Batsford Illustration Prize

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Following on from my submission to the V&A illustration prize, I took a look around to see if there was anything else that I might be able to apply to, using work from last year, because I really want to continue to push myself to find ways to publicise my work. Also, by using work that I created last year, I saved myself some stress as I could then upload the submission without having to worry about any deadlines and I could ensure that what I submitted is of a high quality. With that in mind, the theme for the Batsford Prize this year was really very convenient for me,
The Brief:

THEME: CRAVING COLOUR
The theme of The Batsford Prize 2018 is ‘Craving Colour’. Entries should show innovative and well-crafted interpretations of colour, in terms of subject or materials used, or a combination of the two.

The last day for entries is 28 March 2018, the shortlisted candidates will be announced in April and the winners will be revealed at an awards event in London in May 2018

The theme of colour is pretty perfect, considering that I do a lot of work that centers around colour as a strong component, it was therefore fairly easy to pick the piece that I wanted to submit.
The book that I designed last year that centres around a ‘day in the life’ theme from the perspective of one of my key rings, a pink alpaca called Philip; the book is an account of a typical day during a time in my life where I was feeling really stressed and anxious. In the book, I used colour as a way of communicating how I was feeling, using bright obnoxious colours that clashed to make the book feel quite abrasive and oppressive in away that expressed the tension and pressure that I felt I was under at the time.

This book project was one of the highlights of my work last year and I was very pleased with the final finished piece, the hardback copy that I had printed came out very well and the designs in the book were very carefully considered, coming out of poor circumstances that I feel like I really made something out of. This emotional connection that I feel with the contents of this piece makes it both a perfect and a risky choice, as I really feel like I can get behind the work, but, I’m also very invested in it and consider the book to be quite a personal piece, meaning I’m now quite invested in this competition.
The competition, however, is not necessarily the point. The point, of applying to the prize, is to build up some confidence in myself and in the potential of my work. I need to get used to submitting my work for judgment and to various institutional prizes, because submitting to competitions, like the Batsford Prize, is an easy, and often free, way of getting my work out into the wider illustration community. While there is a high standard of work being submitted and the competition, that my work will be up against, will be of a very high standard, many institutional competitions can potentially offer opportunities for the runners up. Either way, win or loose, it’s important that I continue to put myself out there and try to boost my work in this way.

 

 

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First Term Reflection.

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Over the course of this first term, deciding what my general direction and focus for the year, has been the main theme throughout. Opening up to doing process driven project was the key to my inspiration for how I wanted my work to develop, being with the ‘visual editing’ one day brief, set by Amelia in the first week, gave me the first clue as to how I wanted to work. Further developing this process of illustrating then opened me up to developing this maker of working and lead to me pushing further into the exploration of colour and how it can be utilised in my work; working directly in colour and working without black lines liberated my illustrations immensely.
Leading on from this, I looked at improving the overall quality and professional finish of my work, by pushing to work from an observational perspective; as it is obviously a great skill within my illustration practise. By doing this, and becoming more observant of the world around me, I found the theme that I wanted to explore staring me right in the face. Once you open your eyes and look around, it is impossible to ignore the growing homeless crisis, that is growing both in Cardiff and the UK, as a whole. This inspired me to research the local charities and government led initiatives aimed at tackling this problem. Once I had found my focus, I feel like my work really took off, with a cause and a people to represent, my focus became responding and finding an illustrative path to aid me in creating the work that I wanted to create.
From narrative, to observation and responding, I was naturally lead into reportage illustration and the realism that it presents, which is perfect to communicating the narratives that I want to carry throughout my work. Reportage illustration and the professional research that it has lead to has really opened my eyes to it’s potential for the future, throughout this term, my professional practise progress has been very informative of my project work, giving a future context to my work and my practise. The workshops with both, Georgia and Phil Wrigglesworth, have underpinned my progress with a constant consideration to the future of my practise after graduation. With that in mind, I’m hoping that the direction of my project, working with the charity Huggard, will be a great addition to my creative CV; working with a high profile local charaty, that does vital work and provides an excellent service, is a career path that I’d love to follow. As part of my professional practise research I’ve been looking at many artists that work along side charities, or produce work on their behalf; making my current project very relevant to my future professional practise.
While I’ve moved away from my dissertation work, and it’s theme, Doodling, unconscious line and the subconscious, my progress on the research and writing my first chapter, has underpinned the continued artist research that I’ve been doing as part of my continued creative practise. In addition, looking at surrealist artists, such as Kandinsky and Dali, has been an incredibly interesting undertaking. Their influences from child art and dreams is very informative on how an artist might communicate in challenging and diverse ways. In addition my research on Psychoanalysis and our understand of the subconscious mind has been truly fascinating. How can we be sure that the creations that we make when we doodle absentmindedy are as insignificant as we have assumed; David Lloyd Georges doodles from the amnesty treaty agreements (1919-20) give a great deal of insight to the high tension and intense stress of the negotiations, that might not have been recored in such a transparent way otherwise.

