Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Self analysis & critical reflection - project 3

Little White Lies Competition Project

Self-analysis and critical reflection

My initial ideas for this project were to combine the main character portrait (Gary Oldman) with spy themes such as mazes, codes and puzzles. I researched jigsaws, board games and typefaces that would be appropriate for the subject matter and incorporate these themes. In this project I wanted the three things I struggled with in the first project to come together; the colour, the type and the overall composition. In tying these elements together seamlessly I would generate a strong piece of work that was all on one layer and would need very limited tweaking via the use of Photoshop. By embroidering the image onto fabric and turning it into a cushion I have achieved these three things, the colour has been carefully considered and is appropriate for the era, the type has been fully integrated into the composition by being stitched and the composition is all on one layer. I have mixed the title of the film up to make it a mini puzzle trying to find the words and link them together.

I have researched type in accordance with my personal thoughts on my failings on the last project. On my portraits of Gary Oldman the type is hand rendered and integrated fully into the image rather than worked on top of. I haven’t worked like this before with the integration of type within the image itself but the result is far superior to an additional layer on top and is definitely a process which I will utilise in future projects. It has also aided my desire for limited use of software. Although my initial attempts at hand rendered type failed as they were illegible, given more time I could develop these to transform the idea from my head into a reality.

Again I have painted onto a board, but I have also used stitch onto mustard material and collaged onto a board in a similar method to Ian Wright who was highlighted to me in a group crit. I decided that the subject matter being a spy film, trying to disguise the main character would be entirely appropriate. However, I didn’t want to make him totally unrecognisable as the archive of Little White Lies previous magazine covers have all been recognisable main characters. Integrating alternative processes along side wet media still gives me the chance to experiment and explore other options whilst still keeping the outcome mine. The wet media I found is quite limiting as it didn’t really resonate with the Little White Lies audience.

I have spent time again considering my palette, as the film was set in the 1970’s I have decided on brown, beige and mustard tones. The contrasting white collaged board gives an air of office work to parallel the work undertaken in the ‘circus’. All my outcomes on this project have been on the one layer which has made the work look much more authentic but doesn’t give the same amount of flexibility as working on separate layers would offer.

To make this project outcome even better, which I intent to work on next semester before the competition deadline, would be to photograph the cushion with a 1970’s camera to give the true gritty quality that would come from the era. Also, I need to be very selective about which particular elements I use for my set, I cannot use just any ashtray or any sideboard, and they have to be the perfect pieces. Additionally, I like the idea of pasting my image of Gary onto some wood to make a jigsaw out of his face again using this theme of puzzles. When cutting the wood into its pieces I would like to use the type Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy to fit them together.

I have noticed that through all of these projects this semester I have had some very good ideas, but rather than following just one through and developing it to its full potential I flit from one to the other. During the course of next semester I intend to sketch out all my ideas initially and then take just one that I think has the most mileage and develop it thoroughly to explore its true full potential. Not only will the outcome and body of sketchbook work be much richer and better quality through research but it will give me the opportunity to really dig deep into a project and earn those much needed marks from the learning outcomes.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Self analysis & critical reflection - project 2

Manchester Museum Project

Self-analysis and critical reflection

At first I struggled with this project. I changed my process from the last project which in itself was a mistake as I knew that the original process worked really well and produced some fantastic outcomes. Instead of the initial painting of characters I started to paint washes similar to Eric Carle’s style and cutting out the shapes to layer up with each other to create compositions. The aim was to produce children’s fact book 10-12 pages long. I struggled with type and how to make it stand out from the remainder of the image and the images themselves were weak in comparison to the work I have produced for the previous project. After deliberating for a few weeks, which on its own was too long, I decided to return to the process I used on the previous project. I have a problem working with black which is the realistic colour of a scarab so I concentrated on the jewellery aspect of the insect instead, giving me more scope to work with other colours. By doing this I have turned the project into ‘my’ project, it reflects me and I have proudly and independently found a solution to fix my struggles. My jewelled amulet now faces a new challenge though, as this project requires me to produce an A2 poster aimed at children I need to highlight that the main image is in fact an amulet and not the actual thing and is only a representation.

