The Graphic Design Project is a family-run educational organisation with expertise in Higher Education, homeschooling, ethical creativity and graphic design.
Founder, programme director and author, Sancha de Búrca BA (Hons), MA, PGCE, PGCHE, first started teaching English on a voluntary basis in Jaffa. She has since taught in a wide range of situations from being a youth arts-worker, teacher in a homeschool co-operative, guest expert for National Citizen Service, community assistant in design MOOCs and education officer at London’s National Gallery (of art). For the last twenty-three years Sancha has taught graphic design, as well as fashion, art and television, to teens and adults in college and university. She has written and tutored university courses and modules for four universities, including an online graphic design degree. She is programme leader for the University of Kent’s Higher National Diploma in Graphic Design. You can see the work she has taught on Pinterest and on Instagram. In 2019 Sancha won Kent Teacher of the Year Award (HE) for her work in design for good, especially the setting up of a project in which her university students act as volunteer freelance designers for local charities.
Sancha continues to study as well as teach, and is now undertaking a PhD in the University of Kent’s Centre for the Study of Higher Education where she is helping design students to create socially responsible design by researching and developing a design for good pedagogy, or teaching strategy. She has recently been giving talks and presentations at conferences about design for good. She is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK) and member of the Graphic Design Educators Network and the Design Research Society.
Sean de Burca, BA (Hons), was homeschooled by Sancha during his early teens and spent most of his time working on creative projects. He entered college two years early aged 14 on the basis of his homeschool art and design portfolio. He graduated university with a degree in graphic design. Since then he has worked both freelance and full time as a designer; creating packaging for Dunlop sport, magazine design, advertising, information graphics (USA and Canada) as well as specialising in a range of music-industry based graphics. Sean is also a musician, specialising in finger-style acoustic guitar. As well as being a guest educator and speaker on topics such as typography, hand-rendered logo design and client relations, Sean also tutors acoustic guitar methods. You can see his music and design portfolio here.
Sancha’s younger son, Lughaidh, is training to be a product designer and helps to test new projects for the team.
Sancha and Sean both tutor with GDP alongside other colleagues. They like to attend exhibitions, conventions and conferences about design, music, homeschooling and learning in the UK and USA and both believe that to be a graphic designer and to communicate well you have to be interested in many things, not just design!
If you want to ask them any questions about design or about their experiences in tutoring or homeschooling please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sancha’s students have said this about her:
Sancha helped me learn and develop my skills in graphic design and communication for four years. This took me from being completely new to graphic design to becoming a fully trained graphic designer ready to tackle any design brief. I knew I had the basic software skills to produce design work, but Sancha taught me a different way to approach design tasks including different methods and ways of thinking to create ideas. I found this really beneficial as coming up with design ideas is the most important part of designing, if you don’t have a good idea from the start then your design will usually fail. I highly recommend Sancha as a tutor and I have a lot to thank her for to be in this industry at such a high level, I doubt I would of progressed to where I am without her tutoring and knowledge. Jason Pooley, Graphic Designer at Caterham F1 Team
Sancha taught me for 5 years. When I started I didn’t know what I wanted to design or how to design, but I knew I wanted to design; Sancha has a great way of unlocking the inherent creativity that sits within you to show you what you’re good at and what path you should take. The great thing about Sancha is that she’s able to teach not just how to design, but why we design. Understanding the context in which our work sits is something Sancha excels in. She encourages you to think critically about design around you, which in turn makes you look more critically at your own work. Matthias Carter
Sancha was my graphic design tutor for four years … I found that her teaching style and friendly approach made learning really enjoyable and also her in-depth knowledge of so many parts of the design industry made her a valuable information source for us all. Sancha recognised the strengths in each student and made us want to become better and more accomplished designers. I would highly recommend Sancha to anyone who would like to learn about graphic design and you won’t find anyone who is more passionate about teaching it. Emma Whitlock
An amazing teacher with a massive resource of knowledge in her mind, her explanation skills and ability to make subjects interesting helped hold my attention in classes. Her communication skills with students was fantastic ensuring everyone was able to approach her with any questions or feedback. Bonnita Moaby
Sancha was a great teacher and most importantly an inspiring designer. Sancha’s teaching skills were welcoming; she was always relaxed and friendly toward all pupils. This allowed everyone to be in a positive environment, where you were able to come up with those vital design ideas that would develop your project to the next step. Sancha taught us to always push the boundaries with creative thinking and the passion to always want to achieve more. Sancha always emphasised on high standards and to always have great attention to detail when completing every small task or large projects to absolute perfection! Kim Brinkhurst
[Sancha]….was really helpful throughout the whole research and designing process. She was always willing to reply to emails even out of college hours and was patient despite the never-ending amount of questions I had. Lizzie Owen
I have known Sancha for many years: first as a student, later as a colleague. I can honestly say she knows her subject thoroughly and offers invaluable advice to her learners. Sancha encourages people to think beyond the obvious and offers useful suggestions when the inevitable blank canvas or brick wall looms! Her students respect her and appreciate the time and effort she puts into helping them to succeed. Nadia Needham
Sancha’s extensive knowledge of design history, philosophy and academic texts proved a valuable asset while I was studying for my degree. Her assistance and advice allowed me to explore design further, clarify my thinking and refine my writing – guidance that no doubt contributed to me achieving an 83% on my dissertation and a First overall. I would recommend Sancha as an educator. Rosie Basten, designer at 3Monkeys