Monday, 30 April 2012

Transformation Animation



Here’s my final Transformation Animation complete with soothing Japanese audio…enjoy!



Final Transformation Animation

My animation skills are poor; I’ll be the first to admit it. I guess that’s the reason for the arrangements that have been organised for every Tuesday morning since the beginning of the semester whereby the moving image tutor has been available to help us create a short transformation animation. I don’t see it as ‘unrelated’ or ‘pointless’ as some others do, and if you are of this opinion then that is totally fine, no offense, it’s just that everything I do and everything I see I’m inspired by and would like to feature in my creative work. My only negative thought was time. In eighteen weeks I am expected to have such a huge body of work and several quality finished outcomes – plus an animation. As I say my animation skills are poor so to pull this off I had to learn how to do it too. But as you can see my animation is here and although it’s not the most advanced it works nicely and highlights my working method.

To create my animation I used a copy stand, which held the video camera nice and secure, and filmed my stitching the dove underneath. I taped the cartridge paper between two level desks which were pulled slightly apart so that there was room for me to stitch into the paper and be able to return the needle from below. To keep the paper taught I taped two rulers underneath, one at the top and one at the bottom of the sheet and to the desk creating a basic kind of frame. So that the recording wouldn’t be too big a file (as I was recording in high definition) I kept cutting the recording at regular intervals so that I ended up with six smaller files rather than once huge one which would be easier and quick to convert later. I made the holes for the stitches with the needle first following a feint sketch and then stitched through these holes creating my initial six short film files. When I had these and checked that they played back ok on the camera I unplugged the equipment and hooked the camera up to the Mac to convert the files to movies which would be easier to work with. When they were all converted I started to sift through each file and select only the frames I wanted to see in my finished animation. This meant selecting only frames where my hands weren’t visible and ensuring that the amount of frames for each stitch etc were consistent. Then I pulled all these selected frames (over 700!) into After Effects and started to create my transformation animation.

The whole process including filming took around eight hours. I added audio to the animation afterwards which I converted from Youtube to an Mp3 file through an independent site and then pulled into After Effects and overlaid over the whole animation. My animation could be better if I had an even better understand of After Effects and the things that it can enable a user to do as it’s benefits and uses weren’t really specified, I still only know it as a piece of animation software, I don’t know how it compares to something like Flash for example. Because of this, the finished result is still pretty amateurish but I enjoyed the process and watching my work come to life. Again it could be better if I knew how to trim audio using After Effects, as I was only shown the After Effects software I don’t even know if this is the correct software to use for audio trimming or where else to turn to do this. I did initially want to apply the effects that I looked at when I produced my pre-visualisation on After Effects before I filmed the original files. Obviously because Rick was in such high demand with a bunch of amateurs I didn’t like keep pestering him for help on other bits when the bulk of it had been finished. The following of the stitches then to reveal the dove at the end had to be scrapped because there wasn’t enough time left with the final deadline looming and with Rick having other people to help too.

I think that it is important to know the basics of how to make an image you have created move. If ever I were to be asked to create a short animation using stop frame and After Effects I think I could now survive…just. Plus it helps when collaborating on projects not to have to rely on others or for others to carry you. Overall, it was a useful project and hopefully a tool I will use in the future. 

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Kemble and Cross podcast


Illustration Party Podcast

Highlight two interesting points that interest you or relate to your practise

Said Podcast is narrated by two comic artists, Joshua Cross and Kevin Kemble. Comic strips and cartoon drawing is something which I have no experience of and if truth be told, hold very little interest in, finding two points from this 54 minute podcast then could be difficult and rather *yawn* exciting, obviously.

