Creating a Visual Identity

Sophie Rush and Shannon Swinburn

Sophie Rush and Shannon Swinburn were selected to design the visual identity for this year's Degree Shows. This includes everything from posters and invites, to animations and wayfinding.

Each year the College asks students from BA Graphic Design to create an identity and a high-profile campaign for our summer shows. The winning design is picked by a panel including course tutors and the Head of College.

Both Sophie and Shannon are in their third and final year of BA Graphic Design, studying on the Design and Interaction pathway. They chat with us about the creative challenges of communicating such a huge event.

What were your ideas behind the visual identity for the degree shows?

Shannon: We wanted something that incorporated everyone around the college. That was an important part of the brief. We decided the one thing that everyone has in common is that even though it’s important that everyone works with whatever physical things they make, it’s also important to have a digital presence.

We wanted to represent something that’s digital but in a physical way. We’ve ended up representing loading in different states. We’ll be revealing the visuals slowly, so as it comes up towards the degree show more things will load and reveal.

Were there various ideas trialed in the process of coming up with this one?

Sophie: It’s changed quite a lot since the beginning. We had to try and avoid being too fashion-centric. We needed to try and represent the whole university as opposed to just that programme.

Feet stood on concrete against a concrete wall with a block of pink covering half of the image

What will be the experience of the visuals?

Shannon: We’ve tried to make an experience on the day of the show, we’ve tried to incorporate wayfinding and everything to make it an overall experience.

Sophie: There’s going to be colour-coded wayfinding and floor levels, and representing the loading idea through the invites as well.

Shannon: And we’ve also integrated the wayfinding into a performance piece on the night. It’s a secret at the moment. We’ve tried to think of non-obvious ways to use wayfinding.

Sophie: We helped out in previous years and we found that people were always asking where is everything or what floor is it on. We tried to make that experience a fun and playful way of doing that this time and one that is maybe more approachable.

Shannon: We didn’t want to make it too serious.

What difficulties did you encounter in putting the design together?

Shannon: Dropping ideas on the way and adapting to what other people want rather than just focusing on what you want. Our outcome was more photography-based, and they didn’t want that so we’ve made it more abstract along the way with more typography. We are really happy with it how it is now. 

feet stood on concrete with a block of pink at the top of the image

What have you learned through this project?

Shannon: I think Sophie was always quite organised, but it’s definitely made me a bit more organized too. I’m very laid back and I haven’t had to deal with a lot of the admin that comes with this before. Also, obviously a lot of projects we do on our course are never get realised in real life, so logistically thinking about how it would actually work and what you can and can’t actually have. Usually when you just come up with a concept it’s never going to happen.

What is the importance of the degree shows for you?

Sophie: It’s a celebration of everybody’s work coming together and getting it out there.

Shannon: We just want to put emphasis on the fun side of it because even though it’s an important event it’s one that’s to be enjoyed as well. We don’t think that should be forgotten. We’ve tried to make it something that everyone can have a lot of fun at.

What are you most looking forward to about the degree shows?

Sophie: Getting to see your ideas coming to life. That’s really exciting. It feels like the cherry on top. It’s CSM, it’s our final year, and it’s our big blow out.

Shannon: Sophie was actually the first person I met in London so we came at our interview I sat down on the sofa and she asked me to hold her portfolio while she went to the toilet and then I held her portfolio. We became friends and now it’s all come full circle and we live together and we’re working together on this. It’s nice to end your university experience by seeing your work on such a huge scale and to end on a high.