#StudentSpotlight: Georgia Stephenson, Advertising Student from CSM

by Cass Art

A gorilla beats his drum to the tune of In The Air Tonight. A robotic car street dances to Singin' in the Rain, a man called Barry Scott yells at you about cleaning products and a cat runs through a field as it urges you to BE MORE DOG. (Let's not even mention the Go Compare opera singer.)

You all know these adverts. They stick in your brain whether you love them or hate them - and  sometimes it's easy to forget that there are creative people behind every single moving image, poster or billboard that you see. 

As part of our Student Spotlight season, we caught up with Georgia Stephenson, a recent graduate of Central St Martins who specialised in the advertising pathway of the BA Graphic Design course. Georgia gives us an insight into this fast-paced creative course and shares her beloved adverts with us, as well as what inspires her to engage with her viewer, just the way a traditional artist might.

Georgia Stephenson Advertising Project  

Hi Georgia. CSM Degree Show Two came and went in a flash! How was it?

Degree Show Two showcased the collections of the various design courses at Central Saint Martins, from Jewellery to Graphic Design & Fashion to Product - there was even a pathway called Material Futures - the show was massive and jam-packed with all sorts of innovative designs. 

Can you explain the ‘Advertising’ pathway to Graphic Design – what kinds of things did you do during your degree?

On the BA Graphic Design course, we choose a specialism at the beginning of our second year. Students can pick from Design & Interaction, Moving Image, Illustration or Advertising. Advertising is considered to be the 'ideas' pathway; we work through creative strategies and are taught that idea is king, and design comes later. We've spent a lot of time in agencies, we're given a brief - be it solving a social issue like combatting childhood obesity, or a product to sell - then we team up and "crack the brief"; in other words solve the problem creatively. 

What did you present at the Degree Show?

The Advertising class of 2015 grouped together to present Central Super Market (do you get the pun?!) where we had aisles of our products, which showcased the solutions to a range of briefs we've been given this year. Complete with till, Employees of the Year wall and freshly made bread smells - it came pretty close to achieving supermarket status!

Central Super Market 

How would you say you adapt your creative thinking for a commercial discipline like advertising, instead of something like Fine Art, for example?

More often than not, people assume that advertising is corporate and commercial whereas Fine Art is seen to be a truer expression of creativity. Having witnessed the creative process on both sides, I'd say it's not that different at all. In both practices, the creative is seeking to engage the viewer and inspire them. In advertising this in on behalf of a client who wants the viewer to favour their brand, but in either case the aim is to hold the viewer's attention and change the way they see the world. 

Can you explain the collaborative process of working in advertising? 

Traditionally advertising creatives work in teams of two - one copywriter, one art director. The writer would develop the strategy and the key lines, and the art director would translate this message visually. This dynamic has definitely evolved over the years, as art directors write and copywriters design; the lines are merging which only leads to more creative outcomes. Working with other people is a fantastic as you can consistently share opinions which helps to develop an idea tenfold. 

Advertising students 

What inspires you on a day to day basis?

What doesn't? Conversation, music, people, packaging, artwork, traditions, conventions, language, signage, the list goes on. We're taught to encompass a 'human truth' in all of our outcomes, to capture something that our audience can relate to, so it's key to keep your eyes wide open and observe everyone's behaviour, critique it and understand what motivates people. 

How do you hope to break into the advertising industry after graduating?

We've done work in various agencies and have connections across London which is a promising start! As well as attending Cass Art's Free Thinking talks, we'll be applying for internships and freelancing to just get our portfolios out and under the noses of creatives across the city!  

And finally: favourite advert/brand of all time?

Just one? There are so many classics: Avis (No.2 tries harder), Volkswagen (Think small), Labour isn't Working (Conservative party campaign from 1979) but then there are a lot of modern greats - the Cadbury's Gorilla is an obvious one and Subservient Chicken also made great use of emerging technology at the time. I have a really obscure favourite anti-smoking print ad which includes a miffed-looking Marc Bolan with the line "If Marc Bolan kissed you would he feel like this?" It immediately takes me to a happy place...

Central St Martins Advertising Pathway

Feeling inspired?

Find out more about Georgia Stephenson and her advertising portfolio on her website.

Use the hashtag #StudentSpotlight to find our other blogs on student degree shows this year.

Image credits: Maria Ding, BA Graphic Design.  

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