Yet, still I manage the impossible. The two American guys are down to earth if not a bit too ‘hip’ with their choice of phrases and ridiculous sci-fi themed, Black Eyed Peas and Will.I.Am inspired soundtrack, they’re just about listenable though their drawl may irritate me, the vote’s still out. The first point I’m highlighting from their chat is “by making mistakes you end up coming at a better solution”. Not entirely sure which cartoonist came out with this one but you can find out more about them and the podcast at http://www.illustrationparty.com/. Back to the point, this does fit in just nicely with my work, working method and practise. Throughout my three year degree course I have flitted from one style to the next without doing any in-depth exploration of what I could potentially have achieved given any one method some real time, consideration and committment. During this semester I have applied myself 100% to my collaging technique, defining and redefining the style and quality of output. Finally, I have sweated over one single particular technique and whittle it down so that it describes me as an artist and what I stand for. I totally agree with this point as I have learned from first hand experience that by making my mistakes along the way I have come out at a much better place, plus what’s to gain by being perfect? I endured a three year undergrad course to do just that – make mistakes and learn from them so that I have a decent chance of survival in the real world once I graduate in July 2012. Of course there have been times in my personal work where mistakes haven’t paid off, take for example the Grimm’s project I started out on at the beginning of this semester but which eventually got scrapped for lack a of resolve, but on the whole this statement works. I scrapped my Grimm’s project – it was a mistake to even start it, but by scrapping it and making that initial mistake I have come to the resolve of producing some wonderful illustrations for my ‘into the garden’ and ‘under the water’ children’s identification books. In short, I’ve come up trumps by making that initial mistake and working twice as hard since to try and put it right. It might be a case of stating the obvious or maybe sometimes these things need saying out loud for people to be able to resonate with them and fit things into place for themselves. Plus, if I were to end up at my perfect solution straight away, where would the fun be? I wouldn’t have the chance to experiment and play with my style or develop and nurture it when I fall on frustrating times.

The guys go on to say how being an illustrator or indeed a cartoonist is a lonely existence with the greatest company being in your tools; pens, pencils etc. For me, loneliness within the institution of illustration is a choice, illustrators don’t have to be lonely or feel the isolation that so many others preach about. What happened to keeping in touch with university peers? How about taking art directors for lunch to discuss potential commissions? (taken from a previous podcast…highly informative). There are so many opportunities for creative’s not to be lonely but they choose not to participate in them. Personally, I have lined up participation in the Spellbound festival at the end of May, Mr Thomas’ Chop House auction in July and the Just So Festival in August and I’m still attending uni! There are so many activities to be involved in and failing that there’s always the option of renting studio space to share with other creative, like-minded people whereby there would be a constant flow of support, encouragement and company. Today it feels as though people have to moan at every possible opportunity rather than taking the bull by the horns and doing something about it. Here’s another point for you guys to talk about in future podcasts, the notion of ‘put up or shut up!’

Seriously though there are definite solutions to that ‘lonely’ feeling that illustrators harp on about. Sure photographers engage with their clients on a daily basis, their work is in a face-to-face environment and designers work out of a design agency (usually) but illustrators are left to fester in spare bedrooms and attic dens, I get that or at least I see where they are coming from. But the solution is simple, if this way of working isn’t working for you then find a method that does. Go and rent some studio space, collaborate with other creative people or club together to rent out a shared studio space. As a result these options all offer a support network which illustrators lack otherwise and a chance to cut costs by distributing them equally. If you research premises in-depth you should be able to find somewhere which would give you 24 hour access too so working late or early isn’t an excuse to continue your torture and in turn torturing me with your whining. If studio space is something you simply cannot afford then contact your local council who will generally be happy to come to an arrangement whereby derelict buildings will be offered at no cost just to have them occupied and thus less likely to be vandalised or used for squatting. Cross and Kemble however choose to talk about how social networking can relieve the loneliness that illustrators experience by keeping a network of creative’s on facebook and twitter. Sorry to say this guys but social networking sites are hardly an excuse for the real thing. Social networking is the root of the loneliness that these illustrators and cartoonists are facing because they are reportedly ‘socialising’ and ‘networking’ through a virtual method, ie it isn’t real, it’s all online through typing words on a keyboard and not speaking them. What happened to getting dressed in a morning and going to meet these people for real? Discuss gallery invites over coffee?

