Caroline Pedler

Lecturer (BA Illustration & Subject tutor & Module Leader MA Illustration), Plymouth College Of Art

Caroline Pedler

Sketching on Location, Redruth. (Image: Artists own)

How can creative​ ​meaning-making workshops guide our students towards a more efficient knowledge and understanding of their own self-authorship?


Can creative​ ​meaning-making workshops guide our students towards a more efficient knowledge and understanding of their own self-authorship? Illustration has become a visually amorphic industry and the styles of well-loved illustrators are often coveted by students, encouraging a more decorative and less meaningful approach to their work. How can we then engage these students more efficiently in the illumination of their own individual voice? There are various ways of guiding a student to success as an illustrator, practically and critically through the briefs they are set within higher education, but often the student can still be unaware at graduation (and even at postgraduate level) of how to fit their personal ideologies and identities into the work they create for university modules, and can therefore view personal work and course specific work as separate entities. Looking to exterior visual sources for validation and inspiration which at best produces a cohort of copycats, and at worst causes creative paralysis through inappropriate comparison. This presentation explores a transformative learning approach to illustration pedagogy through the creative meaning-making workshop, based predominantly on illustrative processes and strategies. Highlighting areas of blindness around self-authorship and creative autonomy within the standard university brief, and exploring how the student in higher education can gain valuable insight through short, punctuated tasks, encouraging a more phenomenological approach to creative process, practice and reflexive decision making; the intention being to nurture and celebrate a unique and authentic visual language and identity as an illustrator, reducing the gap further between student and self-authored professional. This paper is a continuation of ‘Sketchbooks as therapist: Self-authorship and the art of the picturebook’, written by myself earlier this year, which looks at my own creative development and transformative learning through education, self-initiated and professional practice. It also works alongside ‘Drawing thinking: Illustration as pedagogy’ by Hirons and Brown stepping sideways more towards the creative process and the importance of authenticity in the marks and textures we make as illustrators.


Caroline Pedler is an Illustrator, artist and educator who has illustrated over 60 children's picturebooks, working with a variety of international clients over the past 23 years. Being a predominantly co-edition iIllustrator, her books have been translated into 27 different languages and are sold all over the world. In 2011 Caroline completed a Master’s in Authorial Practice - Illustration at Falmouth University where her passion for sketchbooks and mark making was reignited, along with a healthy authorial practice. A year later she founded a small press called An-ti-dote Press where she produced a selection of small illustrated publications and will co-publish Caroline’s first self-authored picturebook in 2021 alongside Troika Books. Initial ideas for the same picturebook were exhibited in The Worldwide Trends in Children's Illustration Exhibition 2018 in Italy and later that year she also took part in the CICLA Original Illustration Exhibition in Shanghai, where she recently won the professional category, annual prize for the same exhibition in 2020. Caroline continues to run various masterclasses, workshops and mentoring in art and Illustration and currently works as a part-time lecturer on BA Illustration and leads the MA Illustration pathway at Plymouth College of Art. Devon. UK