Illustration BA Welcome Pack

Welcome to Illustration BA 2022.

Hello, my name is Louise Bird, programme leader for the Illustration BA (Hons) course. We look forward to meeting you online in mid-September and then we’ll see you for face-to-face teaching week 1 from Monday 26 September.

You are joining an exciting course at a future focussed and super supportive university – come with enthusiasm and an open mind and in return we will prepare you for a vibrant career with the skills you need to succeed in the creative industries.

On our illustration course, we take an expanded approach to narrative and put the power of storytelling at the heart of what we do. Over the three years you will explore various ways to tell a story in order to interpret a text, raise awareness, promote, persuade, and entertain. We do this by introducing you to research skills, purposeful play through testing and experimenting, in order to develop ideas. Inductions into workshop spaces, a range of media and technology, will give you the tools to explore ways to problem solve and hone your own individual approach.

​As a team, we are passionate about creating opportunities for our students to gain rich experiences and complex challenges. Working in our studio with fellow students, lecturers and our professional contacts will develop your individual creativity whilst allowing collaboration on projects that will both inspire and challenge what image-making means to you and to those you are illustrating for.

Programme Leader

Louise Bird, Programme leader IIlustrationLouise Bird BA, MA, FHEA

Programme Leader Illustration BA (Hons) 


Welcome and Induction session

We would like to welcome you to the Illustration BA (Hons) course by inviting you to join in with our welcome and induction session in the weeks leading up to the start of term:


I will advise further on equipment you will need during the online session on Monday 12 September, but to get you going you will need:

  • Memory Stick or External Hard Drive to back up your work
  • SD card for using Digital cameras
  • Note pad
  • A3 or A4 sketchbook – not wirebound
  • Stationery – Pencils, fine liners etc
  • A core kit of art materials; paints, coloured pencils, oil pastels, range of soft drawing pencils (e.g 8b, 6b,3b) and additional materials appropriate to your chosen ways of working
  • Brush pen in black
  • Laptops and power cable (if you have one – don’t worry if not, we have Macbooks you can borrow when in our studio). If you are looking to get a computer, we teach on and use Apple Macbooks, which are the industry standard. Windows based laptops are fine too but they are not what you will use the industry)
  • If you are considering buying a device of your own, a Wacom Cintiq or equivalent is a better option than an iPad and similar price. They are also compatible with Adobe software that you will be using on the course (iPads aren’t).


Enhancing skills, building networks and engaging in the wider University community

Visual diary, summer sketchbook task for week 1 (commences 26 September):

Drawing and looking are essential skills for an illustrator and will kick start your visual library for future projects. The project intends to nurture a cultural habit that you adopt and should be ongoing whilst on your course and continue through the rest of your career as an illustrator. The project will begin to develop your ability to express yourself and discover what you are passionate about – visually and critically thinking and being actively involved with the world around you.

A sketchbook is a fantastic place for artists to generate ideas, note on the go, draw from life and experiment without feeling too precious about the final outcome. They are a personal space for you to draw and doodle freely.

‘My dedication to my sketchbooks made them precious, and this feeling has never left me.’
Grayson Perry

Task -With this in mind we would like you to start looking and gathering visual information, fill out one or more pages of a small sketchbook (size up to you) with one of the following daily, until your sketchbook is full (If you’re on holiday NO EXCUSES . . .  Sketchbooks can be taken anywhere):

  • Draw on location: draw on the bus, the beach, the park, a cafe, draw the buildings, and everyday objects that occupy the space around you.
  • Draw people: Sit in a cafe or on a park bench and study. Look at the way people stand, sit, communicate, gesture…draw a page of different people from life.
  • Draw from TV/Film: Pause to study compositions of scenes or create your own storyboard of the film as you watch. Please see the film list below for recommendations.
  • Listen to an episode of a podcast and visually respond whilst you listen: pick out words, colours, visualise characters, scenes and descriptions. If you’re not a seasoned podcaster, a list of podcast recommendations are listed below. These can either be downloaded via you iPhone/Smartphone’s podcast app or streamed from the individual podcast’s website.
  • Record thoughts, capture images and collect from places and events you visit this summer: gigs, festivals, holidays, fairs, city trips, exhibitions, family and friend gatherings, parties, sporting or cultural events etc.
Films to watch
  • ​Le Jetee – Chris Marker
  • Eraserhead – David Lynch
  • Mon Oncle – Jaques Tat
  • Spirited Away – Studio Ghibli
  • Silent Running – Douglas Trumball
  • ​Jim and Andy – Chris Smith
  • Get Out – Jordan Peele
  • Mary and Max – Adam Elliot
Podcasts to listen to
  • This American Life
  • Radiolab
  • Snap Judgement
  • ​New Yorker Fiction
  • 99% Invisible
  • Death, Sex and Money
  • Creative Rebels
  • Memory Palace
  • Ear Hustle
  • Adam Buxton
  • In Our Time (BBC Sounds)
  • Mortified
Read about illustration

Spend some time on the Creative Lives in Progress website – this is full of excellent articles about illustration and being an illustrator, along with It’s Nice that – articles and showcase of contemporary illustration, design, fine art and photography. Elephant and Booooooom also showcases art, design and illustration.

Take a look at our Illustration course page and, if you have time, I suggest you read a few of our book and magazine recommendations in the ‘Reading List’ below.

  • How To See the World by Nicholas Mirzoeff
  • Ways of Seeing by John Berger
  • The A-Z of Visual Ideas: How to solve any creative brief by John Ingledew
  • The Power and Influence of Illustration: Achieving Impact and Lasting Significance Through Visual Communication by Alan Male
  • Varoom
  • Creative Review
  • Elephant

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