Illustration student makes her mark on Snoopy sculpture for Dogs Trust event

Alison Howard with Snoopy.jpg

An Illustration student at the University of South Wales (USW) saw her designs feature on a super-sized Snoopy sculpture at Cardiff Castle, as part of an event by dog welfare charity Dogs Trust, to get the public involved in creating a Snoopy sculpture for an art trail across South Wales.

Alison Howard, a student of our BA (Hons) Illustration course, submitted the winning design for the A Dog’s Trail with Snoopy art event that took place at the castle last June. The event saw families and dog lovers alike booking slots to colour in a section of the Snoopy sculpture with acrylic paint pens.

The charity is bringing a new rehoming centre to Cardiff Bay and will celebrate by launching A Dog’s Trail with Snoopy in spring 2022. The 10-week free public art trail aims to showcase South Wales as a place to visit, live, work and play, and will promote health and wellbeing.

In collaboration with Peanuts – creator of the world-famous Snoopy cartoon –  the trail will be delivered in partnership with Wild in Art, the creative company that has produced the ‘blank canvas’ sculptures ready for artists to animate.

Alison and her course mates were given the brief from Dogs Trust in January last year and have all submitted black and white linework designs to be considered for the trail. Their ideas had to fit with the Take Care with Peanuts campaign, which promotes caring for yourself, for others and for the Earth.

22 year-old Alison, originally from Sutton Coldfield in Birmingham, spent three days transferring her winning design onto the sculpture ready for the event.

“We were given four images of Snoopy as a template, and our designs needed to represent Snoopy, Peanuts, Dogs Trust and the idea of kindness and self care,” she said.

“I initially used a digital tablet to draw my designs in Photoshop, before copying it on to the sculpture using acrylic markers. I generally like to combine the traditional pen and paper approach with digital drawing, so this project was a great way to blend the two.

“I decided to incorporate ways that people relax, including spending time with animals or enjoying nature. I also wanted to inject a bit of fun, so I added in a dog enjoying a soak in the bath!”

Alison, who was recently diagnosed with Autism, has enjoyed drawing since she was very young, and has used her experience to inspire her work at university.

“I’ve always felt a little different, but didn’t really know why,” she said. “Then a friend suggested that I may be autistic, and since being diagnosed I feel as if everything makes sense now – drawing was always my special interest. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else as a career.

“I chose to study Illustration at USW because it’s known for providing so many opportunities for students to work on live briefs with creative professionals and external clients. And we’ve managed to continue with these projects even during Covid, which has been brilliant.

“It’s been challenging to say the least, but I’ve had such a positive experience at uni. My tutors are really understanding and I’ve received lots of support for my studies. I’ve become a lot more independent since moving away from home and I’m so glad I took that leap to come to USW.

“It’s a pretty amazing feeling, knowing that children and families will be enjoying my work. As someone who always enjoyed drawing and colouring in as a child, I feel as if this project could even inspire some young creative minds too. It’s as if my illustration journey has come full circle.”

Matt Morgan, Course Leader for Illustration at USW, added: “I am so pleased for Alison; her design was bold, fun and full of character – a perfect fit for the brief! As a course team, we are always proud when our students’ commitment and dedication is recognised, and we see their work out in the real world.

“Alison has taken the first steps on her journey to becoming a professional illustrator and it’s fantastic to see our students using the skills gained from the course in a professional setting. On the Illustration course, we aim to train ‘real illustrators for the real world', and one way we do this is by engaging our students with live briefs from real clients. It has been such a pleasure working with the Dogs Trust and Wild in Art, especially having such an iconic illustrated character like Snoopy as the canvas!”

Owen Sharp, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust, said: “Seeing Alison’s design come to life on a Snoopy sculpture has been a joy to see, and the Half Term event at Cardiff Castle means hundreds of people from across the city get to appreciate her amazing creative talent."