Reportage Illustration.

As my work with mixed media and composed narratives is becoming a tad stagnant while waiting for fresh new research to respond to, which I am currently working to getting by reaching out to Huggard, I’ve began to look at producing work in a more reportage illustration style.
Queen St Reportage After looking at Illustrators, such as George Butler, I wanted to create a response with a similar process to his work.
Starting with a basic pencil drawing of a street scene I observed on Queen St, I then used watercolour and ink to develop the image. I’m quite happy with the result, but I do feel that its a bit to close to the source material, and I’d like to take this type of reportage response in a different direction, perhaps dropping the fine line outlines and instead concentrating on the block colours and basic forms of the subjects in the scene.

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Buzz Business workshop: The Pick Pocket Method

The final Buzz Business Workshop of this year was presented by Lee Sherma of ‘Simple Do’ *(https://www.simplydoideas.co.uk/).
The selling method, or the Pick Pocket method, that he presented is a simple pitch formula aimed at selling your idea or business proposal to any potential buyer, collaborator or financial backer.
P-roblem. I-dea. C-ustomer/C-ompetitors. K-nowledge. Pocket= Finances.
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Sherma really stressed the importance of doing your research and making sure that you always look like you know what your talking about, even if you don’t, theres nothing wrong with whacking out an ipad to use as a prompt. Having a basic power point or presentation that can be used to explain a little about yourself and you ideas, completely with some (basic) financial information, and, if possible, stats from previous projects/ventures.
The Pick Pocket pitch is a slightly more structured Elevator pitch that has been covered in some of the previous workshops that I’ve attended and Sherma had some really good advice on how best to present yourself to investors and the kind of meetings that you should see as a business opportunity (ie, all meetings, casual or formal). I
Throughout this series of workshops, I’ve learnt a great deal about how important it is to be able to speak clearly about your ideas and what you can offer to business or collaboration, and how important it is that you sell yourself based on what you can offer that no one else can. To convince a Pocket or potential collaborator to work with you above your competitors,  all you can offer is yourself, your skills, and your unique insight on a problem or concept.
Going forward into the world of independant freelance work, this skill, being able to talk about oneself and one’s work in a business scenario, will be invaluable. By attending these workshops, I feel that I understand the methods and key points to remember in future, when I will have to sell myself and my skills to my future clients.

Vertical Studio with Cath Davies: Interpreting Character Design – ‘Great Expectations’: Ms Havisham.

Cath Davies’ Vertical studio seminars, centred around the topic of death, clothing and Gothic characterisation (delivered in two parts) where both hugely engaging. Cath’s research centres around the macabre topic of death and decay characterised through a characters clothing.
To introduce this subject to us in the first week, her seminar focused on the character of Ms Havisham, from Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’; Havisham slighted spinster stuck in time on the day of her wedding, when her betrothed left her waiting at the alter; while the world moved on without her, she remained in her slowly decaying wedding dress and refused to dismantle her wedding spread in spite. Dickens’ describes her:

“I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes. I saw that the dress had been put upon the rounded figure of a young woman, and that the figure upon which it now hung loose, had shrunk to skin and bone. Once, I had been taken to see some ghastly wax-work at the Fair, representing I know not what impossible personage lying in state. Once, I had been taken to one of our old marsh churches to see a skeleton in the ashes of a rich dress, that had been dug out of a vault under the church pavement. Now wax-work and skeleton seemed to have dark eyes that moved and looked at me. I should have cried out, if I could.”

The significance of Havisham’s dress is that it encapsulates her bitter attitude and perpetuates the image of death and sickness. She does not care that the dress no longer fits, that the fabric is disintegrating, nor that the wedding spread left from all those years ago is rotten and inedible; for Havisham, everything that she has become embodies what her betrothed did to her when he abandoned her, it is her way of enacting revenge. Much like how she uses Estella, to draw in suitors, with no intention of actually allowing them to so much as touch her exceptionally beautiful ward, she represents a break down in the society and the wider societal system of the day; this is all clearly reflected in her aged, faded and decaying wedding dress, the one that she refuses to put to rest.
This opening seminar was extremely engaging, in part because it drew me back to all the gothic literature, that I never seem to have enough time to read anymore, but mainly due to Cath’s intense interest in the topic and her obvious love for the character of Havisham. From the session, I came up with my own illustration of Ms Havisham, sat regally in her wedding dress;
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My own interpretation is quite reminiscent of a death mask, not something that I did consciously, but very fitting of the subject in hindsight. I focused on the decrepit aged face and then worked that decay into the dress, starting with a simple design and working into it to age the garment, adding the details to the chair later, as I wanted to reflect how Havisham sits as, Estella, despiratly attempts to darn her disintegrating dress, in one of the more pivotal scenes in the book. Though this sketch was something that I did during the seminar, without any focus on getting it perfect or even keeping it particularly tidy, I did keep in mind all the key points that Cath focused on; the ill fitting dress, the skeletal appearance of the body within it and the way that Havisham almost fades into the decrepit world around her – I tried not to make her outline too clear, looking to give her the appearance of fading into the background around her. Cath stressed this importance, because it emphasises how Havisham represents death and decay; like her dress, Havisham, is not long for this world.
Which is something that Cath pointed out H.M Bock’s illustration:
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In direct contrast to the, comparatively poor characterisation of the figure of Havisham in F. A. Fraser’s interpretation:
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George Butler: Reportage Illustration

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George Butler is an award winning artist and illustrator specialising in travel and current affairs. His drawings, done in situ are in pen, ink and watercolour.  In August 2012 George walked from Turkey across the border into Syria, where as guest of the rebel Free Syrian Army he drew the civil war damaged, small and empty town of Azaz. Over the last ten years his desire to record scenes in ink rather than with a camera has meant he has witnessed some extraordinary moments;  refugee camps in Bekaa Valley, in the oil fields in Azerbaijan, in Gaza with Oxfam, in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, in a neo-Nazi murder trial in Munich, on an oil rig in the north sea, down a Ghanian gold mine… the list goes on.

