HomeResearch and creation in illustration

HomeResearch and creation in illustration

Research and creation in illustration

Recherche et création en illustration

*  *  *

Published on Thursday, April 15, 2021


Le colloque Recherche et création en illustration propose de penser l’illustration à partir de l’expérience pratique, d’en définir les enjeux, d’en observer les conditions de production, les dynamiques de création et les protocoles de recherche.


International conference organized by the ARTES / EA CLARE 4593 research group (Université Bordeaux Montaigne), in partnership with Gribouillis (Bordeaux comics, children’s book and graphic design festival). September 16-17, 2021.


"I don't like the word illustrator very much. Director of books suits me better ”(V. Antoine-Andersen, Conversation avec Kitty Crowther, 2013). Many people nowadays steer clear of the term “illustration.” Their reluctance makes sense with regard to the meaning assigned to the word throughout the history of picture books—for a long time illustration would refer to pictures “generally produced to be inserted within a printed text in order to make it more comprehensible, complement the information it provides, and make it more attractive” (CNRTL). However, the contemporary evolution of illustrated children’s books has shown that images play a central, not secondary, role in this narrative form with outstanding creative potential. Using the word “illustration” entails some preliminary agreement about its meaning so as to put aside any idea of decorative imagery designed to simply adorn a text. Illustrators are frequently authors in their own right, who create books based on complex preliminary research and whose practices assume multiple forms transcending  standard book formats.

The format is a variable that provides an entry into the definition of illustration. Illustrating is primarily about imagining and creating images adjusted to certain goals. Illustrated books are privileged instances of this approach but multimedia formats, posters, magazines, book covers, conference or festival programs, and all sorts of objects actually resort to illustration. Illustrators are fundamentally makers of images that are destined to undergo mass reproduction and be disseminated in various contexts for many audiences.

Whenever illustration is used for communication purposes, it intersects with other fields, such as graphic design. Yet it sets itself apart from the latter because of its narrative specificity, its relationship to drawing, and the illustrator’s ability to create singular universes.

There are obvious links between illustration and comics, with one key nuance though: the term comics most often refers to sequential-form drawn narratives — “graphic novels” if they tell long stories. Illustrations distinguish themselves from other types of drawn narratives thanks to their synthetic specificity and the variety of formats with which they are compatible.

Finally, any focus on illustration should be underpinned by the term’s etymological root, light. Illustration sheds light on and makes visible what cannot be seen: gravity, fragility, lack, hope, laughter... so many sensations likely to be produced in a visual and narrative space. Such highlighting also occurs in the illustrator’s very agency—as Kitty Crowther once again puts it: “When I start drawing, I visualize a character and I draw it. Then the first drawing leads to another one. When images appear in my mind, they are still blurry visions and I cannot reproduce them as they are because they are yet unclear projections” (V. Antoine-Andersen, 2013).

The conference “Research and Creation in Illustration” means to address illustration from the angle of practical experience, outline its stakes and challenges, observe its conditions of production, dynamics of creation, and research protocols. Our ambition is to put together an overview with state-of-the-art value about a field that was for a long time neglected in higher education curricula, even though illustration is a significant reality in France thanks to several dynamic publishers and a number of high-profile art schools (Strasbourg’s HEAR, Epinal’s ESAL, Paris’ Ecole Estienne and ENSAD, Angoulême’s EESI). The conference is also a step in the creation of a research and teaching infrastructure in illustration studies at Université Bordeaux Montaigne, following the opening in September 2020 of a master’s program in Illustration, the first graduate degree of its kind in France, with connections to an international network of art schools.

The symposium also fits into the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region’s cultural policy of vigorous commitment to support publishing, comic art creation and illustration, and is associated with Gribouillis, Bordeaux’s newly created comic art and illustration festival.

The conference is sponsored by ARTES, the Université Bordeaux Montaigne research group on arts and aesthetics, and is a follow-up to the seminar Écriture et création (dir. P. Sauvanet, Cahiers d’Artes n° 12, PUB, 2016) and the conference Réalités de la recherche (collective) en arts (dir. P. Baumann, PUB, 2019). Its purpose is to combine research and creation and investigate how artworks are produced. We welcome oral presentations, round table panels, performances, and any format that will enable exchanges between scholars and artists.

Main topics

To understand the creative processes and research methods specific to illustration, the following topics will be addressed (inclusively):

  • the forms and uses of drawing: sketches, sketchbooks, narration; drawing as a means of thinking, research, storytelling
  • the role of graphic experimentation, chance, creative wandering, improvisation
  • workspaces, contexts of production, the temporality of production
  • the book as essential format vs the variability of formats
  • collective creation: co-authoring, relations with publishers, writer-artist team-ups.

Submission guidelines

The language of the conference will be French.

Please submit proposals including the author’s name/title, institutional affiliation, e-mail address, presentation title and 300-word abstract, along with 100-word bio to julien.beziat@u-bordeaux-montaigne.fr.

Deadline for submissions: May 20, 2021.

Scientific committee

  • Pierre Baumann, Professor of Arts, UBM.
  • Julien Béziat, Associate professor of Arts, co-ordinator of the master’s program in Illustration, UBM.
  • Pierre Bourdareau, Associate professor of Design, UBM.
  • Anne-Perrine Couët, Illustrator, instructor, UBM.
  • Marie Escorne, Associate professor of Arts, UBM.
  • Pierre Sauvanet, Professor of Aesthetics, UBM.



  • Domaine universitaire
    Pessac, France (33607)


  • Thursday, May 20, 2021


  • illustration, art, création, recherche


  • Julien Béziat
    courriel : julien [dot] beziat [at] u-bordeaux-montaigne [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Julien Béziat
    courriel : julien [dot] beziat [at] u-bordeaux-montaigne [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Research and creation in illustration », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, April 15, 2021, https://doi.org/10.58079/16f3

Archive this announcement

  • Google Agenda
  • iCal
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search