Monday, 30 April 2012
Sunday, 29 April 2012
Saturday, 28 April 2012
Sunday, 22 April 2012
Wednesday, 18 April 2012
Final Major Project
Potential further project exploration
After my final major project hand in date on 11/05/2012, I intend to continue working on my children’s identification nursery rhyme books as a personal project. Not only will it keep me working illustratively whilst I wait for my all important first commission but it will give me additional portfolio pieces and potential works to be displayed on my website boosting my online presence. My next task will be to have the books professionally printed by a company such as Blurb. Not only will this add another dimension to my work, it will provide a comparison, for both me and creative professionals who have the privilege of seeing my work, against the hand bound and hand printed books that have been produced for my final major project. It will give me the opportunity to see which method works best for my way of working, though as I do work quite manually and organically, I do think that the hand printed and hand bound books will suit my personality better (though I am trying not to pre-empt this and take it as it comes!). Additionally, I can photograph both variations of the books to either show these in my portfolio or take the real McCoy. Either way, by doing this it will provide me with more options for when meeting professionals etc. Professionally printed books would be a better and safer option on the quality and standard side of things as I can pretty much guarantee the outcome compared to a job that is done by hand as mistakes as more frequent and likely. Other options to consider are having the books printed in limited colours to bring down the cost of the professional printing for example have them in black and white (which my work features a lot of anyhow) or a limited colour palette. Not only will this bring down printing costs but it will add further depth to the books. Printing options today are as diverse as ever, I could even look at having them printed onto newspaper like textures again to be more cost effective, it would also add another layer to the illustrations and their context. As a lot of the illustrations subtly play on the loss of natural habitats and natural resources for many of the animals printing them on 100% recycled materials and the like would be an ideal way of adding this extra layer of meaning.
I will be looking to make the books into a Zine publication for the library in
As well as the hand printed and hand bound ‘Into the Garden’ and ‘Under the Water’ books, I have produced rough books containing all the rough workings I produced as part of the body of work I submitted for my final major project. These rough books are somewhat more intriguing than the final outcomes and so I will continue to work outside of sketchbooks in future and on individual pieces of textured paper whereby I can hand bound them into my own personality filled books. This way of working also allows me to personalize the books making them as big or as small as I need them to be. Beforehand I tended to either not fill a sketchbook or run in a second but not fill it. By working on individual sheets and hand binding them I can continue working on as many or as little sheets as I need to complete my experimentation.
Extra exploration of animal habitats and environmental resources alongside ecological factors such as global warming and the impact such factors have on animals would add a substantial learning aspect to the books. Incorporating these learning aspects would add another level to my books alongside the current identification process and introduction of song and play. I could indeed revisit the illustrations in the current two books and add in environmental resources to further add to their depth, for example ring pulls off cans and plastic carrier bags.
I would like the opportunity in my spare time to illustrate other books such as Out of Africa and On the Farm to add to my collection. However, any area that I consider for a new book needs to offer something new to the existing books. I want to expand on my set of characters whilst I am still in the ‘zone’ to hopefully end up with a set of around 35-50. Also, I will make prints of certain double page spreads from the current books and individual characters to possibly sell at markets etc and further my self-promotion and appeal to me entrepreneurial side. The characters could be printed onto birthday cards, cushions and bags etc.
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
I tried to find you today. I will be doing a lesson with all the 3rd years in the next few weeks for you guys to ask about the big bad world of illustration.
I have never rented a studio I have always worked from home. But it is a good idea. I also tend to work on my own but I prefer to work on me tod. I have kept in contact with friends who are illustrators so if I want to get feedback I sometimes ask them. I work from home because I get allot of jobs that I have to work on over the night due to deadlines. But studios are a good way to get out of the house and leave distractions.
Anyway I will tell you more face to face in the lesson
Subject: RE: Graphic Gurus
Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2012 08:11:26 +0000
Now that the end of semester 2 is approaching, I was wondering if you could provide some hints and tips on what works best for you studio wise?
Do you work alone or from a studio? Which way do you think works best? Have you collaborated on any projects since you graduated? And if so how did you manage to get together, was it in a studio space etc?
I'm looking at the possibility of renting some space when I graduate to have somewhere to go and work otherwise I think I'll get lazy and not bother doing any real work, I get distracted too easily working from home and was hoping you were able to provide your experience on this.
