Illustration has to be prepared for its digital future, digital is taking over many aspects of the design process, such as a source of research, designing and now presentation.
The age of the I-pad as portfolios and owning a whole library of books on your phone is here, but what does this mean for illustrators? Do we have update buttons too? I hope we wont be required to be up-to-date with technology to keep on par with other illustrations, or to be thought less of if you turn up to a visit with a original portfolio rather than an I-pad?
I do agree that with uploading images rather then printing as there is less stress about print quality and materials, but on the other hand I think that’s part of being in design, you are problem solving and inventing as you go. The more hands on the better I think, the same goes for the processes gone into creating the images, the quality is in the process.
Sometimes I think its getting harder to find current illustrators that inspire my taste in the current publications, I find a lot of digital and think they can have a bland look to them. I try and source the imperfect, hand made, playful and organic images to inspire me. I think digital technology will house mostly digital work.
I personally use a lot of crafts, so to present these in my portfolio I need to be digital, take a photograph and print it off, so I cannot be against digital, it helps in ways but I do not rely on it. To keep up with the industry I also have to keep myself published socially through Facebook, Flickr, twitter etc. I do appreciate social publishing as it can make connects with people quicker, can reach other countries that you and your portfolio may never get to and it is handy to be able to connect with your portfolio from wherever.
So to conclude, it’s inevitable, times and technology is changing, I accept that but I want to keep hold of some originality, keep hand made alive and not to rely on digital.
At the start of this semester I wrote down my hopes, fears, opportunities and aims.
Hopes. I hoped that by the end of this semester I would feel more independent, through thinking and problem solving. I felt independent in some aspects but yet I felt I still needed reassurance from tutors that I was doing ok and that my work was liked, I feel I have a lack in confidence for my work.I do feel I have made progress on this, at the start on the semester I felt confident, new year, new start, so I got stuck in and my first project, zine, was a great success. I didn’t feel that I had to keep the tutors updated with my progress as I had a clear view of what I wanted to produce, I aimed to produce and bind my own book, find materials and guidance from appropriate sources and I felt better showing the tutors my final piece, rather than stages so they saw it as and they seemed more surprised and I felt they had put in less help so I felt prouder.
I also wrote that I hope I would progress ideas faster, I felt I needed to plan my steps for generating ideas for future reference, I would get stuck on having the right idea with lots of meaning then I would run out of time, I think I need to accept that I can work backwards, just playing around in either the print-room or with elements that I have already sourced can create an idea, I don’t need to have a rough sketch to follow like some. I think this hope I am still working on, I have produced quicker turn arounds this semester but I think that’s mainly due to the fact my projects have been craft related, I craft quicker than I illustrate. I feel less pressure to crafting, even when my illustrations are destined for crafts I find I can make them illustrations quicker, maybe because I understand the context and purpose.
Fears. I feared that I wouldn’t gain enough confidence to keep up with this years demands, such as portfolio visits and creating contacts with the industry. I don’t understand why I have this doubt in myself, I feel immature that I need constant reassurance but I do feel that this has improved, this fear hasn’t totally gone but I think its ok to want to try harder. It keeps me checking on the current industry and stops me from being too comfortable with my style and too confident, I think maybe its just my personality and its mainly personality that will make or brake a job and I believe that having a couscous personality helps people relate and make me more likeable.
I also feared for my time management skills, as I wrote in my ‘hopes’ I can spend too long on a stage to create an idea and not have enough time to perfect or produce. This semester I have bought an academic diary, with lots of writing space, and I record deadlines and important notes in every calendar I own, be it on my phone or wall, so, I am fully aware of how much time I have so I have no excuse. I have also set plans for each stage, research, ideas and production. But what buts me off is when we are working on multiple projects are tend to get wrapped up in one and ignore the other, this is something I have to mentally organize to prepare myself for the industry after studies, because hopefully I will be in high demand that I have to juggle a few things.
I wrote in this section ‘opportunities-take them all’, as I see this year I will have the best opportunities for my future then maybe I could set up on my own.
I also wrote that I wanted to make the most of the facilities, especially the print-making room as I don’t know if I will have access to tools for of that standard anytime soon and they are important to my work, also the photocopier, that sounds simple but I like the effects a photocopier can produce to a standard scanner and it helps me create a range of textures, so I will make sure I file and have multiples of my photocopier textures.
