Student Profiles: MA Illustration

Tim Alexander

Work by Tim Alexander

Work by Tim Alexander

“I’m an illustrator based in the UK. Character design, clean shapes and innovative design is central to my practice.

I use limited colour palettes chosen for their vibrancy to create playful, humorous images. The results imply the autobiographical, although satire underpins their narratives.  I am concerned with everyday social relations and encounters. Through illustration, the cultural construction of characters is examined.

My creative process stems from the systematic reflection on personal experience in the context of wider discourses and debates which I interpret these through the formation of characters, examining the relationship and interaction between text and image.

Illustrations start out as thumbnail sketches that I see as the pure ideas. Digitally manipulated, fleshed out and scaled up, these initially diminutive line-drawings become V, bright forms through several developmental stages.

I am driven by problem-solving and the satisfaction of tackling difficult, often diverse briefs to create outputs that are communicable and readable.”

Naureen Akbar

Work by Naureen Akbar

Work by Naureen Akbar

“I’m a contemporary illustrator from Dubai, currently based in the UK. Combining traditional drawing materials and techniques with digital software, my deceptively simple imagery deals with the complexities of cultural and social interrelations. Currently, my practice addresses how notions of peace emanate from the individual to become the attitudes and relations of a community. Wordless narratives storyboard international news stories and the way everyday moralities are played out from the local to the global. The graphic novels and scenes that result, explore commonality as a way of transcending issues of difference. Dark human characters convey meaningful messages throughout. The troubling themes of war and aggression are accentuated through emotive, limited colour palettes and gestural mark-making.

Strongly associative elements such as the human skulls or peace bird are used for their universal reading, creating a visual language of comprehensive understanding. In this way, autobiographical experiences become thought-provoking visualisations of wider reach. For me, skulls offer the potential for unity and peace in humans, despite their frequent portrayal as fearsome or evil. My skeletal characters have a fresh chance at life through roles that interrogate what is meant by ‘good’. Sarcasm and dark humour are foregrounded in a way that contrasts with the ‘truths’ implied as a means of generating new questions and self-awareness in the viewer.”

To find out more, visit Naureen’s website and social channels:

Instagram: @naureenakbar Twitter: @Naureen_Akbar

Ilse Black

‘Salt Runs Through My Veins’ by Ilse Black

“As an ‘autoethnographic’ illustrator, I use my experience of being an all seasons, non-wetsuit wearing sea swimmer as the focus of my study. For me, the activities of art-making, theoretical research and sea swimming are linked by intense curiosity for the role of water in being human. I believe in embracing a conceptually and physically embodied integration with the sea, foregrounding the benefits of this reciprocal relationship through an ethos of guardianship over the world’s waters. Although grounded in the ecological and mindful well-being of people and place, my work is above all celebratory, positively engaging with ‘the wild’ of our oceans and their natural beauty. In examining sealife and seaweeds through swimming and drawing, I attempt to reveal the physiologies, behaviours, facts and fictions that drive us to be explorers in, into and on the sea.

Through my work, I attempt to extend the language used to describe the sensorial feelings and perceptions of open water swimming and visually articulate its benefits for the individual and community. Currently, the resulting forms encompass drawing, digital images and ceramics. I strive to reflect the watery nature of my subject through carefully chosen materials and processes. The human form is thereby acknowledged as a vessel of brine, interconnected to the sea, and the swimmer an active part of the environment.

The diverse contexts for my artwork range from the interiors and exteriors of public buildings to the documentation and promotion of community-based projects. These include creating murals and tiles for seaside walls and showers; the reportage of swimming events; and an array of swimming-related merchandise and image-based products. I hope to nurture, inspire and raise awareness to this pursuit of well-being, and promote a duty of care towards ourselves, each other and the oceans that support us.”

