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Donna Barkess

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Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design and Illustration

I am a graphic designer, illustrator and typographer. I work at the University part-time and spend the rest of the week working as a Creative Director within a design consultancy.

My links to industry are strong and I am able to draw upon my professional practice and use this a teaching tool. During my career I have worked with a wide portfolio of regional, national and international clients. 

Teaching and supervision

I have worked in the design industry for over three decades, during which time I have split my week between the studio and University. This has been really valuable in terms of how I teach, and provides a useful link to the design industry for my students.

I teach predominantly in graphic design, but over the years I have taught across other courses, such as advertising and illustration.

I deliver a number of graphic design modules but also 'Integrated Creativity', a module which brings students together from different disciplines to work collaboratively on multi-disciplinary outcomes. It is a wonderfully creative module.

In 2008, I set up a live studio within the design department at the University called Hothouse, which has been the vehicle for many exciting live projects.

Research interests for potential research students

  • Typography 
  • Sustainable design practice
  • Creative protest culture


My main area of research during the past fifteen years has been linked to sustainable design practice and the role of the contemporary designer. 
This area has been very closely linked to my professional activity. I have also produced research outcomes related to typography. I like to investigate individual characters in detail, right down to punctuation. I recently had an exhibition and created a book, that traced the two thousand year history of the ampersand. 

I am currently researching creative protest culture that considers the benefits and implications of creative protest in both theory and practice. It aims to demonstrate that creative and unconventional approaches to protest can be more effective than ‘traditional’ methods, thus examining the role of designers and creatives within a political context. In September of 2018, my most recent exhibition 'Fifty Women' opened. It focuses upon the objectification of women's bodies, specifically breasts.


Number of items: 5.

Book Section

Barkess, Donna and per se &. In: and per se &. University of Sunderland, University of Sunderland, pp. 1-32. ISBN 978-1-906832-24-7

Conference or Workshop Item

Barkess, Donna (2018) The Understated Ampersand. In: The Understated Ampersand, 3 Apr 2018, The Water Rats, London. (Unpublished)


Barkess, Donna (2007) A Question of Design. University of Sunderland, Sunderland. ISBN 978-1-873757-52-9


Barkess, Donna (2015) and per se &. [Show/Exhibition]

Barkess, Donna (2007) A question of design-exhibition. [Show/Exhibition]

This list was generated on Fri May 29 18:56:47 2020 BST.
  • Graphic design
  • Typography
  • Packaging design
  • Art direction
  • Illustration
  • Letterpress printing
  • Retail design
  • Drawing
  • Sustainable design
  • Activism
  • Professional practice
  • Project management
In 2008, I established a live studio within the design department called Hothouse that enables students to engage in supervised live projects, placements and research projects. It is also a forum for discussions, lectures, workshops and staff research projects. It is now run by myself and Graham Mitchell, with other members of staff contributing periodically.

Last updated 09 January 2020