Graphic designer explores ailing high street

Keiran Smart (23) from Oldmeldrum graduated on 13 July from Robert Gordon University’s Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen with a BDes (Hons) in Graphic Design, after recently displaying his work to the public at the School’s 127th annual Degree Show, sponsored by BP.

Keiran Smart Graphic DesignKeiran, a pupil at Inverurie Academy, chose to go to Gray’s School of Art as it was his local art school and because of its good reputation.

Keiran’s final-year degree show project examined the high street focusing on the city’s Union Street, and how it has changed over the years.  In particular he looked at the number of independent shops that have been lost and what has replaced them.  His work included a set of information graphics which highlight the visual changes in the types of businesses that were once on Union Street.

He said, “The inspiration for my show came from my family.  My mum used to run a shop in Aberdeen but decided to move the business entirely online when long established stores like E&M closed.  Union Street, like many other high streets, is now dominated by big brand names which have the biggest say on city centres.

“The look of the high street in Aberdeen over the years has been staggering – it has transformed from a bustling town centre to an empty street with ‘To Let’ boards littering the skyline.”

Keiran interviewed local independent shop keepers who still provide an important part of the shopping experience in cities like Aberdeen by providing non-generic stock.  However, his research showed that many seem to have been forgotten about with the majority being unaware of the Aberdeen City Centre Partnership and feeling they are not engaged in the development of the city centre. 

Gray’s School of Art Degree Show 2012, sponsored by BP, showcased a plethora of undergraduate talent across a range of disciplines including 3D and product design, painting, printmaking, sculpture, fashion and textiles, graphics, digital media, visual communication, photography and electronic media.

Keiran is currently working for a design agency on a part-time basis but is in discussions with a fellow Gray’s graduate with a view to establishing a new and innovative design business within the city centre.

Issued by:
Sarah Grieve
Communications Officer | Design & Technology

Robert Gordon University
AB10 1FR
Tel: 01224 262206