Kenneth overcomes obstacles to emerge as leading young design talent
Published On Tue 17 May 2016 by Grant Hill
A stellar undergraduate career has seen University of Dundee student Kenneth Meek establish himself as one of the country’s top young graphic designers – despite being registered blind.
Twenty-three-year-old Kenneth, originally from Glasgow, suffers from nystagmus, a condition that causes involuntary eye movement and impaired vision. Although he has difficulty focusing on objects, Kenneth’s design aptitude, visual communication skills and creativity have seen him overcome this considerable obstacle to win plaudits and awards for projects focusing on serious social and cultural issues.
His work, which includes a book detailing the intricacies of braille and its history and effect on the blind, will be exhibited at this year’s Art, Design and Architecture Degree Show, which opens this weekend.
“My grandfather had this condition and my mother was a carrier as it only seems to affect males in this way,” explained Kenneth. “Because my grandfather suffered from nystagmus I had a 50 per cent chance of getting it as well. The chances of it being passed on fall with every generation so, if I was to have a daughter and she had a son it would be down to 25 per cent.
“A lot of people would instantly think that if you are registered blind you can’t be an artist or designer but it’s not an issue for me. I don’t notice my eyes dancing around but it happens as they try to focus. It means that sometimes I have to work right up against the screen but when I do get the focus I’m confident in my abilities. I really wanted to do something on braille because blindness and sight is something so personal and important to me.”
Another of Kenneth’s projects saw him tackle often unethical western fashion production practices in the developing world and his ‘Made In’ concept and designs subsequently won a prestigious D&AD (Designers & Art Directors) New Blood Award.
“The brief was set by Amnesty International and asked us to consider how consumers can be made aware of where clothes are manufactured and the conditions they are produced in,” he said. “It would be naive to think that everyone will stop buying sweatshop-made clothes as a result but they should be given the opportunity to make an informed choice.
“I have proposed a browser extension similar to AdBlock that shows shoppers where products are made and who by, making users aware of the stories behind their clothes. The ‘Made In’ extension would allow users to voice concerns, contact the seller and even view Amnesty-Approved alternatives. Additionally it shows a brands rating concerning the quality of their respective human rights policies.
“Doing the research and working on the project forced me to confront my own buying habits as I’m a huge sneakers fan and most companies don’t come out well in terms of working conditions in factories in the developing world. Companies need to be forced to improve conditions rather than just concerning themselves with the bottom line.”
Kenneth is one of almost 300 graduating students exhibiting at the Art, Design and Architecture Degree Show 2016, which opens with the traditional Preview Evening for the students, their families and invited guests on Friday, 20th May.
The exhibition will be open to the public from Saturday, 21st May until Sunday, May 29th. Admission is free and the exhibition is open from 10am until 8pm (Monday – Friday) and 10am to 4pm (Saturday – Sunday).
More information is available at http://www.dundee.ac.uk/djcad/degreeshow/.
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