Desert Drawing

‘Desert drawing: from pigment to (Apple) pencil’ was presented at the Design Research Society conference in Limerick 2018. This paper documents the early results of my PhD research project in communication design and design education in remote Australia. For the full paper see the DRS Proceedings.



The ability to digitally draw is ingrained within contemporary visual design practices. Drawing is a way of recording, representing and communicating that reveals the identity and voice of the creator as they design for a communication purpose. This paper presents a case of how a group of young Indigenous students re-interpret traditional culture through the act of drawing, as they move from analogue to digital technologies. Through a series of design workshops, the drawing styles of participants from remote Central Australia were recorded and analyzed. Workshops were based within Youth Participatory Action Research methodologies and embedded within Indigenous pedagogies. Results show the ancestral essence of country, connectedness and story remain ingrained within these new digital forms. Initial findings reveal three core themes; drawing as research practice, drawing as cultural practice and drawing through technology. The ability to draw in a new, digital way can create numerous benefits to developing the creative practices of young Indigenous people, as well as social and economic benefits within remote Australia.