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BA (Hons) Illustration — Overview

It takes an illustrator with a bold, clear vision to create striking and memorable images. 

Our BA (Hons) Illustration programme will teach you how to develop your own style, reflecting the unique way you see the world.

You’ll explore different contexts of image-making, from traditional publishing and commercial applications through to independent books, zines and illustrative products.

Taught by a dedicated team of illustrators, artists, printmakers and graphic designers, throughout the programme you will extend your drawing skills to develop your personal visual language and identity.

We value your imagination, alongside your conceptual thinking and ideas development, and we will help you become a professional, working with different clients in different contexts, learning how to connect and communicate with diverse audiences. 

Beautiful illustrations by Ella Doherty screenprinted onto bags and pouches for her 'PushPull' collection.

You will work collaboratively, develop skills in different disciplines and get involved with national and international competitions where there will be opportunities for securing work placements, live briefs and commissions.

As well as introducing you to commercial practice, we also encourage you to explore your own ideas through self-directed and authorial approaches which will extend the boundaries of your visual language. 

We’ll challenge you to develop a culturally curious attitude, stay aware of contemporary trends and actively engage in creative communities, finding that spark of originality that will set you apart from the crowd.

Student work by Micah Shaw.

What will I achieve?

You’ll learn to work independently, critically and creatively in different contexts, as we support your drive to design, manufacture, market and distribute your own work. 

Illustration is a competitive discipline which requires high levels of commitment – we will help you develop professional skills through each assignment, including creative problem-solving, project management, working to brief and completing to deadline.

Students get to network with industry contacts and exhibit at New Designers.

You’ll have opportunities to build a professional network, as well as the chance to show off your skills by exhibiting, publishing and promoting your work outside the college. 

Through self-reflection, you’ll develop and identify personal strengths, helping you to recognise transferable skills and how they will be useful for employment once you graduate.

As you develop your interests you can choose to tailor your study to a range of creative specialisms, including editorial illustration, children’s books, independent publishing, printmaking, graphic design and art direction.

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From designing for Lego to writing and illustrating children’s books and exploring the world of indie publishing, our graduates secure fantastic diverse careers in the booming field of illustration.


BA (Hons) Illustration — Highlights:

  • Explore image-making in a range of contexts including editorial, publishing (children’s books, book design and illustration, comics and graphic novels), surface pattern and print, moving image, graphic design and design-to-sell products (zines, toys, limited edition prints, etc).

  • Develop traditional and digital skills, as you define your visual identity and get ready to enter the creative industries.

  • Benefit from high contact time with our dedicated team of illustrators and artists who offer a range of creative specialisms including comics, independent publishing, editorial, children’s books, printmaking, graphic design and art direction.

  • Think beyond traditional collaborations with designers, creative directors and publishers and start building illustration communities, forming collectives or running pop-up shops.

  • Develop your talents for enterprise and entrepreneurship through our programme initiatives such as independent publishing with Pylon Press or selling your work through the Illustration Shed – our very own pop-up shop.

Have a question for our team? Email:

Sell and promote your work in our pop-up shop — the Illustration Shed.

BA (Hons) Illustration — Modules

Year One

BAIL101 – Introduction to Illustration

This module is intended to expose students to a wide range of visual traditions and their illustrative fields of communication.

Observation, analysis, research methodologies and creative problem-solving strategies, will be core to this study alongside the practice of drawing and fundamental traditional & digital skills, applying image making principles such as colour, composition, shape, form and texture.

Students will respond to a number of tasks that will develop their strategies and skills for generating and recording ideas. Through these projects students will cultivate an awareness of a range of ‘visual languages’ that will enable them to develop their visual communication skills within the context of Illustration.

BAIL102 – Visual Narratives

At its heart, Illustration is storytelling. Illustrators frequently tell stories and convey complex messages or concepts through their image making, where contexts could include: editorial, books & bookcovers, reportage, advertising etc.

By exploring the interpretation of texts, students will develop their strategies and skills for generating and recording ideas, cultivating their awareness of a range of ‘visual languages’ and developing their visual communication skills.

BAIL103 – Image & Text

A Contemporary Illustrator’s remit often goes beyond image-making, many practitioners incorporating lettering, typographic and design sensibilities within their visual identities.

