Skip to main content
Visual Communication (MA)

Hannah Waterman

I’m Hannah – I am a multidisciplinary designer studying the Visual Communication MA, with a background in graphic design. I like to work in many different mediums in order to select containers which work best for the subject matter at hand. Over the course of my MA I’ve used stop-motion, book design, letterpress, painting, illustration, and photography in order to convey my ideas. 

In my freelance design work I create branding and ephemera for brands in a variety of sectors, from events, to publishing, to hospitality, to healthcare. More recently, I have been teaching art and graphic design NCFE and National Curriculum to 8-20 year olds with specialised educational needs. 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with typography and linguistics. As a teenager, I would analyse the layout of album covers and CD booklets for hours – leading me onto doing graphic design work for local bands and musicians. I also work with audio, and hold a diploma in guitar performance: performing and marketing music, putting on grassroots events, and collaborating with other artists were an extremely formative part of my teenage years.

I graduated from the University of Brighton in 2022 with a BA degree in Graphic Design. Throughout these past few years, I have been focusing on gaining technical, theoretical, and conversational design skills across a range of media. My personal work typically focuses on finding means of expressing personal narratives, or of communications systems for topics that the population may find difficult or painful to talk about. 

Bright colourful painting of an eye with some text collaged over it – "I started to feel hopeless, bitter, unheard, unaccepted"

I like to see my work as solving puzzles: every design problem has a solution, and the challenge is getting to the most effective container, context, and imagery for what that puzzle requires. My work is multidisciplinary, and I’m never able to predict which media or technique I will be using next, but my main stays are typography, painting, photography, and video. I like to adapt to different mediums because effective communication relies on an appropriate visual context for the specific subject matter. I’m not afraid to try new things.

My ethos as a creative can be attributed to playing in punk bands growing up: say something, mean it, and be bold with what you make and what you share. Art-making began as a self-regulation tool for me when I was younger – something which many creatives can attest to. Teaching has validated this for me even further, as all the young artists I supervise are so talented, and they draw for the same reasons. This humanity has remained the backbone of my work throughout my career. 

I often create work that tackles difficult subjects such as trauma, illness, and pain, and learning how to disseminate that often very sticky information effectively, whilst maintaining elegance in my designs, has given me an edge as a visual problem solver. It is so important to me to shed light on misunderstood and neglected topics in our society, and in particular when dealing with tough subject matter, imagery really shines as a perfect instrument for expression. 

When I think about why I do what I do, and why I create, my honest answer is that I have no choice in the matter. This is who I am. I love what I do so wholly, and I put so much energy and enthusiasm into my work, and that’s what I believe I bring to the table. I really, really care about what I am making, and that’s the most important thing. 

Painting of a girl in school uniform sewing her mouth shut: "Secondary school taught me it was not okay to be who I am"

Failing Teenagers

My publication “Failing Teenagers” seeks to close the knowledge gaps between NHS statistic and the lives of unheard children, humanising the headlines behind the teenage mental health crisis in England. Through my lens as a teacher and former troubled child, it’s a taxing emotional excavation, propped up by statistical and sociological research about kids who are in pain, and the institutions that repeatedly fail them. It was painted with Gouache paint on 240gsm rough paper.

Note: This book features topics such as mental illness, child neglect, addiction, suicide, and self harm. The content is not intended to shock egregiously, but to inform readers of the reality that thousands of children are facing in the UK every day.

Painting of a girl walking home from school "On my way to and from those places, men would shout sexual obscenities at me"
Drawing of a messy coffee table with drug paraphernalia.
Bright colourful drawing of an eye that says "I started to feel hopeless, bitter, unheard, unaccepted"
Letterpress booklet that says "What is trauma and how can we heal"

What is trauma and how can we heal? Letterpress leaflet

This leaflet was printed in the RCA letterpress studio, using metal type. It took upwards of 15 hours. I have provided this as a supplement to a book of paintings tackling mental illness in teenagers at secondary schools, in order to explain what trauma is, and why adverse experiences matter to people’s livelihoods. I wanted an elegant, digestible explanation of the subject matter, that provided enough detail for thorough comprehension, and no more. The text was collated and written by me; with some pages being quotes from Bessel van der Kolk and Gabor Maté. 

The poster, “Our Capacity To Heal One Another” (40 x 53cm) was made in letterpress on woodblock type. This is a quote from Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps The Score, a book which explores traumatic events and how we can heal them. 

Poster that reads "Our capacity to destroy one another is matched by our capacity to heal one another"
Letterpress booklet that says "What is trauma and how can we heal"


Letterpress leaflet