Emma Brookes photo

Having already won a number of prestigious awards, Emma is one to watch after securing a new role as a junior digital designer at design agency Tilt

5 min read

Next week, the Class of 2021 will be celebrating their graduation: a milestone event that represents all of their hard work and achievements. We wanted to introduce you to some of these graduates who have made the most of their time at Portsmouth and already achieved so much.

First up is BA (Hons) Graphic Design graduate Emma Brookes. Having already won a number of prestigious awards, Emma is one to watch after securing a new role as a junior digital designer at design agency Tilt. We asked Emma to tell us about the awards she’s won and how she stayed motivated whilst studying in a pandemic.  

Tell us about the design awards you've won

This year I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to enter a variety of different competitions both as part of my university work as well as alongside it. I have been lucky enough to have received recognition for the work I submitted to many of these. Most recently I was awarded Overall Creative Champion at the South West Design and Digital Student Awards for my project 'Kuki', where I was also awarded Winner at the RSA Student Awards and fellowship to the RSA. 

I was also over the moon to be awarded a D&AD Pencil Award for my project 'Spotify Moments' which responded to the brief set in collaboration with Spotify Design to ‘create a new feature that encourages users to soundtrack and share their lives through the Spotify app, increasing both personal and social engagement’. Since I began to take design seriously in secondary school, I have always dreamed of getting a prestigious D&AD pencil award, it was this dream that drove me to take on the brief on top of my university work with the support of my lecturer Dan McCabe. Taking inspiration from my research into music and memory as a part of my final major project I developed an in-app feature, Spotify Moments, which harnesses this connection to provide users with a personalised archive of music moments, enabling them to relive their favourite memories through song. Users can add comments, images, and even friends to their moment, creating a truly unique social and personal experience. I was really passionate about this project and enjoyed working on it so I am thrilled that it got recognised by the judges! 

Favourite project

My project ‘Kuki’ was the most fun to create. What started as a response to a brief about ensuring that everyone living in areas with poor air quality is guaranteed their right to clean air, transformed as I became immersed in the issue of air pollution, realising how little understanding the general public has on the issue. How could I disrupt the current system to promote long-term change? What would make the next generation interested in the issue? Through my research, I identified that young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution and its adverse impacts, with both them and their parents having very little understanding or interest in the issue. Through the use of gamification techniques, my solution ‘Kuki’, which translates from Japanese into ‘the air we breathe', aims to engage and inform young children and their parents. Kuki is an air quality pet for young children which uses gamification techniques to inspire, engage and encourage the adoption of positive behaviours, creating responsible adults that will reduce air pollution in the future and inspire long-term change. The health of their ‘pet’ is reflective of their own pollution exposure levels, acting as a contextual reminder.

Parents can use the app to monitor their child’s exposure, find areas of high pollution, and stay up to date on air quality news. This project was an enjoyable way to flex my skills in user experience and interface design and well as develop new skills in product design. 

The University of Portsmouth Graphic Design course presents students with challenging briefs and fast-paced competitions, as well as self-directed projects, to give a sense of what it would be like to work in industry, encouraging students to develop their strengths and confidence before entering the world of industry.

Emma Brookes, BA (Hons) Graphic Design, 2021

Where will your career journey take you next?

I have been lucky enough to secure a new role as a junior digital designer at a design agency in Brighton called Tilt. Tilt specialise in driving changes in behaviour and attitude through digital innovation and decoding complexity in creative ways. Their beliefs as a company really aligned with my ambition and drive to use my creativity to create change and leave a legacy. The team's passion and enthusiasm also shined through in my interviews and I can’t wait to join them shortly!

Tips to stay motivated during the pandemic

The pandemic definitely made an already challenging third year much harder, deadlines seeming like more pressure and motivation lagging. I found that developing a strong routine early on in the pandemic helped me to stay motivated, creating realistic to-do lists and daily goals. The simple act of ticking off what I had achieved that day really helped me to stay motivated and made my day feel less pointless as I knew exactly what I had achieved. I also found that it was important to give myself a strict cut-off point for the work, as when working from home it is very easy to be continuously working and forget to prioritise self-care and relaxation, forgetting this can lead to burnout and a further lack of motivation. It's also important to remember to be kind to yourself, everyone has unproductive days so don’t beat yourself up about it.

After graduating...

I’m looking forward to having my evenings and weekends free, giving me more downtime to pursue new hobbies and interests which I pushed aside whilst studying. I’m also looking forward to meeting new people and exploring new places.