What really needs to happen is people need to start and talk to others using their voices rather than their keypads, call the art director rather than sending him/her an email. Sure they can’t talk to everybody, so offer something unique, a chance at lunch, a coffee date or even a meet in the park. You benefit because you’re seeing a real person and thus are relieving your loneliness and they are benefitting because they get out of the office and possibly a free coffee. For a bunch of people that reckon to be so advanced, it seems to me we are going backwards where real communication is no longer a necessity. Pah. Says me, sat here typing this post…

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Final Reflection and Critical Analysis


Semester 2 – Final Major Project
Reflection and critical analysis

I started my artistic journey with a BTEC foundation course in the academic year 2008/2009, prior to this I had no experience of the illustration world or anything remotely arty related for that matter. Indeed I partook in mandatory art lessons from the beginning of secondary school until year 9 (or third year for you old ‘uns!) by which time I had it drilled into my head from other members of teaching staff and my parents that art wasn’t a truly ‘academic’ subject and the thought never occurred to me to pursue it further, hence I didn’t choose to study it at GCSE even or higher. During my GCSE studies though I did choose to study Graphic Design as my Technology module instead of other options including textiles, woodwork or food technology. I achieved an ‘A’ in August of 2004. Again my rationale was to drop anything art related including the Graphic Design and proceeded with English Language, English Literature and Sociology to A-level (even though the likes of Graphic Design saw me perform to my best). When I finished school I progressed to study European Politics at The University of Nottingham which lasted for a full three months. I soon realised that I wasn’t happy with my ‘academic’ study choice. This saw me drop out of university and start full-time employment for a few years before taking the plunge to go back to university. Going back to university wasn’t initially on the cards, only after tasting full-time employment in a call centre did I know that I wanted more for myself. I returned after these few years out to Stockport College on the Foundation BTEC and the rest is history.

When I eventually started on my BTEC I didn’t really have a clue where to begin, as I say I had no experience of art. I could draw but that was about the extent of it. Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and other software was alien to me, I’d never even heard of such packages let alone opened one. When Pat, Gary and Tim asked me what my style was I didn’t know how to reply, as far as I saw it I didn’t have one. My BTEC however wasn’t the in-depth, see what-you-can-do course I was hoping it would be; I managed a pass. Though I don’t remember what my final mark was, seemingly it was a disappointment. I did however manage to secure a place on the BA Hons degree with an illustration specialism which was probably owed to me doing the Foundation BTEC at the same college.

Although I eventually quit my employment I owe it a lot. By being in full-time employment I learned how to communicate on a variety of different levels, how to compromise and how to handle stressful and heated situations, diffusing them in an efficient and effective manner. This I think will stand me in good stead when it comes to applying for positions in my illustration career as I have the ability to adapt to said situations. It has meant that I’ve been able to transfer these skills and apply them to my university course making me a much more organised and flexible character. It did take a while for me to understand that although full-time employment paid my rent, it was my university studies that would eventually get me out of the work that I didn’t enjoy and into to work that I will… as I say, I learned heavily about compromise.

During my first year of my undergraduate illustration degree I did remarkably well and that even surprised me somewhat. Critical studies was my weakest and least interested area, even though I studied both English Language and English Literature at A-level, it seemed my passion for writing and the patience I needed to hold down a decent assignment had fled. Yet, I still managed to achieve 70+ in every single module, it seemed I was unstoppable. Unfortunately, I was soon to be informed that the first year of an undergrad degree doesn’t count towards the final mark or degree classification. The first few modules helped me understand the different techniques and methods available and I was eager to learn how other people worked. I was hungry to learn and immersed myself in everything around me, I started to visit galleries, something which was considered boring and stuffy beforehand and researched sources in-depth. Although others on the course found the first few modules almost insulting as they felt they were going backwards rather than moving forwards with their studies I found it a massive help and am positive that there are others like me out there who will feel the same in future years. These vast achievements were set to change during the second year however. I was forewarned that the second year workload increased somewhat and I took this on board, I was also forewarned that some people can adjust to the new wave of work and some people struggle with it at first. I was prepared for this. I had been informed, armed with this knowledge I was ready. Only in late September 2010 I was hospitalised with a serious kidney injection and put on an IV drip for ten days. Naturally, this affected my work output and had a knock on effect on my mark for that initial module of year two. Although we were made aware of the mitigated circumstances process at the beginning of the course, my ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude made me ignorant to the process and thus rushed work to get it handed in for the deadline. The rest of year two seemed to follow that first module’s footsteps with high 50’s to early 60’s marks. To say I was disappointed was an understatement, after the high I experienced in year one, year two was soon turning into a complete disaster. Strangely, in critical studies my work continued on a par with year one, achieving low 70’s in all my assignments and presentations.