Hope you had a good Easter break
Cheers in advance
One of my ponderings, if my preferred options don’t work out, as stated in my Hopes, Fears and Opportunities blog post, is to rent some potential studio space somewhere with friends I have made whilst on my degree course. I decided to ask my Graphic Guru, Ben Jones how he weighed up studio space vs. working from home seeing as he’s got a few years under his belt now and to try and get a better judgement of what would work best for me. As you can see from his reply, he says he has no first hand experience of working from a studio as he works from home but does go on to say that it is a good idea. I’ll tell you my qualms about working from home first of all. Firstly, I get distracted too easily, the slightest irritation gives me an excuse not to do what I should be doing, anything from the washing up to the washing, ironing and having a long breakfast – in short procrastination is all too easy to stumble upon at home. Secondly, I don’t feel like I’m at work. I’ve heard of stories where people have got dressed in a suit and tie in a morning and walked around the block then returned home to get in the work ‘zone’, though I don’t think this charade would work for me. Thirdly, I would feel too isolated cooped up in a second bedroom in the middle of nowhere away from the hub and heart of the design world.
The positives of being in a studio then is that the distractions I feel at home would not follow me to the workplace, I would feel like I’m at work because I’ve gone somewhere other than home and I would be working within a group of creative people. I can bounce ideas off these people, get their opinions, views and feedback and there’s the mutual feeling of support – that we’re not in this alone. Like Ben, I do prefer to work alone because I can go with my own ideas and gut feeling and I know that I can rely on me. Though I can see how collaborating with other creative’s can boost morale, support and enthusiasm. The idea of renting studio space, especially with fellow illustration degree students means that I won’t lose contact with this rich source of support.
Ben says that the deadlines he is given for commissions can sometimes be extremely short and tight therefore working from home works better for him because he can work through the night. If however, I were to rent space, surely I can open my own studio at any time I choose? Therefore I could still work through the night, like Ben, if I need to; it’s just that the distractions of home life won’t be there to ruin my chances of success.
Sunday, 15 April 2012
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
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
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
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, naïve 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!
Wednesday, 11 April 2012
Friday, 6 April 2012
Recently, I had a portfolio visit with the Guardian in
During my research on Piven I realised that child-friendly type illustrations such as mine could be adapted for an older audience too. Piven himself does this by adding visual twists such as the iconic matches he used for Saddam Hussein’s moustache circa 1990 when the world was getting ready for the Gulf War after Saddam and Iraq’s conquering of Kuwait, ‘the matches seemed a perfect metaphor for that imminent war/fire coming’. So there are visual elements that an older audience find amusing or witty, yet a child audience can still recognise the famous portrait and relate to the technique. As Piven put, metaphor works for an adult audience because they can understand the message implied. Similarly I use collage and mixed media to create my subjects though ephemeron doesn’t really feature as my work is all two-dimensional.
Additionally, it’s interesting to learn that he had two portfolios when he graduated, one for illustration and one for graphic design. If Sarah thought that my one portfolio was too varied in content and ‘broad’ then I would hate to see her reaction to the freshly graduated Piven way back when! For me, having work that appeals to different markets is an advantage, I see it as showing my flexibility and ability to mould myself to different situations, tasks and challenges. For me, limiting my portfolio and being selective about briefs I undertake limits my earning potential which at the end of the day is one of the major reasons I’m in the business. Therefore although having two portfolios might be slightly excessive, I admire his determination and commitment to accessing work.
In an interview, Piven was asked ‘You travel all over the world for workshops, and they are not just for artists, but with children, with seniors, with patients in hospitals…can you talk about how these workshops became part of your life as an artist, and what you can give to the participants, and what you get out of them?’. These workshops further connect him with both adult and child audiences, visiting schools and kindergartens, hospitals and museums, reinforcing his ability and suitability for editorials as well as children’s book illustration; he seems to seamlessly flit from one to the other. The majority of his editorial work also has a political slant featuring Saddam Hussein and Tony Blair to name a few. These editorials give him an outlet to vent his political views as well as being able to produce aesthetically pleasing illustrations for the child market.
If I could adapt my illustrations in a way as to add metaphor, wit and humour in a similar way to Piven it would give me more flexibility when it comes to employability and commissioning. If by entering the editorial market alongside child illustration offers this extra experience, it is certainly an arena I would be interested in exploring.
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
The Times reflection
The talk which Jon Hill presented us with on 14/03, has on hindsight given me food for thought. He talked about the application which the Times has for the iPad and iPhone, where users have to pay a subscription fee to be able to read their online content, similar to purchasing the printed newspaper, only online. This is an idea Rupert Murdoch had and in a sense it does make logical business sense, why charge to purchase a printed newspaper version when you could in theory read the exact same content for free online if they did not charge the subscription fee?
It made me start thinking though, I mean no other news outlet with a web presence charges for such a service, for example the BBC or Google or the Daily Mail amongst others, so how do they manage to still get daily hits? Is it that the Times is such an integral part of the British heritage that people simply cannot do without their daily fix? In a presentation that the company made to Murdoch to secure the next years funding they showed data proving that charging for their online version still has more hits per day than the Independent had for their printed copy and last year (2010) their application was more popular than Angry Birds. So on reflection does it matter that they charge a subscription fee when they are quite clearly one of the leading suppliers in the market, both online and in the printed form? In such dismal economic times though will these figures drop as the population begins to realise that they can read their news for free on other sites?
