Saturday, 17 December 2011

Hopes, Fears and Opportunities

This post in itself I a scary proposition, It’s amazing how quickly the final year of my degree has crept up on me and in less than seven months time I’ll be ready to leave the safe haven of the university in pursuit of a career. 


One of the things I was hoping at the beginning of the term was that I would start to veer towards a style. This has thankfully started to happen in the sense that I now know which media I’m best suited for and this has helped me to acquaint myself with a love for traditional inking. Now that I have a way of working that I feel truly comfortable with I can start to work towards refining my methods and look at the style in which I draw particular things. Thankfully the tutors at Stockport college have been really patient with my indecisiveness in the past two years and helped to direct me onto the right path. So now I know exactly how I want to work my hope is I stick to this path and see some major improvement with a lot of hard work and experimentation. I also hope to have some time free to explore animation as this was a dream I had from an early age. It’s a subject I have dabbled with briefly in my first and second year and I think the way in which I work especially with the character style sheets would lend itself well to moving into animation. It would definitely be a good string to add to my bow.
Another hope I had at the beginning of term was that I would get a website up and running before the end of my 3rd year. I held off setting up a web hosted site for ages as I wanted to put my own stamp on it and didn’t want it looking like just another boring templated website. However, I decided last month to bite the bullet and set one up through Cargo as I thought it was better to have a website than none at all. I still need to take a proper look at the design of it as I’m not overly confident it’s really selling my talents very well, so my new hope is I’ll be able to get a swish looking site that I’m really proud of by the time I finish uni. I also hope that I can discover exactly what market place my work fits into before I leave so I can start to make the right connections with that industry.


One of my biggest fears (apart from heights) is not being able to find illustrative work at the end of my degree. I do have a design background that I can always fall back on and connections within that industry. I don’t have the luxury of becoming an illustrator straight off the bat because I have a responsibility as a parent to provide for my children. I spoke to the nice people at Taylor O’Brien about this fear recently and they said it would be a great shame for me if I were not to carry on as an illustrator when I finish. I guess the problem is if I take a job in the mean time will I be one of the many illustration graduates that fall by the wayside because I had to do it to pay the bills. I took a big gamble leaving a full time job as a designer to pursue the dream of being an illustrator and I have never been afraid of hard work, I hope I can still keep that dream in my sights when I leave and make freelancing a reality. One fear I had at the beginning of the term was that my works not good enough, but the recent portfolio visits have given my confidence the boost it needed to realise my work is good, but I also know I can make it so much better and the forthcoming major project will be the opportunity to focus on my strengths and work on the weaknesses.


"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty". Winston Churchill.

What I really need to work on with my remaining time at uni is my time management; I crumbled under the pressure this term instead of rising above everything and getting things done. Admittedly I need to stop changing my mind last minute, as this is not a productive way of working. I really want to get my head round InDesign before I leave as I think this would be highly beneficial for me in the future. I already know how to use QuarkXpress so there should be some similarities between the two packages that will help me to figure it out. Amongst the many packages I want to learn are Flash and After Effects and I hope to again find some spare time to get some basics under my belt so I can start to animate some of my work. Hopefully the opportunity will arise next term for me to explore these avenues even if I have to ask people in moving image to help me. I would also like the opportunity to do some more networking, but this time with the handy aid of a business card. I could have kicked myself for not having a business card when I was at the Thought Bubble Convention back in November as everyone I spoke to asked I If I had a card! I also secretly enjoy chatting to new people and this is a trait I don’t take enough advantage of.
One opportunity that has come up constantly over the past 3 years is presentations. I don’t think I will ever be comfortable talking in front of big groups of people no matter how many presentations I do, but I have found although I feel like I’m physically shaking on the outside my delivery isn’t as bad as I thought.

