Thursday 24th November
10am appointment with Lise Brien @ The Chase
This visit was the one that I felt most comfortable with out of the three, not necessarily because it was the last of the three, but because I have been to The Chase before. I spent a week working there over the summer on a work experience placement and I have been in regular contact with Lise since and find her very approachable with any queries I may have.
The pre-nerves then weren't so prominent although they were still there to a certain degree. Lise always seems to comment on my appearance which gives me confidence in how I present myself at least (my work presentation however, could probably do with much more work!) Unlike my other portfolio visits, Lise conducted hers in the reception area, which also made me feel more at ease as it seemed very informal and much more friendly, almost like we were on the same level, she came down to me. Whether this was a technique she uses for ‘newbies’ or how she would conduct a professional portfolio visit I’m still unsure. Either way I would like to think that she treat me as she would a professional illustrator.
The actual presenting of my portfolio is what I find most difficult, not because I’m not confident in the work I’ve included in it but because I’m not confident in talking about my own work, I’m my own worst critic. I suppose nobody else can know my work better than me and I do need to talk about my ideas and how I produced the pieces etc, I still just find it an awfully excruciating process, most probably because I know I am being judged. After presenting my limited portfolio to her she supplied me with her comments. I know by this point I need more work in there, preferable 20 pages and currently it stands at only 8 strong pieces. As she represents a design agency and not illustration she could only really provide me with how she would view an illustrator’s portfolio, which is understandable. The first six pages are illustrations I created for the Helping Uganda Schools project and although she thought they were very nice and child friendly they are not something that she could base a possible commission on. Unless a design agency is looking to commission specifically for a child audience (which is very rare) these are not something that she personally would be overly interested in. This point was useful because I realised that I could and should be rearranging my portfolio every time I make a visit because not all agencies etc. are the same and are in fact looking for different things. For example if I were going for a portfolio visit to a publishing company my children’s book illustrations would need to be at the front however when visiting a design agency my more graphical elements need to be at the front with the children’s book images more to the back.
My James and the Giant Peach characters designs were much more attractive to Lise. These incorporate collage and stitch and to her are much more usable in her line of work. She commented on their representativeness and quirkiness and appeal much more to a designers use and on how I was very specific with my collage materials making them much more robust. It would be worth exploring the individual elements more to see if I could make them even more refined. The simplicity and graphical quality allows more flexibility in the design market. There is a hint of realism but the surrealism gives them more caricature. They are a much more elegant solution and are more distinctive than the former book images. She went on to say how she could visualise a train of insects produced in a similar manner branching out into flowers too and the stitched lines representing water, ground and skies. These images have much more potential to work on different levels, although they would work for children too. She made me realise that children at age 3-5 can also interpret quite sophisticated visual language too, it doesn’t always have to be so literal.
To sum up, I think Lise was very interested in my work because she has children of her own. If for example I were to attend a portfolio appointment where a designer in particular doesn’t have children maybe children’s book illustrations would not be the most ideal work to present. Lise’s comments on the James and the Giant Peach characters is commendable as I really enjoyed making these characters and they were much quicker to produce than some of the more laborious children’s book images. Suprisingly, Lise asked me to contact her again in 6 months to show her how I am progressing so that she too can review my work, fingers crossed it may turn into something more J