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Influential national newspaper features Konrad’s tribute to his extraordinary friends

Date 16.06.2020

A University of Northampton student’s tribute to friends who have been victims of hate has been featured in an influential national newspaper.

Konrad Jankowiak’s design for a magazine cover was included in The Guardian’s round up of the most impressive work from UK fashion students graduating in 2020.

The final year Fashion student’s eye-catching work, which was influenced by six of his closest friends’ experiences of hate, appeared in the paper’s Weekend supplement, on Saturday 6 June – see the online version.

Konrad’s rationale for his design, which appeared alongside the image, reads as follows: “My final collection is influenced by the LGBTQ community, immigrants, people of colour and anyone who experiences hate. I want to show that they shouldn’t be described as different but as extraordinary. My cover illustration was inspired by six of my extraordinary friends: Ieva, Nifemi, Marium, Nazia, Halima and Zazzka. I think it takes more than one person to make a change, but only one to start a change. In these uncertain times, we need to put our differences aside and unite as one.”

The student, who is originally from Lubin, in Poland, was delighted to see the Weekend editors were touched by such a personal piece of work.

Konrad's artwork.

Konrad’s artwork which was featured in The Guardian.

He said: “It was such a nice surprise – to have my work in the Guardian was an amazing feeling. I couldn’t believe it at first, so I had to double-check it with my friends to make sure what I’m reading was true.”

Konrad was also pleased to be able to tell so many people about why his friends are so important to him.

He said: “My muses are my closest friends from both uni and my hometown.

“They have always supported me in my dreams and they are the reason that I always stay motivated and believe that I can do everything I desire.

“All of the girls come from different backgrounds, all of them have different stories, all of them experience hate for different reasons. But all of them are living examples of people that overcome hate. They are being themselves all the time, they are my extraordinary beings.”

Here’s Konrad’s detailed descriptions of the six friends he chose for his project:

Ieva – The Lover. I’ve known her for two years, but our friendship started with general hate because we can be really intimidating people. I remember my Lecturer Jane Mills told me to ask Ieva to model for me and then it all began. I discovered that Ieva is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met in my life. She is also really brave: she travelled to the UK from a small town in Lithuania, she was struggling with the same problems I had, having a weird accent, different backgrounds. But she always inspired me with how she was always herself and always ready to stand up to the haters.

Nazia – The Pink Rave. Nazia is one of my best friends since the first year of uni. To this day I remember how our friendship started and soon after that, she, Marium and I were named The Triplets by one of our tutors. Nazia was one of the people that struggles with hate, even though people would never assume it. She is one of the prettiest girls I’ve ever met in my life. Unfortunately, she always has to deal with the opinion of ‘being just pretty’. But with Nazia, she always proves people wrong. She is smart, full of empathy, a talented little thing and she is one of the reasons why I started to see myself as beautiful. She made me get rid of many insecurities and accept me the way I am.

Nifemi – The Diamond. Nifemi is that kind of a girl that is not afraid of speaking her opinions out loud. She is really intelligent and it always amazes me how she is just so brave to stand up, not only for herself, but for people that she cares about. When it comes to that she’s my role model. I wish to be at least half as brave as she is.

Marium – The Stone Cold. Marium is the last of my Triplets. If the word confidence was a person, her name would be Marium. Marium comes from a Muslim household. Her parents came to the UK from Pakistan many years ago. Through all her childhood Marium was struggling with bullying and insecurities. Today she is one of the most confident people I know. She embraces it on every occasion, not only by the way she looks, but also through the way she acts or even through her work. That’s just beautiful for me and I’m glad that I met her because she, just like Nazia, helped me to become who I am today.

Halima – Faith. Halima was the first person I met at uni. Even though we both believe in different gods, we both know that you should always treat people with kindness. Halima was always taking me the way I was and she was always there for me. She is one of these people that spread this positive energy around all the time. You can’t be sad when you’re near her. She makes you smile even on the worst day.

Zazzka – Sapphire Serpentine. Paulina ‘Zazzka’ Zazula is someone I’ve know for a decade. I don’t know if I would be here in the UK if it wasn’t for her. We both met in secondary school. I was never the popular kid, I was the shy bullied one with a lack of self esteem. She was a pretty, fun girl that everyone wanted to be friends with. I don’t even know when we became friends but I’m glad we did. Because she was one of the reasons that I believe in myself, that I found my worth and decided to chase my dreams. We are still friends up to this day and she’s been one of the greatest friends I could’ve asked for.