Studio Identity and Practice

The addition of partition screens to a small number of the Benzie second floor studio tables has made a marked difference since their introduction in December 2015. There is a noticeable ownership and visual identity emerging for the programme and a greater sense of community in the student cohort. Student feedback has been excellent and interestingly staff from other programmes have been bringing their students to see the workspaces as examples of good practice. The sense of ownership has also extended to a far greater use of the available wall space for large scale works on both the Illustration with Animation and Graphic Design programmes. The changes have generated a confidence in student ownership of the studio as a ‘work in progress’ space, rather than a space more readily defined by temporary seminar and tutorial activity.

Whilst aimed at final year students there are frequently second years working in these spaces and a far greater visibility of practice for the first year students to connect with and gain confidence working in the open studio space. These screens are small additions but have had a marked impact on the students sense of belonging in the art school  as a working space. As practitioners iIlustrators and animators are less defined by specific process or workshop assets, for us the studio is our primary ‘workshop’.

The switch to more flexible ‘none wired’ tables, has also had a further positive impact in better defining the remaining studio area as ‘practical’ work spaces to sit alongside digital workstations, again resulting in increased usage by Illustration/animation students.

Establishing a more defined identity for a drawing workshop or drawing lab is a longer term project to work towards.



Author: Ian Whadcock

Senior Lecturer Manchester School of Art, BA(Hons) Illustration with Animation course.