"There's a real truth to the phrase ‘strength in numbers'," says Samara Bryan, a member of the Gumbo Collective group of illustrators. The majority of ‘Gumbos' studied at Falmouth together and shared a similar vision - and so the collective was born. Each of the 13 members operates individually, but they pool ideas, resources and contacts, supporting and promoting each other through a collective website and exhibitions. Their clients include Penguin, The Guardian, The New York Times, Channel Four and TBWA, and many of them have illustration agents in both London and the US. Gumbo presented its first group exhibition at The Menier Chocolate Factory in London.
Falmouth played a vital role in the birth of Gumbo. "Our year was very close," says Samara. "The vast majority of us had come from far and wide, which brought a great mix of people together and meant we formed close bonds." The College was far more than just a meeting place, however. "My three years there were extremely influential," says another Gumbo, Sarah Horne. "I started at the College with an interest in drawing, and left with a real love and addiction to it. I put that down to the great standard of teaching on the Illustration course. It was really useful to learn real academic drawing - I now use this everyday." Sarah is currently working on two books; a young fiction project for Kingfisher and a non-fiction environmental book for Michael O'Mara.
Meanwhile, Gumbo member Eivind Gulliksen, who came to Falmouth from Norway, enjoyed the freedom he found here: "There was no pressure to keep up with or embrace the current trends. We had time to do our own thing, and all the better for it."
"Falmouth brought out the best in us," adds Samara. "We learnt how to present our work to the most professional standard it could be, and there was always a strong emphasis on quality. Falmouth always keeps up with the industry, and adapts and evolves with the industry itself. The course encouraged us to look at illustration and the people who are working successfully in it." From studying other successes to becoming success stories themselves, the Gumbo Collective continues to prove what a great starting block Falmouth can be.