Books | Professor Alan Male


Illustration: A Theoretical and Contextual Perspective: Third and Revised Edition, Bloomsbury(Jan, 2024)

This edition contains over 280 fresh images, the majority coming from a global and fully international base with more than thirty different countries represented by practitioners with outstanding reputations and a collective array of prestigious awards and outputs. This represents the contemporaneous ‘ebb and flow’ in vogue, context and communication as the discipline of illustration progresses further into the 21st century.

The expansion of the fourth chapter further emphasizes the importance of trans-visionary, interdisciplinary practice and the increasing significance of the Polymath Principle. The chapter has also been reconfigured to include two new sections, ‘A Contemporary and Future Paradigm for Illustration’ and ‘Self-expression and the Sensory’. The latter examines and promotes work that is ‘non-aligned’, in other words, work that does not conform to the objective nature of a given brief and which can discern a practice reliant on the emotive and the impulsive. The section entitled ‘Journalism and World Affairs’ delivers case studies that are provocative and cutting-edge. Overall, this chapter emphasizes and presents projects that are research based and largely initiated by the illustrators themselves.

The Power and Influence of Illustration

Achieving Impact and Lasting Significance through Visual Communication
Bloomsbury (2019)

By using both celebrated and dissolute case studies from the past and present, this book reveals the true essence of messages imbued in the art of illustration: ethics employed or deliberately disregarded, as well as its impact and reach regarding target audiences and its effect and sway on global communities. The book discusses how the contents of illustrative imagery can lampoon, shock, insult, ridicule, threaten, subvert, express discontentment and proclaim political or religious allegiance; stir up disagreeable reactions; worship and celebrate; be satirical and entertaining; be unashamedly persuasive and ‘hard selling’ ; be serious and educative presenting original knowledge and documentary material with great authority and integrity.

Illustrators of today and the future need to be professionally and creatively adept at delivering the most effective and felicitous of messages. They must adopt and develop the status of provocateur, author and polymath and be capable of researching and engaging with a great number of subjects and present appropriate yet challenging viewpoints. The visual linguistics, the conceptual and pictorial power of illustration cannot be underestimated, notably by the nature and ‘tone’ of messages being communicated. Some of these messages are lauded and considered essential; some are damned and considered unprincipled and degenerate. This book attends to criteria that examine the broadest of contextual application for illustration and its impact and significance – criteria that assess the true power and influence of illustration.

“A masterful and unique study of the power and influence of illustration. It is for sure an essential book for educators and a must for every illustrator, new comers especially and for older practitioners. It is stimulating, inspiring and very engaging. It is also beautifully and intelligently illustrated: full of important knowledge”.
Pierre-Paul Pariseau
Award Winning International Illustrator, Canada

“In a mediated world where images abound, meaningful books that consider illustration as a valuable cultural force are still as rare as hen’s teeth. Hats off then to the publication of this extensively illustrated tome from Alan Male, Emeritus Professor from Falmouth University, who writes authoritatively on the subject, moving through eras to provide a survey that focuses specifically on the message, impact and significance of illustration”.
Jo Davies
Association of Illustrators and Visiting Professor, Plymouth University, UK

“An excellent book that provides a good grounding in the historical context and development of illustration that becomes increasingly philosophical, more intellectually challenging and questioning the role of the contemporary illustrator”
Nigel Coton
Lecturer, Norwich University of the Arts, UK

ISBN 978-1-3500-2242-3
Print and e-book

Illustration: Meeting the Brief

Bloomsbury (2014)

To engage efficiently with the illustration process is to answer a brief productively and intelligently. Today’s professional illustrator needs to be all of the following: a thinker who can meet all intellectual challenges; a communicator with a deep understanding of audience and context; a maker who can engage effectively with creative processing, drawing and media; able to operate ethically and with integrity; and an individual with a defined or unique visual language or range of specialisms and skills.

Also, many illustrators, particularly those with ambition, will want to rise above pure vocational repetition and achieve some ownership of their creative business. This can bring wider connection and greater recognition, as in the burgeoning practice of research and illustration, in which the emphasis is placed on authorship and the presentation of new knowledge.

This book examines and presents a detailed analysis and commentary on how these skills and aspirations can be brought together to facilitate the process of conceiving and producing successful and effective visual communication; in other words, meeting the brief.

“In all, Male offers a highly methodical and detailed approach to exploring the theory behind the practice. Along with his step-by-step analysis of how to approach and respond to a brief, Male provides the reader with a rounded view of illustration as a profession, covering areas very easily overlooked, and generating much food for thought. I believe this is an essential guide for every aspiring illustrator, through to those in the early stages of their career. I think the book would make a perfect accompaniment to any student’s study, a preparation for a life in the profession”.

Zanna Allen
Association of Illustrators
ISBN 978-1-4081-7377-0

Illustration: A Theoretical and Contextual Perspective

AVA Academia (2007)
Bloomsbury (2012)

This book examines the measure of contextual operation regarding contemporary illustration practice. It also seeks to provide an exemplification of theoretical and intellectual processes necessary for the production of accomplished work. Aimed predominately at final year undergraduate and post graduate students there is assignation to a defined understanding and application regarding all modes of project development, including research, subject matter, conceptual processing, context and audience, analysis and visual language.

Illustrators need to be educated, socially and culturally aware communicators, having knowledge, understanding and insight regarding the context within which they are working, the subject matter that they are engaged with and be able professionals working within the parameters and needs of the market place and target audiences; they need to utilize a breadth of intellectual and practical skills.