For my final opportunity I wrote that I wanted to learn and experience the vinyl cutter, I achieved this in my first project, zine, I used the vinyl cutter for my title and as I had a few difficulties with the material I achieved this opportunity multiple times. I also wanted to learn more about the InDesign programme, have a better understanding for its use and features, I can also say that I achieved this, firstly for my zine project, I just InDesign for my book layout and how to print double sided, I also used InDesign to produce a PDF portfolio file for future contacts.
I wrote a list of aims to be achieved by the end of this semester:
Strong portfolio- I currently have a finished and up to date portfolio and it has received positive feedback from my portfolio visits.
Website- I have now the proud owner of www.emma-thorpe.co.uk. It is currently under construction but I have a clear plan for its look and can advertise it on all my promotional products
Future plan from illustration- I have a better understanding of my future from illustration, I don’t think I could have a set plan as I would need to already have a set job and that’s isn’t what I am aiming for. I have a better understanding of the surface design industry and feel that is my future.
Studio space- I cant say I have a studio space, I have space in my house that I like to call my studio, it has all my required things and my name on the door but it isn’t the professional studio space I require, I am currently still looking but I am in planning to collaborate with a friend.
I am going to continue with this and write further hopes, fears, opportunities for semester two and beyond into the industry.
Today I had portfolio visit with Stewart
Price from Thoughtful. I went feeling really nervous, even though his talk had
already prepared me for a portfolio visit in the industry.
I took along my portfolio and my 3d work
(as they have not been photographed yet) to give him an idea about me. My main
aim for this meeting was to experience speaking to someone from the industry
through face-to-face contact, I have mainly used email up to now. Stewart was
very welcoming, ensured me that it was a casual meeting.
Stewart seemed really pleased with my work,
I was only expecting comments for layout and portfolio style but he seemed
really taken by my illustrations. He mentioned that I had a clear style and
market for the future and understanding myself now will be very beneficial for
me. He did ask a few questions for examples of what I should expect in a real
meeting, these weren’t surprise questions, Stewart had kindly warned me before
hand through email.
The only criticism Stewart had for my
portfolio layout was that he would like to see double page spreads for each
project, especially if a page could be the illustration in its context. I was
already playing around with this idea before the meeting but now it has been
mentioned I know that it would better for my portfolio.
I think Stewart enjoyed that I brought my
3d elements as well as visuals, he seemed to enjoy looking at them closely and
that they were tangible. I felt my ‘Peggy pegs’ went down well and Stewart
suggested that they would be nice in an animation, which I am already planning so that's nice to hear that someone seems and enjoys them as much as I do.
So overall it was a pleasant and beneficial
experience, and I appreciated Stewart's time with me and I look forward to
showing him my work in a few months time.
Recently I have been keeping in contacting with my graphic guru- Ben Jones. Ben is an ex-student from my illustration course and has had 3 years experience of the industry.
I have been keeping in contact with him through email and odd meetings around the college, Ben now helps teach as Stockport.
I have been asking Ben’s advice on printmaking and to see if there is are secrets to the technique.
Ben uses a combination of lino printing, screen printing and mono printing to emphasize shape and form. His work is similar to mine through technique and style. I admire the idea process behind each piece of work, he has clearly thought of a rough plan and took it to the print room and played around with it. His work really reflects the enjoyment for the print making process and his passion to try new, along with combing techniques with confidence.
Ben has been very helpful in sharing some of his processing and providing me with advice. He has encouraged me to experiment with making textures in the print room and then collage with them, combining both my techniques.I also want to introduce linocuts and screen printing to my work.
I have recently seen his work on a greeting cards selling at the Whitworth gallery, Manchester, and felt very proud to be his guru student.
Jewellers Tatty Devine have teamed up with Rob Ryan to create a card and brooch to celebrate 10 years of bag designer Mimi. "we've created a special leather version of our Lady & Dog brooch. The brooch's silhouette is is based on Mimi Berry and her rescued lurcher, Dora, and comes mounted on a 10th birthday card by Rob Ryan."
We have had two 'Creative Review' meetings so far. We put forward a book, article, film and exhibition and to talk a little about them.
The first film I took with me was What's eating Gilbert Grape, one of my favourite films! Not usually a well-known film and I only acknowledged it because we got it free with a newspaper one day and on the cover was a young Johnny Depp and a very young Leonardo DiCaprio. “Centered around the Grape family Ellen and Amy and their two brothers Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Gilbert (Johnny Depp), along with their morbidly obese widowed mother Bonnie Grape.”
A few from the group recognized the film or took note of it.
