Sarah Boris – MA Graphic Design

Sarah Boris, MA Graphic Design, LCC alumni
Sarah Boris

What did you study at LCC and what year did you graduate?

I studied MA Graphic Design and graduated in December 2004

Where are you from in the world?

I am from France but I was born in London and always wanted to come back.

Why did you complete an MA?

I was 21 at the time and I had initially enrolled on a BA in Graphic Design at another UAL college. I quickly realised that it was not what I was striving for as I had already studied design for 3 years in France and it felt like starting all over again. I was missing a challenge. Luckily I bumped into one of the MA students, Wayne Daly, a very talented designer currently at the AA (Architectural Association). I confided my doubts about the course I was on and how suitable it was in relation to my experience and my desire to learn from mature students. He offered to review my portfolio and gave me invaluable tips on what could make it unique and how I could reveal more personality. He then advised I apply for the MA course. I had my interview with Ian Noble who was a great follower of Shepard Fairey’s work and coincidentally one of my main interests at the time was graffiti, street art and stickers.

I completed the MA thanks to this chance encounter in my halls of residence and also because I was after a challenging course with challenging, inspiring people. Studying with students who had professional experience was very formative.

The lesson I learned from this is to never hesitate to open up when something feels wrong and when you are encountering obstacles. Speaking out allowed me to find the pathway that was right for me.

What are your fondest memories of LCC?

The mix of international students and their maturity, I learned as much from the students as from the tutors. I also enjoyed the extremely different personalities of each tutor bringing depth and challenge to every project and crit.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I am the Associate Art Director at Phaidon and have been working there since September 2012. The role involves art directing, commissioning designers and designing books. It’s really interesting to be on both sides (design practitioner and design commissioner). I work with a huge network of designers and illustrators from around the world. Since I started working at Phaidon I have designed books in various categories such as art, children and photography. I am keen to do a book in each category as it's key to understanding the different editorial approaches and being versatile. I just completed the design of a Phaidon book written and illustrated by a hugely talented London-based illustrator, Laura Carlin. It's called 'A World of your Own'. I recommend everyone gets a copy. If more adults read children's books the world would be a better place. I am also working on the design of a cookery title and a product design title at the moment.

Alongside working at Phaidon I have been developing my art work. I was awarded two artist residencies in a screen print studio (East London Printmakers) in the last year, which gave me space to create and experiment away from a computer. Artists at the studio regarded me as a text based artist although I do make wordless works too. It’s weird and flattering to be called an artist.

If you could collaborate with anybody in the world who would it be? (Or maybe you already have?)

I have had the opportunity through the ICA and Phaidon and during my freelance work to collaborate with many of my favourite designers and artists. I would love to collaborate with the artist Tauba Auerbach. I would also love to collaborate with various product designers and there are couple of people I have met through the years who I would love to do non-client based projects with and just try out things. I have a sculpture project under wraps for which I am looking for a collaborator too. That said I am open to collaboration proposals and I like that people approach me to offer collaborations they would initiate. I have a great love for the unexpected.

What drives you to succeed?

I am passionate about what I do. I am curious, eager and excited by nature and I love that I am continually learning in my job. When a projects works out, or when someone contacts me with a new project I feel a rush of adrenaline, happiness and gratitude, which drives me.

Then I must admit that in an industry like graphic design, where work you do can be very public and easily under scrutiny, peer recognition and positive reviews are also drivers to succeed and always push the bar higher because you know 'they are watching'.

Where do you see progress and/or decline in the practice of graphic design?

I feel often that ideas produced, especially in visual identities, can somehow seem repetitive or familiar. This is perhaps because there is such a wealth of design out there that inevitably you will have lots of logos with a ‘circle, square or triangle.’

I find that the design industry is often quick at criticising that 'so and so' copied a logo or that the logo is too close to 'so and so'.

I feel that we have a duty as a community to stay respectful (none of us living designers invented the circle, square, triangle) and in my opinion it is key that we can question how we can stay fresh, visually innovative and keep an open mind about who, what, why, and how.

What piece of advice would you give to new students?

I would advise new students to make the most of the resources at LCC, not just stay confined to the course curriculum but to sign up to screen printing, letterpress and photography and speak to students and teachers from different disciplines. The more you explore, the more you speak, and the more you experiment, the more you will get out of it and be able to draw new ideas and ways of thinking. The only thing to bear in mind is to stay very organised and efficient in order to fit everything in including course work.

I also recommend that all students seek advice on how to present their work to a future employer. I receive too many emails in which prospective graphic design students send a CV as a word doc with several jpgs attached. That said I do receive excellent ones too.

What three words would you use to best describe LCC?