On to year three, there have only been two modules in comparison to a few more in the previous years plus my dissertation. To show my commitment and dedication to my degree I made a special trip to Madrid in June 2011 to visit Guernica which I was later to write my dissertation on. I was insistent that my mark and work improve. Thankfully, the first semester module was a definite improvement on year two achieving 61, a firm 2:1, although not the 1st I was originally aiming for in year 1. I have now adjusted to the prospect of graduating with only a 2:1 and am finally happy with this outcome. I am aiming for a 2:1 again this semester in hope to achieve a 2:1 overall. During the first semester of year three I realised that utilising tools like the PDP module, I can up my overall mark. By achieving 70 in my PDP and 56 in the actual work side, I achieved 61 overall. Although the weighting in semester one was 60/40 against 80/20 this semester, I still think that doing significantly well in the PDP work could increase my mark by those all important few marks. I think that I do work well in the PDP arena showcasing my development and improvement through constant critical analysis and reflection. I engage well with industry and contact creative professionals from all creative backgrounds not just illustration and learned a lot from the compulsory residential trip to London in late March.

During this semester, from my previous blog posts, you can see I have spoken about how I used, what industry call, the dreaded red button on my own work. I think on reflection that this was a good move and it shows my understanding of when a project is not working. The Grimm’s brief was taking more time than it should have, it overran by an initial three weeks and at that point the design problem was still no where near to being resolved. It is frustrating that I was unable to interact with this live brief which would have given me an additional opportunity to promote both myself as an illustrator and my creative work. Sometimes it can be a positive quality to be able to stand back and look at the work critically and say ‘right, this clearly isn’t working’. This is the first time that I had not managed to resolve a brief, in particular a live brief and thus it felt completely overwhelming to turn my back on it knowing that this semester holds such a large percentage of the overall marks. In has made me work considerably harder since though to develop a body of work that would justify those first weeks of disappointment.

Over the course of this semester I have managed to secure seven portfolio visits with creative professionals already working within the industry. This surprised me more than anything – the fact that people out there actually wanted to see me and my work! There was no negative feedback just constructive criticism which I can take forward and utilise in my future work. It opened my eyes to just how accommodating the majority of people are, if they think that they can help you, then nine times out of ten they will. There were only three portfolio visits specified on the PDP brief but I went above and beyond this as I think that it is beneficial to my professional practice and work as I can continue working on the weaker areas identified by much more experienced people than I. Each visit has boosted my confidence in different areas and has taught me something new about both myself and my portfolio of work. I am hugely proud of my portfolio of work having come from nothing artistically. I remember my interview for a place on the BA Hons degree course whereby I showed my original portfolio to the potential first year tutors. I started off with a PVC leather effect Daler Rowney A1 portfolio which was hugely unpractical and is quite garish to look at now, looking back I have definitely come so far on this journey.

The visit to London in March confirmed for me that London is not the place I want to be. I knew before I arrived that I wasn’t much of a city girl but actually being there in that environment only confirmed my initial thoughts, though I am glad for experiencing it. The hustle and bustle of city life and everybody seemingly being a nobody merely just a passing face is not the type of environment I wish to live or indeed work in. For me, although the visit to London broadened my knowledge of the illustration industry and the types of businesses it can lend itself to, it reiterated the fact that I’m a home bird and would much prefer to stay north. It also showed me how my leather A4 portfolio is much more effective, efficient and practical in comparison to my old one! After graduation my plans are now set with the aid of this trip; I will be applying for Primary PGCE courses to hopefully start in September 2012.

