University of Malta

Research Seminar 2 - October 21 2016
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Drawing on Psychology: Evaluating Illustration in Relation to Perception and Cognition 

Prof. Stuart Medley
Professional Illustrator and Graphic Designer 

Are pictures, unlike typography, too difficult to evaluate in terms of their application in the graphic design context? Or can pictures be chosen for deliberate communications with some degree of confidence?

Pictures reduced in fidelity away from their referents (and photographic realism) connect to two key aspects of the psychology of seeing: categorization and identification. Illustration needs an art theory that places it in the context of deliberate visual communication. A clearer position regarding the particular communicative strengths of illustration will result in a more sustainable market where illustrators and art directors can articulate the value of non-photographic pictures.




Stuart Medley has worked as a professional illustrator and graphic designer for 15 years with clients including the Imperial War Museums in the UK. He is a founding partner, art director and illustrator for Hidden Shoal Recordings, a critically acclaimed record label in its tenth year with a roster of international artists. He was the comics artist for Deanne Cheuk’s ground-breaking Mu magazines, and was an artist In residence at the Maison des Auteurs, Angoulême, France throughout the winter of 2013/14. In the 1990s he was a contributor to, and editor of, [sic]BAG Comics, now in the Michael Hill Collection at the Australian National Library.

Stuart is a researcher and educator in the field of illustration. He has a PhD in the area of picture perception and is the author of The Picture in Design, which seeks to explain the communicative potential of the drawn image to art directors and designers. He has presented his illustration research at international conferences including the illustrator as Public Intellectual at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2015 and CONFIA. He has presented a comics character design workshop at the Lakes International Comic Arts Festival (2015). He is the illustrator of Crouch and Pearce’s Doing Research in Design, using comics for each explanatory diagram. Stuart has recently landed a grant for research into the use of cartooning and visual narrative to improve public health. In addition Stuart teaches illustration and comics and has run study tours to Japan, France and Belgium focusing on comics and illustration.


Last Updated: 4 October 2016

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