Press release

New Ambassador to teach entrepreneurs the art of business

Published on 23 November 2021

A world-renowned illustrator will draw from her own experience in the business world to inspire the University of Dundee’s next generation of entrepreneurs.

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Johanna Basford OBE, whose colouring books for adults have sold millions of copies across the globe, has been announced as the University’s latest Entrepreneurial Ambassador.

Johanna, a graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, will represent the University’s Centre for Entrepreneurship, and help to promote and support some of the country’s most exciting new enterprises.

“It is a huge honour for me to return to my alma mater as an Entrepreneurial Ambassador,” said Johanna.

“Both the University and city of Dundee have had huge influences on my life and career, and to share my experience with the current generation of students is really exciting.

“Venturing into the business world is both exciting and daunting, and the University is dedicated to supporting its students who are ready to take this step. I want my experience to empower budding businesspeople and to reassure them that while there will be plenty of hard work required along the way, a sound idea can always achieve success.”

After graduating from Dundee with a degree in Textile Design in 2005, Johanna initially produced handprinted wallpaper and home accessories before the financial crash prompted her to follow her passion for drawing.

After establishing herself as a freelance illustrator, she rejected calls from publishers to diversify from her signature drawing style. In late 2011, after being approached to produce a colouring book for children, she adapted the brief to produce colouring books for adults instead.

Today, she has sold more than 21 million books worldwide and has worked with globally recognised brands such as Nike, Absolut, and car manufacturer Smart. In 2016 she was awarded an OBE for her services to art and entrepreneurship.

Professor Iain Gillespie, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said, “At Dundee we always encourage our students to aim for the top and there can be fewer better role models for our aspiring entrepreneurs than Johanna.

“It is with great delight that we welcome her back to Dundee and into this exciting role, where her expertise and knowledge will prove invaluable in assisting our students. Working in conjunction with our Centre for Entrepreneurship, I have no doubt that Johanna’s appointment will inspire and excite our next generation of entrepreneurs.”

The Centre for Entrepreneurship is designed to promote and support creative, innovation-driven companies from across Dundee, Tayside and beyond. It aims to drive innovation within businesses and commercialise new and existing technologies across many sectors, including life sciences, digital media, gaming and other creative sectors. The Centre is a partnership between the University and Elevator, Scotland’s leading private provider of enterprise, employment and entrepreneurial services.

Johanna is the Centre’s second Entrepreneurial Ambassador, with former University Rector and world record-breaking adventurer Mark Beaumont having been appointed in 2019.


Jonathan Watson

Senior Press Officer

+44 (0)1382 381489