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Student Stories : Graphic Design for 14 to 17 Year Olds – Isabella Jeanne de Boer


Written by
Yusuf Tamanna
Published date
08 September 2020

Originally from The Netherlands, Isabella Jeanne says she’s always had an interest in fine art but wasn't quite sure what area she wanted to focus on. It was only after she created her first zine titled ‘Youth Culture in London’ in 2019 that she realised her passion was in graphic design.

“I did all the photography and graphic design for the zine. Doing this project made me fall in love with the editorial and communicative world that exists within fine art. Since then, I have been exploring a range of new mediums and working with digital software to explore new skills.”

Inspired by what she achieved with her zine and wanting a better technical understanding of graphic design, Isabella decided in the summer of 2020 to study the Graphic Design for 14 to 17 Year Olds Online Short Course offered at Chelsea College of Arts, in which she describes her experience on the course as “insightful, daring and gratifying”. However, this wasn’t her first experience of doing a short course with University of The Arts London.

“In the summer of 2019 I did the Portfolio Preparation for Art School for 16 to 18 Year Olds Online Short Course at Central Saint Martins. I decided to do this course because I wanted to get a head start on preparing my portfolio and at the time, I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to specialize in or apply for at university.”

Isabella says the short course she did in 2019 was a great starting point, which helped push herself creatively and introduced her to a wide range of mediums she hadn’t have explored had it not been for the course itself.

Collage made by Isabella

Fast forward a year and now having completed the Graphic Design for 14 to 17 Year Olds Online Short Course Isabella says she’s been able to develop a stronger portfolio of graphic design work that she can build upon in her own time. But perhaps more importantly, it’s introduced her to an entire world of graphic design she wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to.

“The course exposed me to new artists in the field that has inspired my work since. For example, Garry Davis, worked as creative director and graphic designer for a lot of skateboarding magazines, including Transworld Skateboarding. His editorial designs in which he combines both text and photography inspires me. This course has really helped me develop an understanding of my own style and interests and has helped me to be confident with my idea development.”

Outside of short courses Isabella is currently studying for her International Baccalaureate in London, where she’s been based for the past 7 years, with a focus on Visual Arts, English, and Dutch at Higher Level. This unique combination of courses, she says, allows her to combine both her passion for art and linguistics to help inform her understanding of graphic design on a wider scale.

Now that she’s completed two very different, but also complementary, short courses at University of The Arts London, does she have any words of wisdom for students thinking of doing a short course?

“Being open-minded is really important. To be exposed to a community of people who all have different backgrounds with different stories to tell really helps your development as an artist as you are constantly challenged by new ideas. You will be challenged and take risks, which is why it is important to be resilient. When working on developing ideas, it is important to reflect on your process and see what you can learn from not only your mistakes, but also your successes.”


If you feel inspired by Isabella’s story and want to find out more about our Graphic Design short courses, or what other short courses for teenagers we have to offer, take a look at our upcoming list of online short courses here.

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