Students will explore the relationship between images and text.  They will be introduced to the design principles of layout and composition, as well as hand rendering techniques associated with typographic design, with the intention of integrating both image and text within a design context.

Students will be encouraged to use and develop drawing, construction and assembly, print-making and digital imaging processes, and associated materials and techniques through a range of workshop activities, extending their awareness of their visual language potential.

BAIL104 – Professional Practice & PDP 1

This module is designed to help students explore the shape and patterns of employment in Illustration and related industries, to enable them to start to match their current skills knowledge and creative portfolio to those required to successfully compete for work in their intended career. Having identified areas for development students will work with the module leader to update their Professional Development Plan (PDP blog) enabling them to identify those experiences and skills they will need to acquire during their degree course. The module will cover a wide range of general skills including personal SWOT analysis, effective professional communication with employers, CVs, applications, looking at freelance working, including starting to consider issues around contracts, copyright and working with agencies.

BAIS300 – Interdisciplinary Studies

This module provides an opportunity to expand and develop skills and knowledge in fields beyond the immediate programme environment, in subject areas which are nonetheless relevant to your personal career aspirations, and which have the potential to develop new horizons and feedback into future modules. You will engage in an elective offered by a discipline outside of your own. Electives may include: drawing, costume accessories, live art, printmaking, curatorial practice, web design, interactive media, creative writing, studio or location photography, underwater imaging, film making, contemporary crafts, textiles, & fashion marketing and promotion.

BCOP100 – Contexts of Practice

This module will introduce the student to key theories and will provide a range of critical approaches supporting the investigation, interpretation and analysis of contemporary Illustration. Students will study a range of concepts that have shaped the way that we understand Illustration in its wider historical and cultural contexts. Students will develop core research and communication skills to help them to articulate and contextualise their understanding of the themes covered in this module. The knowledge gained in this module will support their creative practice by developing an understanding of the relationship between thinking and making.

Year Two

BAIL201 – Sequential Image-making

Compared to stand alone illustrations, image-making that unfolds in a sequence has to take into consideration timing and pace alongside conveying action and atmosphere.

Within this module students will take on the role of Illustrator as storyteller or communicator through the production of sequential images. Developing skills in exploring image-text relationships through visual narrative, they will extend awareness of the potential contexts of Illustration and the convergence of their practice with other disciplines, such as creative writing, graphic design and animation.

BAIL202 – Independent and Self Promotional Practices

This module will reflect the entrepreneurial creativity of the programme and encourage students to develop knowledge of appropriate professional contexts as they explore self-initiated, independent and authorial approaches to Illustration.   By undertaking a self-directed project that supports creative direction, investigation and exploration should lead students to critically analyse their own personal visual language. Students will be encouraged to develop their entrepreneurial skills as they take responsibility for the whole process from concept to final product, taking design, manufacture, marketing and distribution into consideration.

To support this outward-looking approach to dealing directly with audiences and markets, students will also research a range of self-promotion and presentation strategies. They will experiment with formal or informal creative self-promotion marketing material pertinent to their career aspirations and they will develop and realise their own concepts as they consider strategies for raising their profile and setting their illustrative practice apart from the competition.

BAIL203 – Professional Practice & PDP 2

This module extends skills acquired during Level 4 allowing individuals to further explore professional Illustration practice alongside an investigation into in-house employment, commercial freelance Illustration and entrepreneurial opportunities.  Running across level 5, it will inform an understanding of the level of professionalism, creativity and adaptability required to negotiate a career in Illustration and associated professional industries.

Students will have the opportunity to respond to the requirements of a range of professionally focused projects.   Whether they work on live briefs and external commissions, or competitions and simulated briefs, students will be expected to research thoroughly and produce illustrations and designs that respond the specifics of art direction and take into account clients, audiences and contexts.

Throughout the module, students will also consider business and practice skills required to plan for a career in Illustration, including the skills and attributes required in contemporary practice alongside developing an understanding of the guidance available for Illustrators relating to moral rights and ethical responsibilities.

Continuing on from the good practice set up in the level 4 Professional Practice module, reflection will also be an ongoing, continuous process recorded and archived through each students PDP blog.

