Katie Forrester

Lecturer in Illustration, University of Gloucestershire


Katie Forrester

Katie Forrester, Illustrator and Lecturer

Illustration as Intercultural Communication: image-making processes within globalised communities


This paper explores ways in which illustration students develop work collaboratively within informal online groups and how such communities may contribute to and inform illustration teaching within the University. As education has shifted to online delivery in the past year, there is an urgent need for illustrators and educators to adapt to new technologies, and to develop creative solutions to replace the support systems traditionally found in the studio environment. Due to this rapid change, educators are required to explore innovative virtual and collaborative methods to support student learning. The technologies utilised by digital, educational and collaborative communities also facilitate global and intercultural artistic exchanges. This paper explores this intersection of collaborative, intercultural, and digital artistic practice, and what it reveals about contemporary illustration education.

A useful case-study for this paper are ‘Visual Culture Learning Communities’ (VCLCs), which are examples of creative education that reveal the benefits of peer group learning, as well as multicultural interaction (Freedman, 2013). VCLCs are informal groups of members with interests in a specific type of visual culture, such as games design, animation or comics. As VCLCs often meet and interact online, the communities are open to anyone all over the world, creating visual art that has local connections within networked global communities.

Such collaborative ways of learning offer an opportunity to explore the practical and educational opportunities created by intercultural communication through illustration. Images created within such communities are constructed using culturally diverse visual references, ideas and image-making techniques. In this way, illustration students who participate in VCLCs develop images informed across and between cultures. This paper will examine some of these digital and collaborative artistic spaces as sites of intercultural communication, seeking to understand the ethical, creative, educational, and community-building implications of such creative communities within a contemporary globalised context.


Katie is a Lecturer in Illustration at the University of Gloucestershire, and Associate Lecturer at Staffordshire University. Katie graduated from Staffordshire University herself in 2010, working in graphic design for two years before moving to Edinburgh to pursue her MA and later, PhD. Her doctoral research entitled How Picturebooks Enable Intercultural Communication: a Practice-Based Approach (2019) was undertaken at Edinburgh College of Art.

Katie’s artistic practice involves both traditional and digital media, including expertise in printmaking, particularly lino print and monoprint. Katie’s illustration work often explores themes of folklore, nature and fairytale and her experience living in Scotland was a strong influence on her artistic practice. She is currently artist in residence for Scottish Early Literature for Children Initiative (SELCIE), and she draws inspiration both from the conversations about storytelling, literature, and celtic tales with the research group, and SELCIE’s work in archives of children’s literature. Katie has been a community art facilitator for many years, promoting the social engagement art-making offers. In addition to teaching, she is currently working on a series of lino prints based on her hometown of Stoke-on-Trent, one of which was shown in the online Derby Print Fair last year.