Jess Webberley

Jess Webberley is a final year BA Illustration student at BCU. She has designed the new GAF logo. As part of the relaunch for GAF I wanted to feature Jess's work and for her to explain to you what inspires her and what GAF means to her. Jo Berry

My work explores the virtual reality that we call cyberspace, and its connection to the physical reality that we find ourselves living in. Within my practice I capture a sense of interchangeability between the physical and digital world, whilst being inspired and influenced by the urban environment. Through creating experimental publications which encapsulate the crossover of physical and digital mediums I hope to communicate that the URL and the IRL exist in symbiosis; we live in a time where one cannot hope to function without the other. I question the physicality of the internet - the internet is enabled by physical materials. Through exploring this subject I have created my own typeface, and have most recently began writing code to create an experimental website which I hope will be the anti-matter to my physical publications.


WHAT GAF MEANS TO ME To me GAF bridges the gap between practice and theory; it shows that there should be no gap. Within my practice theory is key, much of the work I produce has been informed by research. GAF provides the opportunity to hear from experienced practitioners, and has a sense of community which to me is very valuable. GAF celebrates the hi tech, low tech and the no tech; a theme which is prominent within my practice. I believe that work in all mediums should be celebrated, be they digital or analogue. The crossover of the digital and the analogue is something I always consider and utilise within my work - for this reason GAF stands for ideals that I can strongly resonate with. 

IDEA BEHIND LOGO I designed the GAF logo with the idea of theory informing practice in mind. The letterforms I produced for the logo are inspired by ‘urban hieroglyphics’ - a recurring theme within my projects. The theory of these is that they are physical markings within the urban environment representing internet cables and this has informed my practice. I thought that using these markings as a starting point for the GAF logo would be fitting.


GAF. GAF. GAF. GAF. -Relaunch, re invograte and welcome

Graphic Arts Facility (GAF): celebrating the high tech, low tech and no tech

Welcome to the re-launch of the Graphic Arts Facility. Its new, it is exciting and it is for you.

GAF's remit is to facilitate, illuminate and challenge perceptions with respect to graphic arts practice, theory and outputs.  It considers the history of graphic arts, contemporary approaches and thinking, and the future of our discipline.  It embraces culture, imagination, argumentation, creativity, discovery, curiosity and play.  

The Facility will focus on the sharing of best practice at all stages of our creative careers, and will feature informal peer-mentoring to ensure mutual benefits across our community.

GAF will organise events for practitioners, professionals and students: these will include exhibitions, publications and talks both within the faculty and beyond.  The aim here is to build our profile and extend our network to include the most exciting practitioners in our discipline.  GAF will also lead and contribute to a range of initiatives across the Faculty, providing (a) a forum for development of a clear and focused intellectual agenda, (b) critical mass and a collective vision to support applications for funding and resource, and (c) a developmental space and support structure for those that wish to advance their research careers in the space.

GAF will constitute an important strand within a research cluster, one that will have a firm linkage with the School of Visual Communication.  It is fundamentally an instrument to consolidate and advance research interests in the field of graphic arts: its structure, activities and interests will reflect the growing and morphing interests of its members and contributors. 

Key themes for GAF will include:

Art, Science and technology

Print (digital and hand crafted)

Drawing (supporting the BIG DRAW)

Alternative responses and perspectives to the Graphic Arts: exploring, crossing and dissolving boundaries

Please contact  and join this exciting research group 



Tenerife Paper Chase

How can recording something say something? the risk of sounding rhetorical.  Highly compact visuals (yes, I got the watercolours out.... approximately postcard sized, with luggage weight restrictions in mind) of miscellaneous holiday impressions, which then turned in to a highly mobile glass (plastic) vitrine cabinet exhibition, which travelled around various parts of two Birmingham City University buildings (October 2016).  Being mobile and restless it was able to choose and chase it's audience in the most inconvenient, but visible places.


I was subsequently asked to present a short lecture to students about to embark on a foreign trip, reflecting on spontaneous forms of visual research.  This caused me to to interrogate and categorise what I had otherwise quite casually recorded in Tenerife.  So, I extracted more value from the experience, hopefully without over-analysing the whole thing?

I arrived at some loose classifications of what I had done; what might constitute visual research, and I was able to pool them in to five tentative groups:






Extrapolate might be my favourite, but mostly because I think it's a marvellous word... 

Olivier Kugler - intrepid reportage illustrator

Acclaimed reportage illustrator gave free talk at Birmingham City University

Acclaimed illustrator, Olivier Kugler, who uses his art to report on major humanitarian events like the Syrian refugee crisis, gave a free public lecture, at the Invitation of the Graphic Arts Facility on 18th October 2016.  He talked in depth about his work and caught the imagination of students, staff and general public with his many human anecdotes.

Olivier highlighted his achievements in a career which has seen his work featured in publications including The Guardian, GQ, Le Monde Diplomatique and The New York Times.

Award-winning Kugler is known for his interviews with subjects, who he also illustrates by hand before digitising, to create a report made up of quotes and illustrations, often set over dozens of pages.

The German-born illustrator has interviewed and illustrated people from across the world, and most recently began meeting and drawing Syrian refugees as part of a new project to create a book telling the stories of those displaced by the conflict in the area.

The project began after humanitarian aid organisation, Doctors Without Borders, asked Kugler to visit refugee camps to help publicise its work.

After meeting a number of refugees he decided to expand the project and it is currently also being supported by funding from Arts Council England.

Olivier Kugler said: "Over the last few years I have had the privilege to meet Syrians in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Greek holiday island of Kos, the Calais 'Jungle' camp, Switzerland, Colombia and the UK.

“I am excited to work on an illustrated sequential book which will portray the people I have encountered and which will raise awareness about their circumstances."

Kugler began his career as a graphic designer before winning a scholarship to study at the School of Visual Arts in New York in 2000.

He has since built a reputation for his style which presents subjects in their own environment and surrounds them with phrases spoken during his interview sessions.

His unique talent for visual representation has seen him win awards including first place in the V&A Illustration Awards in 2011 and the Association of Illustrators World Illustration Award 2015


Olivier Kugler, Syrian Refugee image, copyright Olivier Kugler 2016

Olivier Kugler, Syrian Refugee image, copyright Olivier Kugler 2016