Masters in Illustration and The Seven Principles for Visual Culture Education

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What is the Masters in Illustration?

  • A deeper understanding of the history and theories of the course
  • Personal development and style – experimentation
  • Finding your own voice
  • Independency
  • Theoretical research
  • Reflective approach – self critical
  • Originality
  • Challenging ideas – prejudices- assumptions -depth

These are some of the points that I will have to incorporate into my learning when studying for the masters. I already feel that I am slowly finding my own voice and I am self critical of my work however, I still think there is a lot to work at which I will show throughout this blog.

In a lecture we had to read a text called Seven Principles for Visual Culture Education  written by Paul Duncun who is a Professor of Art Education at the School of Art and Design, University of Illinois. After the lecture I tried to summarise each section in a few pointers. The seven principles being;


  • Viewers can interpret power in different ways e.g. a man looking down at a person suggests power – a man looking up at a person suggests weakness
  • Images can be powerful as they can persuade/influence or oppose the opinion of the viewer – the creator has a certain amount of control of how the viewer should feel towards the image

When creating an image I must think of how the character for example, is portrayed to the viewer so I can get the viewer to empathise or oppose against the character. This will make my drawing more efficient and will communicate to the viewer easier. For example, I created this illustration for last years project; a mouse who has to face monsters. This shows the vegetables and hands are larger than the mouse so this creates the sense that the mouse is being threatened and the vegetables have the power.

Vegetable Monsters
Vegetable Monsters created by Emily 2012


  • It’s like a recipe on how to live your life e.g. aims, how you should look, think, depending on culture, politics etc.
  • Images can convince you on how you think you should feel towards a subject- this can be done consciously and subconsciously


  • This can be how ideology and power is represented through imagery
  • What does the image represent as well as what is missing from the image
  • Is it targeted at a specific audience or is it influencing your thoughts on a specific audience

I must be clear on hat I am representing as if I get this wrong the viewer could have a negative reaction towards my image and get the wrong message.


  • What is the image portraying- capturing the audiences attention, luring them into read more
  • Feeding off peoples insecurities – latching onto their feelings which again either repulse or fascinate the viewers eye


  • Holding the gaze of the viewer is hard to hold
  • Depending where the image is placed it can either be in your face or not seen at all
  • The viewer will always have an emotional response to the image whether its positive r negative it depends on our predisposition (2010) meaning how we look at an image depends what our cultural, environmental background is

My work is very much influenced by my personality and how I grew up,for example I like colour and a sense of calmness in my images. Although this changes depending what the brief is and what I want to portray.


  • An image is influenced by outside media including tv, music etc
  • The artist is also influenced by outside media


  • An image can having a different meaning when put with text
  • Text is a heavy influence when the reader is forming an emotional response towards the image
  • Outside senses effects the viewers response as well e.g. sound, smell, feeling etc

Linking to intertextuality and multimodality I am heavily influenced by what mood I’m in and what music I am listening to. When listening to chilled out music I tend to use subtle colours that work together, when listening to more up beat music I use colours that are bold and bright. I will have to weirdly consider what music I should listen to when creating future pieces.

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