Huggard response

Over the course of this term, I feel like the main development in my work, in all areas, has been an overall increase in confidence in my ability to produce work of a high standard. The main areas of concern in all areas of my degree going forward will be, first completing my dissertation to a high standard and getting the upmost out of my research material, getting to grips with a how I would like to move into the world of professional illustration after graduation (the avenues open to me and the best way for me to present my self professionally- in a way that reflects how I would like to practise), and the follow through of my current project, working with Huggard and creating a constructive conversation with them about how my work can aid them in generating support for their cause and informing the public on how they can help this charity.

Reportage Responses…

Due to the fact that I’ve got to apply to the ethics council for approval before I can make more progress, I’m now in a sort of holding period of my project, until I get approval I can’t move forwards. While I have been reaching out to Huggard and trying to make first contact, I’m unable to do anything with this until I get the paper work back.
So, in order to use this time productively, I’ve been working on my reportage observations.

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When it actually come to the interviews and conversations that I plan to have with the Huggard staff and clients, it’s important that I’m prepared to produce work in this way and that the observations that I make are of a good quality that I can work with. With this in mind, I’ve been focusing on doing quick simple illustrations that I can do on the fly and refer back to or work into later, the main focus being on the form and mood of the subject. To do this, I’ve been working from candid pictures of people from photos I’ve taken in and around Cardiff; Ideally I’d be working on location, but due to the fact that there have been workshops at uni this week and a hand in deadline next Monday (4.12.17), I’ve been going into uni every day this week, meaning I’m a bit to far from town to do that.


In these sketches I’ve been focusing on doing quick observations of figures in motion and getting a sense of motion into my drawings. As well as looking at human figures, I’ve been working on my illustrations of the still life scenes I captured of any evidence of rough sleeping around Cardiff.


A lot of the work that I’ve produced in response to these scenes has been quite finished and heavy, in order to create the pieces that reflect my research, I also need to be producing less finished and more sketched responses. These less finished responses were all about trying to capture the mood and the immediate impression of the scene, rather than focusing on creating a heavily produced response, making sure not to take much time on sketching the and working directly in colour to encourage a more immediate and decisive line.

Illustrators Manifesto

As part of our professional practise workshops this term, we where tasked with the creation of our own manifesto’s; considering out values as illustrators and considering our personal practise going forward.
The act of making a manifesto, is not something that particularly excites me, if I’m totally honest, but it did give me the opportunity to think about the kind of attitude that I would like to carry into my work after graduation. The thought of graduation is more than a little terrifying, and I know that breaking into the creative field, getting a job that I feel actually reflects what I can offer to the industry, will not be easy and certainly won’t happen over night. With this in mind, I created my manifesto with the intention, of creating a set of maxims for myself, to remind me to keep trying and that, with a little luck and a whole lot of hard work, I will find my way in. So with a focus on bravery, not belittling anything that I can get published (paid or not) and pushing myself to always keep creating and keep an eye out for any opportunity (as well as a little bravado, in the form of a slightly pretentious literary quote from one of my favourite books):
Manifesto of Maxims

Artist Website Design

A key part of my professional practise going forward will be focused around creating an online presents that will serve to advertise my work and to act as a sort of online portfolio that perspective clients can browse. The design of this site is therefore very important, my work needs to be presented in a considered and professional manner, so that the site both reads well and showcases my work in the best possible way.
In researching my options and the various providers that can aid me in setting up my own space and platform to present my work, I’ve been comparing a few different providers that I can buy a domain space from and who will build a professional website, without me having to go to the trouble of learning coding or html (which, lets faces it, is not something that I’d really be interested in doing.) Out of the various options that I’ve looked into, I’ve found that ‘WordPress’, being the most obvious options, is the most cost effective platform that I can find, but ‘Square space’ has great customer satisfaction and a really great interface that is really easy to understand. The other option that I’ve looked into, so far as to even set up a dummy site as an experiment, was ‘Wix’, but I wasn’t that impressed and they aren’t as well renowned; the interface is also a little more confusing and not as user friendly as I need it to be.
As well as looking up the platforms that are available to me, I’ve been checking out different artists websites for layout ideas, artists websites vary a great deal from site to site, reflecting the many different ways that best showcase their work and professional practises. Seen as I’ve not a great deal of experience in designing a website layout, I’ve been checking out a lot of different sites to see how other artists have chosen to present themselves – as well as looking at which company they bought their domain from (if I can find it).
there are a ton of different ways that illustrators and artists choose to present their work, all depending on their style and manner of working. For example, Both Chris Riddle and Oliver James have very minimal opening pages:
http://www.chrisriddell.co.uk
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http://www.oliverjeffers.com
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But, where as Riddle, has chosen to have a simple animated gif on the landing page, Jeffers, has instead combined both the landing page and events page of his site to showcase exactly when and where you can see his work – with links to his social media highlighted just below.
Alternatively, Maria Kallstrom, who works predominantly in editorial illustration, has a site that opens straight onto her gallery, highlighting the latest work and scrolling down to a grid display of her previous pieces:  http://www.illis.com.
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This form of presentation is very popular with Editorial illustrators, due to the fact that each individual piece speaks for itself and has been designed draw the reader in based on the subject that it represents alone. Nick Grant, who is commission based and isn’t simply focused on editorial illustrations, has a similar set up, but his work is presented in a much quieter space that showcases each individual piece in a much clearer uncluttered manner: http://www.nickgrantillustrator.com.
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Currently, the website that I set up as a dummy on ‘Wix’ is laid out in a fairly messy way, due to the fact that at the time I wasn’t ready to commit to paying for their full service, and therefore, did not get the benefit of the full choice of layouts that they had to offer. My current plan is to delete this site and get a ‘Squared space’ domain set up by the end of this January, though I may not start a full subscription just yet, as I can still benefit from the student discount, and will be taking full advantage of that. However, having done some research into the different providers, I’m pretty certain that when I graduate and have to make the jump from Student to Full subscription, that ‘Square Space’ will be a great platform to launch my site on.
Judging by the artists sites that I’ve been looking at, I think I like Nick Grant or Chris Riddle’s lay out best, they’re both simple and promote singular pieces and projects, which is what my work mostly comprises of at the moment. Perhaps if I move more into reportage or editorial illustration as I progress, that will change, but for the time being I feel that I will need a site that simply shows off my work for what it is individually and isn’t too fancy. no point having a big flashy site if I’ve no got the work to fill it just yet, that will only serve to make my work look unfinished and ill thought out.