From the last project I have assessed that colour is an issue which needs addressing, therefore my first element of research was colour palettes. I created a mood board in accordance with the subject matter and so it needed to be appropriate. After debating which colours would be appropriate (which took a while, as you can see through the development of the work) I ended up choosing royal colours to symbolise the jewellery I was trying to represent; gold, topaz and emerald. These main colours are accompanied by spot use of red. I think that the colours work well together and harmoniously on the muted plain background. After trying the image on white, I decided that the dark grey was much more complementary to the use of colour in the title and main image. The facts ended up being white as it was the only colour that showed up well on such a dark background.

The type on the poster is again the generic Myriad Pro Photoshop default type face and doesn’t look as sophisticated as it could. I need to research type more for my next project as I think it is the one element that lets the poster down if anything. I understand that with the target audience being children it needs to be easily read but the generalness of the type is quite crude and ugly. Of course Comic Sans would have been even worse. I did attempt to hand render some type and the title of the poster however, is hand painted and matches the main feature well which I like.

I have tried to keep the tactile quality that my painted characters had in the last project and I think that I have succeeded on this front. The number of layers of paint which makes up the finished outcome essentially leads to this result.

During the course of the next project I will aim to integrate any type fully into the image rather than it being an afterthought and put on a separate layer on top. Sometimes, as seen in this and the last project this layering especially with type can look unfinished and an afterthought rather than thought of as the image as a whole. I will concentrate on use of colour again by creating another mood board as this has worked well for this project; the board gives me a reference point and inspiration. I will try to incorporate stitch instead of continuing with acrylic as I think it has more scope to be developed and explored. Additionally, stitched work has no boundaries or limits I can reach all audiences without having to change style if I utilise this process. As I have found with wet media it tends to be limited to a mainly child orientated audience and I need a process that can work well on all levels.

To make this particular project better I could have experimented with the type by hand rendering it in line with the title. Additionally, the dark background looks ugly; being a flat colour the lines start to appear from where the printer has brushed across the paper, so adding texture here could be useful. Again with the image being an amulet it would be useful for a younger audience to have an actual representation of the arthropod too, although the scarabs will be available to view on the day of the event. Creating additional dimensions for the project such as a short animation or paper model would show that the image can work across many platforms and has strength in all fields.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Self analysis & critical reflection - project 1

Personal Project

Self-analysis and critical reflection

Initially, my personal project was going to be an exploration purely based on process spurred on late last year by Jo’s encouragement for me to find ‘me’. Over the summer I started to experiment with dyes and fabrics and saw the different outcomes I could achieve according to the different processes and techniques I applied. As much as I loved experimenting with these materials and stitch the project had no backbone and no final goal; it has been a steep learning curve but I am starting to discover that I need a very tight prescriptive brief to stick to which will allow a specific outcome and a goal for me to aim for. You can see the start of my original personal project with the work handed in to be assessed; I thought that it would be necessary to include it as it shows my development over the summer months and through the first half of September.

When we were given our first brief after the summer holidays I committed myself 100% and the result was really encouraging. I enjoyed producing the work so much and I could see this final outcome that needed to be achieved. This is why I eventually made the decision to switch the project that I had started over the summer to the Helping Uganda Schools Christmas story book which I then went on to present in a PowerPoint presentation a few weeks after. I have had my work professionally printed for this project and I feel that the majority of it looks great. You can most certainly tell which pages were rushed, these have been highlighted in the book with post-its which I hope to work further on over the Christmas period, but I did know at the beginning of the brief that completing all the pages for the deadline was going to be extremely demanding. Overall, I am proud of the finished piece as I finally have some work which I am really confident with, enough so as to present to prospective clients and employers in my portfolio.

Colour has been a major issue in this first project and one which will need addressing over the next project to eliminate the ‘zaney’ quality from reappearing. I think that I have been producing individual elements and thinking of their colour individually too rather than the individual elements together making up the whole composition. In future projects it will be vital to limit my palette and stick to those colours for all elements in order for the end composition to feel united.

