BA (Hons) Illustration student Kimberley Burrows aspires to become a professional illustrator. Her journey so far hasn’t been an easy one, she is severely sight impaired with just limited vision in one eye, but that isn’t going to stop her pursuing her dreams. In 2014 she was awarded RNIB’s Young Illustrator of the Year and won the Specialist Intuitions Award for Student of the Year 2016.  She is also campaigns and fundraises on behalf of various sight loss charities, as well as taking on the Student Governor role at University.  


Why did you choose to study at Leeds Arts University?

I found out about Leeds Arts University from someone at a sight loss charity I volunteered for and after some research found they did a course aimed at mature students who wanted to get back into education. Perfect! I booked onto an open day and met Adam Stone, who would go on to become my tutor on the Access to HE course. Adam was so supportive of me and my portfolio and was the reassurance I needed in believing this was the right time and place to start again.

The Access to HE (Art & Design) course was simply wonderful. Being in a creative space with other adults from all walks of life was nothing short of thrilling and I learned so many new skills and techniques as an artist. It really lay the foundations for where I am today, and I made friends for life.

What do you specialise in, and what are you working on at the moment?

I specialise in illustration and am particularly interested in digital motifs and designs; using the Adobe software to layer digital and analogue textures to build complex pieces. I've just finished a Visual Communication module where I applied my work to GIFs, sticker designs, stamps, postcards and posters - which was really challenging but rewarding! My final pieces were based on the work of Zaha Hadid (1950 - 2016) and her fluid, organic shapes partnered with postmodern, fragmented architecture. I blended photograms, photography, vac forms of clay models I sculpted and collage with schematics created in Illustrator. I'm really proud of how far I pushed myself and how the work reflects a shift in the direction of my practice.

How does the does the University help you to develop your practice?

The University has some absolutely fantastic facilities which enable me to branch out into print-based illustration, digital illustration, moving image, photography and three dimensional with clay, plaster, metal and wood; applying my illustrations onto a range of surfaces and learning new and exciting skills. The staff in the workshops are so knowledgeable, friendly and helpful and it's a pleasure to work alongside them! My tutors, Matt and Jamie, have been so supportive and always give me excellent feedback - fuelling my eagerness to try new things and look at illustration through a different lens.


What do you plan to do after University?

After I have gained my illustration degree, it would be my dream to become a children's book illustrator. I already have a few projects lined up which will really get things into action and I cannot wait to share my journey with everyone!

Finally, what makes Leeds a good place to study?

Leeds is such an artistic city full of creative individuals and it's a pleasure to call it my second home. It's manageable to navigate with very limited vision and my Guide Dog and I build onto our base routes often. After being here for a year and a half, I am still being surprised every day at learning new shops or places to go and linking them in my mind of how Leeds must look. It's a nice feeling to know I am in walking distance of art galleries, museums and book shops to inspire my practice and creativity and I am never far away from my next idea!