GCOP200 Contexts of Practice

This module extends and develops the themed ideas, concepts and critical discourses introduced in Contexts of Practice 1. Students will attend core lectures and participate in a themed seminar series designed to deepen their understanding of Illustration practice in its wider contexts. This themed approach encourages students to make considered and appropriate links between their area of practice and wider contextual and interdisciplinary discourses. You will continue to develop critical approaches to research, which will inform your understanding of the relationship between context and practice. Students will undertake a contextual research project that links the thematic focus of their particular seminar series to their area of creative practice, which culminates in an illustrated research project.

Year Three

BAIL301 – Research and Experimentation

This module will stipulate the overarching direction and outline research methodologies that will provide a platform from which the student’s Creative and Professional Conclusion module may develop.

It is a period of reflection on past creative outcomes and the success of their commercial application.  The questioning of theories and experimentation in practical processes will allow students to plan their final project and negotiate a course towards its conclusion considering future career or learning aspirations.

Negotiated proposals for outcomes must evidence indicative inclusion of contextual studies subject matter and creative intent for the final year must be clearly definable at the end of this module.

BAIL302 – Creative and Professional Development

This module will enable students to use personal career ambitions to position themselves for progression to employment, self-employment or to post-graduate study.  It will provide multiple opportunities for students to assimilate previous industry experiences and research into both contextual subject matter and creative outcomes of the final year modules.

The module will encourage consideration of audiences, end-users and relevant markets.  Relationships with appropriate external agencies, individuals and professionals will be explored and interactions with the creative, commercial and cultural environments will be investigated.

BAIL303 – Creative and Professional Conclusion

This module represents the culmination of the knowledge, skills and understanding acquired throughout the entirety of the student’s study on the programme through the engagement in a project that is the result of a self-initiated or self-selected brief.

BAIL304 – Contexts of Practice 3

This module provides students with two pathways. Each pathway supports the development of independent critical thinking and requires them to consider and contextualise their practice by situating it within a wider set of discourses and contexts. Pathway One is an opportunity to conduct a substantive piece of independent research, which is focused on an area related to your creative practice. Pathway Two is a practice-led research project, with critical commentary.

BA (Hons) Illustration — Staff

Mel Brown, Programme Leader

With research interests that centre around experiential and collaborative learning, Mel Brown and research partner Elaine Garcia have been investigating the potential of blogs to extend opportunities for peer critique outside the classroom, and their papers have been presented in the UK, Europe and the US.

While studying in Bath for her BA (Hons) in Graphic Design and MA in Visual Culture, Mel became obsessed with discarded books, abandoned photographs and seemingly random pieces of ephemera, and a recurring theme in her own practice is the exploration of juxtaposition to transform the use, meaning and interpretation of the things she finds.  One of the co-founders and members of Bread & Butter – a Bath & Bristol based collective of Artists, Illustrators, Printmakers & Ceramicists working together to promote and exhibit their work - the power and potential of the collective and creative collaboration has remained an interest ever since.

Dedicated to teaching both theory and practice since 1999, Mel began teaching at Plymouth College of Art in 2004.  Mel’s skills and experience are consolidated in her role as Programme Leader on the BA (Hons) Illustration programme at Plymouth College of Art, having long since decided that working alongside the next generation of Illustrators & Image-makers was exactly where she wanted to be.

Phil Trenerry, Lecturer

As an Illustrator, Phil initially focused on children’s book commissions, producing artwork for poetry anthologies and fictional texts to be used within the primary school curriculum and alongside his practice built up extensive teaching experience across a range of Art & Design courses.

Since joining Plymouth College of Art in 2004, Phil has committed to his role in helping to shape and develop the identity and curriculum of the Illustration degree programmes.   Specialist interests in Independent Publishing have been explored under the banner of Pylon Press. A support structure for the transmission of creative energy, Pylon Press is designed to enrich the HE Illustration programmes at Plymouth College of Art, providing opportunities to produce artwork for publications and associated products in a supportive, nurturing and curriculum embedded context, encouraging collaboration with students, lecturers and industry links.

Current personal practice explores themes relating to nostalgia; an attempt to reconstruct something that he ‘probably never even experienced in the first place’.

Benjamin Wright, Lecturer

Since graduating in 2009, Ben has been operating as a Freelance Illustrator, working for clients in New York and Canada, to more local work in Plymouth and Exeter.  Ben’s practice consists of regular illustrative work for large-scale publications and advertising, as well as the creation of products, independent printed materials, and exhibitions. All of these recent and challenging experiences have all been directly tied to his career as a lecturer; enhancing his knowledge base as he supports students with similar ambitions to realise their creative potential and begin to operate as professionals themselves.

Ben advocates an intuitive led approach to Illustrative Practice; promoting the creation of work that is independent of a single client, operating in collectives and developing a creative community.

Ben’s personal work is mainly based in comics and toys, recognising a rich visual history in vintage ephemera, married with contemporary production techniques.

Jason Hirons, Lecturer

Jason is an artist, writer and educator with a particular interest in the detritus, flotsam and jetsam of the everyday. Other areas of interest include landscape, walking, critical writing, comics, Actor Network Theory, poetry and performative practices. Since 2001 he has been walking, collecting and archiving the city of Plymouth; this work has been realised in a number of ways, including published texts, performances (locally, nationally and internationally), installations, and public talks.

Having studied Performance Writing at Dartington College of Arts followed by a Masters by Research in Landscape from Plymouth University, Jason is a key member of the BA (Hons) Illustration and BA (Hons) Costume programmes at Plymouth College of Art, fully committed to his role teaching contextual theory and practice across the two programmes.

As one-half of Driftingspace – his collaborative research practice with the artist Sally Hall – Jason explores possibilities and concepts around space and place in urban contexts. Driftingspace attempts to read the city through ideas of architecture and the built environment, displacement, entropy and the ephemera of the landscape. The experience of walking and driving through the city, its transitional spaces, and its undefined places are all elements within their ongoing inquiry. 

Andy Pedler, Lecturer

Andy is a multi-disciplinary image-maker. The main focus of his activities centres on the creative investigation of ‘process’, with an emphasis on a direct hands-on approach to the interaction and manipulation of media and materials. His visual practice explores the relationship between text, image and narrative; integrating digital applications within a traditional craft based approach, incorporating printmaking, drawing and bookbinding.

Within Andy's freelance practice, he has worked on a wide range of commissions from book cover designs for a variety of UK-based publishing companies including, Random House (Vintage) and Absolute Press, as well as editorial work and design briefs. Besides from teaching, Andy continues to actively participate in exhibiting his personal work in various solo and collective exhibitions and press events.

Caroline Pedler, Lecturer

Caroline’s role at Plymouth College of Art is as a part time lecturer, two days a week. She co-runs and designs modules, runs tutorials and presentations, designs and delivers workshops, assessing and holding interviews for new students and staff for BA Illustration. She is also the MA illustration Specialist tutor/course leader with similar responsibilities and roles.

She has been working as an illustrator for nearly 20 years, predominantly illustrating ranges of greeting cards and children's books, and has created artwork for over 50 books, selling worldwide in over 23 languages. She works for publishers in the US and the UK, and works on a rolling book contract with Little Tiger Press, London.

She completed an MA in Illustration - Authorial Practice at Falmouth University in 2011 and since then has fostered a healthy authorial practice alongside her commercial work to brief. She creates her own illustrated books under the umbrella of her own small press, called An-ti-dote Press. Her life is a contradiction of the commercial versus the authorial and constantly striving for a balance between the two. She strives to understand the relationship she has with her work and has a passion to pass that on to her students in the most honest, authentic and inspiring way. Her knowledge is varied and wide and she has an abundance of ideas and solutions which can be useful in mentoring and consultation situations.

Tristan Manco, Visiting Lecturer

Tristan's main focus is in art direction, design and illustration. His clients past and present include Real World, Womad, Universal, BBC, Habitat, EMI Records, Rich Mix, Cheltenham Festivals, Soil Association, Modern Art Oxford and the Arnolfini Gallery. High profile projects include the iconic Blur 'Think Tank' album cover. As creative director of Think Beautiful Design, Tristan also works with international contemporary artists in an art direction role for clients such as Wahaca.

In 2002 Tristan's first book, Stencil Graffiti was published by Thames and Hudson worldwide. This was followed by Street Logos (2004), Graffiti Brasil (2005), Street Sketchbook (2007), Street Sketchbook: Journeys (2010), Raw + Material + Art (2012), Big Art / Small Art (2014). His most recent book Make Your Mark was recently published in 2016.  He also often contributes to arts and design publications such as Juxtapoz, Varoom Magazine and Creative Review. In 2014 & 2017 he was invited to be one of the judges for Association of Illustrators annual World Illustration Awards.