It was encouraging to receive such kind and encouraging support from Denise Ead the Helping Uganda Schools project manager; in particular she liked the tactile quality of my work. I seem to prefer working with wet media such as paint and drawing inks and I intend to carry this forward as it appears to be working well for me. This tactile quality that is evident in my work is obviously a positive one with Pete Adlington and Ben Jones also commenting on this feature and thus I intend to try can carry this forward too.

Helen Taylor at Taylor O’Brien brought the type on the work to my attention as she didn’t think that it offered anything extra to the images. I used a default Photoshop font Myriad Pro and type is often something that I shy away from although I understand that originally type too was a means of illustration. I could try to hand render the type for future projects but for now I’ve taken all type off these images for adding to my portfolio.

Of course, in the original personal project work, there are some very interesting thoughts and ideas emerging and threads that could possibly form the basis of my final major project next semester. My subject matter was DNA and this provided the ideal opportunity for me to work with pattern which I haven’t really experimented with or explored before.

Over the next project I will pay particular attention to colour with a view to researching appropriate colour palettes. Although as a rule illustrators don’t use mood boards, I think that it may help to achieve the appropriate outcome as I did struggle with colour on this project. Using wet media gave me an outcome that I really like and one which I think is aesthetically pleasing and so I will continue to use acrylic. I will also address the issue of type should it raise its head and try to hand render it where possible and appropriate.

