Visual Communication: Publishing as Critical Practice

Harness publishing for your own communication purposes, using contemporary visual culture for a wide range of communities and contexts

This is an exciting time to be an independent publisher as digital technology empowers us with new authorial and production tools and these can adapt and transform based on cultural context.

This five-day workshop emphasises innovation and experimentation, and illustrates how one can harness a variety of modes of publishing for creative communication. It explores exciting ways in which local culture and everyday contexts can inspire us and shape larger publishing agendas.

Storytelling is embedded in all aspects of our everyday lives, whether this manifests as books, manuscripts, digital scrolls, sound bites or is experienced in immersive environments such as games and installations. This short course employs experimental communication methods, workshops and participant-led discussions around message, medium, method and distribution. Each participant is facilitated to explore and create a portfolio expressive of their values and priorities in relation to publishing. 

Dates:  To be confirmed

Duration:  1 week

Location: Royal College of Art, Kensington

Fee: £1,250 

What will I learn?

  • Access to global best practice in workplace design
  • Return to your workplace with greater ability to work collaboratively
  • Experience critical, creative and insightful thinking
  • Gain a critical understanding of how experimental publishing processes can be harnessed for your own communication needs
  • Develop a clear idea of your own and how and what you wish to communicate using publishing as a platform

Participants will be able to:

  • create individual mission statements related to their own practice and profession using publishing as a platform
  • understand the relationship of their practice and career within the wider context of communication
  • harness local publishing and communication cultural practices for their own purpose
  • create an individual body of creative work that is critical, reflective and conceptual and showcases their strengths and individual aims.

How will I learn?

The course will begin with an introduction to experimental publishing approaches, followed by a focus on role, medium and message. This will be delivered through action-based practical tasks, research, collaborative and iterative teamwork as well as three-hour workshops over three days. For the final two days, the workshop will focus on visualising your reflections in the form of printed matter as well as a mini-exhibition at the Royal College of Art.  

  • Action-based practical tasks
  • Collaborative, iterative teamwork
  • 3 x 3-hour workshops
  • Print outputs and mini-exhibition

Who should attend?

Through visual communication, we can harness local and global publishing contexts to address individual and community concerns. This workshop emphasises innovation and experimentation whilst looking to seek new ways in which local cultures and backgrounds can help shape publishing contexts.

The course is relevant to those with a keen interest in publishing and are looking to amplify their role and contribution. You may be:

  • an independent publisher or in a senior publishing position
  • a professional working in the creative industries
  • working in a non-creative industry wherein publishing plays an important role in reaching a wider community – such as council or local government
  • a professional working in visual communication and publishing who have been out of education for 4–5 years (a writer, designer, illustrator, filmmaker, art director, editor, commissioner or marketing professional)
  • a graphic/Interactive designer, illustrator or filmmaker who wants to explore the basis for their work, and extend their range
  • a communication designer wanting to brush up on conceptual and strategic thinking
  • someone without a design training, who wants to learn more about communication design futures, and apply new thinking to their own area of work such as writers, publishers, journalists, those working in media and the news.

Programme team

This course will be delivered by staff from the RCA's School of Communication: Visual Communication Programme.

Dr Rathna Ramanathan is a graphic designer and educator known for her expertise in intercultural communication and alternative publishing practices. Rathna has over 20 years’ experience in diverse contexts: professional (design research, publishing practice and design education), cultural (South Asian, European and American), and organisational (academic, commercial and non-profit). She works in international cross-disciplinary teams and has led the research, design and delivery of communication on projects for BBC World, British Council, UNICEF India, World Bank, as well as publishers Harvard University Press and Tara Books. Her work has been featured widely and received multiple international awards.

Joe Pochodzaj's practice ranges from print design to editorial and curatorial work, exploring the relationship between design and social enquiry. His work has focused on the political and institutional use of public language as a mechanism for maintaining legitimacy and exercising power over perceived social bodies. Joe aims to use design as a method for distributing these findings to a broader audience, attempting to encourage wider social dialogue around these issues.

Admission criteria

A background in art/design is helpful but not essential.

Participants must have a good level of English language.

Application deadlines

Register your interest to download the full course description.

Our short courses are very popular and places fill quickly. We particularly advise early application if you will need a tourist visa to enter the UK. 


School of Communication
T: +44 (0)20 7590 4538


Register your interest to download the full course description.

Book your place here.

Our short courses are very popular and places fill quickly. We particularly advise early application if you will need a tourist visa to enter the UK.