Paula Scher and Jonathan Yeo launch online courses in design and painting with the BBC

Two of the world's best-known creatives are sharing their skills online with the BBC. Read on to get all the juicy details of what's been launched today.

The BBC is known worldwide for its excellent educational content, which many parents took advantage of during the home-schooling period of the pandemic. But did you know they also produce paid-for courses in creative subjects?

BBC Maestro brings you beginner-friendly courses taught by well-known celebrities and experts, filmed in 4K and with no fixed time commitment. You watch or listen at your own pace and are supplied with course notes with exercises to test what you've learned. You can pay per course or subscribe to access as many as you'd like.

Now world-renowned designer Paula Scher and portrait artist Jonathan Yeo are the latest names set to join BBC Maestro's platform. Read on, and we'll share details of each in turn.

Paula Scher: Graphic Design

Paula Scher is one of the most influential graphic designers in the world. Described as the "master conjurer of the instantly familiar," she straddles the line between pop culture and fine art in her work. Iconic, smart, and accessible, her images have entered into the American vernacular, and she's been the subject of a Netflix documentary.

During her time at Pentagram, Scher has developed a dizzying array of identity and branding systems, promotional materials, environmental graphics, packaging and publication designs for a broad range of clients including Bloomberg, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, MoMA, the Sundance Institute, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, the New York Philharmonic, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

In a typical project in 2012, Scher created a new logo for Windows 8 that took it back to its roots as a window. Early in the development process, Scher asked: "Your name is Windows. Why are you a flag?" Her new design re-imagined their older four-colour symbol as a more modern geometric shape. It's typical of her no-nonsense approach to graphic design, which continues to be in huge demand today. To learn more about Paula, read our exclusive interview.

Paula's course for BBC Maestro, entitled simply Graphic Design, will explore the techniques central to successful visual communication. Drawing from her career, she'll offer designers and artists exclusive insight into both her singular vision and innovative practices that have shaped today's industry. And she certainly knows what she's doing as a teacher, having spent two decades lecturing at the School of Visual Arts, along with positions at the Cooper Union, Yale University and the Tyler School of Art.

Across her lessons, Paula will explore the power of typography, logo creation and collaboration with clients. Lessons will include interviews with other design experts as well as a behind-the-scenes look at Paula's approach to tackling design problems across various platforms and mediums. Students will also get pointers on what designers can follow up with based on the learnings from the courses.

"Throughout this course, I will guide you through the elements that I have found, time and time again, lie at the heart of good graphic design," says Paula. "Whether you're working on a corporate rebrand, magazine layout, promotional poster, book cover, or website, visual language is more important than ever, with today's designers no longer limited to projects in their own corner of the world. Together with BBC Maestro, you can shape the future of graphic design."

Jonathan Yeo: Portrait Painting

Jonathan Yeo is one of the world's leading figurative artists. He has painted and worked with iconic and celebrated figures, including Sir David Attenborough; peace activist Malala Yousafzai; actors Dennis Hopper, Nicole Kidman and Idris Elba; artists Damien Hirst and Grayson Perry; supermodel and actor Cara Delevingne; Baroness Doreen Lawrence; former Prime Minister Tony Blair; and has produced official commissions of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

Entirely self-taught, he rose to prominence as a figurative painter by age 30 following several major official commissions, such as that of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, at a time when painting generally – and portraiture in particular – had fallen out of fashion.

However, his collage of George Bush in 2007 earned his reputation as someone known for both traditional and experimental portraiture. Along with his Collage Series, Yeo has explored more conceptual themes such as cosmetic surgery and increasingly, his portraits are addressing wider concepts and themes within the paintings' narrative.

Jonathan's course, Portrait Painting, will explore the processes and techniques you need to bring a canvas to life. Across his lessons, Jonathan will delve into the skills needed to capture likeness, expression, and form.

The course will offer practical advice on canvas preparation, colour theory, lighting and positioning the subject, and correcting mistakes as you paint. Drawing from his own experience as a self-taught artist, Jonathan will guide participants through the essentials of portraiture, building their confidence to experiment with new styles, materials, and compositions.

Lessons will include a Q&A with current art students, discussion around who to paint and how to approach them, advice on providing a good sitter experience, and recommendations on continuing and progressing a career in the art world.

"As a portrait artist, each subject you encounter is unique and inspires you to try something new," says Jonathan. "I've spent decades studying people's faces and experimenting with different ways of portraying them. Through this Maestro course, I hope to help you develop the skills needed to capture the breadth and complexity of human expression. I'll be guiding you through some of my favourite painting techniques, sharing a few tricks and taking you behind the scenes in some actual portrait sittings."

Coming soon

Both Graphic Design and Portrait Painting will be available later this year via The commercial online education platform, developed and operated by Maestro Media Ltd, offers individual courses, which can be purchased for £79, and annual subscriptions for £120.

To keep up to date with all news on Paula and Jonathan's courses, sign up for the latest announcements via their BBC Maestro pages or follow @bbcmaestro on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


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