Two former students from a leading north east art and design college have used their foundation studies as a stepping stone to success and are now making waves in the illustration and fashion photography business.
Jamie Kirk, 24 from Redcar and 31-year-old Ben Benoliel from Saltburn both studied for their foundation diploma in art and design at Cleveland College of Art and Design’s (CCAD) campus on Green Lane in Middlesbrough, before going on to further study and developing successful careers in the creative arts.
Jamie attended the specialist art and design college in 2010, and after graduating from the University of Huddersfield with a first class degree in graphic design, has gone on to achieve further success by winning the prestigious D&AD (Design and Art Direction) New Blood Pencil Award last year. The New Blood programme inspires the next generation of creative talent, stimulating the creative industry to work towards a fairer more sustainable future.
Using the concept of tarot cards, Jamie designed a series of self-promotional, hand-lettered illustrations which portray aspects of his past, present and future interests and ambitions. After winning the award and ‘Best in Show’ at the New Blood Festival 2015, Jamie was selected for the D&AD New Blood Academy, an exclusive boot camp for New Blood Pencil winners which is dedicated to finding new talent; nurturing, equipping and guiding young creatives into their future careers, and where he collaborated with creatives from all over the world.
Jamie credits his time at CCAD which has helped him on his creative path to success said: “The D&AD New Blood Academy was an unbelievable experience and CCAD helped give me the platform to explore all areas of design, as well as being encouraged to experiment with different styles and methods of making work.
“I truly believe going to college is a great way to not only develop your work but connect with other creatives, learn new skills and along the way make mistakes that help define what you want to do and where your place is in the industry.”
Specialising in hand lettering and illustration, Jamie has now set up as a freelance designer, working on projects such as illustrating and animating a video for US professional skateboarder, Mike Vallely, and seeing his work turned into stickers after contributing to the ‘Stick It’ sticker book alongside other illustrators.
He is also working on a project to create a ‘zine’ titled ‘Washed Out’ which will feature a selection of artists from around the world. It aims to raise awareness of mental health, and reduce the stigma that continued to surround it, with all profits going to charity. The zine will be released on May 16th in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Week.
Jamie recently attended CCAD to mentor the current foundation students and advise them on their final project work. He said: “I was fortunate to be asked by lecturer Andrew Edwards to give a talk to the current foundation students, which included a quick doodle activity, some tips on student life and also helped them with their end of year coursework.
“It was great to act as a mentor and speak to the students individually about their final works and ideas – the amount of experimentation in their work was refreshing to see and I look forward to seeing all the work they’ve produced at the summer show!”
CCAD foundation alumnus Ben Benoliel is now an industry renowned fashion and interiors photographer, having worked with some of the top names in the business, including iD magazine, Wallpaper magazine, Bang and Olufsen.
Ben has recently been appointed as an official photographer for leading British fashion designer, Nigel Cabourn and is one of the founding partners for London designer retail outlet, LN-CC. He has also set up Copula Collective, an artisanal jewellery brand alongside his brother Charles.
Having decided to be a fashion photographer from the age of 16 when he undertook his first photography course, Ben gained his foundation diploma at CCAD in 2004 and is thankful for the college in setting him up for his future career in photography.
“I had my heart set on the BA Fashion Photography course at London College of Fashion as soon as I knew I wanted to be a photographer. As the course at that time was notoriously difficult to get into, I was told a foundation diploma would increase my chances of acceptance.
“I didn’t really know what to expect from CCAD, but what I learnt during my time there has been extremely beneficial to my work. The art foundation course was completely different, as all the attention and focus was on the ‘creative process’. This was a whole new way of approaching things and being taught how to channel creativity into a process has been great for me.”
Andrew Edwards, foundation lecturer at CCAD, said: “Jamie recently came back to CCAD and kindly gave up his time to deliver a talk to the communications pathway. He focused on his experience and practice with graphic design and the grounding he got from doing the foundation diploma here. It was wonderful to hear him speak about his journey and his D&AD success!”