Jenessa Williams finds the future of creative talent in Leeds

With three universities to its name, Leeds is a city positively bursting with students. From launching club nights and starting zines to setting the agenda on research that will shape our lives to come, the higher education experience is a lot more than half price Jagerbombs and unpaid loans – it's an instrumental part of what makes Leeds such an innovative and fun-filled place to live, fuelled by fearless creators ready to make up the next generation.

When it comes to the arts, our grads are amongst the best of ‘em, with a whole host of talent coming out of Leeds Arts University in particular. Celebrating its first year of University, the Class of 2018 is a particularly talented bunch, with highlights across its multi-disciplinary degrees. Here are ten of our favourites from the graduate show that you should be looking out for.

Poppy Davey-Presland, Visual Communications – The Periodic Table of Hip-Hop

Challenging the misogyny and stereotyping within hip-hop, Davey-Presland’s Periodic Table is a breath of fresh air – comprising entirely of female rappers and MCs, it’s a reminder of just how much talent is in the game, and should be pinned on the memo board of sexist festival bookers everywhere. 

Jaspreet Bhogal, Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design

Drawing on both her heritage and her academic interest in communities of colour, Bhogal’s final textiles collection is vibrant, fun and emotionally resonant; featuring imagery of Sushi sundays, royal corgis and Indian botanicals. It’s not difficult to imagine this collection on the high street – buyers, pay attention.

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Katarzyna Olszewska, Photography – INDEX

Every year, there is a fashion photography student whose work you could instantly see within the pages of any glossy magazine. Katarzyna Olszewska is undoubtedly 2018’s contender, with a strong eye for contemporary design and clean, zingy lines. 

See Katarzyna’s work here

18 06 15 Leeds Creatives To Watch Katarzyna

Michaela McGuinness, Photography – She’s Doing Up The House

A beautifully touching photobook, Michaela McGuiness’s ode to her mother is endearing in its simplicity – shots of childhood bedrooms, trips to the supermarket and the constant work-in-progress of the family home. On a higher level, it speaks of testing relationships, commitment and compassion – all valuable levels in today’s society.

See Michaela’s work here

18 06 15 Leeds Creative Michaela Mc Guinnes

Tomi Olopade, Fine Art

Enjoyed the artwork on Netflix’s She’s Gotta Have It? Fine art student Tomi Olopade’s work is likely to push your buttons. Executed with realism, his studies of friends and family in Jasper, Cassie and Amy’s Bedroom are difficult to forget. Having already drawn the attention of the likes of Joey BadA$$ and Maverick Sabre, expect to see him illustrating album covers very soon.

See Tomi’s work here

18 06 15 Leeds Creatives Tomi Olopade
Kendrick Lamar Tomi Olopade

Emily Upton, Fashion Communication

If you can’t flirt with controversy as a student, when can you? Emily Upton’s ‘Skinny Minnie’ hoodies adorned with middle fingers and funny insults feel super modern, a slightly edgier take on what you might expect to find from ASOS or Pretty Little Thing. We approve. 

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Dominic Cartledge, Graphic Design

Themes of gender and sexuality came up regularly in this degree show, but were perhaps executed most stylishly by Graphic Design student Dominic Cartledge. With Spectrum magazine, we meet a cool lifestyle brand that feels inclusive and accessible – plus we all know this generation is a sucker for that millennial pink.

See Dominic’s work here

18 06 15 Leeds Creatives Dominic
Spectrum magazine Dominic Cartledge

Marnie Cox, Illustration

Eagle-eyed art fans may already be familiar with Marnie’s artwork (used in the window of Hyde Park’s Pump&Grind Coffee Shop), but her degree show sees her chunky, colourful designs really come to life. A little bit childlike, a little bit Scandinavian, her style feels very ‘now’ and is sure to see the likes of local businesses Colours May Vary and Village standing to attention.

See Marnie’s work here

18 06 15 Leeds Creatives Marnie Cox

Ben Farr, Illustration

With a stunning take on sports illustration, Ben Farr feels like the real deal. With a style that feels very much his own, we were particularly taken by his ‘Premier League Legends’ storybook, as well as his digital mural, chosen to be exhibited in a client box at last month’s FA Cup final. Back of the net!

Millie Rae Epsom, Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design  - Disco Inferno

Funky and fresh, Millie Rae’s Disco Inferno collection would not look out of place in an ASHISH or Shrimps show. Young but with just the right touch of restraint, its clean lines and precise colours recall Orla Kiely if she let her hair down just a little – a surefire sign that the future will be bright for Epsom.