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Dr Ian Horton

Reader in Graphic Communication
London College of Communication
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Researcher Research
Ian  Horton


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.

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.

Research Outputs



Current research students

  • Klaus Birk, Building Experiences – A Reflective Design Process for Public Media Spaces. (Lead supervisor)
  • Gill Brown, An analysis of the visual languages, tropes and conventions of scientific graphic design. (Lead supervisor)
  • Joanna Choukier, Youth in Lebanon: Using collaborative and interdisciplinary communication design methods to improve social integration in post-conflict societies. (Lead supervisor)
  • Michael Connerty, Repositioning Jack B.Yeats as a Popular Comic Strip Artist. (Lead supervisor)
  • Lee Horner (Lightfoot), The Shameful Eye: using the visual aspect of comics to examine the pyscho-social impact of illness (Lead supervisor)
  • Lee Horner, Autobiography as narrative medicine: the therapeutic possibilities of the graphic novel form. (Lead supervisor)
  • Francisco Laranjo, Design as criticism: methods for a critical graphic design practice. (Lead supervisor)
  • 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.’ (Lead supervisor)
  • Maria Papadomanolaki, Sonic Perceptual Ecologies: Strategies for sound-based exploration, perception and composition in spaces of transient encounters. (Lead supervisor)
  • Tzotis Rallis, Graphic 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. (Lead supervisor)
  • Luise Schreuer, The contribution of illustration to socio-cultural and spatial discourses (Lead supervisor)
  • Louise Scovell, In the context of female reproductive healthcare and reproductive health (RH) pedagogy,could the use of co-design and graphic elicitation; diagramming and geometry increase understanding of menstrual cycles in young women and girls? (Lead supervisor)
  • Louise Scovell, Achieving Social Change Through Visual Communication. (Lead supervisor)
  • Tobias J Yu-Kiener, The Artist in Focus - Artists’ Biographies in the media of Comics and Graphic Novels. (Lead supervisor)