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I am an illustrator, educator, researcher and currently Associate Professor and Head of Department for Illustration Animation at Kingston University. I am interested in illustration disciplinary research methodologies and their potential for inter- and trans- disciplinary application, which culminated in the text Illustration Research Methods (2021, Bloomsbury Academic) which I co-authored with Dr Mireille Fauchon. My practice as an educator and researcher is informed by a successful 18-year professional illustration career and my articles and practice-based works have been published in the leading research and professional publications in this subject area: Journal of Illustration, Association of Illustrators Journal and Varoom Magazine.
Associate Professor and Head of Department Illustration Animation
As Associate Professor teach Level 6 (3rd year) students on BA Illustration Animation and on MA Illustration. As Head of Department for Illustration Animation I lead and have oversight and coordination of the learning, teaching and assessment methods for the BA and MA courses within the department.
I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) which I was awarded through the Kingston Academic Practice Standards Framework (KAPS) in recognition for my achievements leading on developing an inclusive curriculum, redesigning group work and embedding research skills in the curriculum. KAPS Panel feedback said that ‘the two case studies provide a wonderfully rich narrative of what the candidate has done and they are inspiring'.
I am co-founder and co-director of Illustration Educators, a subject association and international organisation established by educators to support, advance and disseminate the subject, practices and discipline of illustration by providing forums for discussion and debate. Working closely with a group of academics from Camberwell College of Art and the Royal College of Art, including co-director Darryl Clifton (UAL:CCW), Illustration Educators launched in 2021 with over 100 interested members and a dedicated programme of events scheduled for 2022-23. I am a member of the CHEAD Subject Association Alliance that brings together leadership of the art, design and media subject associations with related organisations.
I am currently External Examiner for the BA Illustration programmes at Leeds Arts University, University of Plymouth and UCA: Farnham, with previous posts at Liverpool John Moores University and University of East London.
My research interests lie in the potential of the discipline of illustration, its shifting landscape and innovative approaches to illustration methodologies, informed by a successful 18-year professional illustration career. I am an active researcher whose articles and practice-based works have been published in the leading research and professional publications in this subject area: Journal of Illustration, Association of Illustrators Journal and Varoom Magazine.
This project was further influential in informing a key chapter in my 2021 publication (Gannon and Fauchon) Illustration Research Methods. As part of a wider project, this book is a dedicated critical and theoretical text offering a new discipline specific vocabulary to explore the processes and methods through which illustration now operates. Proposing ‘illustration' to be considered as holistic processes consisting of a range of project appropriate interpretative and creative practices rather than simply a finished outcome. This high-quality output was included in REF 2021. Leading design theorist Steven Heller (School of Visual Arts, New York) publicly endorsed Illustration Research Methods as an ‘essential volume in the evolution of this significant discipline.' Similarly, Rick Poynor (Professor of Design and Visual Culture, Reading), said it makes a ‘vital contribution to the discipline's critical discourse'.
I have planned and developed significant research events, most notably when Dr Mireille Faucon and I were asked by Desdemona McCannon, Principle Editor of the Journal of Illustration (Intellect), to organise and chair the 11th annual conference for Illustration Research, the sole international association for academic research in this disciplinary area. Timed to coincide with the publication of Illustration Research Methods (2021) and thematically drawing upon the research I conducted in this area, Education and Illustration: Models Methods Paradigms (Kingston University, 2021) showcased and discussed multiple positions and levels within the pedagogic and professional illustration practice, highlighting pertinent contemporary disciplinary concerns and how these impact, and are impacted by, education and academic research culture. The event hosted 800+ delegates from 27 countries (the largest gathering of international illustration researchers, academics and practitioners).
Fauchon, Mireille and Gannon, Rachel (2018) An introduction to the manifesto for illustration pedagogy : a lexicon for contemporary illustration practice. Journal of Illustration, 5(2), pp. 207-223. ISSN (print) 2052-0204
Gannon, Rachel and Fauchon, Mireille (2018) The manifesto for illustration pedagogy : a lexicon for contemporary illustration practice. In: ICON 10 : The Illustration Conference; 11 - 14 Jul 2018, Detroit, Michigan, U.S..
Gannon, Rachel and Davies, Colin (2012) Networks and Meshworks – topologies for cross-disciplinary teaching in drawing. In: Drawing Knowledge: 2012 Drawing Research Network Conference; 10-11 Dec 2012, Loughborough University. (Unpublished)