Briefbox’s Graduate Showcase

Join Briefbox HQ as we browse some new talent on the scene this year… 

Briefbox have recently teamed up with Fresh Meet, hosts of The Design Kids London and the team behind The Nationwide Degree Show, to explore a selection of online graduate degree shows and to promote, encourage and nurture fresh talent in the creative industries.

In the first edition of Briefbox’s annual degree show round-up, we’re taking a look at work from graduates at universities all across the country, including D&AD New Blood Award winners and recently-published childrens’ book illustrators.

Without further ado, let’s jump in and take a look at some of Briefbox’s favourites and most promising talent from this year’s batch of graphic design and illustration alumni.

Ben Jackson

BA (Hons) Graphic Communication student at Cardiff School of Art and Design and wooden pencil winner of the D&AD New Blood Award 2021.

One of the most striking and visually-impactful show pieces we’ve seen this year, Ben Jackson’s entry for Key4Life & Landor’s D&AD brief focuses on tackling knife crime and intervening during those crucial and formative teenage years. Ben’s response is centred on the idea of ‘what if?’ – what if carrying a knife is all it takes to end a life and ruin your own future?

The disruptive layout and uncomfortably-distorted typography perfectly encapsulate the feeling of being on the edge, and the torn and fractured effect throughout the entire campaign are a perfect metaphor for how knife crime among the younger community can disrupt the lives of victims of knife crime forever.

In Ben’s own words:


Futures, desires, aspirations, all present in the mind of every young person, but what if carrying a knife risks ruining your future aspirations or that of another person. ‘What If’ is a typographic-led campaign that uses the power of words and visceral qualities of typography to stop young people in their tracks and open their minds to bigger and brighter things. Opening young peoples minds to the many bright futures which could await them whilst showing the harsh reality of what could happen if they continue to tread down their current path. The campaign delves straight into the issue, aiming to cut deep and stand out to young people all across the UK.

Cain Blisset

BA (Hons) Graphic Design student at Nottingham Trent University.

Cain Blissett’s ‘Estate’ is a new mass-appeal drinks brand with an emphasis on emotional sustainability. Incorporating Cain’s own photography into the project, the silhouettes of various housing estates around the country have been transformed into unique identities for each flavour of the drinks brand.

‘Estate’ gives a platform to local estates and the people within them, promoting a sense of pride in an individual’s local community and encouraging people to reconnect with one another as part of the brand’s ‘walk and talk’ mantra.


While we love the simplicity of the typography-led branding, the architectural shapes that almost act as a local secret, only carry meaning to those in the know really steal the show here. Great work Cain!

In Cain’s own words


I see myself as a designer that likes to look at the bigger picture but recognises that smaller things can make a lasting impression. I have always had an eye for ethics and try hard to be the best possible version of myself, every day. As a creative, I believe in working hard and playing hard. Praise is nice but I’d rather hear the honesty and something constructive so I can better myself and my work. Studying at Nottingham Trent University has broadened my knowledge and skillset and now I feel I am ready to gain real-world, creative industry experience. My overall ambition is to enjoy work and for work itself to feel like a hobby. I see design as a powerful tool for change, and if I can contribute to this in a positive way I’ll be happy.

Emma Flintham

BA (Hons) Graphic Communication student at Plymouth College of Art and winner of the JDORaw National Student Competition.

Tasked with combining two ingredients to create a series of unexpected foods, drinks or flavours for an audience of millennials, Emma Flintham’s ‘Algae Cacao’ luxury chocolate range helped secure her first place in JDO RAW’s National Student Competition last year.

We love how Emma’s carefully-considered response to the brief was carried through to every aspect of her submission. Not only were the contrasting colours for the packaging chosen to highlight the unique flavourings of the chocolate, but the brand also seamlessly combines a serif and sans-serif typeface to further this sense of visual contrast while drawing further attention to the unique combination of the ingredients used.

In Emma’s own words

Algae Cacao is a luxury chocolate range, made with spirulina – algae – for added protein. The range is vegan, refined sugar and gluten free, combining the natural health benefits of spirulina and raw cacao, and the distinctive packaging was inspired by the unusual blend of algae and chocolate. The letters within the type are joined together in a flowing nature to represent the fluid-nature of water and also as a metaphor for the careful balance between the cacao and the algae.

After experimenting with potential food ‘mash-ups’ I was drawn to designing healthy confectionery. It then occurred to me, the only way to improve chocolate would be to give it added health benefits – an addictive, guilt-free snack. I played with different ideas utilising the health benefits of super-foods such as turmeric, spirulina and baobab. I found spirulina – aka algae – could be sustainably sourced, alongside it being easily accessible and one of the most nutrient-dense super-foods, being over 60% protein. Thus, my super-food, protein, chocolate range came into fruition. Although an unlikely mash, the benefits of its constituent parts create a very millennial-centric product, adhering to their core values.

Fergus Pitcher

BA (Hons) Graphic Design student Coventry University.

Presenting several unique projects across a wide variety of creative disciplines, Fergus Pitcher’s final degree show proved to be a real demonstration of his flexibility and adaptability to any challenge posed by a given brief.

‘Pact Coffee’ serves as brand refreshment and marketing collateral project, utilising a modular and illustrative system to reflect the brand’s ethical mission across a large range of products, while ‘Saturation Diving’ is an experiential typography-based exhibition that uses light and visual distortion to create the experience of descending into the deep ocean.