I thought it was very beneficial listening to the group share films, as I didn’t recognize any of them so took note and later purchased them to watch. I bought:
Big Fish (2004)
Pans Labyrinth (2006)
The Science of Sleep (2006)
The Life Aquatic (2010)
I really enjoyed watching them! Except ‘The Life Aquatic’, I found it really boring. I liked how they all had a serial and unusual style to them and they were really relaxing to watch.
After ordering them of Amazon, the website generated a recommended list of films I may like. One was ‘Everything is illuminated’ (2005) with Elijah Wood, so I also bought that. It was the best out of them all, loved it and I took it to the next creative review session as my recommended film. “Jonathan Foer (Elijah Wood) as, a young American Jewish man, goes on a quest to find the woman who saved his grandfather during the Holocaust in a small Ukrainian town called Trachimbrod that was wiped off the map when the Nazis liquidated Eastern European. His guides are a cranky grandfather; his deranged Border collie named Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.; and his over-enthusiastic grandson, Alex,”
I also recommended The Big-Ass Book of Home Décor by designer Mark Montano as my book, one of my many books I own home décor and surface design at the moment, but this book is a little different, its designs are more modern and bold then most and it doesn’t want to be the usual, pretty, perfect book. ”Perfection is overrated”. (Mark Montano)
The British Ceramics Biennial, Stoke-on-Trent was my current exhibition, I went on the 9th November, It has been my best exhibition to date and I had to share the experience with the group. (For further details see blog post)
Lord Whiteny set as a brief, we had to make compound nouns. (put two words together to make one)
Myself and Lisa decided to use this brief to collaborate, we wanted two different words that you wouldn't usually put together, put we wanted pretty words, we decided we wanted a random selection, so we took turns to pick words out of a cup and put them together, we decided on 'cutlery tent'.
We researched some nice antique cutlery shapes for inspiration, then cut our cutlery out of paper. We ran around collage finding props we could use to make the tent, we decided we wanted to suspend the cutlery in the tent and create shadows. We aimed for a magical theme. We then assembled the lot in a photography room having everything carefully attached by wire and maskingtape suspended from poles.
Today, I am very happy to say we had a talk from Lord Whitney!
Lord Whitney is collaboration between the very talented, Amy Lord and Rebekah Whitney, and if you haven’t heard of them you really need to check them out!!
They have creative talents in photography, set design and build life sized illustrations and installations.
Their talk today was really inspiring, even if 3d isn't your style, talking from their experience of studies, jobs and industry was really helpful. They spoke about their struggle to find a studio space (which I can relate to) and how they had to ‘make do’ sometimes with space and funds, which is a lesson for facing the industry, you have to be creative with what you have available and turn it into a positive. Lord Whitney turned their lack of funding into positive to recycle and find props that was already available to them, I think that emphasizes the work as they have had to be more creative.
You have to be passionate with what you do to pursue design as a career!
Lord Whitney was also keen to share their experience of past jobs, from window dresser to set artist, all sounding amazing to me but taught them a valuable lesson as to were they fit in the industry, realising some jobs were suited to them more than others, some of the more top end markets involved the most people, therefore more opinions and rules but these experiences taught Lord Whitney that they liked going back to basics and playing around with their own ideas, even if it had to take place in their back garden, they weren't restricted by others.
Today I took a trip to Stoke-on-trent, for the ceramics biennial, I wanted to learn more about the craft of ceramics I thought this would be good for me, it was GREAT! ranging from delicate and simple teacups to exploring to use of ceramics and themes.
A lovely big space, an original Spode factory site.
"The inspiration for this body of work comes from an insight into people collecting spoons, especially Welsh love spoons. lizabeth’s interpretation has been to make the spoons from materials that she had to hand, using skills she possess.
These pieces have been hand crafted using porcelain, wire, textiles and various ephemera. Most are delicate in an attempt to mimic the original woodcarvings.
These spoons also carry an individualistic message. They are not meant to be read as part of a collection, nor intended to be functional. Just as the Welsh love spoons, they are simply to portray a personalized message to give to a loved one"
"My work engages in a kind of domestic surrealism, somewhere between the Mad Hatter;s Tea Party and an Edwardian drawing room"
/\ Above, me trying to be part of the art! /\
Sun Ae Kim
"I am interested in creating narrative, satirical contemporary stories in ceramics referring to the 18th and 19th century figurines in Europe."
This was my final Craig Oldham poster, the brief was just to design a poster that held all the relevant information and could be put up around college to inform others of his visit and talk.
