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Creativity, design and the importance of friendship

We’re excited to reveal a new and exclusive benefit shared with our Young Friends. Especially for under 16s, our Young Friends membership now includes collectable pin badges which represent our friendship and community.

The first badge has been designed by Kumi McKenna, a Scottish Japanese designer based in Glasgow, who was also the Friends Membership Intern at Scottish Ballet from 2021-2022. Kumi takes much of her inspiration from Japanese graphic design and illustrations. In her design of the 2023 Young Friends badge Kumi celebrates the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese calendar. The design is a limited edition and exclusive to Young Friends in 2023.

With every year of friendship you can start to build your collection. Wearing these exclusive badges shows that your part of our special community of Young Friends.

We chatted with designer Kumi Mckenna on her designs, sources of inspiration, and the importance of friendship.

What inspires you?
I’m really inspired by Japanese graphic design and illustration. I love commuting and walking around Tokyo! Most of their billboards and advertisements have really interesting visuals which are very different from the ones you’d see in the UK. I also really like vintage European illustrations, like the kind you would find on matchboxes or old postage stamps. I think that’s why even though my work is loud and colourful, I’ve been told it looks like it would work well in a granny’s living room!

Do any of your other interests or hobbies influence your art?
I’d say that my love of comic books has influenced the humour I put into my art. I’m also quite a big foodie, so I draw either food I’m craving or a packaging design for foods that I enjoy.

What does friendship and community mean to you?
Friendship and community are very important! A Community, for me, is a group of people who you can relate to. Whether that’s relating to your life experiences or your hobbies and interests, I have gotten so much advice from the print and art community in the UK. Friendships are more unique, in that, these can be with people that I don’t necessarily have to relate to or have a shared interest with, but they are the people I can trust and feel fully relaxed around. My friends are those important people that I really enjoy spending lots of my time with!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Try and give everything you’re interested in a go! I wish I had done some more exploration when I was younger. I feel like it’s only now that I have the drive to try new things that I may not be good at, that are perhaps out of my comfort zone, or that I may find intimidating at first. I wish I had given myself more of a head start when I was younger… when I had more free time!

We can’t wait to share these special badges with our Young Friends – you can send us your photos for the chance to be featured in the next edition of Backstage (

As a Young Friend you get exclusive content from our Young Friend Ambassadors, a very special birthday video message from a dancer every year, a tour poster signed by the dancers and our brand new collectable pin badges to wear with pride. Additionally, during each tour there are very special Friends events taking place in the theatres where you can watch company class and join a Q&A with Scottish Ballet dancers.

Become a Young Friend for just £2 a month:

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