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A photo of illustrated tote bags on a table at a graduation reception.

Edinburgh College of Art alumna Valentina Lobos was commissioned to create a unique illustration for a bag gifted to students graduating in 2022 to commemorate their time at ECA.

The project was commissioned by Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) with funding from Baillie Gifford. Valentina, a 2021 MA Contemporary Art Practice graduate, was selected for the project after consultation with the curatorial team behind the University Art Collection. 

The design 

Valentina explained her process for creating the illustration: “I decided to create the design with Graduation as a starting point, rather than a closure, and how vertiginous it feels to face the future when everything seems to have changed during the pandemic. 

“I worked with a digital archive I developed for my master's project at ECA, Speculative Flag (2021). For that project, I selected from coats of arms and flags from different countries, generating a digital visual archive for plants, animals, and people for the configuration of new emblems. 

“My proposal for this commission was to revisit this digital archive and select a diversity of animals, plants, and people, bearing in mind the Graduation milestone as a threshold on which the graduates stand to face the future.” 

On the experience of working on a paid commission for such a special occasion, Valentina said: “It is a clever and creative way to support recent art graduates and maintain a bond or connection with the artists formed at ECA in a reciprocal way. I am thankful for the opportunity to create something for many people, something to be seen and worn, to be given as a present.”

A unique project to support and celebrate graduates 

Professor Juan Cruz, Principal at Edinburgh College of Art, said: “[It is] thanks to our longstanding supporter and close partner, Baillie Gifford, who made this special project possible. This generous gift builds on a significant and highly valued programme of support by Ballie Gifford to the University.” 

It is hoped the project will continue each year to support future ECA graduates with a professional commissioning opportunity and to offer a legacy to celebrate graduating students.

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