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Follow in the footsteps of acclaimed children’s artists. Work with a dedicated support team of internationally-recognised illustrators to develop your own personal visual vocabulary. Make connections in the children’s publishing industry.
- Develop your own personal visual vocabulary supported by a team of internationally-recognised illustrators
- Benefit from a 150-year tradition of drawing and inspiring creativity at Cambridge School of Art
- Follow in the footsteps of many award-winning children’s book illustrators
This taught studio course, first of its kind in the UK, was developed by our distinguished Professor Martin Salisbury, who still contributes to teaching on the course. It will give you the dedicated support and knowledge you need to develop your practice in the art of children’s book illustration.
Within the broad guidelines of each module, you’ll propose and develop a project, with guidance from internationally recognised illustrators, writers and publishers of children’s books. You’ll share and discuss your work with other students in group critiques, and attend lectures and seminars that will inform your studio practice.
Illustration at Anglia Ruskin is built on a tradition that goes back to the founding of the Cambridge School of Art in 1858. Our MA students work in dedicated illustration studios right next door to the Ruskin Gallery, with access to a fully equipped printmaking studio.
By studying with us, you’ll follow in the footsteps of alumni such as designer and war artist Edward Bawden, acclaimed graphic satirist Ronald Searle, and Roger Law and Peter Fluck, founders of the TV phenomenon Spitting Image.
Course Leader: Shelley Ann Jackson.
You might also be interested in our Children’s Book Illustration Summer School as a taster for this Master’s course.
Many of our past students now enjoy careers as freelance authors and illustrators for children. Among our published graduates are Paula Metcalf, Marta Altés, Nadia Shireen, Birgitta Sif, Rebecca Patterson and Jo Empson.
You may decide to take your work to a deeper level with a research degree, like our PhD Children’s Book Illustration.
You can show your work to leading publishing companies and literary agencies at our annual graduation exhibition, held at a venue in London before returning to our own Ruskin Gallery in Cambridge. You can also choose to take part in our student booth at the annual Bologna Children’s Book Fair, where you can set appointments with publishers to show them your portfolio and dummy books, as well as attending lectures, workshops and parties.
MODULES & ASSESSMENT
Observation and ExperimentThis module constitutes a foundation for the course. Focusing on drawing, you’ll propose and execute a thematic drawing project exploring a subject through observation and imagination. Your visual work will not need to be consciously aimed at an audience of a particular age group. This reflects the course ethos of the importance of developing a visual language as an artist rather than pursuing preconceived notions of stylistic appropriateness. You will also attend a supporting lecture programme.
The Sequential ImageThis module invites you to make sequential visual statements around individually proposed themes. You are encouraged to experiment with media and approaches, and to make use of relevant resources, both digital and traditional. You will pursue studio practice within an ongoing dialogue around the nature of sequential visual communication. This takes place through individual tutorial discussions, presentations, seminars/critiques and contextual lectures. You will present a written proposal for a visual sequence that may be narrative or thematic in nature, fiction or non-fiction. This does not necessarily need to be aimed at an audience of a specific age group at this stage. Issues of visual pace in sequence will be introduced and discussed in a dialogue around your and other students’ developing work. A series of contextual lectures will support this studio dialogue. Your assessment will be based primarily on the visual outcomes along with a short essay.
The Diploma ProjectYou will propose and negotiate a completed visual statement designed to communicate with a child audience of a stated age group. Projects can vary greatly and may include, for example, picture books, animated films, series of posters, portfolio of illustrations to fiction or non-fiction texts for older children.
The Diploma ReviewAs the major written element of this course, you will propose and negotiate a 6,000-word essay that places your own visual practice in the historical and contemporary context of the discipline. You will reflect on your practice exploring personal influences and aspects of the ‚industry’ that are of particular interest, historically or theoretically. The purpose of this module, and its supporting lectures, is to bring a more informed and reflective aspect to your personal creative practice.
Master’s Project: Art and DesignThe Masters Project represents the culmination of your learning on the programme, giving you the opportunity to develop and resolve a major area of enquiry. This is a self-directed visual project negotiated with the staff team and peers. You’ll need to negotiate, manage, co-ordinate and bring to successful conclusion a complex, practice-based project within your field of art, media or design. You’ll start by formally presenting your research proposal to staff and peers, and will be expected to build on your previous modules to identify a complex area for investigation and enquiry, as well as research methods appropriate to the project. Following negotiation with staff, peers and, where appropriate, outside agencies, you’ll then submit a written research proposal. Your project may involve external engagement alongside a personal exploration of themes and concepts in your specialist field. You’ll need to show your ability to innovate, think strategically and be sensitive to changing cultural and social climates. You’ll be assessed by portfolio (a body of work comprising a written project proposal, and developmental and final visual work) and a 1200-word reflective commentary. This commentary will specifically outline the methodological and ethical considerations relevant to your portfolio work, and evaluate your final visual work.
Throughout the course, you will be asked to create various projects, to reflect on the work you have created, and to research and apply that research to your own craft.
The Observation and Experiment module will be assessed 100% on portfolio and your own reference of your portfolio work. In the Sequential Image module, your portfolio will be worth 80% of your grade, and an essay makes up the other 20%. The Diploma Project module grade is based 90% on portfolio and 10% on a research proposal. Your Diploma Review thesis will be assessed 100% on your 6,000 word essay, while the Master’s Stage Project will be assessed 90% on your project work and 10% on your written report.
As you advance through the course, you’ll learn to work progressively more independently, preparing you for life beyond graduation.