This semester has seen me play with more techniques such as screen printing, utilising Adobe Illustrator, vinyl cutting, animating and collaging with the odd hint of stitch. Unlike last semester whereby I skimmed the surface of many different techniques, I feel that this semester has seen me discover my true style. I have experimented in-depth with collage and stitch till the cows came home; I truly have applied myself with a relentless attitude and as a result have now secured some fantastic outcomes. Alongside this I have produced some additional products outside of my sketchbooks such as the unique hand made sketchbooks I hand made and hand bound myself, printed cushions, printed babygro’s and my final children’s board books. Working outside of my sketchbook has taught me that there are no constraints to my art work really and it is only the sketchbook that actually provides these. I can now work to whatever scale I feel comfortable with and I can manipulate different materials to work in a more three dimensional way. I have built up professional relationships with other artistic people, such as Rick and other undergrad students working on the moving image course who helped me no end with the production of my animation and of course Kieran in the print room. When I leave the college I will also leave all of this support and of course the facilities that the institution has to offer which will mean I will need to source them externally.

I think it’s true to say that I have always been a fairly organised person, but I have also learned that planning is a great way to gain the best results from my work. Since the failure of my Grimm’s project, I have made a weekly plan for the week in advance and made sure that I stuck to it, mainly to get through the vast workload on time but also to show that I do have some free time to experiment more which I probably won’t have time for once I graduate. It seems that after 23 years I have finally learned the meaning of the phrase ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’.

There are many opportunities lined up with the help of illustration tutors, particularly Jo, for over the summer months which could, hopefully, lead to more work coming my way, maybe even a commission. There will be the Spellbound Forest activity weekend in Dellamere, near Chester a few weeks after university life officially ends, Mr Thomas’ Chop House auction in July, if my work makes it that far and the actual Just So Festival in August. I intend to keep up to date with creative events that I can get involved in, even if no work comes from it, it will keep me busy and in that creative environment.

Finally, I have learned more than anything this semester that for great results you need to have a relentless attitude to your work. Sure, there have been days where I wish my alarm hadn’t gone off at 6:30, especially when I’m not in university on that day, but by pushing myself to get out of bed and get started I think that I have made the most of my time and the opportunity that studying on an illustration course offers, Gary, I truly am exhausted! Over the Easter break I put in many 12 hour days, and have seen many go by since then till the deadline, but you can only get out of things what you put in. I know myself that I have truly worked hard, dedicated as much time as I could possibly have and tried my best at everything I have undertaken, let me hope that it has been recognised and pays off on July 12th and I can finally make my Mum and Dad as proud as they should be. 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Pre-visualization


Animation Pre-visualisation

Wikipedia’s explanation:
“Pre-visualization (also known as pre-rendering, preview or wireframe windows) is a function to visualise complex scenes in movie before filming. It is also a concept in still photography. Pre-visualization is applied to techniques such as storyboarding, either in the form of charcoal drawn sketches or in digital technology in the planning and conceptual of movie scenery make up.”

I decided that a pre-visualization would be a great idea as I would be able to predict what would happen in my short animation and with Rick’s help was able to make this a reality by manipulating After Effects. I have saved my pre-visualization to my submitted CD with my PDF portfolio and actual animation for marking. In my pre-viz (cool dude’s terms), I have zoomed in to the dove collage I have already crafted which needed to be saved as a TIFF through Photoshop and saved to the desktop and navigated around the sewn outline. The idea of this animation is to keep the subject (dove) anonymous until the act of sewing is complete. So I will film the sewing at a zoom where you can see the whole picture but on After Effects I will zoom in so that all the audience can read is the individual stitches, then after the stitching is complete I will zoom out to reveal what the subject is, a bit like Rolph Harris ‘Can you tall what it is yet?’. I will create my animation using Stop Motion animation and under the camera stand I will sew each individual stitch of the dove and photograph it creating 2 slides per time. After the dove has been stitched I will then replace it consecutively with a further 5 doves that have already been crafted. These other doves are in different positions of flight, which means that by using the process of replacement I will be able to show my dove then flying off the page/animation. In summary, the audience will see the dove being created using stitch and then the animation will zoom out to reveal what has been created, the dove will then fly away towards the right of the screen. This will be reversed on After Effects and put onto a loop to create a short animation. I will overlay some soothing Japanese style music but nothing too rigid as I cannot time the stitching etc to anything too strict. The background will be a pure white, the stitches will be a pale blue and the wings will have a negative space. The body however will be a solid piece of blue magazine paper which will be added as the stitches are completed and the dove is revealed.