Friday, 9 December 2011

A Thoughtful Presentation

A Thoughtful presentation on how to break into the industry
By Stuart Price from Thoughtful 08/12/11
Thoughtful is a collection of designers who host their baby Lost in the Forest (on of many creations I’m sure). Lost in the Forest is a concept driven at redesigning design education, which seems like a pretty hefty statement but what the guy goes on to talk about it highly useful and pretty much relative to the third year degree students currently.
There are lots of different opinions contained within the presentation and it is important not to overly analyse them, either you like what they say or you don’t the key is to take from the presentation what I think will relate to my own work and set of circumstances because everybody’s set of circumstances will be different.
The presentation dealt with the debate between convergent and divergent thinking. The idea that something has one specific answer such as 3x5 = 15 (convergent thinking) or something has more than one answer and can be mind mapped in a certain space of time (divergent thinking). Dr Peter Lovatt from Hertfordshire University found that dancing improves these methods of thinking and fifteen minutes of structured dancing will result in better convergent thinking whereas fifteen minutes of improvised dancing will result in better divergent thinking.
The presentation also answered some vital questions that undergraduates wish to know when going for interview etc. Persistence came up as a strong contender for most vital attribute – the people you are addressing in industry are busy, no matter how good you are you need to think about how you are going to show them how good you are. Remember that everything is not going to be given to you on a plate. Keep dialogues going with the people that you most resonate with, with the employers that will offer you most scope as a designer, but do not verge on stalkerish.
What is the preferred medium for first contact with a potential future employer? 78% of studios asked would prefer email, 18% preferred post and 4% preferred a walk in the office spontaneous approach. Adrian Shaughnessy was asked what he would like an email to look like – ‘it’s important to know about my studio and to show that they have done background research. Hello! At the start of an email is unprofessional, make an effort to find out exactly who it is that you need to be speaking to’. Additionally, big attachment such as a 10MB file is too big make your email concise and don’t let anything get in the way of being put to the bottom of the list. If your email doesn’t get a response 46% of studios advise to follow up with another email 3-4 days after the original contact. Adrian says to be open minded, when you graduate you start all over again, be prepared to learn, you never stop learning in the design industry. Keeping a neutral approach is the safest bet; talk about your work, including fonts etc could be a sticking point with design agencies if they don’t like the particular ones that you’ve used.
Expected contents of a first email – have a link to your personal website and a PDF of your work, the latter needs to be a labour of love, do not send an empty email. People would like different options to view your work and sticking to 5-7 projects is a good idea, keep your PDF to 5MB or below. Michael Johnsons advice was ‘the industry is very tough, be prepared for work experience and internships it is possible there is time to find out if you are any good and if you are any good it will happen’.
Leaving a small A5/A6 booklet of your portfolio behind to pass around the office is always a good idea; it keeps you and your work fresh in their memory. Portfolio no-no’s – spelling mistakes, place your work directly in front of the designer so it’s upside down to you, present to them and not to yourself. Patrick Bagalee says ‘it’s better to be interested than interesting; everything you do describes something about you.’ Think of yourself as a brand; meet as many people as you can. Presenting with a box allows illustrators to take work samples such as printed books etc.
Is there a preferred portfolio format? The studios questioned had no preference but a book with bound pages is a safe option. Stefan Sagmeister prefers 10-20 projects, remember that the person you are seeing has limited time, time for them is money. If you have anything that you are unsure about, leave it out, only take work that you are 100% confident in and 100% confident talking about.
Take advantage of the other facilities within the university institution, some are training athletes for the Olympics, some are undertaking cancer research, never think ‘what has this got to do with design?’ but ’what has design got to do with this?’, surround and immerse yourself in what you do. A designer will always judge you through their eyes.
How much information should accompany each project? 45% of studios want to see some information but keep it short and sweet also give credit where credit’s due. It will be obvious if you haven’t done all the work yourself. Potential employers like to see how you’ve arrived at the finished outcome so save sketches. Pentagons Paula Scher ‘find a place to work that is going to give you the broadest possible opportunities don’t think purely about money. What you do in the first twelve months doesn’t mean that is what you will be doing for the rest of your career. Making mistakes is all part of the process just own up to them and learn from them, then move on.’
How long should an interview last? 50% of studios preferred 15-30 minutes so practice and prepare for 30 minutes. Asking how long you’ve got on entering the room set boundaries and gives you a clue of what to edit if anything, it also looks pro active and professional. Employers are attracted to people with tremendous enthusiasm for life and people who are not scared of their imaginations. Adrian says that he is more interested in the designer sitting in front of him than the work he is presented with. Great ideas and good personality are equally important.
If you don’t give up and are relentless you will get a job in the design industry just don’t expect it within the first 18 months of graduating.
I suppose on reflection the presentation given by Stuart was probably more Graphic design orientated as he referred to Graphic designers a lot, but there is some really useful information provided on how to try and break into the industry and that will stay with me throughout the process. A great job Stuart, keep the hard work up!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Prescriptive needs

It has become apparent over this semester that I require specific boundaries to restrain myself from either producing work that is off on a tangent to what the brief requires or doing nothing at all. In essence it is essential for me to work to tight constraints where I know exactly what is required of me and what the finished result will be. For me this then eliminates ‘wandering’ work and work that has no backbone or actual focus. Take for example my personal project I started to develop over the summer months, the subject matter was really interesting and something which I enjoyed learning about, however without a particular aim and goal to focus on I was producing work mindlessly for the sake of it. The three projects that I have embarked upon since September have seen me produce my best pieces of work to date.

Colour has been an ongoing issue through the Negotiated Project module; the Helping Uganda Schools brief saw colour flying everywhere because this is what I thought children wanted to see, it took me a while to realise and with Lise’s help, that children at age 5 can actually have quite sophisticated imaginations and can engage with equally sophisticated visual imagery. Though I must say that in the Bugs project for the Manchester Museum and Little White Lies competition brief I have applied much thought to my colour palettes specifically trying to align them appropriately to the context and subject matter. The Bugs project is again aimed at a child orientated audience, yet the colour is much more muted focusing on the main character. My Gary Oldman portrait for Little White Lies has seen me change my working method slightly in accordance to the context of the brief aiming at a much more refined audience. The colour is very in tune with the 1970’s when the film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is set utilising beiges, browns, mustard and orange tones.

