Lets talk about practice: Naomi Kent

Ever since I was taught letterpress at university I was hooked. Tiny metal letters in different founts in wooden type cases with lots of compartments was like a step back into history. Who had used these when they were brand new? What did they print with them? How can I serve them and present them to their best potential now? They are tiny metal soldiers lining up ready for another duty.


I’m not keen on drawing and I’m not very good at it so I like to illustrate characters with type instead. There is an element of constraint that pushes your boundaries of creativity. You only have the type you have, you are pushed to look at it a different way. How do I illustrate hands? How do I give a man a moustache?


The sum is greater than the parts, tiny bits of bent brass rule once used for printing tables and small brackets are now coming together to create a hat and some hair. These pieces are nothing on their own, the task is to create a character by assembling them together.


Letterpress is traditionally set linear, this is the way type is made to be set. I enjoy the challenge of breaking free from this, challenging the medium and the tradition. Mixing a 15th century process with 21st century technology to allow me push its limits. I use a laser cutter to cut wooden shapes so that I can set type at the angle I want & Anneal brass strips to twist and bend so I can print curved lines, this connects me to the artistic printers of the 19th century and their techniques. I always loved math at school and there is an element of math involved in letterpress. It’s like a puzzle, and the fun part is assembling it together. The ‘Lock up’ looks like an artifact in itself, this is the impressive part yet this is the part no one sees, so I always document it. I have learn how to set type from other printers by seeing lock ups, so I hope my documentation is useful to others. I have coined the term ‘Typesetting Puzzle’ – This is when you set your type/image and there are no 90 degree angles in which to lock up your type with spacing material. The game is anyone's guess, you stuff the spacing in, in the most logical way possible, and then you're all good to ink & print as long as that type doesn't move!


We live in a generation where we are all used to seeing and handling digital prints, but there is something special and tangible about a letterpress print, the feel of the ink on the paper and the slight impression where the type has hit the paper. I will never tire of seeing a print for the first time when I lift the paper from a forme that I have spent time setting. There is so much more satisfaction handling type by hand and composing your image rather than sat doing it on a screen. It is time consuming and it is a labour of love and it is my therapy. Type therapy.

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Lets talk about practice and why we love it: Alumni student and Printmaker in Residence Haseebah Ali

Although I have experimented with traditional and digital work I have always preferred the making and final product of traditional pieces. I have had experience with painting and drawing but recently I’ve very much enjoyed lino printing. I consider myself an artist and print maker.


I’ve always been enthusiastic about art but I never really considered it as a career until I started college. My degree was in illustration which I liked as it gave me artistic freedom to go into whatever medium I desired, without being constrained to a specific brief or context. I consider my final project to be the starting point of seeing myself as an actual artist. It was with this and creating my Syrian refugee series that I found purpose in my work and saw the potential I could achieve once I left university.


Personally, I wasn’t quite sure what was to become of me artistically after university. I’ve always known the unpredictability of the art world and its ruthlessness. However, after I graduated I stumbled across a three-week art programme called ‘Gallery 37’ where I met other visual artists, got into contact with people working in the industry and even created a shared exhibition in Birmingham’s creative corner, Digbeth. It was then that I realised my heart was in exhibiting art and representing myself and my work.


After this I applied for a 7-month artist residency opportunity at my universities print room, which gave me the confidence to develop my practise whilst still being in the comfort of a familiar surrounding. It was here that I developed my Islamic art prints and explored multi layered lino’s. Whilst doing the residency I also engaged in exhibition opportunities in London, being a part of small scale events to meet new people and build my profile.


I’ve always enjoyed basing my work around cultural themes and people. With my Syrian refugee project it was about bringing awareness to what was happening as I realised not many people knew much about it. I like the idea of educating myself when making new artworks especially when it’s to do with the subject matter that I feel is less shown. Although some might not agree with controversial or political topics to be turned into art, I feel it’s important to bring light to certain issues and art can be a perfect platform for that.


Currently I am working on my own solo exhibition in mid June at the GAP Arts Project. This would showcase both my Syrian refugee work as well as my Islamic print series. For me to do a solo exhibition a year after graduating means a lot as I didn’t think I’d get to this point so soon in my life. It was from putting myself out there and joining in on volunteering work that I expanded my creative circle and created opportunities for myself. My best word of advice is to continue momentum and never compare yourself to anyone else. For the future I would like to facilitate more of my own workshops and showcase more of my work.

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Lets talk about practice and why we love it: Kristian Jones

My background spans a multitude of disciplines, I consider my approach to Graphic arts to be multidisciplinary using a wide variety of analogue and digital mediums to create work, from moving image, design interaction, illustration, creative technology and coding.

