Image shows an overhead shot of the kombucha drinks with illustrative bee branding against a mustard yellow background

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Graphic Communication student Emma Flintham wins South West Design + Digital Student Awards

Competing against 164 other students, Emma has been selected as one of three winners, winning £1,000 in prize money with her unique drinks brand concept, The Kombeecha Co.

Third-year BA (Hons) Graphic Communication student Emma Fintham from Plymouth College of Art has been selected as one of three winners of the Bristol-based agency Proctor and Stevenson 2021 South West Design + Digital Student Awards, winning £1,000 prize money.

Emma, who lives in Totnes, competed against 164 other final-year students from across the South West and Wales who entered the awards this year, securing her win “by matching luxurious packaging design with a comprehensive environmentally-friendly launch campaign.” The South West Design + Digital Student Awards are run by Proctor and Stevenson, one of the UK's longest-established independent marketing, brand, design and technology agencies.

Image shows a woman with long blonde hair and blue eyes wearing a long sleeved olive green top with a small smile on her face looking straight at the camera in front of a white background

Emma Flintham

“The brief for this project was really open”, explained Emma. Her idea was born out of a two-week university brief exploring interpretations of the words ‘food’ and ‘responsibility’. From there she created the idea for a unique drinks brand, named The Kombeecha Co.

Emma’s research showed the rise in popularity of Kombucha, a Chinese drink based on fermented tea. “Upon investigation into the UK honey market, I discovered that almost all of the UK consumed honey is a blend of EU and non-EU honey” she explains. “This, coupled with the decline of the British bee population, led me to design a unique sustainable brand with plantable paper-based packaging supporting bees in the UK.”

Image shows an overhead shot of the kombucha drinks with illustrative bee branding against a mustard yellow background

After being whittled down to a shortlist of ten finalists, she presented her campaign to a panel of judges. Although Emma describes the experience as nerve racking, it gave her the opportunity to show industry leaders exactly what she could do and the chance to stand out.

“I think what may have caught the judges’ eyes was the research and sustainability story behind the drinks brand I had created,'' Emma explained. The unique packaging can be planted once finished with.

The last three years have been the best. I was torn between studying Fine Art, Illustration and Photography, but in the end I chose Graphic Design because it allowed me to explore all my passions and learn new skills. My advice to anyone considering the BA (Hons) Graphic Communication course is to go for it!
Emma Flintham, BA (Hons) Graphic Communication student
Image shows an overhead view of cocktails featuring stirrers and coasters with the Kombeecha Co. branding which features an illustrated bee and typography

Amanda Duffin, Senior Lecturer for BA (Hons) Graphic Communication at Plymouth College of Art, has high praise for Emma’s achievement and how her practice has developed over time, saying that, “Emma understands how to approach a brief and this has really elevated her work. She takes a strategic approach that always leads to a clear vision for her design process.”

Proctor and Stevenson echoed this praise, congratulating Emma for “matching luxurious packaging design with a comprehensive environmentally-friendly launch campaign”.

Image shows three kombucha drinks on mustard yellow boxes against a mustard yellow background with shadows of leaves, as well as a honey stirrer in the foreground. The drinks show the illustrated bee branding.

Throughout her time at Plymouth College of Art, Emma’s work has won acclaim. In the first year of her degree she reached the top five finalists in the JDO Raw 2019 competition, winning a two-week internship at the award-winning multidisciplinary design agency. During her second year, she won JDO Raw 2020, later completing a month-long internship with the agency in March 2021 while completing her degree. Her success continues, as she is also on the shortlist for the Brand Opus Chrysalis Awards.

As she prepares to graduate, Emma said that she will miss being part of the community at Plymouth College of Art: “The last three years have been the best. I was torn between studying Fine Art, Illustration and Photography, but in the end I chose Graphic Design because it allowed me to explore all my passions and learn new skills. My advice to anyone considering the BA (Hons) Graphic Communication course is to go for it!”

You can keep up to date with Emma’s work on her Instagram page or by visiting her website.