Folio Society – commission for recent graduate: David Howe.

After being picked out at this years New Designers event in London July 2016, recent graduate David Howe has just completed an exciting new cover design and accompanying suite of drawings, for a classic of contemporary literature by highly regarded publishers The Folio Society in London.

We are not able to reveal the exact publication or any of the images just yet due to an embargo by the publishers, as soon as we can reveal more we will around March/ April 2017.

This is an excellent result for David who twelve months ago in his third year was working towards the annual Book Illustration Competition (a partnership between The Folio Society and the House of Illustration gallery in London).


Interestingly David failed to be shortlisted for the Folio competition in 2016 (War Horse Michael Morpurgo). However the experience gained from entering the competition informed all that he produced after this period right up to graduation.  This translated into a First Class Hons award from MMU, the attention of the Folio Society for the image above and within a few months this prestigious commission.

A profile of David’s degree show and link to his website can be found here.



Third year Dean Smith shortlisted for The Prize for Illustration 2017

Third year illustrator Dean Smith has been shortlisted for one of the most high profile annual illustration competitions. The Prize for Illustration is a longstanding collaboration between the Association of Illustrators and the London Transport Museum.

Dean Smith ‘Sounds of The City’ 2016

The competition is themed annually and this year the them was ‘Sounds of The City’. Dean entered an elaborate hand cut paper sculpture titled ‘Shadows of the Sound’ completed as part of the summer project work between second and third year on the BA (Hons) Illustration with Animation course at Manchester School of Art

The competition is open to illustrators and students of illustration throughout the world. The top 100 entries (including Dean’s) are selected by a panel of independent judges and will be displayed in an exhibition at London Transport Museum that will open in May 2017 and run until September 2017. The winners will be announced at a private award ceremony that will take place in May 2017.

Prizes are awarded in three levels:
• First prize: £2000 and display of the winning image on a London Transport Museum poster to be displayed on the London Underground.
• Second prize: £1000
• Third prize: £750

There is also the possibility that shortlisted images will be featured on merchandise sold in London Transport Museum’s shop.


Reportage Event November 2016

Drawn from Life: Reportage event Manchester School of Art 04/11/16

Keynote Lecture: Olivier Kugler


With additional short presentations from Dr John Hewitt and Robin Sukatorn.

This event first began as a conversation with Olivier Kugler in 2014 around a bid for Arts Council funding to develop an extensive body of work based on observations in conflict zones and refugee camps with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

By expanding the scope of the day to cover reportage from three distinct speaker perspectives the intention was to explore some of the tensions around definitions of reportage and the distribution of content through traditional and evolving media platforms. The Q&A discussions also covered the contextualisation of layered content through the relationship of contemporary and historical narratives in the body of the drawing or post and the use of photography as a part of the reportage process.

The lectures were attended by staff  and students from Manchester School of Art undergraduate, postgraduate, foundation and alumni: Julia Midgley and Cherie Gerrard.  Also present were our invited guests: staff and students from Stockport College Illustration programme. I am grateful for the article below written by MFA student Robin Sukatorn as a reflective record of the event and to Dr John Hewitt for his contributions on the day.

In a world where news is increasingly consumed in endless rolling feeds, where political campaigns are fought in a media frenzy of ‘post-truth’ rhetoric and bombastic headlines, and where the minutiae of daily life is framed, curated and shared across a swelling smörgåsbord of social media platforms, questions of representation, authenticity, truth and engagement have become particularly pertinent. Amongst this bustling melee of information and visual content, where do we find space for representations of nuanced, individual lives; for local and personal moments and experiences; and for authentic, unfiltered portrayals of the human condition? Where do we find time to pause and observe the people and places in the world around us?

One medium which has the potential to cut through the noise is reportage illustration. This unique creative process involves the recording of events, scenes, people and places through direct observation and on-location drawing, and offers a novel and engaging way of shining a light on more local stories and personal experiences. Reportage artists place themselves in the unique and intimate position of a witness and reporter, producing visual records of a specific subject, responding immediately and intuitively to the observed scene at hand and capturing its essence and vitality through their own individual perspective,style and technique.

Olivier Kugler, a prolific socially-engaged illustrator and visual essayist based in London, is one of the most prominent practitioners of this reportage tradition, and this Autumn term the Manchester School of Art Department of Illustration with Animation hosted a special public event, convened by Senior Lecturer Ian Whadcock, in which Kugler discussed the development of his practice and presented a selection of his illustrations to an audience of students, educators and creative practitioners.