My creative career started life working for a number of graphic design agencies in the UK for around 12 years. Brand strategy and immersive digital experience design were a focus in my early work and later for larger clients such as Nike, Adidas, Mercedes and many more.

Continuing my multidisciplinary approach to graphic arts my practice turned towards illustration, and in 2012 I confounded an illustration collective in 2012 The Brothers of the Stripe, which paved the way to show case work in leading galleries and event spaces from the Royal Academy and Glastonbury festivals. Working collectively with like-minded individuals allowed for an experimental space to flourish and the confidence to attempt larger scale projects. My personal Illustration work tried to depict our relationship with the modern world in a surreal and twisted form to highlight the problems with modern day living, preying on the innocence of childhood imagination and youth comprised by new age capitalism.

My current work considers the impact of advancing digital technology has on society. Graphic arts have always been the arena in which I feel best positioned to discuss challenging themes by way of creating work to evoke conversation, discussion and debate. My work to date uses a wide variety of technological approaches to explore philosophical, and ontological questions through the very technology that has shaped our society today. As technology continues to shape our collective society, graphic arts is an increasingly more important way to continually question and explore new ways of seeing the world.

Our digital society enables much more than ever before, we are connected, open and free to explore the world in ways that are new to us all, my practice explores this new process, revealing the unseen in an ever growing digitally augmented reality, using art to question our actions in a landscape that is new to us all.

I currently study an MA in contemporary fine art at MMU with a particular focus on interactive media and creative coding.



Links to video works:










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Lets talk about practice and why we love it: Gareth Courage

Although I originally studied as a Fine Artist, my practice is now firmly rooted in the Graphic Arts. My commercial work specialises in design for cultural events, organisations and projects and I have a particular interest in working with sound and performance practitioners. This commitment to the Graphic Arts was cemented when I undertook my MA in Illustration in 2015. I find working within the area of graphic arts very satisfying and Im much more comfortable to apply my stylistic approach, which although is still rooted in my fine art background,  to visual communication projects within this field.  I really enjoy working with experimental and forward-thinking clients from varied disciplines and seeing how our values, interests, standards and approach to work often overlap and share similar development processes.  I always intend to reflect and share this working process in the teaching and learning sessions I deliver and I hope that some of these principles and ethics can be shared with some of the talented leaners we have the privilege of working with.


My graphic design work is often, but not exclusively,  print-based in output and aims to support the artistic undertaking of others through a collaborative approach to documentation, presentation and dissemination. I have undertaken project work with different community groups, and have delivered sessions to support and inform projects in a variety of public settings including schools, galleries and libraries. These aim to encourage artistic expression without imposing value judgements and to develop projects in unique and unexpected ways. In the past few years, I have developed psychogeographical maps and created poetry newspapers with secondary school learners, worked in conjunction with a primary school group to create promotional material for a children's play that they had produced and designed festival branding with a diverse group of learners from across different types of school. Alongside this, I have developed a range of promotional material for experimental theatre producers, film festivals and arts practitioners across the UK.


All my design work is underpinned by my illustrative practice and has a collage-based approach. This area of my work has involved commissioned work for galleries, editorial and publishing.  I have been working with this method of construction for over 25 years, and my visual language has developed through my initial training in sculpture where I worked almost exclusively in assemblage and bricolage. This method of construction is still evident in my work, which uses a range of found paper ephemera, obsolete textbooks, vernacular photography and both physical and scanned textures in its execution. Although I now work almost exclusively digitally for commissioned work I still keep a variety of paper-based sketchbooks for developing hand made work which refers back to and explores recurrent themes of texture, redaction, fragmentation and composition.


Most recently I have begun to apply this collaged approach to work to the areas of film and motion graphics, and I have slowly developed these processes into an expanded film project (469 DOF - Europe Through The Windscreen) which has recently received Arts Council funding.  I am intending that this project, which has been directly informed by my work with theatre practitioners, will develop a range of new working and presentation methods.

Web links -


GAF presents DigiFest lets DigiJam2019

Graphic arts Facility presents “Digi Jam"


A celebration of all things digital

from the hi-tech to the low-tech to the no-tech!

27th March 2019

2pm- 7.30pm

Key Note speakers:

Jason Ford:https://www.heartagency.com/artists/jason-ford/

Tim Vyner http://www.timvyner.com

And a symposium featuring BCU.ac.uk, ADM Alumni presentations plus a student exhibition including performances, readings, films, animation, projections, videos and artwork.



