As Sharp as... New Blades

Model making graduates from all over UK find employment through New Blades 2019

submitted by Gideon Bohannon, Arts university bournemouth 

A warm summer evening in London welcomed nearly 1000 visitors to the ‘New Blades’ model maker recruitment fair. The event is held at the world famous Holborn Studios, Islington. The surrounding streets were the directorial birthplace of Alfred Hitchcock and for 35 years it has welcomed notable artists and celebrities through its doors; Holborn has written itself into the history books. The studios echo with past events: Robert Palmer's iconic "Addicted to Love" video was filmed there, Noel and Liam Gallagher fought in the car park during the hey-day of ‘Britpop’ and the SAS Special Forces were brought in to guard Prime Minister Tony Blair as he was being photographed. It is an amazing and inspirational atmosphere and a fantastic venue to host such a collection of model making talent.

New Blades, now in its 23rd year, helps aspiring new graduates from universities all over the UK find employment as model makers. The collection of academic courses represents the cream of creative education found in the UK and Ireland and The Arts University Bournemouth, University of Hertfordshire, Nottingham Trent University, University of Bolton, University of the Arts London, Coleg y Cymoedd, City of Glasgow College and IADT Dun Laoghaire were all exhibiting.

New Blades offers a chance for graduates to network with modelmaking professionals, often finding freelance work or, increasingly, full time positions.

By providing graduates an early, face-to-face introduction with representatives from the industries they seek to work with, students experience a smoother transition from academia to finding their first job. Each University or College invites all of their industry contacts to the show, representing combined professional experience from the fields of Film, Architecture, Product Design, Engineering and Exhibitions. There are Oscar winners rubbing shoulders with world acclaimed Designers, standing alongside BAFTA recipients and Stirling Prize holders, all choosing their next intake of model makers to join them. One hundred and twelve professional representatives officially signed-in to the show but many more visit incognito, gathering student’s business cards to contact in the days immediately following the show. New Blades has proved so successful that some exhibitors get jobs offered to them on the spot!

Tension can be high as you stroll through the myriad of show stands, the students excel at producing eye catching and professional displays, and industry visitors are looking to vote for their winners of a number of prizes. There are fourteen awards given out every year, including ‘Best Architectural Model’, ‘Gerry Anderson Film Miniature Award’ and ‘Best Lateral Thinking’ award. Twelve of the fourteen prizes have an industry sponsor, with representatives from those companies deciding the winner of their sponsored prize. The exceptions to that rule are the ‘Best in Show’ and ‘Runner-up Best in Show’ awards. These are voted on by all of the public visitors to New Blades and the prize relates specifically to the best show stand, so consideration is given to the overall impact of the student’s work.

I would ask all readers to join me in congratulating fellow APMM member students from The Arts University Bournemouth, for bringing home no fewer than nine of the fourteen awards available. There were some truly beautiful examples of model making including the perfection of finish applied to Ollie Smither’s VW Beetle. 

Ollie Smither - VW Beetle 

And indeed, the most prestigious prize to be won was awarded to this very model, with Ollie Smither grabbing the ‘Best in Show’ award with his re-creation of the surf bum Volkswagen.

Ollie’s name may be familiar with members who attended the APMM conference in Grand Rapids in 2018. He provided a model of a Rolleiflex camera used by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Robert Capa.

Ollie has now started his model making career working for upcoming electric vehicle designers Arrival,, helping push the next generation of EVs and our own model making industry into the future.

Below are a few more examples of AUB student work...

Jordan Jess - Carriage


Lauren Taylor-Heaton - Architecture 

Vanessa Pearson - Trac


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