Vertical Studio With Cath Davies: Gothic Bodies and Subjectivity.

Part two of the vertical studio seminar lead by Cath, focused again on the relationships between death, characterisation and clothing; but this week the main topics up for discussion where the Tim Burton films ‘The Corpse Bride’ and ‘A Nightmare Before Christmas’, both of which heavily feature dead characters that derive much of their characters from the clothes that they wear. the characters that Cath focused in on the most where that of Jack Skellington, Sally and, the titular bride, Emily.

All three characters relationships with their wardrobes heavily reflects both their characters and their state of being.
Jack, a very typical ‘dandy’ character – a frequent feature of Gothic literature- is meticulous about his fashion, his main outfit in the film being a splendid pinstriped suit, and in the scene where in he first impersonates ‘Sant-ie Clause’, he insists that his look is not complete until he dons the famous red fur lines hat.
Sally’s clothing is patched and cruddy sewn together, much in the same way, that she herself has been assembled. Sally is often seen to be self conscious of this and her skill as a seamstress is infinitely useful to her, as she frequently un-stitches and sews herself back together, to aid the plot at various points in the film.
In ‘The Corpse Bride’, Emily, has never been able to move on from the day she died on her wedding day because, like all the other dead characters in the film, she has to remain in the clothes that she died in. Emily cannot move on to the next life or get over her heart ache because her dress, which is decaying roughly at the same rate that she is, because it is a constant reminder.
Without their clothing, there is very little about these characters that can be said visually. other than the fact that they are all dead; Jack would just be a skeleton, Sally just a rather crudely assembled ‘frankenstine’s bride’, and, Emily, would be little more than a murdered bride. Their clothing both reflects and creates their characters.
The importance of fabric and clothing, when applied to characterisation has a great deal of potential and can further develop the sense of individuality and unique feel to a character; something that Cath’s seminars have really brought to my attention, clothing has always been an important feature of a character, but there is no question that it can say so much more than a simple statement of fashion or necessity.

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As usual: I,of course did my own little illustration to go along with this seminar, though it’s not quite as relevant as the last.

 

 

An Evening with Dr John Cooper Clarke

digAbout the man: John Cooper Clarke shot to prominence in the 1970s as the original ‘people’s poet’. Since then his career has spanned cultures, audiences, art forms and continents.Today, JCC is as relevant and vibrant as ever, and his influence just as visible on today’s pop culture. Aside from his trademark ‘look’ continuing to resonate with fashionistas young and old, and his poetry included on national curriculum syllabus, his effect on modern music is huge. His influence can be heard within the keen social observations of the Arctic Monkeys and Plan B.

 

Seen as recenty I’ve been so interested in reportage illustration, it only makes sense, that I take every opportunity to embrace the practise as part if my normal creative routine. Considering that the act of illustrating my experiences, and the everyday world around me, is quite a familiar part of my life it has hardly been a difficult task.
Naturally, when I got tickets to see the amazing, John Cooper Clarke, there was no question that I would bring my sketchbook to the show. Poetry and Illustration go hand in hand, and the prospect of getting to draw live poets performing in Cardiff, was truly an unmissable opportunity. Not only was it a fantastic night getting to see one of my favourite literary figures, it was a fantastic opportunity to get to draw the man in action, as well as the two female opening acts: Clarke Walker and Toria Garbet.

 

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