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A Journey Through The Illustration Course Destination Survey


The Illustration Course in the School of Art, Design and Media initiated a destination survey of their students.This short report details why and how we have gathered the information and how we may use it. It also outlines their professions and some useful quotes from students who have left over the last ten years. The course has a strong research identity and encourages the students to develop a breadth of knowledge and expertise in a variety of fields which include; illustration; typography; photography; drawing; artist's book; web design; animation; graphic design and print making.The emphasis on research also supports the students in their choice of media and specialisms. As part of the course the students also gain experience of; verbal presentations; working to deadlines; working within groups; organising exhibitions and related publicity as well as developing their own independent learning programme. Because the course seeks to question and debate the overlaps that occur between specialisms, there was always a strong feeling that our students, with their research background and artistic freedom would cross boundaries in their professional lives after university. We [the staff] decided to carry out a destination survey because we realised we actually had few records about the sorts of jobs and career paths that our students were following.We also wanted to use the findings of the survey to support and encourage our current and future students in their choice of careers. We have kept in contact with many of our students from previous years, but we chose to mail-out a letter to 180 ex-students, asking if they could get in touch via email or post and give us a short history of their time after university. We were after information about where they were working currently and also to provide online examples of work if possible.


We were delighted when we received a large number of responses and we are currently working towards structuring this information into a lecture for all current students. We will also be creating a comprehensive website that will build into a database of student destinations, which will link to our own Illustration Course website (that also houses 14 years of archived Degree Shows). http://www.envf.port.ac.uk/illustration/ip/index.htm

The survey is beginning to evidence that our graduates have gained employment in a wide variety of fields from freelance illustration across the whole spectrum of art, design and media. Some of our students have gone on to complete teacher training and the research emphasis of the course has also supported a large number of students to continue on to postgraduate study.


There follows a list of careers taken directly from the survey that highlights where our students have found themselves. Education Teaching in Schools Teaching English as a Foreign Language Technician in Schools and FE and HE Institutions Lecturing in FE and HE Institutions

David Lupton

Magictorch Design

Art Exhibiting Work Exhibition Display Commercial Illustration Comic Book Illustration Medical Illustration Cartographic Illustration Resident Artists Band Promotion Art Buyer Murals Self-Publishing Children's books Photography Card Design Product Manager Hand Made Toys

Richard Buckler

Design Design Companies Graphic Designers Clothing Graphics and T Shirt Designs Graphics Officer Government Design Magazines Book Publishers Marketing and Public Relations Advertising


Media Web Developers Game Design Animation Broadcasting CDROM Design Multimedia

Frazer Irving

Other Destinations Student Voice Dissemination Worker Local Authority Art Related Positions Community Projects Funding and Arts Council Grants Sales and Promotion RAF

Magictorch Design

David Lupton


‘Life After University’ a few interesting quotes. It is interesting that so many ex-students in their responses talk about the jobs that they did to survive whilst striving to get their 'ideal' job in art, design and media.The ex-students have also given some really good advice to current students through many interesting quotes about 'life after university'. “What is apparent is that you really need to keep looking and pushing and that if you want it you will get there. You cannot afford to sit back and hope that the jobs will come to you”.

Matt Thomas Graduated 2000 Educational Illustrator/Designer at the University of Cambridge

“If I had to give any advice to students it would be to get as much work out there as possible and just keep trying!!!! Do work for free no matter how big or small, get work experience and try to think commercially. Target who you want to work for!!!

Richard Lock Graduated 2003 Designer for Plastic Head. Music Distribution Company

“I do very little with my art and design these days but I do feel the reason than I do so well in sales is because I'm creative and think outside the box”.

Shirleyanne Kirby Graduated 1999 Executive Medical Representative, Abbott Immunology

“Looking back I can see that my time at Portsmouth was well spent; not only for professional development but for personal development (at work and in the social environment) and prepared me for the road ahead.”

David Wayman Graduated 1999 Flying Officer, RAF

"I graduated from the Illustration Course in the summer of last year (2004) with a first class honours. Since then I have worked for the Cosgrove Hall, BBCi and ITV as an animator. I have also exhibited work in the Southampton City Gallery, Fabrica (Brighton) and my graduation film "switches" is about to feature in a exhibition in Espace Croise gallery in France. To talk about just my successes wouldn't be a fair reflection of my time since I left the course as there has been a lot of signing on and a bit of working in petrol stations!”

Luke Marsh Graduated 2004 Artist/Illustrator


“From a freelance illustrators point of view, I would advise that at no time let your guard down on your own work or finding work. Always look for it, advertise, cold call, get yourself onto an agency while you are at University and while you have the money. DO IT NOW !!!! Don't end up out in the cold on your own, use all the help you can get through your course and start to get your self involved with work related articles. Being a freelancer is VERY hard work. There are an awful lot of new people each and every year turning out of University. Keep your work fresh and appealing and study the market. Read, go out and look at what is the 'In Thing’. Don't get pigeon holed into one style, go for a variety and most of all...KEEP an EYE on TRENDS as it moves extremely quickly and before you know it you are six months behind in your style or approach to your work.”

Sarah-Jane Waller Graduated 2003 M.A Digital Design University of Portsmouth

It has been lovely to hear from our students and the staff have been delighted with the responses.This has been a really positive exercise and emails are still arriving daily. We need to reflect on how this information and data can be used most effectively. A lecture entitled ‘A Journey Through the Illustration Course Destination Survey’ is now complete and work on an online database is underway. Already the information has led to opportunities for work experience and employment.This survey is revealing so much about our course and the students that have completed it. There are exciting jobs across the field of art ,design and media and what this survey proves is that our students are gaining employment in all of these exciting and rewarding positions.

Maureen O’Neill

Illustration Destination Survey  

The Illustration Course in the School of Art, Design and Media initiated a destination survey of their students. This short report details w...

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