It’s Alive! DJCAD & Gothic Design

Header image credit: Ryan McKnight, The Frankenstein Complex.


Our latest 4th year project with the DJCAD design students tackles the theme of Gothic design. Inspired by literature, we’re fascinated with the relatively unknown connection between Frankenstein and the time its author, Mary Shelley, spent in Dundee, a city that actually contributed to her inspiration for the novel. Scotland, of course, is no stranger to inspiring gothic themes: Bram Stoker of Dracula fame visited Cruden Bay here in Scotland, and was also influenced in part by Scottish author Emily Gerard; Edinburgh-born Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a gothic classic in its own right. Gothic aesthetics are still relevant today, though: another factor in this year’s theme is the upcoming Being Human Festival taking place in Dundee. As gothic literature concerns itself with the themes of life and death and what it is to be human, there is a natural fit.

For many students, the word ‘Gothic’ was strange and new; they weren’t that familiar with it. What was really impressive was to see how these young designers responded to what they were discovering: as they progressed with their work and development, they adapted and crafted their narrative around the nature of what they were finding. Their finished pieces are all the more stronger for their responsive and open attitude.

We briefed them to deliver a short motion piece capturing the essence of the Gothic theme. Here are some highlights that represent the scale and scope of their ideas:

The Frankenstein Complex | Ryan McKnight

There is an incredibly slick and superb flow to this work. The attention to detail makes this look effortless, and some serious storyboarding helped make this piece into the success that it is. Very impressive.

Grissell Jaffray: The Last Witch Burned in Dundee | Melissa Cocker

A great bit of research making it very local to Dundee. Inspired and evocative.

The Modern Modern Prometheus: A Tale of Brexit | Iona Sorbie

Well, how to describe this one…? Totally out of left field, very clever and inventive – just watch!

The Real Monsters Are Humans… | Zara Elmi

This well-thought-out trio of short films benefitted from detailed instructions to the actors and from strong art direction. Powerful.

The Colour Black | Louis Peters

This is Gothic made futuristic; abstract and yet full of meaning. Gothic meets AI.

If what we’ve seen here is any indication, then next May’s DJCAD degree show promises something special!


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