I have enjoyed painting during this first semester of my third year illustration degree but I think that a change of tact during semester two could be good for the soul. I understand that come May time when I have to start searching for work my experimentation and play-time will be much more restricted and so I need to get as much of it off my chest sooner rather than later. Now I have found a working method that I am comfortable with I can return to it at any time in the mean time I would like to try my hand at some different processes. Stitch has already featured to some extent in my work and I would like to push this further by incorporating more material work and possibly utilising the sewing machines available.

Because of my prescriptive needs I think it would be entirely appropriate to concentrate on live briefs for my Final Major Project, this way I can meet specific demands that someone else has determined. Additionally, if I make these live briefs competition briefs it will give me the opportunity to mix in the professional arena before I graduate. If I should be as lucky as to win any of these competition briefs it can only bode well on my cv for future work. I have decided that 15 weeks is too long a time scale for my concentration not to wane, therefore I have decided that I will complete either three five week briefs or five three week briefs to split the time up more efficiently for my working method. Initially, I am looking at utilising the Folio competition brief illustrating Angela Carter’s ‘The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories’ which will give me the opportunity to explore a darker subject matter and add to my portfolio variety, the Puffin competition to illustrate Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the Marks & Spencer competition brief to design packaging. The M&S brief will be particularly useful for my portfolio as it will show that I can apply myself to different fields allowing a potential client or commissioner to see how I work with other projects alongside the children’s book illustrations I so love doing. If I am going to tackle the creative industry practically, although children’s book illustration is my number one love, I have to appeal to a wider audience in order to get as much work as possible lined up. Alongside this variation within my portfolio I also need to have a stronger presence in the art world. This will mean an online presence including website and visiting as many events and conferences as possible.

Over the Christmas break I aim to launch my first attack on the web by setting up a Facebook account dedicated to my illustration. I am making Facebook my first point of call as it’s free and I’m a techno-no-no. As for the web presence thing, it doesn’t help when I share the same name as a very well established porn star, any Google search for Chloe Jones fails to display me, my web presence therefore could be tricky to master. I already have a Behance and twitter account active however they do tend to get forgotten about. I have also decided that from the end of my degree course, I would like to move directly into a shared desk space where I will have the motivation and determination to go and do my work everyday.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Creative Review 01/12

For our Creative Review session this month (takes place on the first Thursday of every month) I have brought an article from December's issue (2011) of Creative Review. The article is titled 'Cut, fold, glue and play'. I chose this article to talk about because during the last project we were asked to produce an A3 3D paper engineered model of our chosen bug, which I personally really struggled with. Usually my work is all 2D mainly painted but with some collage emerging here and there, so working off the page can be tricky. I don’t really possess the ability to construct paper models myself without having to create something with a child audience in mind. The article talks about how paper models and toys are becoming increasingly popular in the illustrative world and the one’s it features are exceedingly good. Basically I was trying to get some hints and tips for my own work and maybe some research pointers as it’s not an area I’ve worked in before.

Book wise I chose to show John Le CarrĂ©’s ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ 1974 spy novel as I can’t get hold of the film just yet (release date not until January 2012). It is a useful read to get some context for the Little White Lies competition I’m currently working on. I presume that the film would be a much quicker way to brush up my knowledge on the content but unfortunately I’m too early for the DVD and too late for the cinema unless I trek to Edinburgh (that would be an expensive viewing!)

Recently, I took a trip to the Tate gallery in Liverpool to look at the Alice in Wonderland exhibition so this featured in my presentation, but also some exhibitions that I think will be interesting for future visits. The Manchester Art Gallery has currently for an exhibition on ‘Under That Cloud’ which looks interesting, it’s a showcase of jewellery that was produced by travellers stuck in Mexico City during last years Ash Cloud epidemic and is running from 19/11/11 – 15/04/12.

For my film I chose to present the Black Swan which is another film in the shortlist for the Little White Lies competition. I chose to view this recently to see if I could find another film that was available on DVD so I could use more content in my work rather than the Tinker, Tailor film which I’m struggling to find. My plan failed… miserably. I found the film to be a psychoanalytical thriller – not my bag, sorry.