Mokita: Style


Friday, 10 October 2014
The Screening Room
For some it’s a creative straitjacket, for others the Holy Grail – whether it be mimicry or origination, style in illustration can mean polar opposites, and is the subject of the third MOKITA conference at Somerset House. Planned in spring 2014, the subject has been explored in the current issue of Varoom magazine and discussed at September’s Crowd Talks at Hoxton Gallery. This is an opportunity to further debate and define the term.

With an invited panel of speakers and guest chair, both sides of the case will made pitching style versus content, imitation versus sincerity, and semiotics versus aesthetics. Confirmed speakers include George Hardie, Lawrence Zeegen, Luise Vormittag, Catrin Morgan, John O’Reilly, and Crowd Talks.

Both the divergent and emergent aspects of 21st-century illustration will be examined in this latest instalment, intended to make a fit-for-purpose architecture for the subject.

Purposely not aligned to any single education provider, MOKITA was founded in 2010 to focus debate on the more uncharted and contentious aspects of illustration as a subject and practice. Its founders are Darryl Clifton (Camberwell College of Arts UAL), Geoff Grandfield (Kingston University London), and Roderick Mills (University of Brighton).
Lawrence Zeegen is Professor of Illustration and Dean of the School of Design at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. His design and illustration clients include major international newspapers, magazines, book publishers, design studios and advertising agencies, spanning over 1000 commissions across 25 years.
Luise Vormittag trained as an illustrator, graphic designer, photographer, fine artist and theorist, and her creative practice reflects this eclectic education. She currently teaches Design & Interaction on BA (Hons) Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins, and is also working on an AHRC funded collaborative research project with MA Narrative Environments and Vital Arts.
Crowd Talks hosts design discussion events across the UK, bringing together students, graduates and practitioners to debate contemporary design issues.



VaroomLAB Interpretation Symposium

18-19 September 2014, AUB, Bournemouth – Book Now
Interpretation is the theme of the latest VaroomLab symposium on illustration, this year held in partnership with Arts University Bournemouth. Illustrators, students and academics are all welcome.
Interpretation seeks to explore ways in which illustrators, interpret, re-interpret and misinterpret information through illustration practice.
This event will celebrate and investigate the potential exciting creative strategies and possibilities for practitioners to move minds, challenge norms and influence the ways in which we the see the world and connect with it.
You are invited to meet fellow illustration enthusiasts over a two day symposium in September in the seaside town of Bournemouth and enjoy the talks presented by practitioners and academics on illustrating the Prisoner of Zenda, Lucien Freud’s early illustration work, gender representation in illustration, interpretations of error, an exploration of how visual storytelling is vital in how we engage with the world, the role of exchange between artist and scientist in natural history illustration, panel discussions and more.
Speakers include Chris Campe, Joel Lardner & Paul Roberts, Paul Burgess, Mireille Fauchon & Four Corners books, Andrew Kulman, Gary Embury and Thomas Barwick. Guest speakers are animator, Cyriak (‘a real renaissance man albeit with a trademark surrealist attitude, psychedelic influence and love of fractal geometry and orders of magnitude’, Shane Walter, Varoom) and illustrator Marcus Oakley.
You can register for tickets here. Special offer accomodation can be sourced here.
Interpretation, Re-interpretation & Mis-interpretation: Illustration- Practice- Research 
Thursday 18th September
11.30-12.30    Registration – Lunch & Refreshments will be provided during the Symposium at Conference Centre
Then to Main University House Lecture Theatre for the Main Event
12.30 VaroomLab/AUB – Welcome & Introduction to the Symposium Interpretation, Re-interpretation & Mis-interpretation -  Lisa Richardson
12.40  Keynote Speaker-  Marcus Oakley
1.25    1st  paper/ speaker –  ‘A Dog With Teeth: Negotiating Gender in Illustration’ Chris Campe
2.10    2nd paper/ speaker – To be confirmed
3.00    Tea & Coffee (Conference Centre)
3.30   ERROR- 4 X 20 mins presentations ‘The Interpretation of error: Glitsch, craft and illustration’ Joel Lardner & Paul Roberts,‘Make Room for Error’ Paul Burgess, She’s Lost Control’ Thomas Barwick (Mis-interpretation) ‘Erodite’ Andrew Kulman
4.50  Informal Discussion with panel
5.30 Wine & nibbles in the AUB gallery
Friday 19th September
9.30- 10.00 Tea and coffee (Conference Centre)
10.00  4th paper ‘Looking Towards Interpretive Illustration Narratives’ Roderick Mills
10/00 Parallel event – Hayley Potter Giant Consequences live drawing event
10.50 ‘Re-imagining a re-imagined Europe: illustrating the Prisoner of Zenda’ Mireille Fauchon & Four Corners
11.30 5th Paper  ‘How does cross disciplinary exchange influence interpretation of the Natural History illustrator?’ (interpretation) Andrew Howell
12.30  Refreshments (Conference Centre)
1.30 ‘The Topolski Studio Residency Programme 2013′  Gary Embury
2.00 Informal Panel discussion
2.30 Keynote Speaker – Cyriak
3.30 Finish


Fifty Years of Illustration

50 Years of Illustration
Exhibition by Professor Lawrence Zeegen

Private View: Thursday 18 September 2014, 6-9pm
Exhibition Open: 13 September - 31 October, 10am - 5pm (Saturday 11am until 4pm and Sunday closed)

‘50 Years of Illustration’ looks at contemporary illustration’s impact on design, while popular culture is investigated through introductory essays and profiles of leading practitioners, accompanied by examples of their greatest work. 

‘50 Years of Illustration’ accompanies the launch of a new book of the same title by Professor Lawrence Zeegen, Dean of the School of Design.


Crowd Talks - Style

As a precursor to the next Mokita 3 Symposium on Friday 10 October 2014 at Somerset House our friends at Crowd Talks are collaborating with 'Make Sense' Kingston MA Illustration to discuss issues around Style.


STYLE: Plains Indian Drawings

Illustration can at times mistakenly become about ‘style’ - confusing personal visual language with developing an affected ‘look’ to court fashion, to commodify a product to make an illustration career. However with the consumption of imagery speeding up in the age of ‘Its Nice That’ the appetite for the next ‘trend’ is potentially altering how we value images, and illustration.
In the past the so called radical illustrators of the mid seventies, a group of illustrators congregated around the RCA forged strong visual forms of expression out of personal subject matter outside of the established commercial market. This subsequently became commodified in the 1980’s as a stylistic approach to illustration divorced from its personal subject matter.

As an undergraduate student I had the opportunity to attend the private view of Images The Best of British Illustration exhibition at the RCA. There was the expected buzz of an opening, and I was wide eyed taking in the greats of the illustration world.
The work itself on displayed proved troublesome though. Maybe it was the frames, or the fact that the illustrations had lost some of their intention being removed from their commercial rationale, but for whatever reason they left me detached and unengaged. The cacophony of styles on displayed left me cold and troubled as an undergraduate studying illustration.
On my way home later I did have to wonder why I was on an illustration course, as what I saw on displayed of the great and the good of the industry left me detached. In contrast the book that I had only just bought earlier that evening ‘Plains Indian Drawings 1865-1935’ by Jane Catherine Berlo, had an authenticity about the work, openness in the drawings, which the stylistic mannerisms of the illustration work didn’t have for me. Maybe it was the amount of work on show, the succession of images and styles that lost me in confusion, compared to the unaffected genuineness of the simple drawings drawn on ledgers.

Roderick Mills
First published in Varoom! The Illustration Report: Issue 26 STYLE
Varoom! can be purchased through the Association of Illustrators: