Ellie Lanham

Already recognised by the RSA and ISTD, recent University of the West of England graduate Ellie Lanham is currently based in Lisbon, but really does have the world at her feet.

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The Consumer’s Guide to Distraction by Consumption is a sarcastic series of posters collated into a pamphlet exaggerating consumerism

You’re based in Bristol and Lisbon, how do you divide your time between the two places?

I studied in Bristol, so spent three years experimenting and refining my design practice there – which for me makes it a magical city. I visited Lisbon in May 2015 where I met Carolina and Catarina from Studio AH-HA and I instantly knew it was a city and a studio I would love to work in and with. At the moment I’m almost exclusively based in Lisbon, I mean.. it’s sunny in November, and who could resist that? I spend most of my time here working in the studio but I juggle a few freelance projects on the side. Thanks to the wonder of the internet I am still able to freelance for clients in Bristol and can maintain connections and creative networks in Bristol whist expanding my network here in Lisbon.

What are the main similarities and differences between the two cities and how would you say these contrasting environments impact on your practice?

One of the first things I noticed about the cities were the irregular similarities both geographically and culturally. They both have the river, the sea, world-class culture, friendly people and stunning architecture. In my opinion Bristol is a tiny London, it's got an amazing cultural and creative scene and is full of designers, illustrators and creative inspiration. For me it is a place for collaborations, working with friends, community projects and design projects with an impact. Whereas in Lisbon everything is an adventure. Lisbon has been in the limelight for a few years now, it’s a traditional city away from touristic cliches where a mix of traditional and contemporary sit side by side. It’s not overcrowded with cool design ephemera, but there is certainly an influx of design thinking which makes it a really exciting place to be a designer.

Congratulations on your RSA award and ISTD commendation (one of only five in the ISTD's UK Assessment). What did you gain from these two schemes, and what would your advice be to any students thinking of entering this year?

Firstly – thank you. The two schemes were an invaluable experience, they are both amazing institutions to get involved with. The two assessments have completely different approaches in different areas of design but have a common ideology in terms of design thinking. Entering these assessments really pushed my technical design skills and challenged my conceptual thinking. It was a great experience although it was a month of sleep deprivation and 24/7 coffee drinking. My advice to anyone entering would be to emphasise the importance of the idea, question everything, and most importantly stock up on caffeine-related products.

You’ve explored many different techniques in your work, which are the ones which you keep coming back to?

I love experimenting with new techniques and processes. I think printmaking is something that I absolutely love and will always come back to - especially letterpress and embossing. I love the tactility of fine prints and it’s something that I aim to incorporate into the work that I do. I think at the moment lots of new designers are going digital but I love the marriage of new media with fine printing.

What’s the last piece of design that you’ve looked at which induced design envy?

I get superficial design envy all the time when I see stylistically beautiful pieces of work. I get more substantial design envy when I see a project that looks as though it had a really interesting creative process or some wacky conceptual design thinking. Also every time I read Girls Like Us magazine I get design envy because it's always super interesting/inspiring and I love the design.

What would be your dream project?

That’s a difficult question. I think my dream project could be lots of different things. Something social, with community value - but generally speaking I love anything that’s a challenge; I find it satisfying turning a hypothetical concept into something tangible and visual.

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An exploration into techniques of persuasion which bombard our everyday lives

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Visual representations of chaos and order is a screenprinted constantina book exploring the visual and verbal relationships between the two

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Cemeteries as Green Spaces, an exploration into alternative urban spaces

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Like Father Like Daughter, a spin on the idiom Like Father, Like Son.

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This book depicts a sample of anarchical communities with the aim of interrogating and re-thinking social space

Tell us a bit about your after-school activities of restoring bicycles and co-ordinating a design exchange?

I’ve always been a keen cyclist and Le Velo Cycles is a project I started two years ago after finding an old Raleigh Sprite discarded in a skip. I thought it was such a waste. It’s never really been a serious endeavour, just something I do alongside designing to keep my hands busy.

The design exchange was a project I started at university with a goal of connecting locations and inspiring new urban thinking. It was based on two places, firstly Fristaden Christiana, Copenhagen and secondly Stokes Croft, Bristol, it's kind of an on going exploration into locality and new urbanism.

What’s next for you?
For now I’m looking for collaborations and freelance work in Europe. I’ll be staying in Lisbon for the time being and then who knows? I’m not really one for planning, but I have a few projects in the pipeline.