I was privileged to be invited to participate in the event myself, opening proceedings with a short presentation of my own reportage drawings developed over the course of my first year of MFA Illustration studies at the Manchester School of Art. I spoke about my own experience scouting out and documenting various scenes and events from contemporary political, cultural and community life: drawing newly-elected Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking outside Manchester Cathedral, culminating in an illustration for which I was delighted to receive the 2016 John Ruskin Prize Student Award, as well as regular excursions to draw city council meetings, music concerts, political demonstrations, public vigils and parades in Manchester and the North of England. I also presented a selection of my drawings from a current project with the responsible-investment charity Share Action, in which I am developing a series of compositions documenting scenes from the Annual General Meetings of several FTSE 250 companies including Marks & Spencers, National Grid and United Utilities, based on my personal observations and sketches of the characters, interactions and proceedings witnessed from within the meetings.


I was followed by Dr John Hewitt, a Senior Lecturer in Illustration at Manchester School ofArt and the winner of the Hugh Casson Prize for drawing at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 2016, who in his presentation offered his own take on reportage illustration and his experiences using drawing as a means of representing and documenting the world around him. He spoke of his role as a ‘psychogeographer’- one who wanders through the urban environment, observing and recording the relationships between places and people, including the histories and ghosts of the past which linger seen or unseen in specific locations. He also recounted his experience documenting the 7/7 bombings in London, through drawings committed from memory based on his personal observations in the aftermath of the attacks, and how he felt a strong moral duty not to invent or inject himself as the artist into the image due to the sensitive subject at hand. I was particularly struck by his words on the ‘evidential value of the moment’ as a core feature of reportage, the important role of drawing in building empathy- particularly evident in his own moving sketches of homeless people on the streets of Manchester- and the positive utility of social media as a platform for sharing and building wider engagement with his drawings and the stories behind them.


As our special guest for the afternoon, Olivier Kugler then took to the podium to share the story of his development as a reportage illustrator. Born into an artistic household in Germany, Kugler spoke about his love for drawing as a child, with a particular focus on the human figure and documenting the world around him. Although initially pursuing the more economically-secure option of studying and working as a graphic designer for a number of years, Kugler eventually broke away from this path and threw himself into the world of illustration, bolstered by a scholarship to study a masters degree at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

It was fascinating to hear Kugler talk first-hand about the development of his creative process as a reportage illustrator, in which he works from direct observation, on-location drawings and personal photographs, subsequently incorporating text, digital colour and narrative composition and creating vivid and characterful visual essays which capture the unique personal stories of particular individuals and places. While presenting us with a selection of his drawings, Kugler offered an insightful commentary into the stories and experiences behind some of his most engaging projects: with particular highlights including his sketches and interviews of diverse characters encountered on the streets of New York and London; drawings of aged locals and railways conductors in China as part of a field trip of Guardian journalists; spending four days travelling through Iran with a truck driver and documenting the experience through reportage illustrations based on personal photographs, interviews and memories, for which he was awarded the overall prize at the 2011 V&A Illustration Awards; drawing discreetly from within the home of a characterful ‘super-grass’ ex-mafioso named Luigi; witnessing and documenting the desperate living conditions of refugee families in Iraqi Kurdistan- and subsequently the island of Kos in Greece and the Calais ‘jungle’ in France- and offering a crucial and poignant insight into the human stories behind the headlines which so often pass us by as faceless and sweeping reports.

To hear Kugler speak so passionately and movingly about his experiences meeting and drawing such a diverse array of individuals around the world- whose stories are told with patience and detail through his characterful and engaging illustrations- was incredibly inspiring and eye-opening, both for myself as an aspiring illustrator and no doubt for the other students, practitioners and educators in the audience. Through bringing together different approaches and experiences of documentary drawing, visual journalism and reportage illustration, and offering a platform for Kugler in particular to share the stories and insights behind his remarkable work, the event built a compelling and optimistic picture of how drawing can be harnessed to reflect a more nuanced, intimate and engaging perspective of the world around us.

Article by Robin Sukatorn MFA Illustration Student at Manchester School of Art

©Robin Sukatorn 05/12/16

Dr John Hewitt’s drawings and account of the 7/7 London bombings are on permanent display at the Museum of London

Alumni Profile two years on: Beth Thompson.


