Imagine being able to draw for a living… ? This BA (Hons) Illustration for Commercial Application degree is an inspiring art course that will help you create and develop your own illustrative voice. Our students gain the skills, knowledge and industry links to forge a career as a comic book artist, editorial illustrator, picturebook artist, product illustrator, concept artist, greetings card artist or fashion illustrator - equipping you with the business and creative skills to pursue a career in advertising, editorial, games, film, television, comics and publishing. Your development - creatively, academically and professionally - will be directed into producing a distinct portfolio and developing a strong business focus to support you in launching a successful career in the creative industries.
Our BA (Hons) degree in Illustration for Commercial Application here at The Northern School of Art offers opportunities to build a credible contemporary and commercially aware illustration portfolio, with training from working practitioners in the industry. Our degree is unique in that we offer a distinctive studio culture; no two days on this course are ever the same. We back this up with a wealth of industry links, exhibitions and opportunities.

• From the moment you start, you are an illustration industry professional as a member of the Association of Illustrators.

• Students have access to a wealth of industry standard resources.

• We provide you with access to high profile illustrators from different areas within the industry through our extensive visiting lecturer scheme.

• We support and guide you to have your own unique illustrative voice, evident from the diversity and breadth of our students work

Student Voice

Find out more about what it's like to study illustration at The Northern School of Art!






Senior Lecturer Matthew joined The Northern School of Art in 2021. As an established illustrator and designer, Matthew has worked in the publishing and design industry for 15 years, predominantly in editorial illustration and graphic design. His early freelance career explored the film and TV industries working with NBC Universal, creating key art for TV productions, documentaries and commercials. Since 2011 Matthew has worked in the publishing industry with a number of key publishing houses. For over a decade Matthew has worked with Move Press as in house illustrator for their huge range of publications and digital content. Move Press, based in California USA, is renown for their high end publications, films and branded content. During this time Matthew has also collaborated with, Walz and Pactimo, creating a range of cycle wear and apparel. Recent work includes his collaboration in a series of books, working with high profile companies which include Team Sky, Rapha, ASO ‘Tour De France’ and Team EF Pro Cycling. Matthew’s freelance practice is often tied to his interest in the sports industry and has created a niche portfolio of clients within the sector. Matthew’s freelance clients range across the globe from the USA to Taiwan. Matthew’s is currently pursuing his MA and continues his own practice and freelance business. His skills range from analogue illustration and to print making to digital art and design. Matthew is currently exploring the realm of digital 3D and motion design. BA (Hons), MA, PGCE
Lecturer Alice graduated from an MA in Illustration and Design in 2013 and since has worked in higher education whilst developing personal work for a range of regional exhibitions including; The Northern Festival of Illustration in 2019, Emanation at ThoughtFoundation 2018, Hamsterley: Unearthed 2018 in Hamsterley Forest, and the Drawing Parallels and Drawing the Line series at Gala Gallery and Holy Biscuit gallery. This has built a wealth of experience working with varied teams to plan and curate exhibitions. Alice has worked on a range of illustration commissions for clients such as Bernicia Festival, Lake Poets, Narc Magazine, The Customs House theatre, and Tiny Lights Recordings and Kittle PR. Alice continues to work on private illustration and design commissions alongside lecturing. Qualifications: BA (Hons), MA, PGCE, FHEA
Lecturer Kirsti is an illustrator and children’s book author based in Newcastle Upon Tyne. You’ll often find her working on current projects in her studio in the outskirts of the city or floating around coffee shops nearby drinking too much coffee. After graduating from Edinburgh College of Art in 2016 and moving back to the North East, Kirsti began to work as a freelance illustrator. Her life long love of reading and narrative imagery motivated her to apply to the Picture Hooks scheme in a hope to focus on writing and illustrating children’s books. She was awarded ‘Picture Hooks Illustrator of the Year’ in 2017 and has worked on multiple books since with Scholastic (Alison Green Books), Little Tiger(Stripes), Usborne Publishing, Childs Play Publishing, Hachette, Quarto Publishing, Macmillan Publishing, Chicken House Books amongst others. In 2020 she was longlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize for her debut picture book “The Mist Monster”(2019) and has had her other works shortlisted forthe Sheffield Children’s Book Award 2020, and included in BookTrust’s Great Books Guide 2020, EmpathyLab – Read For Empathy Collection 2021 to name a few. Kirsti joined The Bright Agency in late 2019 and continues to work closely with them on projects in publishing, editorial and advertising divisions.
Lecturer Chris Saunders is an author and illustrator from the North East UK, where he currently lives and practices. He studied Illustration at The University of Northampton receiving a First-Class BA Honours Degree. Internationally represented in the UK, USA and Asia by the illustration agency Astound US, Chris has worked with clients around the world on live commercial projects including; illustrated book covers, educational publications, licensed greetings cards and imagery as well as character and creative development for recognised companies including Jellycat Ltd, UK Greetings, Cambridge University Press and Miles Kelly Publishing Ltd amongst others. Chris is both the author and illustrator of ‘Wish’, his debut picture book, which has now been published in multiple languages around the world and sold in retailers including Waterstones. He has illustrated multiple children’s picture books to date; working with publishing houses and clients such as Scholastic, Quarto Publishing Plc, Running Press Kids, Flowerpot Press, Curious Universe and Kiwi Co amongst others. He has most recently worked on two titles with Flowerpot Press featuring the five-time Grammy Award winning American blues musician Keb' Mo'; singer, songwriter, guitarist, contemporary blues artist, and children's book author. Chris works predominantly digitally, informed by a background in traditional analogue techniques; describing his work as having a narrative emphasis; using imagination, detail and atmosphere combined with exaggerated physics. Chris is both the author and illustrator of ‘Wish’, his debut picture book, which has now been published in multiple languages around the world and sold in retailers including Waterstones. He has illustrated multiple children’s picture books to date; working with publishing houses and clients such as Scholastic. Chris has recently published a new picture book 'Believe'.
Technician/Demonstrator Kathryn Bell is an artist and print technician working in the North East of England, where she graduated with a first-class honours degree in Fine Art. Kathryn is an experienced print technician who demonstrates print techniques to students in Graphic Design, Illustration and across the school. Her own work mostly includes relief, screen print and cyanotype, often combing a mixture of these processes to create hybrid prints. Kathryn is active in keeping up to date with printmaking trends and opportunities and uses this information to support students to access exciting opportunities. Kathryn is a member of People of Print, a community of printmakers, illustrators and graphic designers who are outstanding in their field. She regularly exhibits and sells her work around the UK and permanently in a store in Durham City. Kathryn is a featured printmaker with Green Door Printmaking Studio (International Print Exchange) and regularly participates in the Cascade Print Exchange (USA). Qualifications: BA (Hons)


This degree is for you if you wish to have a career in:



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MA Arts Practice - MA Design Practice - MA Design History -MA Directing & Theatre Making