Message Journal

The Message journal is a peer-reviewed academic journal that consists of blind reviewed academic papers plus one to three commissioned essays/articles. It is dedicated to the development and discussion of contemporary visual communication research particularly within art and design with an emphasis on practice, outputs and artefacts.

The aim of the Message journal is to explore and challenge the boundaries of visual communication within art and design through an experimental and developmental ethos, challenging the practitioner, the development and use of technology, as well as questioning visual communication values and social, ethical and sustainable practices. The University of Plymouth Message cluster and journal is committed to enhancing the development of the visual communication subject areas, both in education and commercial design, through research and enterprise.

Message advisory board

  • Patrick Baglee, design consultant and journalist, NY
  • Professor Phil Cleaver Middlesex University, UK
  • Professor Dóra Ísleifsdóttir Iceland Academy of Arts
  • Associate Professor Maziar Raein. Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Norway
  • Professor Teal Triggs Associate Dean at Royal College of Art, UK
  • Message Editorial board – Victoria Squire, Esther Dudley, Peter Jones
  • Message Publisher – University of Plymouth Press

Edition 1: Mapping Eclecticism Through Practice

This edition brings to the fore academic research on the following question; where if any do the mutual theoretical frameworks and methodologies lie within communication design, graphic design, illustration and visual communication?

In this inaugural edition, the refereed submissions discuss a range of practices and approaches that include the use of socially responsible design and persuasion, as well as collaboration with other disciplines, to improve safety; framing theory and ideograms within architectural pedagogy to convey complex ideas and relationships; literary analysis to explore graphic design authorship, narrative and viewer experience; discursive dialogue and a non-linear presentation to interrogate and shed light on personal practice; and cartographic metaphors as a means of visualising and investigating the topography of graphic design.

The journal is available to purchase through University of Plymouth's online store.


Certifiable – Patrick Baglee
Light | Night: The Bike Light Dance Project: A Case Study of Design as Rhetoric – Gloria Lee, University of Texas, Austin
Designing Distance: a first-person visual narrator – Kate Sweetapple, University of Technology, Sydney
The Architecture of Conversation – Lizzie Ridout, University of Plymouth
Ideograms as a Tool for Constructive Sensemaking in Architecture Education – Ivo Vrouwe, Eindhoven University of Technology
Other People’s Trade: Towards Mapping an Expanding Practice – Steve Rigley, Glasgow School of Art
Edited by:

Victoria Squire, Peter Jones and Esther Dudley

Available to purchase:

Message, Edition 2

Typography, Lettering and Text as Image.

Where are the boundaries of communication and meaning?

In this second edition the refereed submissions discuss a range of approaches that create type designs to reinterpret letterforms. Linguistic function is challenged by a process where text loses its narrative role and becomes a texture of information; onscreen typography within the context of film and video; digital interface designed to ‘write images’ in a screen-based environment; artists’ books and the alphabet; avant-garde European philosophy and experimental typography; a revisit of Walter Benjamin’s essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1936), within the context of contemporary Letterpress typography and finally, the examination of the textured intersection of typography, fashion and body in kinetic text.


Language Games: Experimental Typography as Philosophy – Phyllida Bluemel
Benjamin, Googlization, and the Withered Typographic Auratic – Richard Miles, Leeds College of Art.
The Background Speaks: David Mabb’s Announcer and the Emergence of Information – Emily Rosamond, Goldsmiths London, University of Kent.
What If This Becomes That? Mapping the Generative Nature of Interpretive Type Design – Caroline Powley
The Visible and the Legible: Text in Avant-Garde Film and Video – Holly Willis, University of Southern California.
Letters are Media, Words are Collage: Writing Images through A (Dis)Connected Twenty-Six – Jessica Barness, Kent State University.
Kinetic text: The Textured Intersection of Typography, Fashion and Body – Steven McCarthy, University of Minnesota and Anna Carlson.
The Texture of the Alphabet – Michelle Strizever

Edited by:
Victoria Squire, Peter Jones and Esther Dudley

Available to purchase:

Message, Edition 3

What is the topography of the contemporary graphic design / communication landscape in relation to art practice? What occupies the space between disciplines? 

In Message journal edition 3 the refereed submissions explore further the boundaries between contemporary graphic design/communication and art, as well as examining what is occupied within the space between the disciplines.
Authors, through written and illustrated submissions, question and investigate the broad nature of graphic design and communication practice and its relationship to art, in relation to both historical and contemporary contexts. The edition debates and illustrates how graphic design/communication can be seen as imaginative, intuitive and creative self (or group) expression – a form of artistic composition – in the same way that we recognise much of art practice. The edition examines practice outside of the conventional boundaries of contemporary graphic design/communication and considers how this space is occupied.


Graphic Affect – Spencer Roberts, University of Huddersfield
Indisciplinarity as Social Form: Challenging the Distribution of the Sensible in the Visual Arts – Richard Miles, Leeds College of Art
The Halsburgs: Alter Egos and Disciplinary Sidesteps - Andrew Spackman, Coventry University and Craig Barber, Norwich University of the Arts
Critical Design Practice: Mapping a New Territory for the Discipline (or Are We Nearly There Yet?) – Cathy Gale, Kingston University
Graphic Design as an Artistic Practice for the Unraveling of the Everyday – Zachary Kaiser, Michigan State University
Elements of Interrogative Style: The Applied Art of Critical Practice – Daniel Jasper, University of Minnesota