Dr. Stephanie Black

Lecturer in Illustration, Kingston University


Dr. Stephanie Black

Image produced for Tom and the Library (video) 2020

Capitalising (on) research


Research for illustration is most unfairly maligned. This is research illustrators do to understand the subject matter at the heart of their project. But according to the REF, PhD guidelines, and artistic research textbooks this isn’t real research but “’small r’ research” (Scrivener 2010), in that it’s instrumental and doesn’t give insights into artistic production itself (Borgdorff 2010). This is limiting, with outcomes then perceived as holidaying in someone else’s discipline and unlikely to result in inter- or trans-disciplinary benefits. In contrast, this paper will outline some of the ways in which qualitative ’small r’ research can invigorate illustration practices and products, and contribute to research on and through illustration, thereby leading to greater understanding of our field.


Dr. Stephanie Black is a practitioner-researcher in illustration, making things and taking them apart to see how they work. She completed a practice-led Ph.D. at the University of the West of England (Bristol) and currently works at Plymouth University and Kingston University. She has exhibited nationally and internationally and works to commission and collaboratively, including projections for live music performances and music videos. She also writes about illustration, focusing on the methods employed and theoretical territory it traverses.