Catrina Bruce

Work by Catrina Bruce

Work by Catrina Bruce

“Animals and issues relating to animal welfare and conservation have been a focus throughout my life. This started in childhood with the companionship of dogs. For my Final Project I’ve worked in association with Dogs Trust Salisbury to promote awareness and fundraise. I’ve wanted to open up a dialogue about these animals and their plight by creating tactile portraits of some of the dogs that have been waiting the longest to be re-homed.

I’ve used recycled domestic textiles, hand-sewing and felting yarn to create unique portraits of each dog. Visits to the centre to observe, talk to the manager and handlers, combined with my own understanding and affection for dogs, has enabled me to capture their characters. This time-consuming process reflects my empathy with the dogs as individuals, as I ‘talk’ and connect to them through stitch, hoping to draw attention to their respective stories as a way to help them find new homes.

Through my illustration practice I see myself as a ‘Maker of Things’; I recognise and explore the importance of the imperfect handmade as a human response to an increasingly technology-driven world.

I combine a philosophy of ‘reclaim and reuse’ viewed through the prism of traditional domestic craft skills and a passionate belief that everyday creative practices can serve to channel our concerns for a better world, into objects and activities which have potential for change.”

Tasha Dale

Clutter by Tasha Dale

Go Outside by Tasha Dale

My illustration practice is inspired by examining contemporary cultural and social issues. I draw on observations and subjective experiences to communicate everyday concepts in ways that people can relate to.

I’m fascinated with the ways in which people relate, connect and communicate with each other. I believe that it’s vitally important to have a positive and informed message that raises awareness without preaching. I aim to do this through utilising humour and through commenting upon recognisable everyday scenarios and situations. I want to open up a dialogue around various societal issues that affect people and their lives. I want to make people think about their beliefs, behaviours, habits and how these impact on others.

The project ‘Guide to being’ explores everyday issues of a busy, fast-paced world in visualising ideas around finding peace and tranquillity through mindful living. Referencing both home and the figure, the resulting imagery invites the viewer to reflect on their own experiences. For example, how the pressures of managing a home, relationships and work life can conflict with taking time to rest or be in nature.

Aesthetically, minimalistic use of line, naïve simplified figures and a paired down use of colour, texture and pattern are consistent elements in my work.

I develop my practice through not limiting myself to one medium or process. For me, it seems important to continually challenge the boundaries of my practice and expand my reach. My most recent work combines inks and collage in drawings that are then developed digitally.

This approach enables a distinctive fluidity of surface and line. Whilst using photographs of the natural environment as a raw material generates striking contrasts against these synthetic flows.

Applications for my work and motivations are most frequently found in editorial illustration or advertising.

Sarah Foster

Bournemouth Gardens by Sarah Foster

Borough Gardens by Sarah Foster

Using traditional image making methods, I paint scenes and landscapes illustrating memories and narratives. My work is also characterised by its size as I paint at a very small scale with tiny brushwork and thick gouache.

I leave clues in my work to suggest a backstory, using ambiguity to explore the relationship between the illustration and the viewer. Heavy elongated shadows are another feature of my miniature scenes to add a strangeness and dream-like mood.

To offer a different perspective, I also experiment by photocopying and enlarging my work, combining it with pen and pencil to create collages.

For my most recent project I have created a series of tiny paintings illustrating locations around Dorset. I want to capture the strange and awkward charm of the places that are often hidden or unnoticed, a theme which runs throughout my practice

Immi Friend

“I’m a British based narrative Illustrator and visual communicator exploring both real and imagined worlds. My work is heavily influenced by nature, history, culture and animals. These are my passions that I explore through a mix of traditional and digital techniques culminating in highly detailed images that are both modern and nostalgic!”

Emma Green

Abstract Leopard Chair by Emma Green

Black Jaguar Cushion by Emma Green

“I’m a contemporary illustrator working within Pattern and Surface Design and the Children’s Picture Book industry. I stylistically experiment with pattern, texture and colour rendering both by hand and through digital software. My process involves experimenting with cut out collage and paper craft techniques and then enhancing these elements through rendering digitally. I’m inspired by the world around me and the creatures in it – I experiment with narrative, interacting with my characters and exploring different people and animals I come across in my everyday life.

