Monday, 7 May 2012

Big Illustration Party Time

Big Illustration Party Time Podcast review

Earlier, I listened to another podcast narrated by the comic illustrators Joshua Kemble and Kevin Cross who run the Big Illustration Party Time blog The subject of discussion this time around was how and why to draw up contracts being freelance illustrators and the importance they play in the working relationship you have with any one client. Working freelance can sometimes lead to verbal agreements or an agreement email and new and budding illustrators often use these to make a good impression with clients to show their willing and don’t want to turn work down or be turned down if a client runs away scared from a formal contract. The advice they gave though was not to be fooled – the client who runs away scared from a contract is a client you don’t want to work with anyway. In all honesty, I myself probably would skip the contract part if I thought it was going to send a potential client running for the hills. After all, we’ve heard in other podcasts how difficult it is to gain a clients interest in the first place without then scaring them off with the thought of holding a contract up to them. Though I can see the flip side of the argument too. Why even bother doing the work for them on a verbal agreement which wouldn’t stand up in a courtroom if they then refused to pay for the work produced. It’s a difficult one to tackle.

Reportedly, 50% of freelance illustrators don’t use a formal contract (I guess that this is a figure for the U.S and not internationally?) and Kemble and Cross admit to having not used them in the past too, thankfully their experience has shown them that contracts are a must and are kindly passing on their experiences so we don’t make those same foolish mistakes. In short contracts prevent confusion and protect both yours and the client’s interests and it is a document which can be referred to at any time. Unlike a verbal agreement which won’t stand up in court if anything goes wrong with the work, a contract is a binding document and one which will stand you in good stead if things do go pear shaped. It is the most important foundation to build a working relationship on and shows your professionalism too hopefully building such a good relationship with your clients that they will want to use you again.

Understandably, illustrators didn’t get into art to do paperwork, sure it’s tedious, laborious and boring but it is worth setting aside an hour or so to create a standardised contract. It may have to be revisited on occasions to be amended here and there but these amendments will only be a matter of lines or paragraphs rather than doing the whole thing anew every time. Basically, you want something that is water-tight and wiggle-proof where you will be guaranteed to get your kill fee, payment of fees and licensing that you agreed on. Try not to sound too fancy or over the top however, you didn’t study law, and keep it updated and as comprehensive as you feel the need for it to be. At the same time you don’t want to go overloading the contract with too many terms and stipulations. Also, remember that hiring a representative to do this sort of work on your behalf is much more reliable and they are much better at negotiating than you will ever be, that’s their job, yours is to illustrate.

Overall, this podcast was very informative and based around a subject area that is usually brushed over in school and is only a reality when you are out there actually practising your illustration... by which time it’s usually too late. I am glad for the helpful tips being thrown my way that is for sure. When TWD accountants came in to present to the class earlier this semester, touching on self-employment, contracts and laws etc the information went over my head slightly, there was just so much of it! Hearing it again and picking up bits at a time is certainly more helpful than trying to take all of it on board in one sitting. I can now see that drawing up a contract is definitely the best way to move forward and if a client then decides that they don’t want to work with you because of the contract, they probably were never all that interested in the first place. As the guys said, usually if a client doesn’t like certain terms within the contract they will work with you to compromise on them rather than scrapping you altogether.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Website address

Here's the link to my illustration website which is up to date with all my current work... enjoy!

Major Project Evaluation

Major Project Evaluation
Chloe Jones

Firstly it must be noted that I have deviated hugely from my original major project proposal which was submitted at the beginning of January 2012. My proposal was initially titled ‘An exploration of the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm with particular reference to the stories’ underlying themes’. I decided to deviate from this proposal because at the end of the first six weeks, where I was developing a body of work for the Brothers Grimm book jacket, I was still no closer to finding a resolve to that particular design problem. With there only being eighteen weeks in total (including holidays) to spend on this major project as a whole, I decided that I couldn’t afford to lose any more time on a project that was clearly not bearing any fruits. I did however, during my six weeks exploring the Puffin brief, focus on the stories’ underlying themes as I originally intended and this can be evidenced through my fairytale research which has been submitted for assessment within my lever arch file. As I realised the Grimm’s brief wasn’t being resolved, I decided that I had to change my strategy as the outcome I originally intended to produce (a book cover to enter into the Puffin competition) would no longer materialise. I soon understood that by deviating from the original Grimm’s brief would also mean that the body of work would change too including the relating work that was lined up for after the resolution of the Grimm’s jacket (puppets and costumes) and so serious thought had to be given as to what I would go on to produce instead. At first I struggled with this having been left in limbo but soon resolved to producing two children’s identification books that would allow me to develop my collage technique to its full potential.

