arcade tickets – I’m the biggest fan of your work.

Rhys Stawiska

What is the one thing you’d wish you’d known when you started your degree?

You get told this the very first day, but I wish I had backed up all my work on a hard drive or in cloud storage.

Because when that glass of water hit my laptop I had a full on breakdown about losing everything.

BUY THAT HARD DRIVE and make sure it’s updated daily – don’t do what I did! I’m much better about it now, especially since I work across my tablet for commissions too, but I fear some of my second year work has been lost to time.

Oh, and also – I wish I knew how cheap it was to get to the seaside from Norwich! It’s super quick and makes for a lovely day out – I highly recommend Great Yarmouth.

Rhys Stawiska

The floor is yours – send your shout outs to the course teams!

I’ll start with everyone in the Design Studio – everyone that sat behind that desk during my three years there has had to deal with me deciding between paper stocks for a good half hour.

Thank you for constantly being so, so patient and kind with me when I was a stressed out first year and an even more stressed out third year.

My next thanks has to go to the Media Resource Centre staff for a similar reason – always willing to help out however they could, and willing to explain everything to me so I could take the best photos possible!

Finally, I mean of course I have to give a huge shoutout to Amy Ward and Martin Schooley – they really helped bring out the best in me, both in design and personality. I can’t ever put into words how much they mean to me.

Then you also have Digital Dave, who guided me into the world of motion design! Also, we have Vicki Winteringham, Jamie and Gill, I saw you all in first and second year but you were great tutors right until the end. Thank you all for the chance to be your student. 

Photography by BA Photography graduate and Lecturer, Denisa Ilie