Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Portfolio Visit 2

Wednesday 16th November

10am appointment with Craig Oldham @ Music


My second portfolio visit was to Music on Silk Street, Manchester - a rather posher area of town, and away from the distractions of spending money - always a plus!

My appointment was with Craig (the guy who came and did the lecture a few weeks ago) so I wasn't feeling altogether the same nerves as I did on my first visit. Or maybe it was that I am becoming more confident with my work and in presenting myself? Either way, not knowing Manchester all that well, I certainly still did have nerves about finding the place especially with it being so far off the beaten track (and I thought Taylor O'Brien was difficult to find!)

He invited me into the 'bubble' - a meeting room with glass walls on two sides making me feel actually very exposed, a good job I sat with my back to the rest of the office. He had no shoes on I noticed, he made me feel at home straight away.

I still need to find a presenting method that suits me better; I still don't know when the appropriate moment is to start showing my work after all the pleasantries etc. Any pointers anyone? I don't want people waiting for me to start and at the same time don't want them thinking me rude by cutting their conversation off.

Craig explained that 80% of the time a portfolio visit is for an agency etc to assess you as a person and not necessarily the work. Usually you would have sent work through ahead of the visit as a taster of what you are about and essentially this is the work that a designer or agency base their appointments on. The visit is to vet you, to make sure your character would fit within the company and that you possess all the qualities they require, and then of course an expansion of your work which they will have already seen some of.

I explained to Craig my working method where I stay away from the computers because the work appears quite flat - I don't like that quality in my work. His comments were that he respected that and the majority of the work that our year is churning out is quite vector and illustrator based. But by stuffing so much detail and information into my images they are becoming more flat than if I had just kept it that bit more plain. Patterns would be a good example to use, they don’t overload the image but they add some information. He particularly liked page 4 of my portfolio because it was the one page where I am experimenting with ideas (see the crocodile peeking through the grass) and technique (the yellow cultured pattern on the red background and wash backgrounds behind the vignettes; it has more texture and is therefore more interesting). This is something which Craig thinks could definitely be developed. I need a connecting thread to link my images together, the Uganda Christmas story book for example lacks this ‘connector’, and pattern would be a great way of introducing this. From this, I can take away that I need to look at my production method more – how can I develop it and which elements really work, alongside adding more pattern where appropriate yet keeping it playful.

There is an apparent ‘nice contrast between figurative and abstract’ in my Uganda images. Craig also likes the tactility of the characters I have produced so far. However, when someone is looking to commission an illustrator, they need to have faith that you can fit their bill. Craig explained that because all of the work in my portfolio is aimed at children, and children’s book illustration a design agency such as his would have difficulty visioning me doing a package job for the new Mac. I need to be able to show my versatility in my portfolio too, he suggests trying a project which is more macabre and dark. University should be the time to be taking risks and experimenting and making full use of the facilities available to me because in the ‘real world’ the deadlines and demands are too tight to be ‘arsing’ around. It’s ironic he should say that, for the next brief this semester we have to choose a competition brief, and I was going to choose the Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales competition launched by Puffin, maybe the Penguin competition aimed at an adult audience would be a better bet. Something dark and macabre would definitely show this ‘versatility’ quality in me better.

A portfolio should reflect my interests and my hobbies and who I am as a person, not just someone who’s jumped through the hoops to produce one for the sake of having one. Therefore I should be entering competitions and making my own briefs to produce work that I am enjoying and having fun with to be able to show in my portfolio.

In all, my portfolio is too child heavy. It needs more variation to show my skills and flexibility.

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