Students of Lockdown was a 4-part zine series used to document the 2020-2021 student experience. The zine series was created by Emily Osborne, who also helped create the previously featured short film ‘Perpetual LImbo’, which deals with the same topic. Much of the student experience is determined by in-person experiences, extra-curricular activities, and external support systems. With many students experiencing either hybrid or entirely online learning – spending time in isolation, working alone, and finding it difficult to reach out for support, the zine was created as a way to examine how students were affected in both their health and their studies. Emily talked to The Jumble about the zine.
The series was split into four ‘seasons’ to reflect specific periods within the last 18 months and to help separate feelings or emotions tied to specific events. To ensure the series was reflective of the student’s experience and not just my own, I surveyed students across Northern Ireland and the UK. Asking for their open, honest, and anonymous opinions and comments from throughout the year. and then used these to form the basis of content.
Season One: Endless Summer focused on those uncertain months in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. Many people had mixed feelings over this time and the anonymous survey proved a useful tool in allowing people to express this.
Season Two: Perpetual Limbo focused on the winter of 2020, which for many of us was short days, darker nights, and a cold chill that we just couldn’t shake. It was clear by the content how much this time negatively affected student perceptions and motivations. With many students thinking they were the only ones feeling that way, only to discover their friends and family had been suffering in similar ways.
Season Three: Emerging From Languish looked to those fresh crisp spring months and leaving the winter behind us. Many students found themselves burnt out and exhausted with online learning, but what was most inspiring was what these students said to themselves to keep going. The sheer determination by many who were not in great places still got up, logged on, and showed up. This season was about looking at things in a new light and finding ways to draw out the positives and encouragement we all desperately needed.
Season Four: What Now? Was the most abstract season of the series. This short segment looked to the future, to remind us that we are not determined by this year and that what happened next was up to us. Thrust into the professional world as brand-new graduates, how would we use this experience to help progress and grow? How would we be able to make the most of the situation and support one another on the way?
From a design perspective, this artwork was interesting to make, as the series had focused so heavily on the unusualness of the year behind us and highlighting the strange that I wanted this advice card to reflect exactly that. By not only allowing but highlighting the wide rivers within all justified text, the wording feels disjointed and varying in pace. Reflective not only of many voices contributing to the conversation but instills a sense of unease even when the words seem positive.
The series was encased in a bespoke hand-constructed; laser engraved Perspex slipcase. The Perspex was the most applicable material to use for this project considering its prevalence in the new world we all live in. The etchings within the case were engraved in reverse, to appear as if they are floating within the Perspex. Forever suspended in time. The carefully weighted and prominent use of the slipcase was to act as a signifier that this experience is being ‘put to rest’ the etchings are dually representative of a gravestone and an artifact. A zeitgeist of its time.
Finally, the series, cover advice card, and belly band are designed in such a way that when completed and compiled, within the Perspex box the work looks clinical and representative of the pandemic visual language. Once removed from the encasing the work explodes in a flourish of colour, illustrations, and design. To reveal beneath the abundance of opinions, experience, and feelings surrounding this poignant moment in time.