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POSTGRADCHAT with Sean McSorley

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Published date 02 July 2014

To celebrate Camberwell College of Arts Postgraduate Summer Show 2014 on the 16th to 23rd July, we met with students to talk about their work and give us a glimpse into their graduation work.

MA Illustration Sean McSorley enjoys experimentation and accidents on his latest MA novel-inspired work

MA Illustration Sean McSorley

Brighton Rock 1

CCA: How has your experience at Camberwell been like?

SM: I did my undergraduate degree in English Literature so just the experience of being at art school has been really fun. More than that though, it has pushed my work forward both in technical terms and in terms of the research and depth of thought which goes into it. I’m leaving the course much happier and more confident in my work and I’m excited about the future.

CCA: What did you find was the most valuable technical skill you learnt whilst studying at the College?

SM: We were encouraged to experiment with a number of different techniques in the first unit of the course. A workshop in monoprinting had a particular impact on me and has become integral to my current practice. Before the course my work had been based on very controlled ink drawing but this technique has allowed me to add an element of experimentation and accident, which I find very satisfying. It also has the real benefit of not needing huge amounts of expensive equipment which is important now that I no longer have the facilities at Camberwell.

Brighton rock2

Brighton Rock 2

CCA: Please tell us about your work?

SM: I’ve focussed on illustrating novels for my MA project. I was interested in using the close reading techniques I was taught in my undergraduate degree to inform my illustrations, commenting on the underlying themes and ideas of the text using both overt symbolism and more subtle visual references.

Technically, as I mentioned, it’s a mix of ink drawing and monoprinting, most often combined digitally.

CCA: What will you be showcasing in your degree show?

SM: I’ll be showing a selection of illustrations inspired by Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, as well as a couple of other bits and bobs I’ve done along the way.

MA Illustration Sean McSorley

Scarlet Street

hod binding web


I chose Heart of Darkness to tie in with the Folio Society/House of Illustration competition (for which I was very pleased to be long listed – the shortlist and winner are announced later in the year). It’s an incredibly rich and descriptive text, especially considering it’s so short. I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen it myself but I ended up really liking it. Brighton Rock‘s one of my favourites and is set in the 1930s so allows me to work in a noir aesthetic that I really enjoy.

CCA: What are your plans after you graduate?

I plan to spend some time promoting my work and pursuing commissions, and I hope to continue to work with some of my classmates on various creative projects.

CCA: Any advice for fellow or future students?

It’s so important to work in the studio as much as you can, even on the days where there aren’t any tutorials, talks or workshops. I’ve learnt a huge amount outside of formal tutorials (though they were great too of course) from just chatting to my classmates about my work, their work and the world of illustration more generally. There’s nothing like seeing how good your classmates are to give you a bit of a kick up the backside.

More about Sean’s work @