London College of Communication’s MA Illustration and Visual Media course explores the creation and contextualisation of images at a time of unparalleled possibilities for engagement in visual culture.

The course is led by Charley Peters, a London-based painter, writer and curator. We caught up with Charley to hear more about her vision for the course, top tips for applicants and how students are shaping this new exciting discipline…

Work by Yuqing Guo.

Tell us about MA Illustration and Visual Media, how did the course develop and what makes it different?

MA Illustration and Visual Media is still a young course, having developed from the existing good provision in image making at LCC at undergraduate level four years ago. The course explores both the theory and practice of contemporary image making at a time of unparalleled possibilities for engagement in visual culture. The course encourages intensive and experimental practice-led research – our students develop an independent and critical relationship to the contemporary image, with the potential to work across a broad range of visual media such as drawing, painting, print, performance, photography, animation and creative coding.

MA Illustration and Visual Media is taught by internationally-active practitioners and thinkers in art, design and image making and runs alongside a suite of postgraduate courses at LCC, which reflect the rich and diverse spectrum of current and emergent practices in post analogue visual culture.

Work by Diding Tian.

What is the basic structure of the course and what kind of projects can students expect to engage with?

A defining aspect of MA Illustration and Visual Media is the development of each student’s independent, self-directed approach. We encourage our students to be outward facing and engage with the world beyond the institution. The first term includes a project in collaboration with an external partner in the creative and cultural industries, we have recently worked with the Museum of London, the Design Council, Barbican and the Wallace Collection.

In 2018/19 we are collaborating with the V&A’s collection of Computer Art and are very excited to have access to their extensive archive of material to work with. A practice-led investigation of students’ individual relationships with the contemporary image drives their programme of study over the course, with an emphasis on being the author of their own ideas and developing a critical context for them.

Work by Molly Zhu.

What is the advantage of studying the course at LCC?

MA Illustration and Visual Media students are part of LCC’s expansive Postgraduate Community, and beyond that have opportunities to be part of UAL’s cross university programme of events and activities. LCC has excellent technical resources that span both traditional and contemporary visual processes from screen printing, photography, letterpress, 3D construction and bookbinding to 3D printing, laser-cutting and specialist digital software.

We are especially supportive of MA Illustration and Visual Media students exploring the areas where analogue and digital technologies meet and how this drives the development of new ways of making and disseminating images.

What skills/interests do you look for from applying students?

We invite applications from thoughtful, rigorous and prolific individuals interested in developing an expanded visual practice that reflects the complexities and possibilities for the image in the post analogue world. We expectMA Illustration and Visual Media students to work hard, be ambitious in their thinking, and highly engaged in visual practice and the discourse around it.

Work by Xi Pan.

Where could this course lead graduates in terms of employment/future projects?

Through the development of an extensive portfolio of work, the course places graduates in a position to operate across many areas of freelance visual practice, the gallery and museum sector, art direction, visual communication, the animation and film industries, interactive and new media.

Employment is a tricky word in the creative world, but our graduates should be in a position to generate projects and respond actively to opportunities beyond the university environment. The course also supports progression to research at MPhil/PhD level.

Can you tell us a bit about your own experience and background in teaching?

Before working at LCC I was the Programme Manager for Higher Education at the V&A Museum, organising student engagement projects with the collections, symposia for postgraduate students and working as the lead education curator on the Museum’s contemporary exhibition programme.

I have taught Fine Art and Contextual Studies at Leeds Arts University, Manchester Met and worked as a visiting lecturer in drawing and painting at Royal College of Art, Wimbledon College of Arts and Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Work by Antonella Vismara.

Why do you feel it is important that our course leaders are also active practitioners?

I think it’s vital for Course Leaders to have a strong profile as a practitioner and to be engaged in the world we are expecting our students to operate in. The knowledge I share with students comes directly from my professional experiences as a painter with a sustained studio practice – I don’t know what use I’d be as a Course Leader if I wasn’t negotiating my own relationship with a creative practice.

I’m a painter, I write about abstract painting and am an independent curator. This is what I do every day. My work outside the University completely shapes what I do inside the University; it helps to drive the course philosophy and the ways in which students start to understand their own practices – to unpick their work, challenge themselves and make sense of new experiences in the studio – it reminds me how difficult it is to make work and to talk about how to make it easier, and it validates the strange and demanding process of making images as a profession.

Find out more about MA Illustration and Visual Media

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