Caroline Miekina-Houseman

A freelance illustrator with more than 30 years’ experience, Caroline Miekina-Houseman has adapted her craft for use in the digital age.  After all this time she is still excited by the many different styles and applications of the genre. She prefers to think she is not typecast, and is fluid and adaptable, but concedes that her portfolio has a certain colourful, playful, upbeat consistency, which she hopes sums up her attitude to her life and her work.

Arbeia Roman Fort Septimius Severus family jigsaw interactive

Having made the transition from traditional media to digital in the late 1990s, she now enjoys blending the “integrity” of the hand-drawn with the “excitement and freedom” of digital. She continues to use a range of media, from oils to vectors.

smarties packaging

Over the years, her illustrations have been used by clients including: Nestle UK in York for its seasonal packaging for Smarties and Milky Bar; advertising agencies producing educational, medical and architectural literature; and an impressive range of museums and galleries.

Pipiatum Latin app - ALL

“Some of my early influences were the greats of the Golden Age of Illustration,” says the Harrogate School of Art and Design (HSAD) media lecturer. She refers to the “flowering” of mass printing and publishing that occurred during the industrial revolution. These influences still underpin her professional practice and her current MA research draws upon parallels between that era and the present.

Caroline says:

“Arthur Rackham, one of my all-time heroes, is a very good example of a traditionally trained artist who was able to take advantage of the rapid progress of new technology and infrastructure in the late-Victorian epoch to share his phenomenal work with a worldwide audience. In a similar way, illustrators and creative people in general are now discovering that we can use evolving technology to share our work in new ways. We have to move along with current practice and be prepared to take advantage of all the new avenues that are available to us.”

ECM explore discover and realise - ALL

Caroline has lectured at HSAD on a part-time basis since 2002, and has found a niche teaching digital media. She specialises in illustration, graphics, retouching, photo manipulation, 3D visuals and spatial design.

She delivers modules on the FdA Visual Arts, Interior Architecture and BA Applied Creative Design courses, as well as running evening classes in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Keswick Museum and Art Gallery - exhibition hall

Keswick Museym and Art Gallery Mountain Heritge room

In 2009, she joined forces with museum designers JANVS Design, for whom Caroline has produced designs, 3D concepts, visuals and illustrations for clients such as: National Trust – Clumber Park Discovery Centre; London Transport Museum; National Coal Mining Museum; Waterford Viking Triangle; and the recently opened temporary exhibition ‘Strike a Pose’ at the National Football Museum in Manchester.

Her illustrations have been commissioned for use in two recent temporary exhibitions in Mickelgate Bar, York commissioned by York Archaeological Trust; The Battle of Towton 2011-2012 and A Royal Gateway 2012-2013.

3 Towton Who's Who II Lancastrians col

Caroline’s current research interest is an MA in Image and Time-Based Media. She is linking sequential imagery and the story telling legacy that found favour during the golden age of illustration with research on the historical and academic aspects of an 18th-century North Yorkshire hero, Jack Metcalf, commonly known as Blind Jack of Knaresborough.

She is working on 12 finished images, based on an anonymous contemporary account of his life, The Life and Times of Jack Metcalf. These will be exhibited at Henshaw’s Arts and Craft centre for blind people in May 2014.

“It’s an extraordinary story about an extraordinary character. He had a series of very physical adventures, including taking part in the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, marching with the king’s army and playing his fiddle … it’s hard to believe that Blind Jack had no peripheral vision at all, and it’s certainly an avenue I am investigating as part of my research. I’m trying to bring that story into a form that 15 to 18-year-olds would engage with, and bring to life the rollicking adventure story that it is.

“I know from my experiences teaching National Diploma Graphics and Multimedia that it can be quite a difficult audience to impress,” says Caroline, “it needs to be presented in a style or styles that will grab their attention and make them want to find out more.”

Viking Zwartbles Xmas 2008

In her spare time Caroline enjoys playing the violin and helping her husband to look after their flock of Zwartbles sheep – not necessarily at the same time.

Caroline has BA (Hons) in Art and Design from North Staffordshire Polytechnic and a PGCE from Huddersfield University.

Some examples of her work can be seen at and on her blog.

Some of the museum, gallery and visitor centre projects she has worked on can be seen HERE.

Karen Outram

Karen Outram possesses a fascinating insight into many facets of the global fashion industry.

Her career launched 20 years ago with a contract at the prestigious London costumiers Angels And Bermans. Plucked from 900 applicants, the Manchester Metropolitan University graduate thoroughly enjoyed her time at the costume house, which she describes as a “six-storey wardrobe”; providing costumes for Oscar-winning films and high-profile theatre productions was all in a day’s work.

It proved to be an excellent grounding for a diverse and fascinating career in the fashion industry.

“I’ve always been very driven,” says Karen. “I knew I wanted to work in fashion from a young age.”

She went on to work all over the world with international brands including TopShop, John Lewis, House Of Fraser, Reebok, Speedo, Canterbury Of New Zealand, Joe Bloggs, Tesco, Harrods, Hamley’s, Claire’s Accessories and Sainsbury’s.

The first half of Karen’s career was design-based – she was Joe Bloggs’ Manchester design manager and held a design role with Reebok in which she visited the world’s trade shows to monitor changing trends.

She then moved into product development and the business side of the industry, roles for which she needed technical as well as design expertise as she worked with factories around the world to get apparel produced.

Her most recent role, managing accounts for many of the above-mentioned high street names was a high-pressure, seven-day-a-week job that she describes as “well-paid and very stimulating”.

“There was a definite thrill about it,” she says. “I was responsible for coming up with new ranges, going to see buyers and work with overseas factories to try to hit price points. It’s been very interesting to see new fashion economies emerging, with the advent of China and India developing as competitive world economies.”

She also has experience of running her own fashion businesses, selling men’s streetwear into Japan and is looking into developing a business selling a line of leather accessories.

All of which means she is uniquely placed to offer a rounded insight into the world of fashion.

Karen began teaching BA (Hons) Applied Creative Design: Fashion and BA (Hons) Fashion Marketing: Retail at Harrogate in March 2012. Recently, she also moved into a maternity cover role teaching Applied Creative Design: Fashion at Hull School Of Art and Design.

Karen is currently completing her PGCE, after which she intends to complete an MA in CAD, focusing on digital fashion and textile conceptual design. She is also keen to develop a research interest in the global impact of emerging economies, particularly with a view to the Chinese work ethic and culture and its development in the worldwide marketplace.

All her students benefit from an enviable raft of industry contacts and are currently involved in a project with Speedo.

“My hope is that this will become a springboard for students,” says Karen. “The project is partly design-oriented for the fashion design students and partly marketing-oriented, focusing on business and statistics with the Harrogate students.”

She plans to introduce more live client projects in the near future as she believes this “real-world”, pragmatic approach is vital if her students are to graduate with a worthwhile understanding of the industry.

“It really inspires students if you can give them professional projects to work on,” she says. “If I feel any of my students aren’t putting their heart and soul into it, I’m quite forthright about it. They need to be professional, even at undergraduate stage and getting industry speakers in really underpins that message. I’m striving to make my teaching relevant and real – to give students creative freedom while also giving them a realistic view of what employers want.”