Senior Lecturer

Having performed the roles of both Head of Illustration and also Course Leader since 2011, I decided to shift my focus in early 2021 to teaching on both BA(Hons) Illustration and Illustration: Authorial Practice MA. I also intend to increase my engagement in academic research from 2021 with a view to applying for a PhD. My teaching has always been inextricably linked with my career as a freelance illustrator. Both inform and support each other. The ability to remain relevant and conversant within the rapidly shifting sands of the design and illustration industries has become something that students now expect. For me this connection has been mutually beneficial and self-sustaining. Not only does the student attain knowledge of their subject and valuable insights into current and established industry practice but I, as their tutor, am constantly reinvigorating and stretching my own knowledge of the subject. 

Having initially started using acrylic paint as my primary medium I have moved between 3D assemblage, relief printmaking, gouache and inevitably onto digital media. Having graduated in 1989 from Central Saint Martins I am one of a generation of illustrators who have witnessed at first hand the seismic shift in the industry that occurred when Apple introduced computers that freelance illustrators could actually afford. With the addition of Photoshop and Illustrator the circle was complete. For me, working with layers in Photoshop has allowed me to pursue ideas further than I had been able to previously. Understanding that colour, texture and composition are truly under my control has freed up more time to focus on visual problem solving. For me as an illustrator, the ‘end justifies the means’. However, always at the heart of my work has been the desire to replicate something of the craft of traditional processes such as reduction relief printmaking (both lino and wood cut). It’s really important that the digital process is not allowed to suck the life out of these beautiful processes.

The main focus of my freelance career has been editorial illustration. I have worked for most of the major UK daily newspapers while also working for other major editorial clients in the UK & the US such as New Scientist, The Lancet, International Herald Tribune etc. The fast turnaround and often conceptual nature of the editorial brief can often push the illustrator to their limits but the experience can be hugely satisfying.
A significant aspect of my career as a freelance illustrator has been the need to embrace sound business practice: A good understanding of how to market oneself, nurture strong business connections, be fully aware of important issues surrounding contracts, copyright law etc. all while while balancing the books. Having worked in a number of studio environments including the renowned ‘Big Orange Studio’ I have gained significant experience of contributing ideas to a ‘collective’. 

External Links

Contact details

Telephone 01326 370740

Qualifications

Qualifications

Year Qualification Awarding body
1989 BA (Hons) Graphic Design 2:1 Central St. Martins College of Art & Design
1986 Art & Design Foundation Grimsby School of Art & Design

Honors and awards

Year Description
2013

Shortlisted and exhibited in the International 'Bodegas Terras Gauda' competition

2004

Bronze award for 'Book Cover' Illustration in the AOI 'Images' Awards

2003

Silver award for 'Editorial Illustration in the AOI 'Images' Awards

Membership of external committees

External Examiner at Kingston University (MA Illustration)

Research Interests

Research interests and expertise

Research:

  • Documenting visual problem solving strategies that are used within the field of Illustration with particular reference to how these are used by students. Potential outputs include: published research paper, exhibition, archive of projects, book proposal potential.
  • An exploration the use of maps within culture. This theme stems from my interest in map making as a result of the numerous commissions that I have undertaken in the area in recent years. Potential outputs include: published research paper, exhibition, possible conferences.
  • Alternative approaches to the delivery of narrative. This theme is specifically practice based and will revolve around the development of multiple characters and the subsequent mapping of their personalities and histories across an imagined community. Potential outputs include: an exhibition, research paper, website.
Academic subject specialisms:
  • Conceptual Thinking / Visual Problem Solving
  • Professional Practice for Illustrators
  • Editorial Illustration
  • Book Cover Illustration
  • Map Illustration
  • Hand Rendered Type
  • Advertising Theory
  • Book Binding / Book Arts
  • Colour Theory (Josef Albers)
  • Relief Printmaking (Lino & Woodcut)
  • The crossover of digital and traditional / autographic styles of image making
  • Sequential Imagery: Pace & flow within narrative illustration 

Research Topics

  • forms of alternative narrative
  • maps
  • visual problem solving

Research Outputs

Publications and research outputs

Artwork

Owen, Nigel (2015) National Geographic Illustrated Maps: Colombia, Queensland,. [Artwork] Item availability may be restricted.
[thumbnail of Illustrated Map of Colombia: National Geographic] [thumbnail of Rough Illustration: National Geographic]

Events

2009

Group show, ‘The Brain Unraveled’, Slade Research Institute, London

Events

2008

Group Staff Illustration show, Falmouth Arts Centre

Events

2006

Central Illustration group show, London, New York

Events

2005

Central Illustration group show, London, New York

Events

2004

AOI Images (bronze award – Book jacket illustration)

Events

2003

‘Celebrity’, CIA group show, London, New York

Events

2002

AOI Images (silver award – editorial illustration)

Events

2001

‘Alphabet’, CIA group show, London

Events

1999

Two man show, Dragon International, London

Events

1997

Four Artists group show, London

Events

1997

Boxing Clever group show, London

Events

1996

Martin X group show, Central St. Martins, London.

Events

1995

Martin X group show, Central St. Martins, London.

Events

1994

Positive Designworks group show, London.

Events

1992

Positive Designworks group show, London.

Events

1992

Tram Depot Open Studios show, London.

Events

1991

Tram Depot Open Studios show, London.

Events

1988

Le Cafe Du Jardin, group show.

Professional Engagement

Independent professional practice

Examples of clients that I have worked for in my capacity as a freelance Illustrator over the last 25 years:

  • The Lancet Medical Journal
  • Traveller Magazine
  • The Sunday Express
  • The Saturday Express
  • The Radio Times
  • Caterer & Hotelkeeper Magazine 
  • Wine Magazine
  • You Magazine
  • Money Wise Magazine 
  • Ideal Homes
  • Homes & Gardens
  • Marie Claire
  • Televisual
  • Creative Review
  • Design Week
  • Elle (UK)
  • Penguin Books
  • Transworld Publishing
  • MacMillan Books
  • Black Swan
  • Jonathan Cape
  • Vintage Books
  • Crate & Barrel (U.S.)
  • Colombia University (U.S.)
  • United Airlines (U.S.)
  • John Lewis
  • Waitrose
  • Asda
  • IKON Design
  • WCRS / Sense
  • The Royal Mail
  • British Telecom 
  • The Guardian
  • The Weekend Telegraph 
  • New Scientist 
  • The Independent
  • Forbes (U.S.) 
  • American Express (U.S.) 
  • International Herald Tribune (U.S) 
  • Saveur (U.S.)
  • Cosmopolitan

Engagement with professional associations and societies

I am currently a member of the Association of Illustrators (UK)
I am currently External Examiner for BA Illustration at Leeds College of Arts
I am currently External Examiner for MA Illustration at Kingston University

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