Illustrations Digital Future

The future for illustrators is better than ever before with opportunities for us to get our work seen at the click of a button via the Internet and even through the access of a hand held device such as the smart phone or I-pad. This fast paced world has seen the rise of a new digital era in which people can share information and connect with people in a matter of seconds thanks to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. The rate in which we now freely share information is alarming, but for the illustrator it presents the opportunity to promote work on a global scale and connect with like-minded people and even gain much needed advice from professional practitioners.

The publishing industry is undoubtedly suffering in these hard times with printing costs at an all time high and the rising popularity of people accessing news for free via the Internet. This has a knock on effect on the illustrator who relies on editorial work as their bread and butter. However the popularity of devices such as the I-pad and Kindle have challenged traditional printing methods bringing new opportunities for illustrators.

American illustrator Will Terry is a children’s book illustrator who has embraced the e-book market and on his blog he talks about the advantages of illustrating for e-books. In his 20 min video report he describes how an illustrator can self publish an e-book for next to nothing. This is undoubtedly an advantage as it means the illustrator can get a book straight to market without the need to seek a publisher. On the other side of the coin this means that over time as people get to grips with working with this new medium the market place will become over saturated with self-published work. This means the illustrator will need to use every resource possible to make sure their work doesn’t go un-noticed in the sea of e-books. The advantages of producing work for e-books means the illustrator is not confined to any number of pages, there are no overheads to worry about and the work can be turned over as quickly as the illustrator wishes. The other advantage is the opportunity to create books with an exciting interactive element for the reader thus giving the illustrator a chance to explore new ways of working. This doesn’t mean that illustrators working in a traditional sense will be missing out, as their work will translate across this medium just as well as a digital illustrators work would.

Despite these hard times there is still much illustration work available. Illustration can be used to compliment articles in newspapers and magazines. Also advertising, brochures, direct mail, posters, billboards and packaging are all areas that require illustration.
As long as there is a need to sell products there will always be a need for a creative means of communication. People will always have a need for art even if it means viewing it from the confinements of a small screen, so I guess illustration is here to ride the digital wave. 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Surrealism and Randomly Generated Art

Over the last few days I've been reading a couple of books as part of my research for the journal, the first book is called "Movements in Modern Art: Surrealism" by Fiona Bradley and the second is "The Innocent Eye: Children's Art and the Modern Artist" by Jonathan Fineberg.

On reading these two books it suddenly occurred to me that I've dabbled with surrealist methods to produce work in the past and completely over looked the importance these methods had in moving me forward. I have always been drawn to randomly generated art such as doodle art and most recently Jon Burgerman and found it difficult to pinpoint what it was I actually enjoyed about the work. I now realise it’s the freedom of expression and randomness that comes through in these works.

I was looking through some old sketchbooks after reading about the automatic drawing techniques used by surrealists like Andre Masson and I feel like Paul Klee did when he found his old childhood drawings. Below are a few pages of my automatisms done in the first year of my degree. By looking at these random's I believe this is the true me. I’ve been using pen and ink over the last year, which I feel really comfortable with, but am wondering if my cross-hatching methods have become too laboured. By this I mean it's possibly taking over as I have a tendency to get carried away. I guess it's a case of finding the right balance and harmony which will become refined with time. Perhaps by simplifying the hatching to areas of shadow would work best for me as I did in the chicken empathy illustration last year.

Most recently I have realised the projects I have found truly excited me were the ones where I had an arbitrary beginning i.e. the 'Disney Brief' and most recently the 'Lord Whitney brief' and this has got me thinking how I should approach projects in the future. I find I work best when I'm at play with my work and have found if I start to over-work or complicate things I loose that essence of fun and go through an unproductive stage. The sketchbook pages illustrated below are a great example of me at play with my work and this is what I feel I am currently lacking. From the positive feedback about my portfolio I have decided to give myself a break from Photoshop and Illustrator for a while to explore my hand drawn style to it's fullest.
Sketchbook Randoms 1

Sketchbook Randoms 2
Sketchbook Randoms 3

Sketchbook Randoms 4