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As part of our coverage of 2022’s graduate season, we’re talking with a selection of graduates from around the UK about their work, practice and future plans.
Chloe Watts is a BA Illustration with Animation graduate from Manchester Metropolitan University. Her final project is a collection of illustrations and 3D figures which aim to explore difficult subject matter.
Design Week: Can you briefly explain what your final project was about?
Chloe Watts: My work that I displayed at the degree show meant an awful lot to me and was the culmination of the past year’s work. At the start of third year, I was struggling greatly with anorexia. We had to write our dissertation and to aid this process I decided to create a series of 16 illustrations to go alongside my written piece.
These 16 drawings were a catalyst for what was to come, and also for my recovery. In third year, we completed one long project called Authorship, which is completely self-led. I chose to use the time to develop the initial 16 drawings into part of a wider series. My drawings explored subjects such as the anorexia, past trauma, and fear in the future. The complete set of 192 drawings can be viewed here. I selected 32 of the drawings to screen-print and feature in the main body of my degree show work.
Following on from a rather intense 5 months of perpetual drawing, I felt burnt out, and was completely unsure of how to utilise the last 8 week project of the course- Unit X. I eventually decided to create a publication that I could have given to my younger and poorly self. Alongside this, I ventured into creating in a 3D way, which was something I had never done before.
I found out very quickly that my illustrative style lends itself very well to interlocking shapes. I utilised this knowledge to develop a series of figures. I was also commissioned by the Vertical Gallery team to take my figures and scale them up. These versions were only four inches shorter than me! The process of making the large-scale pieces was long and laborious but the outcome made it feel well worth it.
Click to see full sized images
DW: What was the most challenging aspect of the project?
For me the most difficult aspect of the project was having my personal work viewed by others. I knew that the work was great at communicating my thoughts and feelings to those who know me but putting it out to the general public was scary. It has been great to see how well people have related to the work and also how much of a conversation starter some of the themes are.
DW: Where do you see your design career in five years?
In five years, I would like to have an established professional practice that I can live off. I know how beneficial creating is to my wellbeing, so I know that this will be a fundamental part of my future. At present, I freelance and sell my own work but would like to expand this. I am also looking into doing a visual communication or a practice-based masters. I think as I my career progresses, I will have a bit more of an idea of what I plan on doing.
You can find our guide to 2022 graduate design shows here.


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Experts explore how fairer funding might be the answer to making the industry “more accessible”.
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