Three former students from a specialist northern art college are now on the road to business success and enjoying a career in the creative arts following their studies.

Designers Emma Tweddle and business partner Vik Watson both graduated with degrees in graphic design from Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD) in 2011, and are now creating up a storm after setting up Brainbox Studios.

27-year-old Emma and Vik, 29, created Skelton-based Brainbox Studios in 2011 while studying at the university-level campus in Hartlepool, when they presented themselves and their business plan for their end of year show.

Brainbox Studios is a design agency focusing on graphic and web design, and six years on it is working in association with prestigious clients such as Nike for Jamie Vardy’s V9 Academy website and branding, as well as local businesses such as the North Yorkshire Moors Birds of Prey and Chilli Cake Deli.

Jamie Vardy’s V9 Academy website designed by Brainbox Studios

Premier League footballer Jamie Vardy at the launch of his V9 Academy

For the V9 Academy project, Brainbox Studios created the branding, website and promotional materials to help Jamie and his team discover non-league football talent and promote them into the professional game. The young company won the business after a recommendation by another company also involved in the football profession.

Emma, who completed a foundation studies course at CCAD in Middlesbrough, followed by a foundation degree in graphic design at the college, is delighted to have worked on the project and thoroughly enjoying running her own business.

She said: “It feels amazing – to think two lasses from Middlesbrough are working with one of the biggest names in football at the moment is such a huge achievement. We are incredibly proud of the results that our business has achieved over the last five and a half years and at the start we couldn’t have ever imagined to be working on such large-scale projects as the V9 Academy. We put our success down to steady progression which has resulted from hard work and a true passion for design. We are keen to ensure that any design project we work on sees clients receiving something fresh and innovative.”

Speaking about her time at CCAD and the support she received in terms of setting up in business, Emma said: “It was such a friendly environment with down-to-earth staff, and with the smaller class size you received more support when needed. I also loved being amongst other artists and creatives and it’s set me up with the essential skills required to continue pursuing the career that I love.”

In the future, Brainbox Studios is looking to build its client base further and expand the team.

Make up artist Sherilyn Oliphant is developing a successful career in the entertainment industry (credit Peter Pink Photography)

24-year-old Sherilyn Oliphant from Greatham in Hartlepool is also making waves in the entertainment industry, developing a career behind the scenes in stage management and special effects make up.

The freelance make-up artist graduated in 2013 with a degree in Production Design for Stage and Screen which gave her training in set design, props and costume within the film, television and theatre.

Sherilyn has gained extensive experience across the entertainment industry both regionally and in London, beginning with a role as art department assistant for the British movie ‘Orthodox’ with Stephen Graham of Boardwalk Empire fame.

Sherilyn also set up her own business – SAO Makeup Artist – in 2011 while studying and has worked on a wide range of feature length and short films such as ‘Dark Net’ with comedian and actor Jonny Vegas, and the regionally filmed horror story, ‘Ripper’.

Since leaving CCAD, Sherilyn has broadened her knowledge of stage management, including working as a creative assistant to fellow alumni, set designer Emma Winter, assisting with set building for London Design Week. She also assisted with set embellishment for the production of ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ at the Vaults Theatre in Waterloo.

Make up by Sherilyn for Gary Kitching in sitcom pilot ‘Seabastards’ (credit Richard Kenworthy)

More recently, Sherilyn was employed as head of makeup design, costume and props for a number of sitcom pilots including comedy trio ‘Hot Gulp’ on their comedy show and sitcom ‘Seabastards’ with northern actor Gary Kitching. She was also the assistant stage manager and props master for the hugely successful production of ‘Aladdin’ at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House in Newcastle, sourcing and making all of the props

Sherilyn was always interested in the arts but didn’t realise that it could be a career option until she found the course at CCAD.

She said: “I wasn’t even sure of my real passions when I first started at CCAD but in the first month of my degree I realised that this was 100 percent how I want to spend my working life.

“During and since leaving university, I have been able to work on lots of short films, feature films, theatre productions and photoshoots. One of my most proud achievements has been working on feature film ‘Orthodox’ in 2013 as an art department assistant, a job given to me by CCAD. It was here that a director approached the college asking for people to work on his upcoming short film. I got the role and from that job I managed to get another from a different crew member on set, which got the ball rolling for me.

Sherilyn created the beard for a character in Mordechai

“Working behind the scenes, I enjoy the team work and the preparation. It’s so exciting to be a part of a big team – everybody with such different job roles, working towards one goal. It’s a constant learning curve being on set. I find it’s amazing to be able to make a spoken or written idea visual using design skills.

Last year, Sherilyn got chance to work on a short black comedy ‘Mordechai’ written and directed by Benjamin Bee and produced by Newcastle’s Candle and Bell Media.

“Working on this film enabled me to use new skills such as applying a realistic looking beard to a character who played a Rabbi, and with practice I was able to ensure realism that both the cast and crew were happy with.

In the future Sherilyn hopes to build on her business and further develop her creative skills and portfolio across the industry.

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