Students release rainbow colouring book to raise NHS funds


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Imaginative rainbow illustrations by students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have been compiled into a downloadable colouring book to raise funds for the NHS.

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Final-year Graphic Design (Illustration) students Katie Pearce and Fiona Morris were approached by their tutor to lead on the project, following the success of the first colouring book they released during lockdown with a small group of friends on their course.

This time the pair put a call-out on Instagram and received dozens of illustrations, settling on 39 different designs submitted by students, staff and graduates. The booklet is available to download for a discretionary donation, with all proceeds going to the Leicester Hospitals Trust.

“Rainbows have become closely associated with the NHS during this pandemic and I think it’s really nice that people can colour these illustrations in and put them in their windows to show their support,” said 23-year-old Fiona from Colchester.

“I’ve really enjoyed the sense of community we’ve built through this project. Making something collaborative at a time like this has helped us all to feel connected, stay positive and continue to be creative.”

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As well as being printable, the sheets come as PSD files so those without home printers can colour them in digitally. Some of the designs are available as wallpapers for phones and computer screens.

“A lot of the work we do on our course is socially-minded, so we often come up with graphic solutions to world problems. Creating something so positive that addresses COVID-19 has been really rewarding,” said 21-year-old Katie from Leeds.

The first colouring book instigated by the pair includes 16 illustrations by final-year students, from woodland creatures to leafy plants. All donations are split between Age UK and The Trussell Trust.

Katie said: “I was feeling useless in lockdown and just wanted to do something, so I messaged Fiona and we started brainstorming some ideas. Working creatively together with our coursemates again really helped us to stay on track with our studies too.”

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Something else helping to motivate students during lockdown is the effort of tutors to keep the studio environment, a crucial feature of the Graphic Design (Illustration) and Graphic Design disciplines at DMU, going online.

Charlie Henshaw, a lecturer on both courses, has assembled a team who has been working closely with students and graduates to curate their content under @dmu_gdil on Instagram and Twitter, and to channel a positive studio energy through #virtualstudiodmu.

The account supports students through the pandemic by also sharing content such as their inspirational Spotify playlists, student sketchbooks and home studio set-ups. Staff are contributing to live projects, posting daily inspirations and sharing their favourite books, typefaces, podcasts, films and much more.

Fiona said: “It’s a great reminder of what we do still have access to and how lucky we are to have all of these ways of staying in touch available to us.

“Even though this is a difficult situation for our tutors too, they’ve been working really hard to support us online, not only through social media but by also delivering our individual tutorials on video calls and being responsive to emails.”

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Charlie said: “We’re also using social media to call out to the creative community to offer extra support to our students through online portfolio reviews, Q&A sessions and industry advice, and have had great support from both design studios and freelance illustrators and creatives.”

“Members of the wider design community have been very supportive during this challenging time too, so we hope to have more projects like the colouring book on the way very soon.”

Katie is also working with coursemates Agata Tomaszek and Max Szyrmulewicz to highlight the talents of final-year students across both courses through @dmu_2020 on Instagram.

“It’s an account that graduating students run every year, but this year more than ever, I feel like it’s important that the class of 2020 feels celebrated and knows it isn’t forgotten,” said Katie.

“Normally, final-years get to show their work in front of friends, family and industry professionals at a dedicated event on campus and I don’t want us to miss out on that this summer.”

Posted on Thursday 7th May 2020

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