Let's Illustrate!

Our Head of Education shares some brilliant outcomes from illustration projects in schools.


  • Emily Jost
  • Learning

House of Illustration opened its doors a year ago on 2 July 2014, but not everyone knows we've been running fantastic illustration outreach projects in schools for over five years. We have placed illustrators in over 80 classrooms over that time and our team of illustrators has empowered students and teachers with illustration skills that raise confidence, develop creativity and support learning across the curriculum.

Choosing from four project options, students work on a special project with high quality outcomes like A Box of Beginnings where every student creates the illustrations and text for the start of a story and they are all self-published to become a unique classroom resource.

Illustrator Merlin Evans delivering one of our illustration outreach projects at Rhyl Primary School, Camden

An illustrated story beginning from Rhyl Primary School, Camden

Artwork for a gothic-inspired Box of Beginnings at the Royal Free Hospital School

Another popular choice is Story Islands in which children create the settings, creatures, maps and characters for an imaginary island which is then used as a starting point for imaginative creative writing.

An imaginary creature from the Story Islands project at St Clement Danes C of E Primary School, Westminster

Treasure map for an imaginary island, St Clement Danes C of E Primary School, Westminster

Children developing their imaginary creatures at St Clement Danes C of E Primary School

This academic year we've taken Let's Illustrate! to new some exciting new places. As well as creating story islands, illustrated story beginnings and pop-up encyclopaedias with twelve primary classes, we have made an Encyclopaedia of Celebrations with an Afghan Saturday School, created a Box of Beginnings with children at Great Ormond Street and the Royal Free Hospitals, and made some fabulous books and films with entry-level English students at the College of North West London.

Students at the College of North West London creating Food Illustrated interactive book and film

Interactive double page spread from Teenage Problems

Pop up idli and dosa from Food Illustrated

Illustrator Toya Walker worked with two groups, and with their tutors, the students decided on themes for their interactive books and films. One group chose Food Illustrated, selecting favourite dishes, often from their or their families' original countries, and using collage created backgrounds, tableware and even napkins. This was used as a springboard for both research and writing, with recipes being included at the back of the book.

The second group chose Teenage Problems as their theme. They started off by imagining some problems in the style of an agony column, and depicted these through collaged illustration. This group's written pieces included writing out some helpful answers to the problems depicted.

The outcomes of these two projects are two bound books, with a double page spread created by each student. These were then animated resulting in these two fabulous films: Teenage Problems and Food Illustrated

The students I met on the final day of the project all told me they had really enjoyed working in this way "It's something different" said one, “and we never usually get to do any art".

Celia Forbes, English Lecturer at CNWL said:

"The films are amazing! I feel quite emotional to that the students have created such wonderful work! Thank you so much for working with us and helping our students to have a rare opportunity to participate in such creative and collaborative work. They are so imaginative and artistic and all too often we don't get to see that and work on that with them enough."

Let's Illustrate was part supported by the John Lyon's Charity. Find out more about our illustration outreach projects, school visits, workshops and more here.

Emily Jost
Head of Education