The Story Behind Our 'Illustrating Places' Course

Ahead of our new illustration course, tutor Sion Ap Tomos shares his inspiration.


  • Sion Ap Tomos
  • Learning

In the autumn of last year I was given the fantastic opportunity to devise and run an illustration short course entitled 'Illustrating People' at House of Illustration, which looked at various aspects of figurative illustration. Having had a positive response from the students who took the course, we successfully repeated it again in the summer term this year and as with the first time some fantastic work was produced by the participants as they explored the subject with great enthusiasm.

When this course was being devised we also looked at other subject matter that could be explored in the same manner. The idea of studying how to depict places, both real and imagined, was one that we considered as having great potential and something people would be interested in. In fact it was a close run thing as to which subject, people or places, would be the theme for my first short course at House of Illustration, and over the past few months, whilst I have been running 'Illustrating People', this other course idea has never been far away from my thoughts. So I was delighted when it was recently confirmed that 'Illustrating Places' would be running this autumn beginning in early September.

Following a similar format, it will span 10 two and a half hour sessions on Sunday mornings and will include classes on location in and around Central London as well as in the Clore studio at House of Illustration in King’s Cross. It will be very much a hands-on course, with lots of practical exercises and short projects in combination with practical demonstrations and talks as well as analysis of the work of a variety of illustrators to draw inspiration from.

The content will include depicting actual places (both on location and from photographic reference), from single buildings to more expansive spaces, to creating imagined places, both interior and exterior spaces.

Depicting places has always been an important part of my own practice and teaching. The first classes I ever taught were location drawing in London 16 years ago, inspired by my own experiences when I first came to the city as a student from North Wales. Exploring and drawing the city was my way of making sense of London, bewildering as it was to my rural senses. My graduate work was largely landscape-based, making connections between parts of London and my experiences of growing up at home in Anglesey. London has been a recurring subject for me both in my personal work and commissions I have worked on, although it has been my home now for nearly 20 years it still retains a newness to me and I never tire from exploring it.

As an illustrator taking on a wide variety of commissions I also enjoy depicting places beyond my immediate surroundings and depicting spaces from my imagination, either entirely from my own mind or from written descriptions or prompted ideas. There is a great thrill in creating a new world, no matter how big or small, where stories can play out and ideas be communicated. In 'Illustrating Places' I look forward to sharing what I know with others so they may enjoy a similar experience.

Sion Ap Tomos
Illustration tutor

Bookings for our new illustration short course 'Illustrating Places' are now open - click here to find out more and reserve your place.