After my first attempt at stop motion animation, I decided that this process was fairly easy if I knew beforehand what I was doing and going to create and was generally organised about going to film it. I did produce a rough outline of my first animation but the storyboard wasn’t very in depth and I didn’t rely on it whilst I was filming. Additionally, I did no research into how I was going to produce my animation or give any real thought to how my Prince would look aesthetically; instead I quickly cut out male features and hoped that they would fit together. It was an outcome of pure ifs and buts. Hopefully with my pre-viz in tow, this time around I will have a much better and far superior outcome. Basically, I view my first attempt now as a trial run, I don’t see it as my final version because the replacement method was so crudely done. I have submitted this along with my final version on my CD however to show my development and the critical analysis I have made of my own work. Although I knew roughly how I would animate my first piece not a lot of thought went into it and thus I will be producing another much better (hopefully!) animation to show how I have mastered the basic technique of stop frame. 

The dreaded 'Red Button'


Why I decided to use the ‘Red Button’

When I first embarked upon my final major project at the beginning of January, which would span eighteen weeks, I decided that I would like to illustrate a series of children’s story book covers. Conveniently, renowned children’s book publisher Puffin were running their annual competition to redesign the cover of a timeless classic at the same time, this year (2012) it was the Brother’s Grimm fairytales. It felt natural then to follow this path and use this live brief set by Puffin to base my first children’s story book cover on. I started well, researching the individual stories within the collection alongside researching themes that ran throughout and linking some of the tales together. I decided to concentrate on the theme of temptation with the infamous stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and the Frog Prince all falling into this category. My original idea was to use individual subjects from the stories which highlighted the theme of temptation and incorporate them into a totem pole. The idea of a totem pole appealed to me as the majority of the fairy tales are set in the woods and it was a way of tying all my individual subjects together and strengthening them with this temptation link.

After a few weeks as I started to bring my individual subjects together, I could see that not having a cohesive plan from the very start and only realising this plan half way through was a fatal mistake. True enough, at the start I was fresh back from the Christmas break and had just handed in my dissertation meaning I was eager to get stuck into some proper graft and so off I went. On reflection however, this wasn’t the correct course of action. By collaging my subjects individually without a plan of how they would fit together once they were finished I ended up setting myself back. It was definitely a case of more haste and less speed. By speeding ahead and collaging those initial subjects and not having a plan for how it would fit together after they were finalised I actually had to go back and do it all again…or not as the case maybe. I had wasted eight weeks experimenting and exploring the individual subjects such as the wolf, frog and apple, from Little Red Riding Hood, the Frog Prince and Snow White. If I were to go back with a plan in tow and start them all again I would have spent even more precious time that I really didn’t have to give. This is why I decided to use the ‘Red Button’. I guess it’s given me some idea of what it feels like to be on the wrong side of that ‘Red Button’ before I get into the real world of illustration (though hopefully it will never happen!).

Initially, I didn’t want to turn my back on the project because it felt like an utter failure on my part, especially with this semester being the final major project and counting for such a large proportion of the final mark. I wanted to prove to myself more than anybody that I can produce some really good work. This set back drastically knocked my confidence and it took me a while to dust myself down and carry on with the next project. But it also taught me some very valuable lessons. For the project that I am currently working on, it taught me to plan properly and thoroughly of exactly what I wanted to achieve before embarking upon it. From this I have reams of roughs and thumbnails of how I see my work compositionally, books full of different backgrounds which I could test on each image and seemingly endless amounts of print offs at different stages of the image making process. This gives me the opportunity to reflect on the progress that I am making on daily basis and highlight where I think I could improve.

