Taking the next step with illustration education (online!)

Art education has certainly had an interesting year, with many colleges having to switch to remote online teaching due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While it’s posed a new challenge for many courses (and students) to get used to, it’s also brought interesting silver linings, like the opportunity to invite lecturers regardless of location, setting up regular tutorials without the requirement of these being physical, and more.

For some institutions, these silver linings are nothing new – Falmouth Flexible (part of Falmouth University) was already ahead of the curve, making their creative course easily accessible across the globe since 2016 and launching their part-time, online MA in Illustration in 2018.

Naturally, the concept of earning a degree online comes with a lot of questions – how much support will you receive? what will your projects look like? how will learning be structured?

To help answer these questions Falmouth University turned to their MA Illustration students, all of whom are currently working on their degrees and had the same questions prior to enrolling. Read on for their responses and to discover their fantastic work.

Why did you choose to study illustration online?

I wanted a course that would push my professional illustration practice and encourage me to dive deeper into the choices I make when creating, whilst allowing me to work from over 400 miles away – the MA Illustration course ticked all those boxes!Jamie Kirk

What’s it like to study a creative subject like illustration online? How does it work in practice?

It’s surprisingly less limiting than you might first think! Each week we are presented with practical tasks, pre-recorded lectures and discussion platforms. We also have a number of group webinars or tutorials each week where we get some face-to-face learning. Over the course of the week everyone contributes to the discussion platforms and responds to the practical briefs; then the following week, space is provided to share and critique the practical work. All of the face-to-face learning sessions are recorded so that if you are unable to make a session due to other commitments you can watch the session back at a later time. Content is released weekly so that you are guided through the modules step-by-step. – Gemma Nics

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Feeling kind of blue. Another exploration.

A post shared by Gemma Nics (@gemmanicsdraws) on

How is the course helping you develop your illustration practice? Can you tell us about a piece of work you’ve produced on the course you’re particularly proud of?

The course has helped me to try different ways of producing work, and to think about the meaning behind symbolism in images. In response to a request to produce an image of a ‘private landmark’ I produced this image of the Pancake Stone on Ilkley Moore, West Yorkshire. My husband and I first decided to start dating when we were sheltering from the rain under this stone during a hike together in 2014 and it’s a very special place for us. We’ve been encouraged to experiment with different methods of making images and scanning in marks made in traditional ways to use them in a digitally edited image represented an important moment in my practice. It’s a technique I still use frequently. – Ottilia Stephens

The Pancake Stone by Ottilia Stephens

What are your ambitions for after the course? How do you think an MA Illustration will benefit your career?

I’ve wanted to set up my own illustration practice for a while, but it seemed impossible to conceive. I love how this MA challenges me to work more thoughtfully and expansively. Understanding how I can make a connection between my work and those viewing it is invaluable as is developing my own personal visual language. This course is a wonderful opportunity to do the thing I love, but has also introduced me to so many new ways of thinking about illustration and the potential of it.Natasha Knight

What’s surprised you most about studying Illustration online?

Seeing so many different styles and ways of working amongst my peers and the illustrators that we’ve studied along the way. I’ve really enjoyed the collaboration between students and was surprised that an online course could engender close ties to develop between students who have never physically met!Gillian Tapping

First Love and Dreams by Gillian Tapping

Would you recommend the course to other illustrators?

I would absolutely recommend this course. I am at the beginning of this journey and enjoying every minute of it. I find this course challenging, enriching and stimulating. Being an online course, it gives opportunities to interact with peers and practitioners worldwide, which is very inspiring. – Ekaterina Ermolina

The Fisherman & the Golden Fish by Ekaterina Ermolina

Many thanks to Falmouth University and their MA students for taking the time in creating this insightful interview.

If you’d like to learn more about studying illustration online, or ask any further, visit the Falmouth Flexible website.

10th September 2020

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