Hyperdream: A Play-Based Creative Framework for Self-Motivated Fantasy Authorial Illustration Practice

  • Carlos Ruiz Brussain

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis consists of a practice-led research doctoral project that investigates the relationship between illustration and play. The aim of this study is to examine the significance of play in my own practice as an illustrator and in the current context of the field of illustration. The objective of studio practice is to test out the creative and motivational worth of play as applied to illustration by developing, defining, explaining and trialling Hyperdream: a play-based creative framework for self-motivated fantasy authorial illustration that I have specially constructed as part of my practice-led research and presented as a purely idiographic exercise. This investigation uses phenomenological psychology to evaluate the data gathered. To analyse responses to play experiences and the levels of motivation derived from them, I utilise Csikszentmihalyi's model of flow. To explain phenomena derived from the fantasy aspects of the use of the play-based activities, I utilise Jungian theory. The research methodology includes collection and analysis of internal and external data sources. Internal data sources encompass studio-practice and research journals, whereas external data sources comprise interviews with professional practitioners and questionnaires undertaken in the illustration workshops that I deliver to students after they test the play-based creative framework. As primary data sources, this research utilises studio practice in illustration to test the motivational value of play and it analyses the findings presented in research journals to reflect on practice. Some of the works produced during the study were shown in the exhibition Hyperdream: A Play-based Creative Framework for Illustration Practice held at the Avenue Gallery of the University of Northampton between February 15-18, 2016. A dossier and a link to a video of the exhibition provide a complement to this thesis (Appendix #1). For secondary data sources that supplement the main research, the following creative artists were interviewed for this study: Alan Moore, Isidro Ferrer, Steve Braund, Genís Carreras, Josep Alcaraz, Fanny Espinet, David Faüchs, Gemma Rabionet, Pablo Navarro, and experts in play-based teaching Jordi Márquez and Pere Cornellà (samples of these interviews are included in Appendix #2). Additionally, surveys have been collected from the workshops that I delivered to illustration students of the University of Northampton (UK) and students of Escola Universitària ERAM (Spain) between April 2015 and April 2017. These external sources of data were used to gather opinions about the connection between illustration and play; and, regarding the workshops, to analyse participants' responses to their experiences after testing the play-based creative framework. The outcome of this investigation (studio praxis, interviews and workshops' surveys) indicates that play can be used as a creative approach in illustration practice. In my own case, during the period in which I tested the play-based creative framework my levels of motivation remained high and I produced a considerable number of works that include new motifs and narratives. Two contributions to new knowledge have arisen from this research: firstly, providing and testing a model for studying the relationship between illustration and play in theory and praxis in a scholarly way; and secondly, establishing the importance of intrinsic motivation in self-initiated illustration practice.
Date of AwardDec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Northampton
SupervisorJanet Wilson (Supervisor), Craig Staff (Supervisor) & Esteban Ierardo (Supervisor)


  • illustration
  • contemporary illustration
  • authorial illustration
  • self-initiated illustration
  • play-based illustration
  • practice-led research
  • arts-based research
  • play
  • flow
  • intrinsic motivation

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