Skip to main content

Students channel creativity to support local businesses through Elephant Recovery Project

Graphic poster demonstrating visual identity concept.
  • Written byChloe Murphy
  • Published date 28 November 2022
Graphic poster demonstrating visual identity concept.
Poster identity concepts for 'Building Connections, Living Culture’ - Margarida Peixoto and Andreea Stan.

At London College of Communication (LCC), our history is rooted in the vibrant communities of Elephant and Castle. Since the 1960s, we’ve been using our creative skills to forge connections with the people around us in ways that evolve with a rapidly changing world.

July 2022 saw the culmination of a recent community collaboration between LCC and local business owners, which was designed to help them grow, thrive and better engage with customers through enhanced training and support.

Working across areas ranging from digital marketing and social media to branding and visual identity, our Business, Partnerships and Knowledge Exchange Team coordinated the Elephant Recovery Project, which brought together staff, students and graduates with the newly formed Elephant and Castle Business Forum - recently established by local businesses to create a collective approach to tackling relevant issues and contributing to the area's ongoing success.

In addition to strengthening links with initiatives including Castle Square, Elephant Arcade and Elephant Park, the project provided an opportunity to share insights and expertise through 4 distinct phases:

Phase 1, in which organisations were surveyed around their existing digital marketing experience and training needs.

Phase 2, which involved the delivery of digital masterclasses in both English and Spanish.

Phase 3, where 5 LCC student experts provided bespoke support and mentoring to participating businesses in areas ranging from photography to social media and graphic design – ultimately providing clients with high-quality marketing photographs, a tailored social media plan and designs for print materials.

Phase 4, in which UAL graduates were invited to develop proposed visual identities for Elephant and Castle which could capture the eclectic vibrancy of the area while promoting local trade across both physical and digital channels.

Building on the upskilling focus of the previous phases, Phase 4 enabled 3 pairs of creative graduates to undertake research and consultations with local businesses in order to produce a series of proposed visual identity systems encompassing guidelines, a typeface style guide, logo, colour palette and key messaging. Rather than rebranding Elephant and Castle, their approaches aimed to celebrate its unique culture and history in ways that embraced the character of the community.

After receiving feedback from an industry panel in early June, the 3 resulting identities were then presented at the Urban Elephant Festival in July, where audiences were invited to view and vote for their preferred concept – not only providing a useful catalyst for further development, but also enabling UAL graduates to develop practical experience in working with external clients and engaging with a diverse range of stakeholders.

UAL graduates Margarida Peixoto (PgDip Design for Visual Communication, LCC) and Andreea Stan (MA Illustration, Camberwell College of Arts) were both involved in the final stage of the project. Their identity concept, Building connections, living culture, was inspired by the iconic Elephant and Castle roundabout, and was ultimately selected as the favourite design of attendees at the Urban Elephant Festival.

We caught up with Margarida and Andreea to discuss the importance of socially-engaged design, integrating research into creative development, and embracing collaboration across diverse skill-sets.

Animated gif of the proposed Elephant and Castle logo.
Concept logo for 'Building Connections, Living Culture’ - Margarida Peixoto and Andreea Stan.

Tell us about your creative practice.

Margarida: I’m a visual communicator and graphic designer with a special interest in branding and Identity.

I believe in meaning before aesthetics, so I always aim to build my work on solid concepts. I also believe in the social role of design, and a need for the discipline to serve purposeful and ethical projects.

I value bold ideas and experimentation as a crucial part of the creative process, and as an open-minded creative, look to be constantly challenged and involved in different projects.

Andreea: I’m an illustrator and designer. I combine collage and hand-sketching with digital techniques to create bold, modern designs - whether illustrations for editorial purposes or websites, marketing materials etc.

To me, it’s important to be able to draw anything and everything, so I’m always looking for projects that are a little bit outside my comfort zone.

Why did you decide to apply to UAL?

Margarida: I was looking for an intensive and well-structured route into the graphic design profession that would also help me to develop strong visual communication skills.

The Postgraduate Diploma Design for Visual Communication at LCC seemed like the perfect option for me due to the broad variety of content explored during the course and the appealing course curriculum.

