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Anke Dietrich's work
Since graduating Anke's final design project has been shortlisted in the Global Design Graduate Show 2020 by Arthsthread and i-D magazine, and she has been nominated as a newcomer for the German Design Awards 2022.

Due to the global pandemic Anke is working as a freelance designer, continuing to build on the skills and techniques she has learnt at ECA.

Why I chose to study Graphic Design - MFA

In my undergraduate semester abroad at the University of Abertay, Dundee I got to know and appreciate the Scottish approach to teaching design subjects which is very individual and encourages risk-taking and experimentation which I believe is what a masters in design should be about.

During that time I also fell in love with Edinburgh, one of the most beautiful, diverse and inspiring cities I have had the opportunity to visit. I knew immediately I wanted to do my masters at the University of Edinburgh, as it is consistently ranked as one of the 50 best universities and is known for its innovative character and outstanding facilities. I was especially thrilled about the different technical facilities such as the printmaking workshop which offers endless possibilities to explore and combine different printing techniques to create unique outcomes. The Design Agency project and the industry connections offered in this programme also increased my excitement about studying here. Due to the high percentage of international students, I also looked forward to inspiring intercultural (design-) exchange and dialogue.

"You learn how to collaborate with other designers from different backgrounds, broadening your horizon by exposure to other perspectives, cultures and views on design."

Anke Dietrich

Graphic Design - MFA alumna

My time at ECA

During my time at ECA I worked on projects both individually but also as part of a group. Coming from a more digital background, I took the opportunity to experiment with, and learn more about, different printing processes such as letterpress, risograph and screen printing with the guidance from the experienced print technicians at ECA.

Relevant industry opportunities are valued highly at ECA. In the agency project, five peers form a fictional agency and develop a branding consisting of the brand philosophy, a website, content for social media and business cards. Each agency had a mentor from a Scottish agency providing them with guidance and tasks. This project provided insights into the day to day routine of agency life and helps you to develop collaboration skills with designers from different backgrounds and also organisational skills such as time management. 

Through additional guest lecturers from industry experts, we were given insights into a range of industry experiences and presented tasks relevant to their respective fields. The tasks given were a mixture of client projects and fictional ones to enable us to work on our particular interests in the field of graphic design. I particularly enjoyed learning about type form development and motion graphics.

We also had the opportunity to go on a range of field trips to museums, libraries, workshops and many more which helped inspire projects and encourage a hands-on approach to design and experimentation.

In my final project ‘The Journey to Happiness’ I took the opportunity to experiment mainly with typography, innovative formats, and explore possibilities for audience interaction to positively impact people’s wellbeing. The resulting social campaign inspires and accompanies people on their journey to happiness.

Anke Dietrich's work
Anke Dietrich's work

My experiences since graduating

Leaving ECA was a mix of emotions. On the one hand, it felt unfinished as Covid-19 made it impossible to say a proper goodbye to course mates and teaching staff. I also felt sad that my little adventure at ECA with all the print facilities and possibilities to experiment was over. On the other hand, I felt very proud of what I had achieved and learned in those two years and my development as a designer.

My initial plan upon graduating was to work in a design agency but Covid-19 made the job search rather difficult. However, I was able to get freelance jobs and I am currently working as a freelance designer until I find the right opportunity to jump into the agency world.

The most fulfilling part of my work is when customers are happy with the designs I produce. ECA taught me, through different methods of design research, the necessity of creating meaningful designs. Therefore, I am always able to produce personal ideas which line up with the client brief.

Another thing I learned in ECA is the contemporary approach to graphic design. The curriculum takes new industry developments and practices into account such as motion graphics which, for instance currently in great demand amongst my customers.

Additionally, through group projects, such as the agency project and design exchange, you learn how to collaborate with other designers from different backgrounds, broadening your horizon by exposure to other perspectives, cultures and views on design.

My biggest achievement as a designer since graduating from ECA has been having my work appreciated by other practitioners in two design competitions: My final project got shortlisted in the Global Design Graduate Show 2020 by Arthsthread and i-D magazine and I am currently nominated as a newcomer for the German Design Awards 2022.

My advice to new and current students

My advice for someone starting the course would be to relax and enjoy the course. This is your chance to experiment and to explore the themes you are interested in. Involve yourself in research, engage in all course activities, listen and take advice from your tutors to gain experience and fresh approaches. Everything else will come naturally. Do not just work on the things you already know, you do not need a Masters for that. Take the chance to develop your work as a designer further by stepping out of your comfort zone. If you dare to try something new you will discover hidden strengths and interests.

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