Bethany Thompson graduated in 2014 having already started to work on an independent magazine publication: Counterpoint along side her own illustration practice.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-12-36-59Counterpoint started as an online only publication but has gradually moved into print and is now on it’s eleventh issue. Each issue is themed and contributors are invited to submit proposals for publication. In late 2016 the magazine was shortlisted in the Stack Awards for best use of illustration in a magazine!

Great recognition from judges Derek Brazell (writer and illustrator project manager for AOI/Varoom) and Cath Coldwell (Senior Lecturer Central St Martins, editor Lawrence King, former editorial art director, Observer London, Conde Nast Traveler in New York and at Hearst Magazines UK as design director for ELLE UK).

In addition to Counterpoint when Beth left Manchester School of Art she applied for and succeeded in gaining an internship opportunity at the Out of The Blue Arts and Education Trust – a print workshop based at the Drill Hall in Edinburgh. Click here for a short film about Out of The Blue

In 2016 the role of internship was due to come to an end but the trust promoted Beth to Studio Manager as a recognition of the contribution she was making to the on going success of the venture. This has created a great platform for learning, community engagement, the development of professional practice skills and has recently pulled in work for prestigious clients such as UNESCO to the print workshop.

At a recent reunion meeting with Beth in Edinburgh we discussed the importance of exposure to contemporary practice models and being professionally informed during the third year at MMU. In addition taking responsibility to look beyond the individual project brief and the degree classification for a sense of practitioner identity, and how was a vital reference point in the period post graduation.

Fundamentally Beth demonstrates that a willingness to collaborate and be proactive in accessing complimentary resources and learning beyond the immediate curriculum has created real opportunities. To quote Beth regarding the internship –  ‘….aim to make yourself indispensable and develop the role you undertake in any way you can’.

Counterpoint is available on-line and in the following outlets





  • Magma, Covent Garden
  • Magma, Clerkenwell Road


  • Magma, Oldham Street


Alumni Profile: two years on Daisy Strang

Daisy graduated in 2014 and was awarded the Manchester Academy of Fine Art Award for Printmaking.

  • In 2016 Daisy began the University of Manchester’s MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies after 2 years of volunteering at the Manchester Art Gallery in the family and adult learning team. This included running holiday family workshops, “Open Doors” sessions for children with Autism and facilitating a range of adult workshops.
  • Since beginning the MA, Daisy has continued to volunteer and expanded her experience into the development of exhibitions at the Manchester Craft and Design Centre. In addition she is also a lead artist educator for families at the Manchester Art Gallery on a freelance basis.


  • Daisy maintains a practice as a freelance illustrator with a variety of commissions through print fairs, websites and retail outlets.
  • The artist workshops she creates are always based on her own drawing practice and related to the thematic content of the current exhibition . Through all of the workshops Daisy places the emphasis on the encouragement of experimentation through mark making and play as a function of learning how to explore ideas through manipulation of and engagement with materials.
  • For the future Daisy plans to extend her experience of arts engagement in the Gallery/Museum sector and to develop a mixed portfolio career in education and engagement activities, alongside developing an expanded range of illustrative outcomes for practice. The ambition is to explore the crossovers between a range of creative practices and learning in the the gallery setting.
  • website link: Daisy Strang

Guest Speaker: Olivier Kugler 3rd Nov 2016

Coming soon on 3rd November BA (Hons) Illustration with Animation are pleased to welcome award winning illustrator and visual essayist Olivier Kugler to Manchester School of Art.

muhamed_a4_300-2As part of an Arts Council supported project, Olivier will be discussing his career to date with a focus on the development of a large body of work collaborating with Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontiers). The work  concentrates on drawings derived from periods spent at the Domiz refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The afternoon event will commence with two twenty minute presentations.

Opening the event will be MFA student Robin Sukatorn, winner of the 2016 Ruskin Student award for drawing, talking about his work with local politics, community activism and reportage drawing.

Followed by Dr John Hewitt Senior Lecturer in Manchester School of Art and winner of the 2016 Royal Academy Hugh Casson Drawing Prize, talking about the role of drawing as daily record and his observations on the impact of social media as a way of generating and importantly curating audience.

We are also pleased to have MMU alumni and visiting speaker from 2015 Julia Midgley attending this event as our guest for the afternoon.