Simon Downs studied illustration (of a particularly traditional school). The evolution of the computer aided design sphere caused him to rethink this traditional practice. In turn he became a digital illustrator, digital animator, interaction and multimedia designer and editorial designer. He worked in London, designing for the finance and publishing sectors.
In the year 2000 he became a university lecturer, which caused another round of reflection, a process which continued in 2003 when he joined Loughborough University as a lecturer and design researcher. He is currently the Programme Director for Graphic Communication and Illustration.
Simon has been an editor with the journal TRACEY since 2003, founded the the political visual culture journal The Poster with Intellect Books in 2009 (as Lead Editor), wrote the book The Graphic Communication Handbook in 2011 for Routledge (in which year he also won the Loughborough University Lecturer of the Year award). He writes on visual communication systems (including drawing), is a Director of the Drawing Research Network and is a trades union representative for the UCU union.