In Fergus’ own words

A creative pair of hands with an inquisitive mind, motivated by self-improvement and an ambition to create positive change through my work. I enjoy integrating new processes, technologies and ideas into my design, creating space for innovation and meaningful audience connection.

Grace Mitchell

BA (Hons) Graphic Design student at the University of West England.

Seamlessly switching between abstract brutalist design for her ‘Now / Future’ or ‘Pay Your Designer Fairly’ posters to intricate hand-rendered illustrations for her ‘Cosmoline’ beauty packaging project, Grace Mitchell’s final degree showcase was a feast for the eyes that makes it almost impossible to truly ‘nail down’ her style.

Promising to be Bristol’s next ‘renaissance woman’, Grace’s speciality lies in typographic, editorial and album design, but she also dabbles in film and animation when she’s not content in letting her work simply sit still. We absolutely love the variation in her portfolio and can’t wait to see what new territories Grace ventures into next!

In Grace’s own words

Having the privilege of working with upcoming artists in the Bristol area, together with their vision and my passion for design, we have created countless album covers and track cover pieces.

I am currently employed by marketing manager Anna Blightman and have created branded assets for various venues around Bristol, including The Canteen, No.1 Harbourside and The Old Market Assembly. If you find yourself in any of these, check out my poster, banner and menu work! I am also employed as an amateur designer for Garrett Creative and have personally worked on a children’s book (The Little Mermaid and the Great Big Factory), which has been published!

Kate McCartney

BA (Hons) Graphic & Communication Design student at Leeds University.

Kate’s McCartney’s work for ‘Biosynth’ was one of the most interesting and ‘out-there’ conceptual pieces of work we saw across all virtual degree shows this year. The project explores the relationship between technology, nature, and music, enveloping the senses to create an immersive experience and unique brand while embracing the organic shapes of nature.

‘Biosynth’ operates as an electronic music record label that creates music through the process of biodata sonification, devices that generate MIDI notes when a change in conductivity is detected, allowing a user to listen into the invisible biological processes occurring within plants.

In Kate’s own words

My objective with ‘Biosynth’ is to create a visual identity that helps an audience to engage with the immersive experience of this genre of music, using a blend of technology, music and nature to create a record label and an experience that encapsulates these brand ideals.

A few of my favourite design areas are hand-made type, animations, 3-D modelling, branding and photography, and balancing time as a student athlete (rugby union) and a designer has had a profound impact on my work ethic and style.

Leah Foster

BA (Hons) Graphic Design student at Manchester School of Art.

Leah Foster’s ‘Girls Design’ project aims to redress the balance and engage stakeholders across the design industry in conversation, one that highlights the ongoing gender inequality and inconsistency that exists today.

Against a backdrop of celebrating female talent in the design industry, Girls Design aims to kickstart a conversation that promotes changes while supporting and uplifting female designers.


Leah’s final digital execution is simply stunning, and the juxtaposition of a bright and traditionally feminine pastel colour palette against a dark, brutalist background perfectly captures the disruptive and deliberately unsettling impact that women are here to make in today’s creative industries.

In Leah’s own words

The last year has been a period of development for me, evolving a design style that operates at the heart of my work, and exploring unexpected ways to communicate visually and typographically. I am excited to start my next steps in the industry with the opportunities that offers to bring ideas to reality.

Zhang Ziwei

BA (Hons) Graphic Communication student at Birmingham City University.

Transforming Chinese mandarin glyphs into visually-striking typographic posters, Zhang Ziwei’s work for ‘JiuJiuXiaoHan’ is a bold and powerful take on the Chinese tradition of counting down the Winter solstice to mark the beginning of Spring.

One of our favourite things about this project is that as non-Mandarin speakers, we’re able to enjoy the rare opportunity to truly take in the beauty of Zhang’s distinct letterforms without getting caught up in their literal meaning of the words shown. Instead, we’re able to get lost in every twist and turn of each character’s form, allowing us as the reader to almost infer our own meaning into what each poster could be referring to.


The ability to break away from a traditional top-left to bottom-right reading order also allows greater freedoms in the print publication design process, with Zhang’s accompanying book also standing testament to what beautiful layout options are available to a designer if they are able to break away from traditional western conventions.

In Zhang’s own words

This project takes the traditional folk culture of “Jiujiu dispelling cold map” as the core for a visual redesign, which aims to bring the folk culture of “Jiujiu dispelling cold map” back to the life of the public through visual design. The work is designed mainly through the reconstruction of font structure, and uses the cultural connotation of “nourishing Yang” to visually express, so as to get a new visual impression different from the traditional form. It is hoped that the audience can learn more about the traditional Chinese folk culture from this point of view.

Congratulations from the Briefbox Team!

Firstly, our massive and sincere congratulations to all graduates around the world who fought tooth and nail to graduate with a degree in the creative industries in what was clearly a challenging year for all.

While the projects we selected above were some of the favourites voted on by the Briefbox team, it was an immensly difficult task to narrow down what promised to be one of the strongest years of new talent we’ve ever seen to just eight key projects.

While the projects we selected above were some of the favourites voted on by the Briefbox team, it was an immensly difficult task to narrow down what promised to be one of the strongest years of new talent we’ve ever seen to just eight key projects.

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