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An assortment of beauty products arranged in front of a Marks and Spencer beauty advent calendar box on a dark background and reflective surface.

Designing a sustainable advent: AUB Illustration grad's role on M&S's beauty bestseller


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An alumna from Arts University Bournemouth (AUB)’s BA (Hons) Illustration course has been instrumental in the packaging design of Marks and Spencer (M&S)’s bestselling beauty advent calendar.

Bel Burkill, who graduated from AUB in 2018, has worked as an Assistant Print Designer in the homeware department at M&S since October 2022. She explains more about the creative process behind the beauty advent calendar:

“The brief was to give a modern twist to art deco glamour, in a bold but feminine palette. We’ve used striking star and fan patterns in metallic rose gold to really give that wow factor when you open the bag; with an equally striking outer belly-band packaging to pull the customer’s eye in store.

“The other most important element to the concept of the packaging design was sustainability, and we’ve managed to produce a vegan leather, fully reusable advent bag – a great USP and great initiative for the annual Christmas calendar.”

Bel gave insights into her postgraduate years to AUB Illustration students of all year groups in an on-campus lecture on Friday 24 November.

Her presentation covered how the Illustration course shaped the start of her career, getting into the industry as a print designer in womenswear and homeware, all the way through to advice on how to get work as a graduate.

“I also spoke a lot about utilising the skills taught on the degree and how everything is transferrable to a career you enjoy,” she adds.

M&S’s beauty advent calendar contains over £300 worth of products from brands such as Philip Kingsley, Percy & Reed, Aveda, Benefit and Dr Paw Paw, among others.

“I was honoured to have helped work on this showstopper project, which is one of the company’s single biggest unit buys,” says Bel. “I’m incredibly pleased with have alongside the Beauty team’s great designers to assist them with the artwork designs, font lockups, and recolouring; including being able to view and help sign off final proofs at the print factory.

“It has really opened my eyes to another world of design within graphics and packaging.”

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