This is my poster, showing Craig (interpretation) juggling design and illustration, design being the geek glasses ( that seem to be ever designers must have accessory), illustrations being the pencils and the question mark for the info and guidance during the talk. Craig Oldhams the name and website have been incorporated as part of the figure, and the heart referring to his talk being from past experiences, speaks true and from the heart.
I am happy with it. I like my figure, I found I enjoyed create him, which is a change for me as that usually figures are my weak point, so a lot of improvement there with quick design process. I usually have fun with my text but because this poster is supposed to house so much text, I struggled with fitting it all on and designing for most of the poster to be taken up by text, I wanted the text to look like an image, to interact with the figure and to flow well.
Here, Sasha Barr uses text and space very well. Looking like a poster to advertising a boxing event, the text has been thought out clearly from type to positioning. The text is also small but readable, whereas I usually assume bigger is better and take up too much space. Think I need to take leaf out of Sasha Barr's book!
Here, Ashley Lequere has a clear understanding of the relationship with text and imagery and how they can compliment each other well, this is what I need to grasp and aim to improve on.
Today I had meeting with Hazel Hewitt,
from Surface Design at Stockport. I asked her to go over my portfolio and my 3d
pieces to see if she had any advice for me entering into the surface design
Helen looked over my work and reassured me
that I could do well in surface design, and because I already have talent in
drawing I could have an edge on some surface designers.
Helen seemed pleased with my set of 3 mugs
from my zine project and suggested my surface design market is more aimed at
reproduction, which is true, I aspire to see my work sold in John Lewis,
Paperchase and at gallery shops over the UK in mass.
I was encouraged me to look closely at my
materials I use, take time to find out where they come from, processes and to
think about using natural materials. She directed my attention to the notice
board for the surface design students, which is filled with posters, magazines,
newspapers with current surface design ideas and events. Helen also shows me some books that have have that relates to my work.
I think I still want to be classed as an ‘Illustrator’
but I want to see my illustrations on surfaces and combined with crafts. I
don’t think my crafts are expressionist, artistic one off pieces but designs for
domestic use, I want to be able to picture them in a home of today.
I felt the meeting went well, I now feel
confident I can find a place between illustration and surface design.
Today we had a visit from Craig Oldham from Music. He gave a talk from his experiences with illustrators in the industry and gave some advice, comparing his view as a designer to our jobs as illustrations and the relationship between the two.
He mentioned, as all our visiting speakers have, about producing the right email to agencies. Spelling being the number 1 factor, correct addressing and to research the company and make them feel you have a connection with them, not just a generic email. "Write and email as you would wish to receive".
Craig also advised against agents, which I thought was a very confident thing to say. A notice a lot of illustrators are unsure about working with and agent or go it alone but Craig said that "speaking direct gets you a lot more out of it".
He raised some very impacting advice:
"enthusiasm is key, you can teach everything else"
"you can teach monkeys to work Photoshop but you cant teach thinking of an idea"
"get the idea right and the rest will follow"
"put new things in if nothings coming out, have a life, watch films, meet people"
"find idea/inspiration in life not internet"
"an idea is best when it has legs, can turn into multiple things, not just flat"
"believe and stick by your style"
A technique Craig swears by (literally as Craig has a very adult vocabulary) is the mum test, if you can explain an idea to your mum, and shes understands it, its a winner!
Things Craig has learnt about Illustrators are:
extremely talented people
passion plays a big part in commissions
are not as flexible as they would like you to believe
are harder to work with than photographers, but easier than writers
prefer a voice of opinion
and Craig also stated how hard it can be to find illustrators sometimes, that we need to be market better, in new ways and more often.
they always change everything, including their minds
not good at explaining what they want
majority of the time they just say "i like that, can we have this?"
prefer a lot of scans, quick and often rather than more worked on images
and don't hate them if they cant get you the money, they are always restricted by someone else
For my personal project I decided to stick with producing poems- as I have a wider imagination for poems for some reason that to pluck random images from my head and I also stuck with the surface design route- because it helps me see my images come to life and a final stage.
I wrote a short poem about 'miss Peggy' , as you guessed it she is a common house peg who is a very sweet lady.
I tested my new sewing skills and whipped up a canvas peg bag, with the poem and image on one side, 'miss Peggy' and my name on the other then 3 peg ladies to complete my set.
I am really pleased with it. Quick turn around from idea to production and I like to have an object to make as I enjoy gathering required materials and find I good use for all my beads, bits and bob that I squirrel away.
I am actually a little tempted to make a scene from my Peggy's, maybe an animation. see how that goes!