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Livia Lima

MA Visual Communication, 2010–12

I grew up in Brazil, but at 20 moved to New Zealand. After graduating from a BA in Graphic Design in Auckland, I worked for a consultancy and then started my own studio with a friend. The studio was going really well. We had started to win awards and I was art directing but things happened so quickly, I felt I needed to slow down and actually find out who I was. It was at this point I told my studio partner I wanted to do a Masters.

The first time I heard of the Royal College of Art was in 2006, when I was visiting London to do a short course at Central Saint Martin’s. One of the guest lecturers was part of the Design Interactions programme – I was fascinated. It made me want to find out more about the College, so by the time I was thinking of doing a Masters, I was pretty certain where it would be.

I applied from New Zealand, sending my portfolio, and flew in for the interview, spending one month in London. As an international student, it was my family that supported me. You aren’t entitled to any grants.

My work has centred on two research topics: alternative currencies and vision, or how people see the world. At the beginning of the programme we had to pick an issue important to society. I had been researching other kinds of money from a time-based shop that carried on until my dissertation. That grew and developed. My idea is to develop a database for all such currencies.

My vision topic is influenced by me having glaucoma. I’ve been collecting my eye tests to develop a series of 3D sculptural infographics that visualise the areas that are damaged. I’ve been able to trace where my vision has changed.

What I found out through this research is that it’s possible to develop a form of signage for people with glaucoma, to see the world as they see it, so it can be sharp without the need for glasses. I want to carry on developing both projects and work part-time as a freelance graphic designer.

One of the best things about the RCA is that there are no strong boundaries between departments. You can use technicians you wouldn’t normally use. The glass workshop, for example, is just amazing. I did as many interdisciplinary projects as I could – I would be running from one to another getting things shaped or cut out to make projects happen. The AcrossRCA programme is an interdisciplinary week of around six projects to choose from and it really encourages this.

"What was most valuable was the people I met and got to work with. The best thing you can do is open up to new practices, do things you never did before and collaborate with as many people as you possibly can."
Livia Lima
Livia Lima