I found having to axe a project exceptionally hard especially when this semester contributes to such a large percentage of the overall marks, but moving forward seemed the only logical solution. I have recently revisited the work of those first six weeks in order to try and salvage something, however I feel that the work I have produced since then is much stronger and of a much better standard and quality. Comparing that work at the beginning of this semester to the work I have just finished now gives me some idea of what quality control means – it has no place in my assessment exhibition, though the body of work I developed during those initial weeks has been submitted for assessment to show my progression and development of technique. Although my project has changed drastically, ironically the final outcome still links to my graduation ambitions as the two children’s identification books are aimed at the same audience that I will eventually teach (6 year olds). I still undertook my original research on Freud and Jung’s theories on psycho-analysis (also in my lever arch file) I still spent six weeks on this project. My context hasn’t changed because the books are still aimed at a younger child audience and my deliverables are similar with the body of work I produced during the first six weeks being handed in for assessment purposes to show my development both during that time and from then onwards.

I feel that this final module has highlighted the strengths and weaknesses within my work and the feedback from my interaction with creative professionals within the industry has further reinforced these. Firstly, at the start of my portfolio I have presented work from the beginning of last semester, which is painterly in style and a clash of neon palettes to answer the HUGS live brief. These images are followed by my more mature and stronger collaged subjects such as my ladybird and grasshopper. This juxtaposition of style has caused much debate between the professionals I have been to see with the preference of style seemingly split 50/50 for one over the other. I have decided to keep both styles in as I think it shows my flexibility and adaptability, some professionals will see this as a faux pas and some will agree. I do on reflection, feel that the collages are definitely stronger but I am attached to my bright Uganda images because I got so much pleasure from creating them. The weakness in my portfolio then could be viewed as the conflicting styles as it’s not consistent enough for a client like The Guardian but shows flexibility and adaptability for a design agency such as Rapport Events and Aurea Carpenter at Short Book Publishing. I suppose to fix this I need to have a firm idea of exactly who I want to show my work to and make this consistent so that my portfolio can follow suit. For example if it’s editorials that I want to pursue I don’t need to be showing Sarah Habershon painterly child friendly pieces but consistent editorial type work.

The strength in my work now is the consistency of the output. Originally I was flitting from style to style and technique to technique, which was prevalent even as recently as the end of last semester only five months ago. I’d like to think that this has now stopped and I have a true ‘me’ outcome, all the time, every time. By being consistent with the input of materials I can thus be consistent with the output of work. I use stitch and collage proportionally and this is roughly the same proportion throughout the series of animals I have created this semester, making them stronger visually as a whole. I have experimented with different papers and researched other paper based artists such as Charlie Harper to secure the best finish and this research and experimentation has certainly paid off. My colour also is much more consistent and subtle in a way that would appeal to my target audience better than the once clash of vibrant colours. This in part is down to the magazine cuttings as I can only select the colours which are available to me. Although this can have a negative effect too whereby I cannot find the colour I wish to use, but on the whole it works out for me more as a positive as it gives me more control over my palette. If I hadn’t have messed up with the Grimm’s brief however I don’t think that the in-depth exploration of this technique would have been conducted, therefore although I was frustrated at the time I am now thoroughly happy with my final outcomes.

If cost was of no importance I would like to see my two children’s nursery rhyme books printed on quality paper by quality printers. When researching costs they worked out to be around £45 each using college facilities for the high finish I desired. To have them printed externally was more expensive still. If anything this is a weakness to the finished outcome because the finesse isn’t as high as I’d have liked. I think that my self-promotion and web presence could still be stronger but I think that this will come with my building confidence in my work and starting to be commissioned. Though I can see that this is a catch-22 situation whereby I need to self-promote and have a strong web presence in order to gain those commissions. Still, this area needs improvement. Even attending events such as Drawn North-West, Spellbound Forest, Mr Thomas’ Chop House auction, Just So Festival and other creative opportunities will enable me to build up my portfolio and the awareness of me in others. I do however think that my website is a strong, easy to use, easily navigated site which features my best work. It is up-to-date, current and my contact details are very visible and are all displayed, unlike other websites I’ve seen where phone numbers and email addresses are missing.

Overall, I think that the finesse could have been slightly higher if I had had the opportunity to spend more money on the printing but I am extremely pleased with the amount of work I have managed to produce which is usually one of the weaknesses to my method of working. I feel that I have applied myself thoroughly and in a way that I have been encouraged to do so and hope that this shows through my work and reflects in my final mark.