Additionally, the beginnings of the Grimm’s project saw the first of my return to my collaging technique I used for the last Puffin competition (circa January 2011). It’s a shame that it didn’t really have the same effect! The first collaged subjects from this revisitation are quite crude and weak as I was just getting to grips with mastering my style. I chopped and changed from magazine paper to origami paper and back again. So although I haven’t found a solution to the Puffin problem it has helped me to develop my style and understand my media better. It has helped me to understand that although magazine paper is limited in colour and texture and only set areas are available and not unlimited it is worth keep looking and turning the page to find the ‘perfect’ solution to that particular design problem.

Though I still have the body of work that I produced those during those first eight weeks to show my progression and development of working methods and planning phases it’s still a huge disappointment. Hopefully, the progress and development I’ve made since then will recover my mark. I do think however, that if I hadn’t started on the Grimm’s project back in January, I wouldn’t have taken the path I’ve taken to produce my two children’s books and therefore wouldn’t have produced work that I am now so proud of. 

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

FMP further exploration

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 Salford as I think it will be a great way to boost my confidence and add to my self-promotion efforts. Receiving feedback from this also will make me more aware of the quality and standard of my work and where I can improve once outside the protective bubble of university life. When I leave university I will lose the support and feedback from tutors and so I will have to find this elsewhere - submitting a Zine publication could be a great way of doing this. Additionally, the Zine publication is something that is hand crafted and hand bound of which my books fulfil both criteria without any further work needed.

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

Studio space vs. home working - Graphic Guru

Hi Chloe

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

Ben


From: chloejones2@live.co.uk
To: illustrationben@hotmail.co.uk
Subject: RE: Graphic Gurus
Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2012 08:11:26 +0000

Hey Ben,

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

Chloe

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, 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!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Illustration Part Podcast Debate


Illustration Party Podcast

Highlight two interesting points that interest you or relate to your practise

Said Podcast is narrated by two comic/cartoon artists, Joshua Cross and Kevin Kemble. Comic strips and cartoon drawing is something which I have no experience of and if truth be told, hold very little interest in, finding two points from this fifty-four minute podcast then could be difficult and rather *yawn* exciting, obviously. And yet, still I manage the impossible…

The two American guys (Corss and Kemble) are down to earth if not a bit too ‘hip’ with their choice of phrases and ridiculous sci-fi themed, Black Eyed Peas, Will.I.Am inspired soundtrack, they’re just about listenable though their drawl may irritate me a tad, the vote’s still out. The first point I’m highlighting from their chat (it’s not really an interview but it comes across as one) is “by making mistakes you end up coming at a better solution”. Not entirely sure which cartoonist came out with this one but you can find out more about them and the podcast at http://www.illustrationparty.com/. Back to the point, this does fit in just neatly with my work, working method and practise. Throughout my three year degree course, and if you’ve been keeping up with my blog you’ll have heard me speak about it profusely, I have flitted from one style to the next without doing any in-depth exploration of what I could potentially have achieved given any one method some real time, consideration and commitment. During this final semester however I have at last applied myself 100% to my collaging technique, defining and redefining the style and quality of output. Finally, I have sweated it out over one single particular technique and whittle it down so that it describes me as an artist and what I stand for. I totally agree with this point the guys make as I have learned from first hand experience that by making my mistakes along the way I have come out at a much better place, plus what’s to gain by being perfect? I endured a three year undergrad course to do just that – make mistakes and learn from them so that I have a decent chance of survival in the real world once I graduate in July 2012. Of course there have been times in my personal work where mistakes haven’t paid off, take for example the Grimm’s project I started out on at the beginning of this semester but which eventually got scrapped for lack a of resolve, but on the whole this statement works. I scrapped my Grimm’s project – it was a mistake to even start it, but by scrapping it and making that initial mistake I have come to the resolve of producing some wonderful illustrations for my ‘into the garden’ and ‘under the water’ children’s identification books. In short, I’ve come up trumps by making that initial mistake and working twice as hard since to try and put it all right. It might be a case of stating the obvious or maybe sometimes these things need saying out loud for people to be able to resonate with them and fit things into place for themselves. Plus, if I were to end up at my perfect solution straight away, where would the fun be? I wouldn’t have the chance to experiment and play with my style or develop and nurture it when I fall on frustrating times.