My work aims to engage the audience in a playful and light hearted way to make them smile. This creates a contemporary aesthetic which is on the cutting edge of contemporary illustration practice. My current project explores exotic animals and their habitats. I’ve created a collection of textiles products and pattern designs inspired by the pattern, texture and vibrant colours surrounding exotic animals.”

Hrannar Hauksson

Illustration from ‘A Town Called Unkindness’ by Hrannar Hauksson

Illustration from ‘A Town Called Unkindness’ by Hrannar Hauksson

“I’m an Icelandic illustrator who specialises in visual storytelling, primarily in the form of comic books. My work is often suspenseful and/or action-packed, filled with bombastic characters and scenarios. The primary goal of my practice is to entertain and tell stories.

My MA project is a graphic novel named ‘A Town Called Unkindness’ It is the story of a stranger who comes to a remote town in the American Old West and causes a bit of a stir with his presence.

At its core, the story is an exercise in comparative mythology. After studying the work of literary scholar Joseph Campbell and his writings on the monomyth I decided that my story would be a mash-up of tropes and themes from two very distinct and separate mythologies; On the one hand the myth of the American Wild West, and on the other, Norse mythology. The story itself is a largely Western one with many recognisable touchstones of wild west tales but with character archetypes that I have largely sourced from Norse mythology, some more overtly than others.

I have attempted to source the story points from tropes that are common and intersect in both Norse and Wild West myths and by blending enough I have come up with an original story that creates a world I leave open to further exploration in the future.

I decided to do this project in watercolours as I felt they would be ideal to portray the washed-out sun-bleached landscapes of the town on the edge of the desert where my story is set as well as the vast mountainous areas on the other side of town.”

See Hrannar’s website.

Mia Horten

‘Clueless’ by Mia Horten

‘Sun and Moon’ by Mia Horten

“I use sequential narratives, both visual and textual, to explore the human imagination. Through drawing, I create fantastical worlds for my figurative, meticulously hand-drawn figures to inhabit: the dreamlike atmosphere raising notions of escapism and nostalgia.”

Yu Ru-Ji

Work by Yu Ru-Ji

Work by Yu Ru-Ji

“I’m currently working between Taiwan and the UK as an illustrator. Ornamentations, patterns, and vivid colour palettes are my primary inspirations.

I am focusing on pattern designs which are designed for tile. The concept of my MA final project is about my imaginary world and diary of dream. I used the grid layout to represent different perspectives and scenes from my dream and imagination.

Creating both delicate textures and vivid colour palettes with playful spirit are my enjoyment. Also, I involve diverse drawing techniques which derive from both traditional and digital methods. “

Xinzhi Liang

Dragon Eye by Xinzhi Liang

Time God by Xinzhi Liang

I’m an international illustrator from China currently working out of the UK. As I move around the world, new environments and cultural ideas inspire me. I tend to use watercolour, gouache, crayon and ink to re-tell and re-present traditional myths and legends. The narrative illustrations that result, have been variously applied to commercial briefs and clients across the field of contemporary design.

For me, it’s about visualising stories both real and imagined – connecting my traditional Chinese heritage to the present-day with all its multi-cultural migratory experiences.

Conventional materials meet the digital age in meticulous hand-drawn imagery as I utilise palettes appropriated from differing cultures of painting alongside those of bold and bright contemporary designs.

Charlotte McKew

Work by Charlotte McKew

Work by Charlotte McKew

“This collection is called ‘It began with a Roar’ and is a celebration of the beauty in the natural world, inspired by a recent trip to San Diego. I wanted to share my journey through Balboa Park and San Diego Zoo, focussing on the majestic qualities of the plants and animals found there. The colour palette is inspired by my photography with an emphasis on the bright blue skies, lush greenery and exotic plants. Utilising a range of traditional medium as a starting point including inks, acrylic, watercolour and collage to create a range of furnishing fabrics, wallpapers and tiles for Children’s Interiors.