Besides working at Plymouth College of Art, Tristan has also lectured at Tate Modern, the ICA, the Arnolfini, and the RCA. He also lectures in Illustration at USW in Cardiff.

The staff listed on this programme are correct at the time of writing. Students will be notified if there are any changes to key staff (i.e. Programme Leaders and Lecturers).

BA (Hons) Illustration — Student Work

Adam Homewood, BA (Hons) Illustration

Micah Shaw, BA (Hons) Illustration

Ella Doherty, BA (Hons) Illustration

Jack Viant, BA (Hons) Illustration

Ella Doherty, BA (Hons) Illustration

James Rae, BA (Hons) Illustration

Sasha Seraia, BA (Hons) Illustration

Charmaine McDonough, BA (Hons) Illustration

Sam Thorne, BA (Hons) Illustration 2014 Graduate

Mike Coombs, BA (Hons) Illustration 2014 Graduate

Georgina Ridler, BA (Hons) Illustration

Dan Budd, BA (Hons) Illustration

Lottie Woolnough, BA (Hons) Illustration

Tom Charlesworth, BA (Hons) Illustration

BA (Hons) Illustration — Students Say

Jack Viant – BA (Hons) Illustration grad

"I had an amazing time on the Illustration course at Plymouth College of Art! I learned a lot about my own illustration style, taking full advantage of the three years – it took me a while to hone in on a style that was right for me. The lecturers really pushed me to try new things which was a real challenge for me at the beginning. 

The support from my tutors, fellow illustration piers and the rest of the college staff played a huge part in my evolution at the college. 

The relationship I have with the college is one that I will never forget. And they will find it hard to get rid of me as I am now employed here within the Careers & 3Es department! I love working for them, I have also enjoyed completing the full evolution from student to staff! "

Ben Challen – BA (Hons) Illustration 

“I’m working on narrative pieces based on the sea, something I’ve loved from an early age. I’ve spent a lot of time swimming, diving and walking near the coast. 

I’ve chosen to make a book for my dissertation piece, instead of writing an essay, something that communicates visually. 

I’ve also collaborated with Laura Jayne Weeks on a screen-printed book called Palimpsest. We each worked on separate pages but thought about the flow of spreads together. I wanted to draw bugs!  I did some research talking to local Cornishmen in pubs, taking photos and writing journals.

The reason I want to be an illustrator is that I need to work with the visual. After college I’m going to collaborate on performance with two other students.”

Bénédicte Barrett – BA (Hons) Illustration

"It’s been a very good experience, I’ve learned new digital skills, developed ideas, and become more interested in environmental issues. I draw first then scan. We have workshops in print and I’m really into self-authoring and publishing. I wanted to have the chance to develop my artistic side and I plan to carry on teaching and creating things for children."

BA (Hons) Illustration — Careers & Alumni

Connecting you with industry

You’ll work on live project briefs and benefit from visiting lecturers who work in the industry and can deliver workshops, offer portfolio guidance, and talk about their own practice – bringing in new voices and viewpoints. 

We have developed strong industry links, such as with greetings card manufacturers Hallmark, who frequently offer students valuable internships giving them fantastic vocational opportunities as well as connecting them directly with prestigious industry professionals. 

We're part of the AOI (Association of Illustrators), who offer professional practice lectures, discounts, and portfolio reviews. Students benefit from collaborative projects with businesses like No Guts No Glory and get the opportunity to annually exhibit work at London design show New Designers

There is also the possibility of studying abroad for a semester or a year at one of our Erasmus partner universities.

Graduates become:

  • Commercial/Freelance Illustrators
  • In-house Illustrators/Designers
  • Printmakers
  • Children’s Book Illustrators
  • Concept Artists/Designers
  • Studio Managers and Art Directors
  • Lecturers
  • Entrepreneurs

Recent alumni:

Mike Coombs 2014 graduate: Junior Designer and Concept Artist at Design by Touch – working on toy design and invention.

Jordan Wray 2014 graduate: Employed by Tiger Print and represented by Astound, New York.

Tobey (Mole) Brown 2011 graduate: Designer for Lego at their headquarters in Denmark.

Lize Meddings 2012 graduate: Freelance Illustrator and zine-maker – Sad Ghost Club.

James Rae 2015 graduate: design, illustration & animation for Papaya Pods in Barcelona.

