VaroomLab Journal




Issue Four of the downloadable VaroomLab Journal, Visionaries is available here

Issue Three of the downloadable VaroomLab Journal Interpretation is available here

Issue Two of the downloadable VaroomLab Journal Spatialising Illustration is available here.

Issue One of the downloadable VaroomLab Journal Boundaries is available here.

The award winning Varoom magazine was established in 2006 to address the lack of opportunty for writing and as a vehicle and platform for enquiry within the specialist subject of illustration.

Rick Poynor, in his paper The Missing Critical Link, suggests that the lack of critical framework for the subject leads to it being marginalised as a discipline, describing Varoom as “a ray of light in this poorly lit area”.

An invitation from the AOI to academic institutions to form strong partnerships through VaroomLab as a catalyst for innovation in illustration in the 21st Century was instrumental in fostering essential discourse between the practice of illustration and relatively emergent academic research, building upon the success of Varoom magazine in asserting its cultural value.

This unique collaboration between the UK’s professional subject association and representatives from respected academic institutions with critical support from its international panel of peer reviewers was testimony to an ambition to cultivate a symbiotic beneficial relationship. The exchange facilitated both an interrogation and nourishing of the rich complexity of practice, drawing upon and optimising areas of expertise. The final VaroomLab Journal was published in 2016.

Received by major institutions internationally, Varoom magazine makes research available to a diverse international audience: design houses, Universities, illustration and design professionals in Europe, the Far East, USA, South America, Russia and the Middle East. Through four conferences and publication of papers in this digital format VaroomLab augmented this effective mechanism for dissemination, seeking optimum impact.

Jo Davies

Editor-in-Chief VaroomLab Journal

Jo Davies is a co-founder of Varoom. She is a practising illustrator, author, editor, curator and Associate Professor in Illustration at Plymouth University



Issue Four (September 2016)

Visionaries: Peer reviewed, presented papers and Pecha Kucha presentations

varoomlab-4-visionaries_cover_250Issue Four contains papers submitted and peer reviewed for the Visionaries call for papers, investigating the way visionary approaches are able to expand the way we perceive the world, and also how influences from the past continue to resonate today

Including papers on the illustrated map as a mode of communication, tracing the link between visionary J.G. Ballard and the cultural and virtual fabric of 2015, drawing and the digital networks of the contemporary urban landscape, and imagining an alternative future for arts education. A film on the manifestations of vision in contemporary illustration practice is also included.


Peer Reviewed Papers

Matthew Ricahrdson Myths of the near Future: Ballard, Crusoe and Google 

Richard Hudson-Miles Illustration; Education; Revolution

Andy Davies Visualising Spaces: The Illustrated Map as a mode of communicating Fact, Fiction and Feeling 


Presented Papers

Gareth Proskourine-Barnett Paradise Lost: Documenting Birmingham’s Central Library

Rachel Gannon and Darryl Clifton Immaterial Boundary (Film)

Chloe Regan Illustrator as Detective: Discovery through Drawing

Jo Berry ‘The in-betweener’

Christian Lloyd Performing in a do-it-yourself nudie suit

Jo Hassel Off her hostess-trolley: Telling it a different way

Alice Moloney A new breed: How should we champion the mavericks and pioneers of the illustration industry?

Aiden Winterburn Self-Reflexivity and Contemporary Illustrated Children’s Books


Issue Three (April 2015)

Interpretation: Peer reviewed and presented papers

VAROOMLAB3_Journal_cover_250Issue Three contains papers submitted and peer reviewed for the VaroomLAb/Arts University Bournemouth Interpretation symposium, and explores ways in which illustrators interpret, re-interpret and misinterpret information through illustration practice.

Subjects include gender representation in illustration, creating ‘artefacts’ to illustrate The Prisoner of Zenda, interpretations of Error and the role of exchange between artist and scientist in natural history illustration.




Peer Reviewed Papers

Dr Andrew Howells How does cross-disciplinary exchange influence interpretation for the Natural History Illustrator?

Chris Campe Girls Go First? Negotiating Gender Representation in Contemporary Illustration

Joel Lardner & Paul Roberts The interpretation of error: Glitch, craft, and illustration

Thomas Barwick She’s Lost Control


Presented Papers

Andrew Kulman Errordite [sic]: seeing is not believing

Mireille Fauchon Re-imagining a re-imagined Europe: Illustrating The Prisoner of Zender

Gary Embury The Topolski Studio Residency Programme 2013

Paul Burgess Make Room For Error


Issue Two (October 2013)

Spatialising Illustration: Peer reviewed and presented papers, and keynote speeches

Issue Two contains papers submitted and peer reviewed from the above call for papers for the Swansea Metropolitan University/VaroomLab Spatialising Illustration symposium held at Swansea on 24/25 January 2013.  The symposium explored the ways in which we encounter space and place through illustration.





Keynote Speeches

Laura Carlin The Space Between my Work and Myself

Chris Aldhous Architects of the Invisible Idea

Nicola Davies Story Space

Simon James A Place for Picture Books


Peer Reviewed Papers

Mitch Miller Illustrating Space as Collaborative, Socially Engaged Practice: The First Report from the DRAW DUKE STREET Residency.

Nick Dodds Control of Time and Space in Graphic Narratives

Sharon Beeden Utilising Spatial Positions to Promote Idea Generation

and the Enhancement of Creative Thinking Processes within Illustration Contexts

Rachel Gannon Being There: Conversational Drawing in a Non-Place

Bella Kerr Word Room

Richard Levesley & Marc Bosward Illustrated Worlds

Allan Walker Alternative Traditions: Flat as a Way of Visualising Space


Presented Papers

Paul Edwards & Carole Burns The Space Between: The Relationship between Image and Narrative in ‘Imagistic’

Geoff Grandfield Illustration and Narrative as a Spatial Experience – The Jewel House at the Tower of London

Roderick Mills Illustration for the Internet Space

Chloé Regan The Set


Issue One (January 2013)

Papers  for Boundaries: Making and breaking illustration’s frontiers

Issue One contains papers submitted and peer reviewed from the call for papers for the Plymouth University/VaroomLab Boundaries Illustration symposium held at Plymouth University on 14/15 September 2012.






Taste – Dr. John O’Reilly, editor of Varoom magazine, writer and philosopher

Rear View Mirror - Stephanie Black, University of West of England

Tap My Drawings – James Brocklehurst, Plymouth University

Time and Narrative - Dr Julia Moszkowicz, Southampton Solent University

Political Illustration as a means to break boundaries in a mass mediated world – Professor Mario Minichiello, The University of Newcastle, Australia

Reportager, visual journalism - Gary Embury, University of West of England

The Signifier Of Incompleteness, Nanette Hoogslag