Rachel Hopkins Billboard

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Students design mobile billboards with environmental message

Students from BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking and MA Illustration courses have had their artwork blown up to billboard size, thanks to a competition by Yellowbird Media in Plymouth.

Students from BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking and MA Illustration courses have had their artwork blown up to billboard size, thanks to a competition by Yellowbird Media in Plymouth.

The college was approached by Chris Passmore, of Yellowbird Media, as he had two mobile billboards that were available and in need of artwork. Chris wanted the message of the billboards to focus on environmental awareness and through connecting with Nick Crawley, Employer Engagement Coordinator, he was able to come up with an exciting brief to send out to students across the whole college.

Rachel Hopkins, who’s studying MA Illustration after completing her BA (Hons) degree in Interior Decoration, Design & Styling this year, submitted her piece ‘Save the Rainforests’ after hearing about the opportunity through her student email.

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Rachel with her billboard based at Marsh Mills Roundabout
Image credit @rachel_hopkins_creates

Rachel said: “My entry was actually artwork from one of my Interior Decoration, Design & Styling modules. I constructed a concept for a ‘Save the Rainforests’ pop-up education centre that would tour around the UK to spread awareness of the rate that we are losing our rainforests and how to support the cause. The piece of artwork chosen for this brief was the face of the branding for the project, an illustration made up of many animals that are affected by deforestation. I wanted to include them to show how many species of animals deforestation effects, and for what? Our own selfish benefit.”

“My past few projects have all been inspired by the environment and how I can make a difference to our ever changing world. I’m really driven to create work that inspires others to make a change and hopefully contribute to making up the harm us humans have done to this planet. I’ve personally gained so much from the billboard experience, I’ve had such a positive response. My submitted piece is really meant to make a statement and having it printed so big is exactly what it needed to get the message across. It was so amazing to see it in person and see the sheer scale of it!”

Mary Clark, second year student on BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking, also had her artwork chosen for the environmental billboards.

Mary said, “I love to draw and paint from images, and for this project I was inspired by a photo of the sculpture from the Lost Gardens of Heligan in St Austell. The sculpture is a sleeping human figure covered in moss, grass and ivy with a group of trees behind it. For me, that perfectly symbolises the fact that ‘nature is your home’, so I took that as my main inspiration for the poster. Over the summer break, I kept noticing litter in random places while on my daily walks, it always looked like someone had carefully placed it in specific positions, as if they were deliberately trying to destroy the surroundings. I have never heard anyone say ‘litter is vandalism’, but I think it is, so I decided that was my main message.”

"I have been drawing and painting since I can remember, but this experience has given me more confidence in my work and definitely an eagerness to enter more competitions to see where they take me! I went to see the billboard recently and I’m so pleased it's in a place where people can easily access it for free. The size of it makes the message easy for viewers to remember. In fact, I’ve noticed much less litter around since the poster went up. Maybe it’s already having an effect…”
Mary Clark, BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking student
Mary Clark

Mary Clark's billboard (right), inspired by the Lost Gardens of Heligan in St Austell (left)

“I have high-functioning autism which also means I can get really severe anxiety. I tend to base my projects on things that cause anxiety for me, inspired by Edvard Munch’s famous The Scream painting, so I can recognise the triggers and manage them better in the future by creating and using visual aids. I have been drawing and painting since I can remember, but this experience has given me more confidence in my work and definitely an eagerness to enter more competitions to see where they take me! I went to see the billboard recently and I’m so pleased it's in a place where people can easily access it for free. The size of it makes the message easy for viewers to remember. In fact, I’ve noticed much less litter around since the poster went up. Maybe it’s already having an effect…”

The billboards were printed at the Imprint Lab and Digital Print Bureau, where they discovered the challenge of printing at such a large scale. However, thanks to Kerry Brosnan, technical demonstrator at the Imprint Lab, along with others on the team, they were able to complete the print, ready for display on the mobile billboard at a huge 6 by 3 metres in size.

Nick Crawley, Employer Engagement Officer, said, “We like to encourage students to take part in external briefs, as they get to work on a real life project with a real employer; it’s no longer theoretical. They get to see their artwork come to life and be in the public domain which means they can get feedback from creatives and non-creatives about their work. It can also lead to other opportunities, for example Rachel is now designing a poster for Sutton Harbour, because they saw her billboard and loved the simplicity of the artwork and the strength of the message. It just shows what can happen if you enter these live briefs and competitions.”

Rachel’s billboard is situated on the Marsh Mills Roundabout, which is on the A38 Devon Expressway on Plymouth Road with Mary’s billboard currently stationed at Transit Way near the Tesco Superstore. Keep an eye out for the mobile artwork around Plymouth as the billboards travel around the city. You can keep up to date with Rachel’s work on her Instagram page @rachel_hopkins_creates.

Students at the college can keep up to date with the latest live briefs, competitions and job openings on the Plymouth College of Art careers Instagram page @pcacareers.