Jack Viant 2015 graduate: Freelance Illustrator.

Sam Thorne 2014 graduate: Junior Art Director at social media marketing agency 33 Seconds – clients include Amazon and Peugeot.

Stu Harmer 2014 graduate: Freelance Illustrator for Newaza Apparel (Los Angeles), StickerBomb (NY), Hunger Club and more.

Careers & Enterprise in the Curriculum’ at Plymouth College of Art 

Professional practice is embedded within all of our programmes.  Throughout your studies, you will have the opportunity to develop the key professional, transferable skills for employability in the creative industries and potentially work in partnership with other sectors locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.

From writing and making the most of your CV to gaining industry experience, the acquisition of professional skills has been written into the programmes of study by our staff teams, who have ‘real world’ experience. They are also supported by our Industry Liaison Groups, who help inform the development of the higher education curriculum.

BA (Hons) Illustration — Entry Requirements

Minimum 5 GCSEs, grade C or above, from a general range of educational GCSE subjects, preferably including at least one from Art, Design, Textiles or Media.
200 UCAS Points

BTEC National Diploma - MMP grade
Access to HE Art and Design
Irish/Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers
International Baccalaureate
Other International Qualifications

Applications welcome from candidates without formal qualifications who can provide evidence of their creativity.

BA (Hons) Illustration — Resources

Our students really appreciate being part of the creative environment here, which provides them with access to all kinds of industry standard facilities. 

In Years 2 and 3, you will have your own dedicated workspace within our illustration studios and opportunities to work with a range of other specialist workshops and facilities in the college.

Facilities at the college include:

Animation, Film and Photography Studios

Our students make full use of our industry-standard dedicated studio spaces – including our infinity cove, green screen, and specialist sound studio (with Foley pit and vocal recording booth) – plus our stop-motion suite, our darkrooms, and plenty of individual edit suites, all up-to-date with the latest industry-standard software.

Ceramics and Glass Workshops

With a glass furnace that works at 1,100 degrees, 10 potters wheels, resources for hot, warm and cold glass processes, a plaster room for mould making, 16 kilns, a well-stocked glaze mixing area and individual studio space, our Ceramics and Glass Workshops have a real ‘wow’ factor, rivalling any art school around the country.

Our Life Drawing Studio.

Drawing Studios

With north-facing windows, a ‘methods and process’ area, individual studio space and a specialist life-drawing studio, our impressive, open-plan, triple-height Drawing Studio is a huge space, perfect for many different activities and specialisms.

Fab Lab

Our ‘fabrication laboratory’ is kitted-out with the latest in digital design technologies – from 3D printers to 3D scanners, a vinyl cutter, CNC milling machine, CNC router and laser cutter. It adds a whole new level of opportunity for students across all creative walks of life.

Fashion Studios

This large professional studio offers a real-life fashion experience in a fabulous space with sea views. Specialist industrial and domestic sewing machines, a range of knitting machines and a wide stock of fabrics and knitting yarns sit alongside a media and marketing Mac suite, a fully operational CAD cutting facility, and a library of designer garments to inspire.

Fine Art Printmaking Studios

A fantastic facility supporting fine art printmaking, our dedicated space caters for a wide range of programmes and processes. You’ll get access to a 150-year-old Columbian press, an Albion press, an historic and rare wallpaper press, and an automatic FAG proofing press, plus a broad selection of metal and wood type, vacuum screen-printing beds, and four etching presses.

Our Textile Studios.

Jewellery Design Studio

Housed in our fantastic new Craft, Design and Fabrication Workshops, this stunning space provides everything for contemporary and traditional techniques in jewellery design, including benches supplied with gas and oxygen, in-house metal casting resources, hand and machine-forming tools, facilities for vitreous enamelling, and a separate chemical room for etching, anodising and patternation. We also have larger metalwork equipment for welding, brazing, cutting and grinding.

Textile Studios

With views out to sea and 35 metres of print tables to encourage experimentation, our Printed Textile Design Studios also boast a fantastic Mimaki fabric printer, digital embroidery resources, industrial sewing machines, sublimation printers, a dye lab, heat presses, a tufting gun and a Mac suite. It’s got to be one of the best printed textile workshops in the UK.

