My approach to data-collection for illustration practice is to be open to the visual environment through observational sketching, photography and in my habit of collecting ‘tchotchkes’ (from yiddish: trinkets/useless objects).

Illustrators seek to visually interpret phenomena in new ways, collecting ephemera and being open to the visual. This compilation of both conscious and unconsciously made influences are an Illustrators recipe book. “Under the surface of all sign-systems is a ‘deep structure’ – something like a genetic programme – which dictates how such systems operate” (Sim & Van Loon, 2009:66). The ‘structure’ and reference we take from our environments are so deeply embedded in memories, that sometimes, it is hard to think of why a certain element was chosen, an Illustrator has ‘seen it somewhere before’ but often can’t think where. “The visual environment is so fundamental that we do not think about it. We accept the outcomes of art, design, architecture and the proliferation of visual forms, but we fail to acknowledge their status [and] ideals…” (Hoffert, 73:2012).

This is true for my own illustration practice, however through my research project, I consciously analyse and document how my illustrations are constructed: what influences affect the outcome and between the signifier and the interpretation of the reader; “As soon as you finish making it, it’s not yours anymore” (Burgerman, 2014). The primary objective of my illustration work is to formulate inclusive approaches to the practice of making illustration for children’s publications. This paper argues that we all share our innate ability to be creative and aims to show how the building blocks of existing visual culture can be disassembled and reassembled in creative compositions for the purpose of retelling traditional tales for children (of any culture) to relate to and learn from.


Burgerman, Jon (2014) Offset Design Festival, Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin, Ireland 21-23 March 2014

Hoffert, Bernard Taking Art Seriously: Understanding Studio Research Accessed: 08/2014

Sim, Stuart & Van Loon, Borin (2009) Introducing Critical Theory: A Graphic Guide London: Icon Books


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