This week on the Student Spotlight, we sat down with Graphic Design student and one half of this year’s NEST editorial team, Louis Edwards; who spoke about his love for the North East, creating positively engaging work that everyone can identify with and not being the next Picasso.
STUDENTS’ UNION: It’s great to be able to talk to you today Louis. We know you as one half of the NEST editorial team, but we’d love to learn a little bit more about you personally. Tell us why you do what you do?
LOUIS EDWARDS: I've always enjoyed design, I was drawn to it in secondary school after realising that my drawing ability had reached its peak and I wasn’t going to be the next Picasso. I learned I was good with Photoshop and things kind of took off from there really. Now I design NEST with Ben [Cobb], and I’ve also done some really interesting commission work for some cool clients, so I’m feeling pretty good with where I am.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Nice, I guess we can’t all be Picasso. Who or what would you say inspires you?
LOUIS EDWARDS: I've always been inspired by where I'm from. I'm from the North East of England and the culture, people and the history have both inspired me artistically and socially.
STUDENTS’ UNION: So when you say artistically would you say that it’s influenced your style?
LOUIS EDWARDS: I wouldn't say my style has been dictated by this as I can't really pin-point the specific influences for my style, but I’d say that the projects I engage with are often linked to things that relate to the North East, such as my family and class politics.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Sounds like you’ve got a lot of hometown pride there. It’s quite inspiring how much the places that we grow up in can have such a large imprint on who we are and the way that we do things. Would you say that the North East and it’s people are who you make your work for?
LOUIS EDWARDS: It’s kind of made for whoever is buying it. Or myself. Actually I'd say less so myself as graphic design is less self fulfilling as other art forms. The dream is to independently publish designs which serve a purpose and help educate people on social and cultural issues.
STUDENTS’ UNION: There’s nothing to say that you can’t achieve your dreams. Graphic design has a long history of helping to educate and bring awareness to social and cultural issues. Say your dream comes true, what message would you want those designs to convey?
LOUIS EDWARDS: If anything I just want my design to be engaging and inclusive. I never want to alienate a certain demographic, instead I want everyone to be able to positively engage with my work. I’d say it’s one of the reasons my work bleeds a lot into social issues, because I think I have a creative outlet which is useful in engaging with activism, although it is something I always want to do more of.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Keep up with it, there’s always sociopolitical issues that need awareness brought to them, and if it’s something that you have a passion for, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t continue with that. Where do you hope your art takes you then?
LOUIS EDWARDS: To be honest, I hope it just takes me to a place where I can be comfortable. It isn't a grandiose dream, but I've never been obsessed with the idea of being known for my art - even though it would be nice! If I can just be comfortable and have time to be able to do the stuff I really enjoy and be with the people I love then I'll be happy.
STUDENTS’ UNION: I think I’d be right in saying that most of us who do art would like some form of notoriety, but there’s also nothing wrong with living a comfortable and content life. I guess anything more than that is a plus. We’ve heard about your work and who you make it for, but tell us about your process?
LOUIS EDWARDS: My process is weird, it really depends on my mood towards graphic design at the time. One thing I have definitely noticed is that if I like the project and the idea, everything works more seamlessly. However, if I'm feeling ambivalent towards it, it takes me a lot longer to engage with it. I guess that's actually a pretty chaotic way of working, and not the best example of time management, but it's worked for me so far.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Hey, you said it. I feel like that’s a pretty common theme for most creatives, but if it works for you! If you had the opportunity to collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
LOUIS EDWARDS: John Waters, the dude’s weird. Throw Divine in there as well, now that's a party! Also David Lynch, but I'd want to collaborate with him on something like a book about sheet metal, and Spike Jonze, I love that man, I’ll watch anything he does.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Seems like you’re a lover of the weird and the wonderful but you’ve spoken a lot about wanting to make sure that your work is inclusive to all, do you find the art world to be the same? Do you think it’s open and accommodating?
LOUIS EDWARDS: It depends, I think in terms of curation and exhibition, the art world is dominated by the upper-class and people that can afford to be in those social spaces. In terms of inclusivity, I feel like it’s a decent place. There's always work to be done for equality, but I think we're moving in the right direction. Art and Design should be inherently inclusive. It should be an available outlet to anyone from any background. Wouldn't it be great if everyone had fair and equal opportunity to achieve great things with their art?
STUDENTS’ UNION: Definitely. Finally Louis, if you weren’t an artist what would you be doing?
LOUIS EDWARDS: Either a TikTok Influencer or a handyman.