In this week’s Student Spotlight, we had the opportunity to speak to Graphic Design student Charlie Seal who gave us an insight into how positivity is a driving message in his work, which YouTubers to watch for inspiration, and the importance of educating children on autism.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Hey Charlie, thanks for taking the time out to speak to us. Let’s start with you telling us a little bit about your LAU journey and how it’s led to the type of work you create.
CHARLIE SEAL: Throughout my time at university, I have produced a wide mixture of work, but in the last year or so I have begun to focus on branding and advertising. Mainly looking at very commercial stuff, since this is the area I want to go into when I graduate. I hope to explore this more in my third year with the aim to work on quite a few collaborative briefs, so I’ll be ready to undertake big commercial projects in the future.
STUDENTS’ UNION: What medium do you prefer to use? Are you more digital with what you create or do you prefer to physically create something?
CHARLIE SEAL: Oh, definitely digital! I honestly hate having to make things physically as a final outcome, largely because I hate how accurate you have to be and how you don't have any leeway when you ruin something. All you can do is throw it away. However, I don’t mind making things physically and scanning them in, then I can tweak the work until I’m happy. I have particularly loved working on animations which I hope to explore further this year.
STUDENTS’ UNION: That makes sense. At least when you work digitally all you have to do is press the undo button and you can make the necessary changes.
CHARLIE SEAL: Well exactly!
STUDENTS’ UNION: Who would you say has inspired the work you create?
CHARLIE SEAL: Besides social media, I’ve been using YouTube a lot lately for inspiration, particularly watching a lot of graphic design youtubers such as Alice Thorpe and Kel Lauren. They often show off their ideas, design process, and work which I find quite inspiring. Adobe has also been releasing a number of videos and streams over summer which are collaborations with various designers, creating work live which I’ve also watched for ideas.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Do you ever find yourself being inspired in the studio by those around you?
CHARLIE SEAL: For sure, my peers inspire me a lot. Being able to see the work they produce and discuss ideas with them really inspires me and helps me come up with my own. As well, I’ve found that seeing them hard at work really helps boost my motivation to work myself. These are both things I’ve missed due to COVID.
STUDENTS’ UNION: I completely understand. It’s not really the same when you’re only in communication through a screen. You can’t quickly ask someone for their opinion on something you’re working on and get that instant reaction. Would you say that there’s a message behind your work?
CHARLIE SEAL: With my work the main message I want to try and spread is positivity. Even with more serious issues, I feel like there's a certain way you can present it that can be more positive and easier to digest. Even the use of humour as a light-hearted approach I feel can be better than the harsh reality as some people may look away from that. I feel like there's enough negativity in the world so I enjoy making work this way. I also enjoy this approach myself as I find it a positive experience to be able to have fun with the project.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Is there any work that you’ve created where you feel this message stands out?
CHARLIE SEAL: I’ve used this approach for serious issues such as autism, where I felt like education for children on the matter was lacking, so I took it upon myself to create a website which focuses on educating children about it. Instead of just a website with lists of information on, it’s interactive and includes videos and games that involve having to remember facts about autism in order to progress.
I felt that by taking something seriously and making it fun, children would enjoy learning it a lot more, especially since I think positivity is the best way to learn things. I’ve also explored other approaches such as humour, where I used the advertising technique of parody to help promote razors. This centered around famous pieces of art being shaved as a way to promote the product, another project I really enjoyed doing.
STUDENTS’ UNION: That’s amazing that you chose to create the website. With advertising especially, you have to know your audience and how best to appeal to them, and it seems like you were successful in achieving that. They (whoever they are) do say that you’re more likely to remember a fact if you can associate it to something, so hopefully, that was the case with your website. So when you’re creating this work, what are you listening to or watching to help fuel this positivity?
CHARLIE SEAL: If I’m doing written work or research, I need silence. I find it hard to concentrate on what I’m actually writing (which half the time doesn’t actually make sense anyway) so I have to focus and re-read what I’ve written. When it’s design work I have anything from music to a TV show playing. I find creating actual artwork a lot more enjoyable and relaxing, so I can easily have music or the TV on in the background and not get distracted.
STUDENTS’ UNION: What’s in your current rotation?
CHARLIE SEAL: I’ve just been listening to my Spotify top hit playlist, so it’s mainly been Ariana Grande, Kim Petras, Charlie XCX and Little Mix. I like the type of pop music that keeps me energized and motivated enough to stay awake. Binging Gogglebox and having YouTube on autoplay is also a great shout.
STUDENTS’ UNION: I can’t argue with that playlist or binging Gogglebox, it’s a national treasure at this point! What are your plans for the future?
CHARLIE SEAL: My dream post-university is to work in a well known design agency with access to big clients. I would love to be able to work with well known brands like Netflix or Co-Op. I think my ‘I made it moment’ will finally happen when I'm able to go into a supermarket or even just walk around a city and see some sort of advertisement or product I've designed on the shelf.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Well we’ve all got our fingers crossed that your dream becomes a reality!
We’d like to thank Charlie again for speaking with us!
If you’d like to keep up to date and see more of Charlie’s work, you can find him at, @charliejseal on Instagram.