With a background in Printed Textile Design, I have over 11 years of Industry experience, including six years designing prints for women’s fashion accessories in New York City, as Senior Print Designer and Brand Manager at Collection 18. I am comfortable working in an incredibly fast paced creative environment. After relocating back to the UK in 2013, I became Head of Creative for an iOS App Company. Involved in managing, training and recruiting an in house de­sign team and Freelance Designers. Responsible for all imagery, including greeting card designs and assets for websites, social media sites, and apps. I’m currently a Freelance Designer and a Visiting Tutor, and I’ve taught at a number of Higher Education institutions including Arts University Bournemouth and Southampton Solent University.

I’d been working commercially for a long time; generating the best possible outcomes as quickly as possible to meet a client brief. My MA in Illustration has been a fantastic opportunity for me to redefine my practice, update my portfolio and gain new industry contacts.”

Find out more on Charlotte’s website or follow her on Instagram: @charlottemckew


Illustration from ‘Modern Life’ works by Anjali Mehta

Illustration from ‘Modern Life’ works by Anjali Mehta

“I am an international artist and illustrator whose diverse practice draws on European and Indian culture in articulating the sort of contemporary issues that affect us all. I celebrate human psychology and the marks people make on the world. I am very captivated by contemporary life, how we live and think in today’s time and how our surroundings rapidly affect our mind and daily decisions.

My MA project ‘Modern Living’ is inspired from contemporary life, the issues we face in this new generation, the way life now is evolving and the changes that are seen and adopted by the society and the youth. I attempt to open up my fleeting observations of daily life for consideration.

In this project I have focussed on women issues and rights, harmful effects of social media, body positivity, gender and sexuality etc till now.  I am particularly interested in Issues which I am able to relate on a personal level. I develop visual responses to what I understand about people and their minds. I want my audience to think and connect with my artworks through their own emotions and stories and finish the story I have started.

I have used paints, pens, pastels and digital image-making techniques in creating highly pigmented areas of colour that echo traditional materials and textures. I have tried to focus on young adults, both in terms of visualising their experiences as subject matter and addressing them as my intended audience.  I believe that art is a powerful source of change and inspiration for a community and through my project, I can inspire my audience to think differently about their contemporary habits and re-evaluate what’s right and wrong. “

Sasha Nankey

Work by Sasha Nankey

“I work with both traditional and digital format of poetic artistry. My work mainly consists of fluid and textured drawings as I believe it’s the best way to showcase different forms of energy. With a light hand, using simple tools and surfaces becomes the main focal point. I also merge spirituality and art through an abstract lens. An automatic writing style ties all the pieces together to give a sense of esoteric mysticism.”

Hattie Parker

Work by Hattie Parker

Work by Hattie Parker

I wanted to use my final project to demonstrate my multi-disciplinary illustration practice both in editorial illustration and site-specific; location-based illustration.

I am showcasing my stop-motion moving illustrations presented in augmented reality (AR) in my final MA exhibition piece as part of a site-specific set design.

I have been using my illustrations to explore my interest in the idea of ‘home and belonging’ for 21st-century millennials, globalisation pressures and the juxtaposition of journeying and homemaking.

“Imagine it’s Hay Literary Festival 2020 and the theme for this years’ festival is ‘A Sense of Home’, two speakers take to the stage to discuss their ideas.”

To find out more, visit Hatties website or check out her Instagram: @hattieparkerdesign

Nadarampai Poopongpan

Illustration from ‘Am I a mini curvy girl?’ by Nadarampai Poopongpan

Illustration from ‘Am I a mini curvy girl?’ by Nadarampai Poopongpan

“This project is the illustration book from my experience toward my body named ‘Am I a mini curvy girl?’ — the story of this book regarded to the girl who thought negatively to her body shape.

