Posted 02 December 2020

How one graduate is building community and support for the class of 2020

We don’t need to tell you what a strange year it’s been for anyone starting out in the creative industry. What we can do, however, is look to offer support where we can. No one knows this better than Jody Mulvey, a recent graduate and founder of student platform, SADGRADS2020. Set up with the aim of uniting the class of 2020 during the pandemic, this year, we’ve joined forces with SADGRADS2020 to create the ultimate list of emerging makers to buy from this Christmas. So if you’re looking for unique gifts this year, our spreadsheet is a great place to start your search, and support the next generation of talent all at the same time. Access the spreadsheet below, and read more from Jody as she discusses the platform and community she’s building on Instagram.

As we all gear up for a festive season like no other, we’re acutely aware of just how difficult the year has been for students, graduates and emerging makers. Cancelled degree shows, limited access to resources, and an uncertain state of industry have all contributed to a pretty bumpy year.

Building a community on Instagram
Someone who knows this first-hand is recent Edinburgh College of Art graduate, and founder of SADGRADS2020, Jody Mulvey. After graduating, Jody set up an Instagram account to help support fellow UK graduates who had their degree shows cancelled due to the pandemic.

Having had her own show cancelled, Jody was determined to find a positive in what felt like an overwhelming negative time: “Your time at art school feels like it’s leading to this one pinnacle moment… I created [SADGRADS2020] to try and combat the feeling that losing this moment within our academic careers meant that our artistic careers are doomed (they’re not!)”

“I remember talking to my mum on the phone before ECA closed. She reminded me that everyone in the world was being impacted by the pandemic in some capacity. Something about this overwhelming experience being so universal gave me comfort. I wanted to create [a] sense of unity; communities can help provide critical support and help us feel less isolated – something that is vital in current society.”

“Although 2020 graduates have been flung into the world to find a career in the midst of a pandemic, we have shown so much resilience.”

And the response has been incredible. Off the back of the account, Jody has published two volumes of a zine in collaboration with Ruben Buffery, collating the work of 102 contributors across the UK – raising just shy of £1,000 for charity. She also collaborated with digital gallery space, Groocks Gallery, to place works into a digital realm.

Now with an ever-growing community of over 7,000 followers, SADGRADS2020 has been featured in Dazed, 10Magazine and The Elephant Mag – and she’s even been nominated for not one, but two Creative Edinburgh awards. “It’s honestly mind-blowing anytime I think of the response to SADGRADS2020 – I still feel so excited even thinking about it”, Jody tells us, “it truly feels wild to me how enthusiastic people are about the platform!”

The Makers’ List 2020
Most recently, after seeing The White Pube post an open call for creative shop submissions on their social channels, Jody was inspired to do the same on SADGRADS2020. “I think it’s a really lovely idea to encourage people to invest in emerging creatives. It’s been such a difficult year for everyone, and many people are dealing with the financial repercussions of the pandemic. This makes it even more important to support independent, local creatives instead of continuing to feed the hideous beast that is Amazon.”

We wanted to help support the cause, and approached Jody with the idea of making a spreadsheet to help collate all the wonderful work on sale this year. But the best thing about the creative call-out? “Not enough people shout about how amazing their work is, so it’s been fantastic to see people give themselves a well-deserved pat on the back. I’ve had so many lovely messages from people saying that they’ve been looking at everyone’s work. It’s just been incredible to facilitate something so wonderful.”

The future
So what’s next for Jody and SADGRADS2020? Well, having just secured a funding application, Jody’s focus remains on continuing to make opportunities for and support graduates despite a challenging year. “Although 2020 graduates have been flung into the world during a pandemic, we have shown so much resilience. So despite this being such a sad and overwhelming few months, I think this time has also given me a lot of hope due to the positivity of the 2020 graduate community. There has been such a noticeable shift in how we care and support each other in the arts, and I truly hope this is something that continues.”

Mention Jody Mulvey
Written by Creative Lives in Progress