From illustration graduate to award-winning author, Genevieve shares her story

Following in her parents’ footsteps, there was no doubt in her mind that Genevieve would study BA (Hons) Illustration at the University of Central Lancashire.

Genevieve always knew she wanted to go into a creative career. Drawing from a young age, she loved studying art at school. She excelled at it so much she achieved an A* at Art A-Level and her end of course project was exhibited in the Mall Galleries and Royal Overseas League.

Genevieve visited a UCLan Open Day and found that she loved the atmosphere so choosing to study in Preston was a “no brainer”. Genevieve was also influenced in her decision by two very important UCLan alumni – her parents. Her mum studied English and Visual Studies when she met Genevieve’s dad, who studied Visual Studies and Design History back in the early 90s.

Genevieve loved her time at UCLan and recalls many fond memories. Not only making friends for life, but also being introduced to the world of publishing as her tutors would regularly provide trips to publishing houses and exhibitions. They also gave continuous feedback and advice about working in a creative studio environment, which was extremely helpful.

"Since starting at UCLan, my confidence has grown so much, leading events on my own and publishing my own work is something I never knew I would be able to do five years ago."

Genevieve Aspinall, BA (Hons) Illustration and MA Children’s Book Illustration Alumna

Genevieve enjoyed her course and time at university so much that immediately after finishing her BA (Hons) Illustration, she decided to pursue a master's in Children’s Book Illustration at UCLan.

Soon after commencing the MA, Genevieve was chosen to illustrate ‘Cheesed Off!’ by Jake Hope, which was published by UCLan Publishing. Genevieve’s work for this was then subsequently longlisted for the World Illustration Awards 2022, nominated for the Carnegie Medal for Illustration 2023, and longlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize 2023. She also created three picture books and a board book as part of her MA, which were displayed at the UCLan degree show in September 2023.

One of these books, ‘Percy the Post Penguin’ was commissioned by UCLan Publishing halfway through studying for the MA and was published on 2 November 2023. Genevieve attended an event put together by the UCLan Publishing team in order to celebrate the launch of her book whilst also doing a reading and a signing. As well as having two books published, Genevieve has also regularly hosted and attended storytelling and draw along events where she was able to support and work with adults and children.

Just like Genevieve, her parents also decided to do their MA’s at UCLan. Her mum graduated in 2017 from the MA Surface Pattern and Textiles course, whilst her dad did MA Photography and graduated in 2018. Her mum’s education journey didn’t stop there as she’s currently undertaking a PhD at UCLan.

Genevieve loves her job as an author and illustrator and credits her successful career journey to UCLan. She said: “Without my BA or MA, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities to visit publishers and get such valuable advice from tutors and practitioners, show my work to publishers, and get feedback and contacts directly from the people who commission you. I had the chance on my course to develop my skills and I learnt so much on them.”

BA (Hons) Illustration and MA Children’s Book Illustration Alumna Genevieve Aspinall holding her book 'Percy the Post-Penguin'
BA (Hons) Illustration and MA Children’s Book Illustration Alumna Genevieve Aspinall holding her book 'Percy the Post-Penguin'