#1 QofR: ‘A Question of Research’ First Blog Post! MA Illustration @ Portsmouth University

On Tuesday 20th September I returned to the University of Portsmouth to start my MA in Illustration…a week later we were given our ‘Question of Research’ project brief. After picking a question at random out of a box, the silence in the room was a clear indication that we were all totally puzzled by the words on the little slips of paper; so quiet you could almost hear the cogs turning in our heads trying to work out what the meaning of the question. This is supposedly the desired effect according to our tutors. The feeling of confusion and panic is completely normal. So here it is, and I’m sure when you read it you’ll pull the same face I did!

‘In what ways can subversion help develop creativity in relation to practice?’

My starting point was to find a comfortable place, mug of tea, biscuits, pens and a make mind map (click image to enlarge).

Subvert: An act or instance of subverting

  • To overthrow (something established or existing)
  • To cause the downfall, ruin or destruction of
  • To undermine the principles of; corrupt



I broke down the question word by word to try to gain a deeper understanding but this only generated more questions. I think I’m on the right track!


In my opinion ‘ways’ and ‘practice’ are interchangeable words in this case. A satirical political or religious illustration, zine, performance art or a sabotaged painting is the tool; it ultimately mocks or undermines an existing system or set of beliefs. The creativity lies in the way the act of subversion and statement is successfully communicated to the audience…language, imagery, expression, character design.

The elements of this question are all intrinsically linked to one another.

To be subversive requires creativity and originality and our creative practice must be developed in order to express the act of subversion through our practice.

The practice, way or acts of of subversion could also be a ‘self subversive’ way of life that goes against what society tells us is the ‘norm’. Undermining a capitalist society. Undermining the advertisements, propaganda and news used to manipulate what we consume, how we live and what we believe.

Anti establishment, anti capitalist, living self sufficiently, choosing to live without money…in order to live successfully in these ways requires the person/community/society to develop their creativity in order to thrive: growing food, sharing, swapping, bartering, intercepting food (bin diving), protesting, activism, marching, demonstrating…

Self Subversive:

Adjective – tending or intending to subvert overthrow, destroy or undermine an established or existing system especially a legally constituted government or set of beliefs.

Noun – a person who adopts subversive principles or policies.

Anti Establishment:

Adjective – Against the establishment or established authority.

‘They are anti-establishment and eccentric, with a wilful disregard for convention.’



Dictionary (2016). In . Dictionary.com. Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *