Callum Laird was tasked with creating a ‘supergraphic’ mural for Dundee’s city centre as part of the Sustrans Spaces for People project, which aims to promote active travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.
And the former Lockerbie Academy pupil said he was “lost for words” to see his design painted on giant scale across the city’s newly-pedestrianised Union Street.
He said: “I was contacted by Annie Marrs, lead officer for UNESCO City of Design Dundee. I had first met Annie when I volunteered at the Dundee Design Festival in 2019.
“As a recent graduate from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design at the University of Dundee I feel so lucky to have been able to live and study here for the last three years and I feel very proud being able to leave my mark on this wonderful city.”
This was Callum’s first major project since graduating from university, so he felt it was important to approach it with an open mind.
He was also grateful to have support from the Dundee-based Service Design Academy who engaged with businesses in the street to get their input into the design process.
Callum, who is from Waterbeck, said: “It’s all fine and well to pedestrianise a street but people really have to be involved in the design process from the beginning.
“The project got all the stakeholders of Union Street involved and that is how these projects should be done – you’re designing with people, not for people.”
In addition to the supergraphic Callum was also asked to produce designs for new planters and communication material.
After researching the history of Union Street and visiting the site for himself, Callum decided that his designs would need to encourage pedestrians to walk on the street while also acting as a barrier for vehicles.
The street is clearly visible from the Dundee waterfront, so he tried to ensure his design would guide people into the city centre from the railway station and other attractions like the V&A Museum.
Callum continued: “My branding has a contemporary appearance, designed to be adaptable as this project continues on.
“Its form can be altered with ease and a bank of icons can be inserted allowing you to apply the Union Street branding to many different forms – it worked on a letterhead, but it also worked when it was applied to the planters on the street.”
Callum’s colourful design was finally unveiled to Dundee residents last month and has received rave reviews.
He said: “I went down last Monday after it had been painted and I was so lost for words. It was also fantastic to be able to speak to local residents and passers-by who were curious about what was going on and wanted to know more about the project.
“My university education taught me so much but there are always new things to learn, and this project has definitely helped me to develop as a designer.
“Dundee is the UK’s only UNESCO City of Design, and I think Union Street is just one of many projects that have shown the true power of design and how important design is.”