Mel Brown & Jason Hirons

Mel Brown, Principal Lecturer and Assistant Head of School, Plymouth College of Art

Jason Hirons, Senior Lecturer in Contextual Studies, Plymouth College of Art

Mel Brown & Jason Hirons

The Little Poster Festival 2019, Plymouth College of Art

The Little Poster Festival: Drawing Thinking


Approaching the design and delivery of contextual modules in ways that develop the skills of student illustrators: extending their knowledge and understanding through critical writing practices which combine drawing and illustration. At Plymouth College of Art, we want to celebrate the value of illustrators commentating on and engaging in and with the world. This includes encouraging students to see writing not as something additional or removed from their work – the theory element they have to do – but rather as something in which they can explicate their ideas and beliefs, described through image and text. Any illustration programme would want to explore, develop and celebrate the illustrator’s talent in being able to convey complex ideas and narratives with visuals that are thought-provoking and accessible. At the start of their third year, we always ask students to give a presentation showing consolidation of their thinking, acting as sign-off for the final writing phase of their dissertations, and we recently decided to shift from verbal to drawn presentation of research so far. The format for the Little Poster Festival is an Illustration Pedagogy take on what is essentially an academic poster. However, we want our students to think about approaching these posters as if they were a commission from a client - to convey ‘big ideas’, making them both academic and visually exciting. They have to simultaneously present their posters to the rest of their cohort and ambulate the space, questioning methodologies, discussing research questions, and offering recommendations for new avenues of inquiry. Illustrators have more and more entered the fray as commentators, intent on engaging in the big debates of the day, using words and images to speak the language of a world increasingly made of signs and spectacle. Through drawing + writing, making + thinking, we are challenging the existing orthodoxy of the supremacy and essentialism of the word in the understanding of critical debate.


Mel Brown MA is Principal Lecturer and Assistant Head of School (Design + Communication) at Plymouth College of Art, current research interests explore play and the role of curiosity in creative learning. As an image-maker she is obsessed with discarded books, abandoned photographs and seemingly random pieces of ephemera, playfully transforming the use, meaning and interpretation of the things she finds.

Jason Hirons MRes is Senior Lecturer in Contextual Studies at Plymouth College of Art. He is a writer, arts producer and walking artist specialising in short form text, and his research interests include Transformative Learning, Inclusivity in Creative Learning, and Landscape Agency. He is one half of the creative partnership Driftingspace, and is a founding member of Interchange, a collective of artists, architects, activists and change makers.