International Journal of Art & Design Education

An Interview with John Willats

Volume 21.3   2002



Ever since he wrote his first book, Drawing Systems, [1] with Fred Dubery thirty years ago, John Willats has been an influential and authoritative figure in the field of drawing research and scholarship. An engineer turned sculptor, Willat’s analyses of the representational methods employed by artists through history evidently owed much to his early technical training, for he conceived the mapping of spatial relations from the (three-dimensional) world to the (two-dimensional) drawing surface in terms of the formal drawing systems of the engineer and architect. For many artists, designers and educators the insights yielded by this approach were revelatory and the book, which ran to a second edition in 1983 under the title Perspective and Other Drawing Systems, remains highly influential. This paper provides the transcription of an interview with John Willats in which he discusses his published work and recent research.