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Illustration student books himself creative success


A University of Wolverhampton student has booked himself creative success by being selected out of 1,500 illustrators to be part of a charity campaign to raise awareness of pregnancy and infant loss and stillbirth. 

Sam McCracken, 32, originally from Northern Ireland and now living in Telford, is studying for a degree in Illustration in the University’s School of Art. Now in his third year of study, he responded to a call out for creatives to help illustrate a global, collaborative new book, My Brother, Born Sleeping written by Australian author, Lellie Lopter. 

A portrait of student Sam McCracken

Over two million babies are born sleeping every year around the world and the book brings together artists from around the world to illustrate the story and gently explains stillbirth to children, helping to raise awareness of the global issue of pregnancy loss, still birth or infant loss.  The story won the Marshall Allan Hill writing competition in 2011. 

Sam said: “When I saw the advertisement for the project, there were points that aligned with my practice. Traditional methods, charity work, highlighting issues affecting people that the world doesn't speak about, and a captivating story that is designed to move and help people.  I want the work I make to move, or help others, and this seemed like the perfect project to get involved with. 

“I was amazed to have been selected out of so many people!  It's meant a lot to me, as an illustrator who is coming to the end of their undergraduate degree study, much later in life, to have an opportunity to connect with a narrative that my mum wishes she had when she lost her sister to stillbirth, or my friend who lost a baby recently in early pregnancy who had two other children who would benefit from a story like this.  This book could be the resource that could help so many parents, siblings, and loved ones worldwide, and being a part of that worldwide assistance is magic." 

An illustration drawn by student Sam McCracken

Amy Dewhirst, Lecturer Illustration in the School of Art, said: “We are so pleased that Sam has been able to apply his visual storytelling skills in such a sensitive way to address such an important issue. Sam has illustrated children's book projects during his time on the course, collaborating on both in-course and additional projects with creative and professional writing students. This has prepared him well for working with live clients and for professional practice and the application of his illustrations in a real-world context.  

“As visual communicators, our students are often tasked with responding to human or social issues through their project work to ensure that their work has the potential for real world application, whether that be through editorial illustration, publishing or as exhibiting artists or printmakers, context is everything when illustrative work is applied to those mediums. Sam's work on this book is a great demonstration of that application of illustration to respond to and communicate ideas around important social issues, particularly to children.” 

The book is available on YouTube. 

J E Miller said: “It has taken over a decade for the author to be brave enough to share this story. Everyone involved in the project has donated their time and talents to bringing this story to life to ensure all profits from book sales can go directly to RED NOSE so they can continue to support families, fund research, and save little lives. My Brother, Born Sleeping is an important and developmentally appropriate tool to help children process big feelings after a difficult loss. Poignant and sensitive, a beautiful collaborative work.”     

For more information about courses at the University of Wolverhampton check out the website or visit one of our forthcoming Open Days. 



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