Spark – new open-access online journal launched

Illustration by Ewelina Skowronska, graduate of MA Illustration, Camberwell, 2015.
Illustration by Ewelina Skowronska, graduate of MA Illustration, Camberwell, 2015.

We are delighted to announce the launch of Spark: UAL Creative Teaching and Learning Journal – a new open-access online journal for university teachers, researchers and students, which focuses on teaching and learning in art, design and communication. Spark is a creative space to share examples of innovative practice and debate issues that matter in creative arts education. Spark Editor Dr Saranne Weller has talked about the benefits of contributing to the journal:

“A fundamental principle of Spark is to provide a rigorous and developmental experience for colleagues new to disseminating their work. Not only do we want to help them get their ideas out to a wider audience but also to support the whole process from submission to publication.”

We caught up with student contributors Rachel Littlewood and Sean Wyatt-Livesley about their experience of submitting to Spark. For the first issue, Rachel and Sean wrote about the purpose, drawbacks, value and future of the degree show:

What did you find most helpful about writing for Spark?
We used it as an opportunity to reflect on the research project we had just completed by talking about how we conducted our research and what we learnt from it. The original outcome from this project was a collection of interviews we conducted, but it was useful to write about the project in a different way, to reflect on it, and to learn how to explain and talk about the project in a different manner.

Did the experience change how you see your practice, and the role of writing within it?
It reinforced the importance of writing within design. It can be a useful tool to help yourself (and others) understand your work or project and help you organise what you have done so far. It can be interesting to view your work in a different way too, and to frame it within your own practice.

What interests you about teaching and learning?
Studying on a course which taught us in a different way to more traditional design courses, we were always more aware of how we were learning. This became a part of our design practices as we began to see the learning and teaching opportunities within the projects we take on. We’re also interested in helping students with their university experience by sharing what we learnt during our time there.

We also caught up with Emily Wood, Lecturer in Graphic Design at CSM, who submitted an event review of the inaugural symposium of the Graphic Design Educators’ Network to the first issue:

What did you find most helpful about writing for Spark?
I was flattered to be asked to write for Spark as I don’t really think of myself as a ‘writer’ – more a designer! I was offered a writing mentor – Mark Ingham, and meeting with him was the most helpful part of the process of writing.  We discussed how to make my report engaging, including how to include my opinions into the piece, which is not something that I had managed to do in my first draft. His input into what I was trying to write was useful, but also his more general advice about being in academia and our role within it was valuable.

Did the experience change how you see your practice, and the role of writing within it?I know that writing is important in my developing practice, and so help with this rather than changing how I see my practice was useful. As my practice merges from being purely design-based into being an educator and researcher, writing continues to be an area that I need to improve and work on. My instincts are to avoid writing anything in general – why I did design in the first place (!) and so practicing it as a craft can only improve it and increase my confidence.

What interests you about teaching and learning?
Working with students to develop their work and thinking is what motivates me at the moment in my job. As such, improving what and how I teach is integral to this. Part of this process involves reflecting; I’m learning that this process of reflection is more valuable to others, as well as myself, if it’s written about and published. We also ask our students, most of whom are happier with visuals, to write and reflect, so reminding ourselves of its value can be useful too.

We hope you enjoy the publication – it is available at:

The deadline for submissions for the second issue (to be published July 2016) is Friday 15th April 2016. For full details and to download the submission guidelines visit the Spark Journal intranet page. Please send enquiries to:

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