We spoke to BA (Hons) Graphic Design student, Oliver Meeke, on what made him choose Leeds, the exciting things he's working on and what his plans for the future are...

Why did you choose Leeds as a city and more specifically, Leeds Arts University?

Leeds is the place to be. I had heard from older friends and family that Leeds was a notorious student city with a vibrant lifestyle, and after a night out with my friend, I wanted to be part of it. Coming from a smaller town I wanted to experience university in a city and Leeds is perfect, everything is centralised with great student living areas and there is so much freedom and accessibility. Leeds Arts University is one of the leading independent art institutions in the world and I knew I had to be here in order to push and best set myself up for the industry. 

What made you select Graphic Design?

I came from a Fine Art A-Level and wasn’t directly exposed to graphic design, but all I knew was that I loved and wanted to design, create and push boundaries, so my teacher suggested I looked at the subject and because of its reputation, Leeds Arts University. I looked around various institutions and courses around the country, but after the graphic design open day I couldn’t get Leeds Arts Uni or the course out of my head, so gaining a place here was all I cared about. The facilities, tutors, alumni work and achievements and the course structure suited my interactive and intimate working style. There is so much scope for opportunity and variety in graphic design, you’re never tied down to one outcome, and this freedom has made these two years invaluable.

What do you specialise in? What exciting things are you working on at the moment?

I am now tailoring my practice towards digital application, advertisement and user experience as this is an area I am keen to explore and hopefully go into in the future. I do however have a large interest in editorial design, recently being elected with Dan Pipe as Editorial Officers, running the university publication NEST magazine next academic year which I am super excited about. 

I am also part of a creative family of 6 called ‘The Mannequin Collective’ who met at Leeds Arts University. We specialise in film, visuals, design and bespoke sound production. Our work includes working with brands such as Captain Morgan, Smirnoff, Outlook & Dimensions Festival’s, House of Pharaohs, The Hydra, Defected Records and a range of other independent artists and brands that we're all passionate about, and we aim to expand this client base and I am excited for what the future holds. 

How does the University develop your practice?

I have learnt more in the last two years than I could have possibly imagined, and I intend to continue this way. I am constantly pushed to question and further my designs to help develop and push boundaries in my decision-making and critical analysis. Regular critiques and peer feedback helps me and my work evolve, taking it in new directions I never considered and knew about. I think the most important thing for me is being in a fun environment where I am surrounded by like-minded individuals who want to better themselves and join a community where striving for excellence is the aim.

What do you plan to do after university?

I want to continue to gain as much experience as possible during internship weeks and holidays to build up an understanding of how different (large and small) agencies work and to gain a wider knowledge of what I want to do and where to go. Currently, I am keen to further explore UX and digital application design as I am interested in and believe I would enjoy further finessing these areas. I am tailoring my practice towards app design, motion graphics and Cinema 4D solutions to learn various software's and expand my design knowledge, hopefully carrying these skills forward to see where I can go in the optimistic future.