The story starts with a girl that feels she is regarded as a baby in her family among her siblings. The girl also feels bad about her body shape, always thinking that she is overweight and larger than her classmates, leaving her disappointed in herself and without confidence. One day she travels to the UK, and finds that everybody seems indifferent about their body size, every size has a way to express its beauty. Then, her point of view toward her body changes. She starts to love herself and be proud of who she is.

The idea for this illustration book was taken from my own personal experience, and what I have discovered from my research about the young girls in the current society. When I was around nine years old, I still played with toys, watched my favourite TV programmes and went out together with friends. This is a massive juxtaposition to the nine-year-old girls now, who are concerned about their appearance and their weight. They begin to feel insecure in their body because of the mass and social media, which encourage them to feel embarrassed with their body.

When I was fourteen, I began feeling unconfident in my body. When I came to the UK to study, I saw many girls in different shapes and sizes, not caring about what others thought, being confident in what they were wearing, and being proud of themselves. I started to love myself and be more confident in my body.

After I realised this, I wanted to create something for the girls to feel loved and embrace themselves. I hope that the book that I created could give positive power for the girls to love themselves and to let them know that they are not alone.”

Find out more on Nadarampai’s website or follow her on Instagram: @matapitoustudio

Xiaotong Su

Work by Xiaotong Su

“I’m an illustrator from Guangzhou, China currently working out of the UK. I love to draw my own universe, creating my own weird characters and ‘unreality’. The expressive faces of my anthropomorphic individuals enhance the funny side of normal happenings. Screen-printing and risograph are essential methods during my working process. My fantastical dreams and daily life are the primary resources in the whimsical narratives I develop.

Having previously designed two-dimensional products such as zines, comics, posters, cards and book covers, I’m now moving towards wearable outputs. Experimental compositions, layouts, textures, and collages are leading to colourful, humourous pattern repeats. These form the basis of my branding development. Colour is one of the core elements of my working process, it defines my illustration in a style. I frequently use fluorescent colours in my screen-printing and risographs.

For my final project I wanted to create a picture book. My picture book is called ‘Dr. Tiger’ – it’s a lovely and warm story about friendship.

Dr. Tiger has opened a small clinic deep in the forest, but no animals come to visit. One day something happens. Causing change in the forest…”

Khanh Tran

Work by Khanh Tran

Work by Khanh Tran

“I’m a Vietnamese illustrator. My illustrations are inspired by current human and social issues.

I often illustrate my stories in Comic form with traditional materials like watercolour, gouache and poster colour. I want to convey the meaningful messages of life to all readers around the world through my stories.”


Work by Yuan-Hsin Wang

Work by Yuan-Hsin Wang

“I am an illustrator currently working between Taiwan and the UK. My practice combines the multi-lingual and cross-cultural with traditional and digital drawing techniques. Filmic and literary documentary media underpin my subject matter. Observing current affairs reveals the oddities of everyday life that intrigue me.

I follow banal, unremarkable threads or trends that for some reason amuse me: accentuating these humorous aspects for others through my visualisations. For example, the distinctive characters that emerge can usually be recognised from their dramatic hairstyles. Whether curly, coloured or bizarrely shaped, these fashions reflect interrelated geographies and histories. I am interested in developing a fun and accessible visual language with which to draw out the connections between European and Eastern societies. Colour-matching and creating limited palettes is key as thin lines are animated with dry and textural brush marks to create powerful but approachable narratives.

My project is a short comic book and is painted with digital methods. The story is about: in a world that everyone is bald, a boy who dreams of having a stylish wig. However, the turning point comes directly while the boy realized that he is not able to afford the wig. The concept of the story is regarding creativity and the contentment in lives.”


Dominic Webb

Work by Dominic Webb

Work by Dominic Webb

“I’m a Narrative Illustrator; my main interest relies on creating compelling characters with traditional medium. Being surrounded by inspiration and constant sketching is a crucial part of my practice which aids my imagination. My personal sketches focus around themes of darker aspects of humanity, the brutality of war, conflict, life and death. Every character from the smallest to the largest has a backstory in my mind, I’m a story teller at heart, not with words but with sketches.”