Sunday, 15 April 2012

Hopes, Fears and Opportunities (pt 2)

Hopes, Fear and Opportunities (pt 2)

Reflecting on my Hopes, Fears and Opportunities (pt 1) blog post, posted last semester, I still seemed to be concentrating on my end result; hoping more than anything for a first class honours. I wrote about how ‘a first class honours degree doesn’t mean anything if I don’t have fun’, and in part that is true, if I can’t say that I’ve had fun, has all the work really been worth the effort? However, even now, although I am forcing myself to stop thinking about the final hurdle (the mark) it seems in doing so I’m making it all the worse, I suppose in my defence and my justification for doing so is that it’s how I can assess my own progress, if my mark is improving at each stage then I know I am getting better or at the least staying consistent. Alongside this I need, a matter of requirement, a minimum of a 2:1 to secure a place at my first choice institution to further study towards a primary PGCE in September. All this worrying about the final mark will inevitably add to the already immense pressure which could in turn undo all the hard work and effort I’ve thrown at it thus far. In all then, it is both a hope and a fear rolled into one; I hope for a minimum of a 2:1 and I fear that by not achieving this I will not be selected for a PGCE primary course to start in September.

I wrote previously of not being ‘able to forgive myself for not working my hardest or to my fullest potential’. The hours I am putting in at the moment and the total, all-consuming exhaustion I feel, has truly put my mind at ease on this point at least if nothing else. I have fulfilled my opportunity of working hard and making the most of the resources available at university whilst I still have them to make the use of. Gary’s word of choice was to be ‘relentless’, I think that can well describe how I feel currently, I have tried my best at everything I have undertaken, my stamina knows no bounds! Fearing the workload was a good thing on reflection, being nonchalant about it was never going to work, I like to see myself as a practical and realistic person. By fearing the workload, I expected it, meaning that in a round about way I was able to cope much better than I would or could have done otherwise. Yes, the deadlines did all come around too quickly, but which ones don’t? I guess that’s the idea of deadlines… Quitting my job was the best thing I could have done to improve my chances of success, I’ve had much more time to dedicate, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to get the all important hours in.

I have partly fulfilled my hope of illustrating a children’s book, improved it by 200% in fact as I’ve made two. How it will impact on a child’s learning will be more difficult to assess as it’s not been published and probably never will be. This hope has changed slightly too, originally hoping to impact on a child’s learning through illustration; I have now made the move to impact on a child’s learning from more of a 1-2-1, hands on approach through becoming a primary school teacher. I still fear that I won’t live up to be own expectations, but I’m pretty sure that’s a common trait in most folk, I won’t beat myself up too much about it.

At the beginning of last semester (beginning of year three), I filled out a sheet based on my hopes, fears, opportunities and aims. My original hopes were to produce more work as last year I produced very little and as a result I didn’t have much portfolio pieces as I’d have liked. I wanted to secure a first class honours degree, a PGCE place as Sheffield Hallam University and to win the Uganda competition brief.

Judging by my portfolio currently, I have definitely succeeded in producing more work and more to the point of a much better standard and quality than previously. I now have at least ten very strong pieces which I am totally confident in and proud of. The next few hopes and aims weren’t as easy to master. I understand now that I am not a first class standard student and instead and quite happy to settle for a 2:1, indeed if I were to achieve anything less than this I would be thoroughly and 100% disappointed. I was declined a PGCE place at Sheffield Hallam University, though I have put in an application presently to The University of Warwick to study a PGCE in Early Years. Plus, I didn’t win the Uganda brief competition. However, to counter the negative results of my original hopes and aims, I did manage to secure a portfolio visit with Sarah Habershon at the Guardian and have managed to get my work under the noses of seven professionals this semester, way more than I had ever expected. This resolves my wanting to be able to showcase my work to as many professional people in the industry as possible. This out of all my hopes, fears and opportunities was the one I didn’t think would bear any fruit. However, I have stood my ground and continued to follow up emails and phone calls. After graduation, I hope that I can continue to seek out creative professionals in order to gain as much exposure for my work as possible and hopefully land that first commission!

My aims were to build on my presentation skills and to have an outstanding portfolio under my belt. I have managed to bring my portfolio up to the standard of which I aimed for. Presentation wise, I have only managed to experience presenting my work to the creatives at portfolio appointments, however on reflection I feel that this is probably the best way of encouraging my presentation skills as it is essentially what will be required of me in the next few months.

On my progress, I think I have finally mastered that all important ‘style’ issue. I can now look at my ‘cohesive’ portfolio and say that it’s mine. I know that it’s mine obviously because I’ve produced the work, but the ‘look’ and the overall image has me written all over it. This is one of my biggest achievements this year and is one of the aspects that I am most pleased with. Colour isn’t such an issue anymore; I can be more subtle than I was at the beginning of the year with those bold, brash, clashing palettes from the Uganda project. I don’t flit from one technique to the next, I have a firm, solid way of working. I use different techniques and media for my rough workings out such as watercolour and pencil sketches, but the final outcomes are all cohesive collages, from magazine paper with hints of stitch. I have experimented with other techniques to show how my images could be applied to other surfaces such a screen printing them onto fabrics to make into baby-gro’s and cushions. I have utilised skills I have been taught within the semester such as hand book binding my rough workings out into small books which look much more unique and aesthetically pleasing when being flipped through than a dirty old sketchbook.

My plan on graduating is to continue my search for a primary PGCE place if I still haven’t secured one by then. There will be the clearing process to navigate during June and July too if my search still doesn’t come to fruition. In between graduating in July and starting university again in September though I have volunteered my talents to the Just So Festival where I will have the opportunity to collaborate with other creative’s in a great atmosphere. If I don’t succeed at this then I will apply for non-teaching assistant positions for a year and hopefully reapply next year though I am hoping against all hope that it doesn’t come to that, but everyone needs a Plan B! Another consideration if this doesn’t work out the way I hope is the idea of renting some shared studio space with university friends, where jobs on the side would be merely to pay our way through the first couple of years until we could get ourselves truly established, with the main focus being on an illustrative career. My biggest worry about going down this particular route is not being employed. When TWD accountants came in to show us the process of declaring ourselves self-employed to HMRC that alone further reinforced my gut feeling that I would rather have a job where I know I will get a wage every month. Granted, being self-employed must have its benefits and I can see why people would be attracted to this option, they just don’t outweigh the guaranteed salary for me personally. Therefore, my priority is to secure that all important PGCE place to study for a further year and become a primary school teacher with an art specialism. If the feeling takes me, I can always continue illustrating around that.

And still here I am, little Chloe, still learning with under a month to go until the final deadline. I don’t feel ready to tackle the big wide world of illustration, I still feel much too young, na├»ve and inexperienced, though I know with this attitude I never will be. I would rather be protected in the college bubble for the remainder of my life, that way the negativity I receive from professionals won’t seem so hard to bear (though in fairness the majority, no all of the feedback I’ve received so far has been positive, I just don’t like the idea of negativity, I fear it). Then again I understand that now is the time to have faith and confidence in my abilities, and for Pete’s sake, grow some!

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