Andreea: I studied MA Visual Arts – Illustration at Camberwell. I’d completed my BA in Animation BA at Southampton, but came to realise that I was more passionate about illustration than I was about animation.

I wanted to build a career as an illustrator, and felt the need to receive honest and constructive feedback on my illustration practice, which, I came to realise, was only possible within an academic environment.

Mock-up posters demonstrating visual identity concept.
Poster identity concepts for 'Building Connections, Living Culture’ - Margarida Peixoto and Andreea Stan.

How did you find out about the Elephant Recovery Project, and why did you decide to get involved?

Margarida: I saw the job advert on ArtTemps and it seemed very interesting. I liked that it was related to a community I was familiar with, and offered an opportunity to work with a subject that I have a particular interest in: social design.

Andreea: I first came across it while I was scrolling through the ArtsTemps vacancies, looking for work. I thought it was a very exciting project and a unique opportunity, and I decided to apply because there was the promise that we would be consulting and working with the community and the local businesses.

What inspired your initial ideas?

Margarida: I wanted to develop a visual identity that would mirror the spirit of Elephant and Castle, and we did a lot of research to help us have a very good understanding of its ‘personality’.

We conducted some workshops with members of the community and a range of different stakeholders that gave us great insight into how the community wanted to be perceived, which we tried to mimic through the design process.

Andreea: There wasn't really an 'aha, inspiration!' moment - I don't really like to talk about 'inspiration' because it makes it sound like things just come to me, whereas there’s a lot of work that is put into each of my projects.

Margarida and I conducted a lot of research both online and in person, and we also attended the forum consultations. After all this research, I produced lots of sketches, and the designs slowly developed. Eventually, there was one that we as a team decided would not only look good, but, most importantly, would respond to the community's needs.

Mock-up posters demonstrating visual identity concept.
Social media identity concepts for 'Building Connections, Living Culture’ - Margarida Peixoto and Andreea Stan.

How did you develop your concept further?

Margarida: We had a few feedback sessions with stakeholders and LCC tutors, as well as within the design team. But I think the crucial step was the refinement aspect: taking on-board feedback and the discussions that we held ourselves as a team.

We were able to combine my vision with Andreea’s, and made sure we were both happy with the way things were evolving. Ultimately, we pushed each other to achieve a result that we were both proud to include within our portfolios, and that truly illustrated our skills and practice.

Andreea: We constantly gave each other feedback and also had broader feedback sessions.

What were your highlights of the project?

Margarida: For me, the highlight was the exchange we were able to have in between our team of designers, as we all had different backgrounds and different creative practices.

The opportunity to work with the community and stakeholders was also very valuable for me, and ultimately having our project chosen by them made the experience very rewarding.

Andreea: I was very happy with how the skills of my team complemented each other, and the direction of the project from start to finish.

Getting to know the local community better was also great, and of course, our design being the winner was very rewarding! I'd love to have the chance to be further involved in this project as it progresses.

What have you most enjoyed about working on an industry-focused collaboration?

Margarida: I really enjoyed the relationship between the different people involved: everyone was working towards the same goal, and as this was a community project, the rewarding feeling felt even bigger.

Andreea: I enjoyed knowing that this was a huge project, if I'm honest. Thinking that so many people could potentially see your designs every day brought a lot of pressure and feelings of great responsibility, but also, it was important to feel like we were working on something that mattered and could potentially truly help the community.

Mock-up posters demonstrating visual identity concept.
Poster identity concepts for 'Building Connections, Living Culture’ - Margarida Peixoto and Andreea Stan.

What have you most enjoyed about your time as a UAL student?

Margarida: I had a great time at LCC! I always tried to make the most of all the College facilities in particular - the workshops are amazing, and the staff are very knowledgeable and helpful. This allowed me to experiment and open up my creative side even more.

Andreea: My tutors were the best thing about both my course and being at Camberwell. Their passion was contagious and so many times, their stories - or just little things that they said - helped me to get through difficult times.

What tips would you give to prospective students who are interested in your discipline?

Margarida: Experiment as much as possible without worrying too much about the final outcome.

Andreea: Even when you don't do as well as you wish you did, don’t give up!

Related links:

Related content