Seeing as this year’s graduates are about to showcase their final collections and leave behind the comfort of university, we’ve caught up with the graduates of 2014. They discuss their experiences, achievements, hopes and losses since graduating with us.
Elisabeth Bukanova
Central St Martins – graphic design / editor | –
Creating her first zine aged 6, Central St Martins graduate Elisabeth Bukanova realises her creative vision through illustration, art direction, typography and design. Her magazine Muff redefines lesbianism beyond oppressive depictions. You’ll struggle to find a creative medium she isn’t interested in.
Volt Café: Sum up what you do in one sentence
Elisabeth Bukanova: I devise concepts and translate them into images, using various disciplines & techniques ranging from art direction, typography, to illustration and design.
VC: Your magazine Muff (which you co-founded, art directed and designed) is distributed worldwide, how quickly did interest pickup for this publication?

EB: We had interest before we even realised it! We didn’t plan to go worldwide, but as soon as Kate (the editor) started tweeting we were offered a distribution contract and things went from there.
VC: You were asked to redesign the Arcadia Magazine. Tell us about how this came about and where your ideas for the redesign came from?
EB: Group-owned magazines often have set imagery that needs to be used creatively, in order to make it work as a whole – while still representing a range of (very different) brands. They saw some of the work I had done for another magazine (a collaged/illustrated editorial) and booked me based on these image making skills..
VC: You have an impressive range of clients, including Alexander McQueen. How did you start working with the McQueen brand?
EB: The flatmate of a friend recommended me. Then I got a call.
VC: Were you interested in fashion design from a young age?
EB: I am not sure if I really knew what fashion design was at a young age… But I used to collect fashion and perfume ads (carefully stored in punched pockets) in a rose patterned Cacharel folder (they used to do beautiful stationery). The first ads in my collection were Davidoff Cool Water and CK One. Before that, I used to do magazines with my friend Nikta. We called our little zine ‘Nilisakta’ (it was a combination of our nicknames, Lisa and Nikta). That was at the age of six.
VC: You’re an Art Director at Spring Studios, was art direction an area you always wanted to explore?
EB: Definitely! Art direction is essentially image making and a great way to combine concept with multiple disciplines.
VC: Do you think your fashion design education has influenced your style of illustration and graphics work?
EB: Absolutely. Studying fashion opened up many techniques and room for experimentation, which certainly shaped me as an image-maker. Now this experience comes in handy, since I work mainly with fashion/luxury brands and publications.
VC: Do you enjoy the freedom of being able to switch between different techniques and disciplines because of your background in design, graphics and illustration?
EB: Absolutely. I’ve illustrated and painted from an early age and thus developed intuitively a strong sense for concept, composition and colours. Later I studied pattern cutting, fashion history, garments, print and colouring techniques, followed by typography, photography and editorial design. Eventually, I just naturally started to blur the lines between various techniques and whatever I was doing. All of a sudden an illustration would turn into set Design and a still life became typography. Now I just experiment and use whichever works best for the project I am working on. I love juggling all at once. I’d have difficulties to pinpoint myself to one.
VC: What music artists do you think have the biggest impact on the fashion industry in terms of style and artistic inspiration?
EB: I think this differs from person to person. I adored Madonna when I was 8 or so. I lived above a library and borrowed a book about her. She was wearing Rosary beads on the cover, so I got some pearl ones and started to wear them too. They must have thought I was VERY religious at school.
VC: You illustrated, directed and designed the set for a story in DASH magazine titled ‘Dreams are my reality’ Was it a challenge doing all three elements of the story?
EB: Not really. I am a control freak. So the more I can do myself, the better.
VC: If you had to pick one designer to wear for the rest of your life, who would it be and why?
EB: Lacoste maybe? But then I’d miss out on Jil Sander, Loewe, Carven and ZDDZ. Why? All of them, for their craftsmanship, timeless design and extraordinary garments.
Words by Annie Lunnon & Danielle Westwood


alexander mcqueen, Central St. Martins, Dash Magazine, Elisabeth Bukanova, graphic design, illustrator, Issa, Spring Studios, Volt Graduates,