Featuring: Tim Vyner and Jason Ford

Featuring: Tim Vyner and Jason Ford

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Lets Talk about practice and how we love it: HELEN WHEELER

My practice started, studying BA Illustration at the University of Wolverhampton, and later, MA Illustration, specialising in narrative, at the University of Gloucester. My illustration career had a very commercial start, working as an in-house artist for two major greeting card companies. This spanned 9 years, between graduating from university and starting to teach part time at BCU and the University of Wolverhampton in 2009.

My current practice is heavily engaged in narrative. How is humour used as a vehicle for empathising with a character, and also to connect with other people?

My work draws upon real-life experiences and observational humour, relaying these observations through animation instantly communicates this comic playfulness. Clear narratives, and the mix of texture, collage, and child-like drawings, reveal a snapshot into my children’s world, a constant source of inspiration.

I have always been a varied and experimental practitioner; I like the process of making to feel exciting and free. The aim of my practice is to be spontaneous, and ultimately capture a child’s honesty of description. The challenge is to understand the complexity of the language we use in order to visualise my subject in a convincing humorous way. Voice, language and pronunciation of words, coupled with the pace/ rhythm of the animation, all enable me to create and communicate the intended humor with my audience.



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Lets talk about Practice and how we love it: Jo Berry

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Studying Graphics in Newcastle, specialising in Illustration before studying for an MA in Illustration (1990)  at the Royal College of Art (RCA). The RCA changed the direction of my practice as I was greatly influenced by being taught by stimulating maverick tutors who delivered an egalitarian student teacher educational mentoring system supported by world-class speakers, exhibition and external opportunities. Peers, tutors and the wider artistic community within this creative hub seemed to be working together to encourage innovation between disciplines.  This experience acted as a catalyst to make visible the possibility of working fluidly across disciplines.  It taught me that if we want to nurture creative talent, we have to cherish the creative community we inhabit, value and support education, share knowledge, instil a hunger for our specialist subject disciplines and work within the broader field of art and design.

In 2018, I started to lead the Graphic Arts Facility (GAF)  with a vision to use this platform to facilitate, illuminate and challenge all perceptions concerning graphic arts practice, theory and outputs from a non-hierarchical stance.

Over the next few months, there are going to be a series of articles from staff and students talking about their passion for their practice and I hope we can all be inspired from these.

Personally, I am interested in how art can impact STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math’s) by promoting STEAM ((Science Technology ART Engineering and Math’s). My current research and focus are to provide a philosophical engagement with science through the lens of an artist by working directly with experts in the field. This research has its roots in a collaboration of over ten years with the School of Life Sciences, Nottingham University and their project Advanced imaging and Microscopy. It is leading to further collaborations with an extensive network of internationally renowned research laboratories and institutions in the field of bioscience and neuro-imaging.


Decriminalising Ornament* : The Pleasures of Pattern



Decriminalising Ornament* : The Pleasures of Pattern

The 9th International Illustration Research Symposium 

Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK

November 17-18th, 2018

This two-day research conference explores the nature of pattern and ornament within the context of illustration, printing and publishing and explores ideas and asks questions around it’s current state of appreciation, meaning and usage. Within the context of practice based research, international researchers, academics and practitioners will present their work and discuss their ideas.

Alongside the conference there will be a Research Exhibition, featuring a collaborative installation by the graphic designer  Hansje van Halem and  printer/publisher Jan de Jong.

confirmed keynote speakers

  • Dr Alan Powers, Art historian, Researcher, Curator and Design Writer. 

Following a degree in History of Art from Cambridge, Alan received his doctorate on Architectural Education in Britain 1880-1914. He is a prolific writer for magazines and author of numerous books, amongst others Enid Marx, The Pleasures of Pattern 2018),  Eric Ravilious: Imagined Realities (2003), Front Cover: Great Book Jacket and Cover Design (2006) , Children's Book Covers, Great Book Jacket and Cover Design (2003). He has curated popular exhibitions, including Enid Marx: Print, Pattern and Popular Art, House of Illustration  (2018); Eric Ravilious, Imperial War Museum (2003); and Eros to the Ritz: 100 Years of Street Architecture, Royal Academy (2013).

As professor of architecture and cultural history at the University of Greenwich, Alan taught architectural history and theory for undergraduate and diploma courses from 1999-2012, and has been a frequent external examiner for PhD and other higher degrees. 

  • Dr Alice Twemlow, Design Writer, Critic and Educator.

Twemlow earned a Ph.D from the History of Design program run as a joint venture by the Royal College of Art and the V & A Museum in London. She has been a guest critic at the Yale University School of Art, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). In 2006 Twemlow became the chair and co-founder of its Master of Fine Arts in Design Criticism.