Also, it made me think that newspapers really are a dying trend. I know from first hand experience that my father only purchases a newspaper when he is on holiday and actually has the quality time to sit down with a cup of tea and digest the news he has paid for properly, thus making more financial sense to him than purchasing it everyday and not having the time to sit and read it thoroughly. Though my grandfather purchases a newspaper daily and religiously (with the exception of Sundays, because they charge too much for mere supplements and advertisements, buts that’s going on another tangent entirely). If they are a dying trend, then are they going to become more expensive as less people part take in the purchasing of British heritage? After all a newspaper such as the Times is indeed just that, part of the British make-up. If they become more expensive then they will become an exclusive institution. Of course the likes of the Times is marketed at the middle classes and above already but the exclusivity that it poses could potential only widen the gap between the social classes. Additionally, if it becomes so expensive for the manufacturer to produce then the only way of it being a sustainable source would be to make it a weekly or even monthly publication instead of daily as we see it at the moment. Agreed, we do see the news on television and hear of it on the radio, so I hear you say where is the need for the printed word? Well institutions such as the Times have specialists in subject areas to break the information down for us into more manageable chunks with the added bonus of lawyers and doctors on hand for authoritative information and of course they can utilise data to make sense of scenarios through diagrams and graphics.
Finally, if newspapers, alongside other printed forms such as books are going online to try and keep up with the pace of an ever evolving technological world, then surely I must need to have a basic knowledge of how all this works if I am to survive in producing art work that will fit these needs too. This is the bit that scares me most as I have no experience or knowledge of coding or how computers work past the basic Microsoft and adobe packages. Will I need to start some courses or purchase some teach-yourself guides? Even the tour of the Times and Guardian office in London didn’t manage to shine any light on these particular issues, having had the time they are ones which I would have raised, what exactly are the expectations of future illustrators etc. from newspaper and other editorial outlets? I hope and pray that when I eventually enter the professional world after graduation I can whatever these expectations may be!
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
Engaging with Charley Harper research
Recently I have been directed back to the work of Charley Harper. It is fitting really that this connection has resurfaced as my work also references natural subjects in quite a graphical, stylized method. I try to concentrate on breaking down the subject into key shapes and not focus too much on the fussy details, as long as you can tell that my prawn for example is indeed a prawn, then for me (and Charley too it seems) no further information is necessary. My technique then is a matter of distilling the subject and simplifying it to its most recognizable form. Unlike Harper though who then goes on to contextualize his simple subjects in complex surroundings, I try to keep the context simple too. Currently, I am experimenting with my marks to see which media will best fit with my simple collages. I think that fine line pencil drawings are aesthetically pleasing against the collages as they do not introduce too much detail as to take the eye away from the main subject yet they still give some structure and hint at a
context for the subject. Next on my list of experiments will be ink marks made with natural tools such as twigs or leaves. I’m not sure yet whether these will be intricate enough an outcome as the black marks could look dominant and aggressive with the dense colour against such timid magazine cuttings.
Looking at Harper’s backgrounds, he also utilises intricate line. Where he uses a colourful background however, I tend to keep mine white as I work with white space well and will probably keep this feature in my final major project work. This lack of colour again emphasises the main subject which is a colour collage and subdues the structure. Harper uses symmetry in the majority of his works too and I have noticed that in my own work the stronger of my subjects hold symmetrical qualities. Keeping everything symmetrical however can become a little bit predictable and so introducing some asymmetry keeps things varied and aesthetically pleasing when turning the pages too.
Engaging with Lucienne Day
Although Lucienne Day is a textile designer there is much knowledge and insight to be gained from her work. Again I have been directed to Lucienne by my tutor who suggested that her work would aid my research, looking at her use of organic shapes and bright patterns she certainly appeals to my tastes. Again, similar to Harper, she uses fine intricate lines to suggest her natural subjects, lines which I am aiming to produce for my structures to hold my collaged subjects. Indeed, at the moment my lines probably aren’t as articulated as they could be, but experimentation is the only resolve to this problem, which I will be pursuing over the Easter break. It is good to have some bench mark to aim for by referencing artists such as Harper and Day.
Colour wise, Day tends to stick with more natural hues to imitate the subjects she is representing, by running these parallels everything is interconnected and visually the audience understands this. Again, my backgrounds will be stark white which contrasts with Day’s natural colours of green and brown, however I don’t want any additional unnecessary distractions which could potentially diminish the main subject. As I am not a textile designer myself, and with my knowledge of Day’s area being limiting I don’t really have much more to add to her technique other than it clearly works as her prints are still widely recognised in a contemporary arena.