The Print Lab and Equipment Resource Centre

The Print Lab offers affordable and quick print services for all our students who are looking for anything from large-format or solvent printing, to photo printing, scanning or vinyl cutting, and a wide range of finishing services. And our highly experienced Equipment Resource staff can advise you on which of our 6,000 pieces of industry-standard kit – from underwater cameras to traditional large format cameras and all free to hire – will best meet your needs.

Woods and Plastics Workshop

Alongside the latest in new technology, we value the long-standing traditions of making in wood and plastics – and have developed an excellently-resourced workshop that is open to all our students. It boasts a wide range of kit, including an impressive CNC router, plenty of saws and lathes, and strip-heaters, as well as greenwood-working facilities.

BA (Hons) Illustration — Interview

Illustration at PCA blog
Showcasing the work of HE Illustration students at Plymouth College of Art, presented module by module across three years on the BA (Hons) Illustration programme/FD + BA top-up programmes

Pylon Press
Pylon Press is a support structure for the transmission of creative energy, developed to provide a stable framework and structure of support for the creative and professional development of Plymouth College of Art students, staff and alumni alongside participating illustrators/artists.

Where Pylon Press has been developed to enrich HE Illustration programmes at PCA creating opportunities to publish under Pylon Press that are embedded within the curriculum, it also acts as an exemplar of entrepreneurial, independent and authorial practice for HE Illustration students. For the Illustration staff involved, Pylon Press has supported the development of authorial illustration practice and hand made book skills – all of which feed directly into the curriculum.

Publications to date:

  • ‘Support Structure 01’, 2010 & ‘Support Structure 02: Followers’ 2012 (publishing work by students, staff, alumni alongside professional illustrators and image-makers)
  • ‘Public Information 1989’ by Phil Trenerry, 2011
  • ‘Chairmen of the Bored’ by Mel Brown, 2011
  • ‘Doll’s House by Emily’ Watkins, 2012
  • ‘Straubs’ by Kelly Walton, 2012
  • ‘Nugget‘ by Ryan Salter, 2012
  • ‘Girls & the World‘ by Eliza Meddings, 2012


Illustration Café
Illustration café is seen as a platform for cross-collaboration between year groups, from pre-degree students who want to study with us at HE experiencing the atmosphere of the studios for the first time, right through to our alumni returning to PCA sharing their graduate experiences.  A soft approach to networking, students work alongside each other and opportunities for independent and collaborative practice are explored in an informal setting, sitting outside of the curriculum.  The Café takes place over a few hours one evening a week and can be run by students and alumni as well as staff.

Have a mooch
A place for all of that ‘Illustration Stuff’ we’re always going on about!!

National/International Illustration competitions
Every year there are a range of competitions and open submissions for Illustrators to submit work to. Below are a list of possible briefs you can choose from: students consider the pros and cons of each competition brief.  Does it suit their working style? Does it match or relate to their aspirations as an Illustrator?  What are the time scales involved?  How would those deadlines fit in to their current modules?  What does the workload look like?  What are the benefits of the competition/brief as a whole – money & prizes galore or prestige & recognition of their work by industry greats on the judging panel?

  • Macmillan Children’s book prize
  • Penguin Design Awards
  • Puffin Design Awards
  • Cheltenham Illustration Awards
  • Graphic Shorts
  • Design Against Fur
  • Young Creatives Network
  • D&AD Awards
  • London Museum of Transport
  • RSA stamp awards
  • V&A Student Illustration awards


Entrepreneurial Approaches to Illustration Practice
Influenced by our experiences at the Bristol Artists Book Events at the Arnolfini in Bristol, our first ‘Illustration Stuff Fair’ took place over 2 days in the PCA Gallery during the AOI Images 35 exhibition in Spring 2012.  The fair encouraged networking to take place between Illustrators, artists, publishers, retailers from the South West as well as students from other institutions, at both Undergraduate and Postgraduate level.  Positive feedback was given by all those external parties involved in terms of the opportunities raised through such activities, encouraging entrepreneurial, collaborative activity amongst our students.

The Illustration Bureau is a mish-mash of chopped up and reconfigured furniture.  Designed and built as a centre piece for the AOI Images 35 exhibition, this distinctive shop space was create to display and sell student work.  The Bureau has travelled to Illustration 109 in Plymouth and New Designers in London as well as being a focus of the Summer Show and a permanent fixture as a display case in the Illustration studio.

UCAS Code: W220 Full Time
Part Time
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