The guys go on to say how being an illustrator or indeed a cartoonist is a “lonely existence” with the greatest company being in your tools; pens, pencils etc. For me, loneliness within the institution of illustration is not a given but a choice, illustrators don’t have to be lonely or feel the isolation that so many of them preach about. What happened to keeping in touch with university peers? How about taking art directors to lunch to discuss potential commissions? (an idea taken from a previous podcast…highly informative). There are so many opportunities for creative’s to get involved in and immerse themselves in and feed their creativity by collaborating with other creative minds but they choose not to participate in such events. Personally, I have lined up participation in the Spellbound festival at the end of May, Mr Thomas’ Chop House auction in July and the Just So Festival in August and I’m still in full-time education! There are so many activities to be involved in but if that really isn’t your bag then there’s always the option of renting studio space to share with other creative, like-minded people whereby there would be a constant flow of support, encouragement and company. Today it feels as though people have to moan at every possible opportunity rather than taking the bull by the horns and doing something about it. Here’s another point for you guys to talk about in future podcasts, the notion of ‘putting up or shutting up!’

Seriously though there are definite solutions to that ‘lonely’ feeling that illustrators harp on about. Sure photographers engage with their clients on a daily basis, their work is in a face-to-face environment and designers work out of a design agency (usually) but illustrators are left to fester in spare bedrooms and attic dens, I get that or at least I see where they are coming from. But the solution is simple, if this way of working isn’t working for you then find a method that does. Go and rent some studio space, collaborate with other creative people or club together to rent out a shared studio space. As a result these options all offer a support network which illustrators lack otherwise and a chance to cut costs by distributing them equally. If you research premises in-depth you should be able to find somewhere which would give you 24 hour access too so working late or early isn’t an excuse to continue your torture and in turn continue torturing me with your whining. If studio space is something you simply cannot afford then contact your local council who will generally be happy to come to an arrangement whereby derelict buildings will be offered at no cost just to have them occupied and thus less likely to be vandalised or used for squatting. Cross and Kemble however choose to talk about how social networking can relieve the loneliness that illustrators experience by keeping a network of creative’s on facebook and twitter. Sorry to say this guys but social networking sites are hardly an excuse for the real thing. Social networking is often the root of the loneliness that these illustrators and cartoonists are facing because they are reportedly ‘socialising’ and ‘networking’ through a virtual method, ie it isn’t real, it’s all online through typing words on a keyboard and not speaking them. What happened to getting dressed in a morning and going to meet these people for real? Discuss gallery invites over coffee?

What really needs to happen is people need to start and talk to others using their voices rather than their keypads, call the art director rather than sending him/her an email. Sure they can’t talk to everybody, so offer something unique, a chance at lunch, a coffee date or even a meet in the park. You benefit because you’re seeing a real person and thus are relieving your loneliness and they are benefitting because they get out of the office and possibly a free coffee. For a bunch of people that reckon to be so advanced, it seems to me we are going backwards where real communication is no longer a necessity. Pah. Maybe I’m a hypocrite? This is all said by me, sat here typing this post…

Friday, 6 April 2012

Hanoch Piven Research

Hanoch Piven


Recently, I had a portfolio visit with the Guardian in London. Sarah Habershon’s advice was that my portfolio was too broad, trying to reach too many audiences without focusing on one particular area of illustration. I think exploring different briefs and avenues, particularly whilst still at university where we are encouraged to experiment and manipulate should be a welcomed attribute from an employer’s perspective. Truth is, I enjoy illustrating for a child audience particularly, there’s more of an element of play to experience with a child audience in mind. Only I don’t want to limit my work prospects as that will also limit my earning potential and as a fresh graduate I need all the experience I can manage. It was then interesting to learn of Hanoch Piven, an Israeli mixed media artist who works for a child audience as well as creating works for editorials and thus an adult audience.

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

Times reflection

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

Charley Harper and Lucienne Day - research




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.