Dr Ian Horton

Profile image of Coordinator Contextual and Theoretical Studies School of Design

Coordinator Contextual and Theoretical Studies School of Design

London College of Communication


Ian Horton is Contextual and Theoretical Studies Coordinator across the School of Design at London College of Communication. His PhD focused on issues of national identity in relation to the codification of British architectural education in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition to architecture and national identity he has published work on: oral history and text-based public art; colonialist stereotypes in European and British comic books; the relationship between art history and comics studies. He is currently working on a book about the Dutch graphic design group Hard Werken to be released by the Amsterdam-based publishers Valiz in 2017.

He has recently presented conference papers on self-published comic books and creative freedom; experimental typography and curatorial practices; information design and graphic narratives at international conferences by organisations such as the Association of Art Historians; International Association of Word and Image Studies; International Conference of Comics and Graphic Novels and Comics Forum. In 2014 he was joint founder of the Applied Comic Network which has subsequently run a series of workshops across the UK promoting the use of comics for informational and educational purposes. He is currently an Associate Editor of the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics.

Research interests

National Identity and comic books, education and comic books, information design and comic books, Dutch graphic design, experimental typography, graphic novels and art history.

Research statement

Since joining UAL in 2007 my research activity has expanded in the distinct but overlapping fields of comic studies, graphic design and illustration, addressing the intersection between these disciplines. My concern with information design and comic books has most recently found its realisation in the formation of the Applied Comics Network which focuses on comic books that are designed to inform as much as they entertain. Our inaugural event was held in May 2015 and co-organized with fellow founder members John Swogger (Archeological Illustrator and Comic Book Artist) and Lydia Wysocki (founder of Applied Comics Etc). We have organised further Applied Comic Network events as part of the annual Comics Forum conference and presented our findings at other comics studies conferences both in the UK and internationally.

For the past 18 months my main focus has been a large research project examining the legacy and contemporary relevance of the Rotterdam-based Dutch graphic design practice Hard Werken based on archival research and interviews with the members of the group and their associates This research will culminate in a book titled Hard Werken: One for All (Graphic Art & Design 1979-1994) to be published in 2017 by the Amsterdam-based publisher Valiz


Current Thesis Students and Titles

Klaus BirkBuilding Experiences – A Reflective Design Process for Public Media Spaces.

Gill BrownAn analysis of the visual languages, tropes and conventions of scientific graphic design.

Michael ConnertyRepositioning Jack B.Yeats as a Popular Comic Strip Artist.

Lee Horner, Autobiography as narrative medicine: the therapeutic possibilities of the graphic novel form.

Francisco LaranjoDesign as criticism: methods for a critical graphic design practice.

Guy Lawley, Theorising ‘transformation’ in the paintings of Roy Lichtenstein (1961-1964) through an analysis of his relationship with comic art and his use of the so-called ‘Ben Day dot.’

Tzotis RallisGraphic Design for Dissent: The graphic languages utilized by the anti-austerity movements that emerged as a response to the global financial crisis during the early 21st century.

Louise ScovellAchieving Social Change Through Visual Communication.

Luise Schreuer Vormittag, The contribution of illustration to socio-cultural and spatial discourses.

Tobias J. Yu-Kiener, The Artist in Focus - Artists’ Biographies in the media of Comics and Graphic Novels.

Completed Students and Thesis Titles

Joanna Choukier, Youth in Lebanon: Using collaborative and interdisciplinary communication design methods to improve social integration in post-conflict societies.

Maria Papadomanolaki, Sonic Perceptual Ecologies: Strategies for sound-based exploration, perception and composition in spaces of transient encounters.

Project awards, and grants

In 2015 I was awarded funding of €47,000 from the Creative Industries Fund NL towards the publication of Hard Werken: One for All (Graphic Art & Design 1979-1994) in collaboration with the Amsterdam-based publishers Valiz.

Selected research outputs