Le Gun Workshop 16/03/18

Neil Fox and Robert Rubbish, 2 members of the renowned Le Gun collective were invited in to speak as part of the Unit X Inspirer series at Manchester school of Art.

The lecture was followed up by a 1-day workshop for IWA based around a collaborative drawing exercise designed to demonstrate how time constraints and limitations are enabling not restrictive.

Starting at 11.00am and to be completed by 3.30pm, the workshop used b/w drawing to generate a spontaneous narrative using characters derived via an opening exquisite corpse exercise. The scale of the work was over 20m x 2m using pencil/ brush and ink.

The session was led by Neil and Robert – with GTA Rachel McMahon keeping everyone on track and recording the day as it unfolded. Additional photos via 3rd year Ella Bean.

Further final panoramic pictures to follow.

Le Gun website link


VR Labs Future Artists 3 day workshop 02/18

VR Labs Future Artists workshop at MMU February 2018

These links below showcase a range of work and the process undertaken in the third VR Lab / Future Artists event at the Digital Innovation Labs, MMU with Mark Ashmore.
The workshop projects are team-based, thematic and involve a range of students selected from cross-faculty programmes at MMU. Individual skill sets are brought together over a 3 day period, the students selected from IWA and MFA Illustration each had a particular interest or skill to bring to the experience and are featured at various points in the videos below reflecting on their contribution and experience at the event.
YouTube links were provided by Hayley Walsh: Relationship Officer in the Digital Innovation Shed MMU.
Delia Derbyshire
Rosalind Franklin:
Katherine Johnson
IWA 3rd year students participating: Hannah Williams, Edel Fernandez and Harriet Russell
Digital Innovation is an initiative from MMU designed to respond to the rapid speed of change in the digital sector. Situated in a refurbished engineering shed on the MMU city centre campus, Digital Innovation brings together start-up businesses, digital research and teaching under the same roof.

Future Artists is an independent studio and co-working space set up in 2009 by Mark Ashmore FRSA.

VR Workshop 19/03/18

Workshop based on the development of an Innovation funding bid for IWA and the participation of 3rd-year students in VR Labs at the Innovation Centre MMU over the past 6 months.

19th March 2018 Grosvenor Basement.

A morning with Alasdair Swenson Research Associate at MMU, and second-year student Reece McDowell working with Google Tilt Brush software / VR drawing. The session was exploratory and aimed at scoping out ways that our illustrators and animators could work with VR as content-drivers, responding to location, observation, and archive. This is also looking forward towards a potential live workshop broadcast with a partner university in Shanghai. (TBC in July)

The interface is more intuitive than we anticipated, with the toolset accessible and navigable with only a limited introduction. The main learning curve is trying to work out ways of owning the drawing space rather than being owned by it. The experience is not dissimilar to early days of photoshop where you are distracted by the gimmicks and showy effects rather than thinking about what you want to say. The need for restraint and preparation in terms of either preloading assets and /or importing 2D resource to act as a reference is important, this could mean photographs, drawings or 3D models, and maybe best approached as a collaborative undertaking.

The use of drawing and photography is where my own interests intersect with a background in hand-drawn 2D/3D artwork right back to training in pre CAD technical drawing. The role of memory in a VR context is interesting in the way that you are required to re-imagine a scene or create an object based on your own capacity to recall in 3 dimensions, the object you wish to recreate. It requires a recognition of the subconscious function of time and shifting viewpoint in observation. Does this impact on the way we prepare? or teach drawing? or learn how to draw?…all questions the workshop usefully generates.

Alternative ways of using VR discussed whereby drawing is loaded and pre-rendered in a space using a games software engine (?) then exported to a VR equivalent? There is a need to test this as a potentially viable stepping stone for drawing to VR outcomes.

Having a clear problem to solve – in this case responding to the Silk Museum in Macclesfield with VR, is beneficial to focusing an agenda for testing. Access to a VR ready PC is essential.

The takeaway tasks from the morning are:

  • A need to pre-record the museum space through drawing and photography using multiple perspectives.
  • A need to create asset files of relevant context material – these could be documents, oral history, photographs or preformed 3D objects.
  • Consider what the workshop seeks to convey? audience? is the technology or the location content the aim of the workshop live cast?
  • Consideration of storyboard and script – if appropriate, also duration.
  • Workshop based drawing labs with VR are essential in driving origination and confidence to escape the gaming language currently prevalent in the examples available online.
  • Learn to use the tools through defined problem-solving tasks.


Roisín Swales nominated for The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.

Manchester School of Art alumni Rosín Swales, recognition for her first picture book ‘Big Hid’ Nobrow Press.

Illustration with Animation alumni 2016 Roisín Swales has been nominated for the highly prestigious CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.

The picture book ‘Big Hid’ was developed in Rosín’s third year on the course became the centre of her final degree show and New Designers where Roisín was spotted by Sam Arthur from Nobrow publishing. The Kate Greenaway Medal will proceeds in stages from nomination to long list to short list with the final winner announced in June 2018. Nomination in itself assures a wider global audience for the book and the opportunity to raise Rosín’s profile in the industry alongside some of the leading illustrators working in this field today.
Previous winners of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal include William Grill, Chris Riddell, Levi Pinfold, Raymond Briggs, Shirley Hughes and Quentin Blake.
Long list announced in the New Year.

Interview with Roisín in Creative Review 2017

Carnegie Greenaway Awards

Rosin Swales  Previous post profiling this publication.


‘Pongwiffy’ series of children’s books to be illustrated by recent graduate Katy Riddell.

Graduate success story in children’s publishing.

Another alumni success story to relay – this time from illustrator Katy Riddell.

Katy graduated from the BA(Hons) Illustration with Animation course in 2015 and recently came into Manchester School of Art for some help with scanning some originals. We can’t show you any of this work yet as they are still waiting to be published, however we can give you some background on a great start to a career as a book illustrator.

Katy has been commissioned to provide new illustrations for the Pongwiffy series of hugely popular children’s books written by author Kaye Umansky. Originally published nearly thirty years ago, they are now being reissued in this edition by Simon and Schuster Children’s Books. The first two books came out in a dual binding late August 2017, with another two out by the end of the year and more for 2018.

We will ask Katy to share some of the work with us in due course.

More details here on The Bookseller website

Katy Riddell Instagram 

Simon and Schuster Children’s Books 2017



Graduate Josh Harrison Illustrates the Gothic Manchester Festival 2017.

2017 BA (Hons) Illustration with Animation graduate Josh Harrison, was commissioned not long after leaving university by the Gothic Manchester Festival to provide the visual branding for the programme and a range of events across the city, 24th – 29th October 2017 – themed under the banner ‘Gothic Styles’

The subject matter ideally suited Josh’s working method with collage and the resulting illustrations were a success with organisers and funders alike.

Here is a link to the event and the programme pdf.  Josh’s illustrations have been extracted below.

More work  from Josh Harrison can be found on his website and instagram

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