Illustration practice is not judged purely by visual literacy and technical qualities, but is a discipline that is firmly established as one that engenders the best intellectual engagement with subject matter, problem solving and visual communication. Illustration can also be applied to anything and is not driven by fad or trend. The global community is its potential audience.

Illustrators can and do pro act authorship and expertise regarding many aspects of contextual operation. It is this concern that provides a certain platform and underpinning to much regarding an examination of contemporary practice. The notion of illustration as ‘coloring-in technician’ must be discarded!

“Alan Male is well placed to know what students of visual arts and communication need to help them work towards the practice of illustration. This book reads as an accumulation of his teaching and professional practice experience. If your subject is illustration then take note of his advice and do yourselves a big favor by reading this book”
Esther Dudley
Association of Illustrators and Plymouth University, UK

“This, a much needed first, is a thoroughly comprehensive guide to the art of illustration in all of its manifestations. As an illustrator for more than 30 years and programme leader at University College Falmouth, Male is an authority on the subject. Writing with suitable zeal and dedication, he provides an inestimable and absorbing overview of the practice of illustration”
Russell Mills
Eye Magazine, Artist and Tutor Royal College of Art, UK

“It is really useful to students, academics and professional illustrators to have a book exploring what it is to be an illustrator. The explorations of the deeper complexities of illustration are really great to see”
Amy Dover
Lecturer, Cleveland College of Art and Design, UK

ISBN 978-1-3500-2242-3
Print and e-book

Illustration: A Theoretical and Contextual Perspective

Revised and Second Edition
Bloomsbury (2017)

This edition contains approximately 200 new images, many by World Illustration Award winners and an extra chapter entitled Contemporary and Future Perspectives, presenting an original analysis of professional practice and the Polymath Principle.

The parameters of illustration practice have changed. As well as the ‘ebb and flow’ of what is actually meant by illustration, its actual realm has become ‘porous’, with disciplines once thought of as professionally linked now overlapping and in some instances deeply intertwined. This has a significant bearing on the concept of professional practice for the illustrator, not only for the here and now but for the future. Illustrators must now consider themselves as having all-encompassing roles, creative practitioners who have the intellectual, creative, managerial and technical skills to cut across a range of disciplines and perform largely unsupervised.

It will command abilities for the following: Research; Effective communication by having the personal confidence to engage in social and professional interaction, presentation and writing; Innovation, problem solving and ideas generation; Aesthetic discernment by having a complete and objective appreciation and working knowledge of visual languages and subject matter; Organisational and collaborative skills; Media application and technical production.

The illustrator of today and the future will be expected to produce work where success is determined by substantive impact; through context, reach and significance by creating new forms of creative expression; by preserving, conserving and presenting cultural heritage; influencing the design, delivery of curricula and syllabi in education and knowledge exchange; and by contributing to economic and cultural prosperity.

“…this book is rich in description, breadth and scope regarding this subject. It is clear that the illustrator is at the heart of the destiny of this profession and not industry. Alan Male advocates that illustrators should be consulted at the start of a commission and we are essential to the development of dynamic and significant work. We are definitely not ‘coloring in technicians’”.

Karl Foster
Senior Lecturer, University of the Arts London, UK

“Our course has a very strong ethos of academic research and this book underpins that notion, but also covers the context of the specialism. It is very comprehensive in its outlook and covers all the subjects we cover with a strong emphasis on social and cultural aspects”.
Maureen O’Neill
Senior Lecturer, University of Portsmouth, UK

“A well-written and comprehensive guide to the subject, the education section is a must read for final year students who negotiate their own illustration projects”.
Ben Kelly
Senior Lecturer, University of Wolverhampton, UK

ISBN 978-1-4742-6302-3
Print and e-book

A Companion to Illustration

A contemporary synthesis of the philosophical, theoretical and practical methodologies of illustration and its future development
Wiley Blackwell, USA (2019)

As Editor

Part of the Wiley Blackwell Companions to Art History Series

Illustration is contextualized visual communication; its purpose is to serve society by influencing the many aspects of its cultural infrastructure; it dispenses knowledge and education; it commentates and delivers journalistic opinion; it persuades, advertises and promotes; it entertains and provides for all forms of narrative fiction. A Companion to Illustration explores the definition of illustration through cognition and research and its impact on culture.

It explores illustration’s boundaries and its archetypal distinction, the inflected forms of its parameters, its professional, contextual, educational and creative applications. This unique reference volume offers insights into the expanding global intellectual conversation on illustration through a compendium of specially commissioned readings by an international roster of scholars, academics and practitioners of illustration and visual communication.

Encompassing a wide range of thematic dialogues, this volume presents twenty-five chapters of original theses, examining the character and making of imagery, illustration education and research, and contemporary and post-contemporary context and practice. Topics include conceptual strategies for the contemporary illustrator, the epistemic potential of active imagination in science, developing creativity in a polymathic environment, and the presentation of new insights on the intellectual and practical methodologies of illustration.

A Companion to Illustration:

  • Evaluates innovative theoretical and contextual teaching and learning strategies
  • Considers the influence of illustration through cognition, research and cultural hypotheses
  • Discusses the illustrator as author, intellectual and multi-disciplinarian
  • Explores state-of-the art research and contemporary trends in illustration
  • Examines the philosophical, theoretical and practical framework of the discipline

A valuable resource for students, scholars and professionals in disciplines including illustration, graphic design, the visual arts, communication and media, culture, humanities and art history.

“A magisterial, contemporary synthesis of a range of thematic configurations and future trends in illustration theory and practice”

Print and e-book