Alive Twemlow is a prolific writer and has written for amonst others Eye, Design and the New York magazine  Twemlow and contributed to online publication such as Voice and AIGA Journal of Design.

Twemlow is currently head of the MA in Design Curating & Writing at Design Academy Eindhoven, Lector Design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KABK) in The Hague and Senior University Lecturer (guest) at Leiden University


Ornament : a thing used or serving to make something look more attractive but usually having no practical purpose  . Verb: to make (something) look more attractive by adding decorative items. 

— The Oxford Living Dictionary (online) 

“Ornament is no longer a natural product of its culture, and
therefore represents backwardness or even a degenerative tendency.” 

 The 9th International Illustration Research Symposium 

Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK

November 17-18th, 2018

This two-day research conference explores the nature of pattern and ornament within the context of illustration, printing and publishing and explores ideas and asks questions around it’s current state of appreciation, meaning and usage. Within the context of practice based research, international researchers, academics and practitioners will present their work and discuss their ideas.

Alongside the conference there will be a Research Exhibition, featuring a collaborative installation by the graphic designer  Hansje van Halem and  printer/publisher Jan de Jong.

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Gaf presents Emeritus Professor Andrzej Klimowski

Andrzej Klimowski is a graphic artist and a designer of theatre, opera and film posters. He is an international illustrator of book covers and press and magazine illustrations and an author of graphic novels (publishers include Faber & Faber and SelfMadeHero). His research interests are in narrative, investigating new relationships between text and image.

Born of Polish parents in London in 1949, Klimowski trained at the Saint Martin's School of Art before studying at the Academy of Fine Art and working professionally in Warsaw. His east-European legacy deeply influences his work. From the late 1970s he designed posters and book jackets – including novels by PG Wodehouse , Simon Louvish, Lionel Shriver, Milan Kundera and Kazuo Ishiguro – and illustrations, TV graphics and animation, following his particular of from examples of his 'Polish School' design.

The early twentieth century photo-collagists, Surrealism, Dada and Expressionism have been an influence on part of his work, but he has developed his own personal style with a combination of fantasy, anxiety, ambiguity and eroticism which keeps his works from becoming pastiche. He is the current head of illustration at the RCA, His work includes short films, illustrations and books, including Lo Sguardo Deviato (The Deflected Gaze), and most recently The Secret. His work has recently been the subject of a retrospective at the Theatre Museum in London.

From 1968 to 1972 Andrzej Klimowski studied sculpture and painting at St Martins School of Art. 1973 to 1980 he lived and worked in Warsaw, the first two years of which he studied poster design under Professor Henryk Tomaszewski and film animation under Dr Kazimierz Urbanski at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. He has designed many posters for cultural institutions in Warsaw, Wroclaw, Opole and Lodz and collaborated with leading book publishers. He directed Dead Shadow, a short experimental film shown at international film festivals in Krakow and London (1981). On returning to the UK, he worked freelance for Faber & Faber, Penguin Books and The Guardian. He has been a recipient of many international prizes, including: The Hollywood Reporter Key Art Awards for best film posters (Los Angeles 1977 and 1978), Campaign Silver Award for RSC theatre poster (1987), The Daily Telegraph Award for Excellence in press campaign for British Telecom (1988), DA&D Silver Award for a Royal Mail Millennium stamp (London 1999), V&A illustration Award for the graphic novel Horace Dorlan (2nd prize 2008), 12th International Biennale of Theatre Posters (Honorary mention, Rzeszow, Poland 2009).

Gaf's new season of events starts with a lecture with Professor Lawrence Zeegen

Professor Lawrence Zeegen is Dean of the School of Design at Ravensbourne in London UK, where he leads academic departments and research in Advertising, Architecture and Interiors, Communication Design, Fashion Design and Product Design.

Lawrence has taught and lectured internationally in over 20 countries. His design and illustration clients include major international newspapers, magazines, book publishers, design studios and advertising agencies. Lawrence is the author of nine published books on graphic arts, including Fifty Years of Illustration and Ladybird by Design and is contributor to numerous publications.

Lawrence is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of the Design Council Sounding Board, trustee of both the De Le Warr Pavilion and the Creative Conscious Awards and a former trustee of D&AD. Lawrence has twice been appointed to the Executive Board of ico-D, the International Council of Design.

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Graphic Arts Facility presents

BCU  hosted its first ever  DIGIFEST at Vivid Project Space in Digbeth - a celebration of all things digital, from the hi-tech to the low-tech to the no-tech!A collaboration between the School of Art and the School of Visual Communication.

As part of this event, there was  a symposium featuring

Patrick Thomas, professor of visual communication at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design. https://patrickthomas.com/


There was also  a series of short performances, readings and discussions.