“The skill is to use drawing as an interview technique for an entire situation, I make visual notes in ink as time passes.  It isn’t all about conflict… the drawings are of more common experiences than those on our front pages, they are of unfolding scenes, of habits, of stories, or of a single character”. He says.

Since doing research for my professional practise workshop, George Butler, has fast become one of my new favorite illustrators. The amazing work that he produces with simple observational reportage illustrations, is so full of empathy and give such a close personal response to his experiences of the lives lived in the incredible places that he takes himself too. The photography and film clips that come out of Syria and Afghanistan, while very informative, don’t carry the same emotional weight of Bulters observations, by going to these places and putting himself directly in harms way in this manner, Butler’s work gains a wealth of depth and reality that is created by simple pencil and pen.
Butler’s professional practise and life as a freelance illustrator comes with a lot of risk, not just because he works in dangerous and often war torn or 3rd world countries, but because his method of generating paid work requires creating the work with no guarantee of a publisher. By operating in this way, Butler, created work that very few other illustrators can offer and his method create a very different kind of appeal, offering the publicist a very unique opportunity, this becoming the main selling point of his work. The risk that he takes is that, once h has completed his projects, there is a very really possibility that he wont be able to get it published. This gamble, in his case, has paid off massively, but when he left for Syria in 2012, he had no way of knowing this.

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This very risky method of becoming a published and profitable illustrator is not an easy one, and comes with a great deal of risk, but it is a really encouraging example of just how varied and personal ones journey into professional illustration can be. While this is an extreme example of generating work for oneself, it does give a good example of how one might go about it; create a situation or find a perspective on a topic or issue that could be added to and enhanced by an illustrative response, reportage is all about reporting, so find something you are passionate and find interesting that you can offer your unique perspective on. when presenting your reportage illustration, it is important to stress that, like Butler, you can offer publishers a completely new and individual piece of reporting that no one else is able to.

Work Progress Responses

As I’ve spent much of this week working on various written work and some group project work set in the professional practise workshop, as well completing the ethics protocol sheets, my practical illustration work has been a little left behind.
However this does not mean that I’ve not been working on various pieces in this time or furthering my exploration of media in my response work. Using a combination of stock images from google and photos that I have taken myself – I have been using stock images of homeless people because I don’t feel that I can take pictures of them myself, as I don’t want to be exploiting their vulnerable position, but I do want to move on to putting human figures into my work, and therefore, wanted references to draw from – I’ve continued exploring mixed media in my work, using a combination of ink, water colour, gouache, soft pastels and pencil crayon. The textures of these mediums all work together quite effectively, creating a mat finish that is great for drawing on in pencil crayon and takes pastels very well.

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This particular image is unfinished, I’m undecided if I will be continuing it, as I’m not sure that I’m happy with the colour pallet. However, finishing the image would include changing adding in an element of foliage, which could potentially lift the pallet and add to the tonal variation in the overall piece. Lately, I’ve developed a habit of starting and not finishing my smaller pieces recently, this particular piece is a concertina zine and would therefore have a really interesting sense of perspective if it were fully finished.

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Above is another piece that I started this week and have left unfinished, this one however, won’t be finished traditionally. With this image I’ve decided that I’m going to try manipulating and editing it using photoshop, I’d like to do this because it maybe that later down the line of this project I will be looking to create a poster or banner campaign and I feel like this image ids strong enough that I could potentially create a prototype design with this graphic.
This was my first move to adding soft pastels and gouache into my response pieces, the texture that it gives to the sleeping bag is something I’m particularly happy with and if nothing else comes of this image, then the inspiration it gave me to move into more varied medias is already something that I’m carrying into further response work.

Buzz Business workshop: Face to Face Selling

Being that, as a freelance Illustrator, I signed up to this workshop on the basis that, in my professional life being able to see my skills and my time will be hugely important skill. The Buzz Business workshop series so far, has been really interesting and informative about basic business practises and tips on how best to publicise your business. This most recent workshop, I think, has been the most directly useful so far.
The act of selling ones skills and time as a business or ‘opportunity’ will be a huge part of my future professional work, from what I have learned from my professional practise research, most illustrators are very active in seeking out and creating work for themselves by producing their own projects to then sell to publishers or companies that might benefit from their work. in order to do this, it’s very important to be able to talk about your work and what you can offer as an illustrator.
In the workshop, presented by guest speaker Julie Collins from the centre for entrepreneurship, we sent a hour going through a crash course in practical sales, covering important tips to remember when talking about yourself and your business. The first step that Julie instructed us on, was the act of building a short sharp introduction to our products, keeping your opening short and exciting, people switch off very quickly and getting to the point is very important in retaining their interest in you and your product. Julie also stressed how important it is to remember to personalise your opening and introduction, the ‘it works for everyone’ approach is basically the same as ‘it works for no-one’.
One of the more important points that she covered was about the way that you talk about your work, making sure that you talk about your skill/product in the a way that stresses the benefits that you can offer, not the features, ie: WIIFM- what’s in it for me. Telling a potential business partner or customer that you have a degree and therefore they should hire you is not good practise, instead you should be telling your target that you are ‘fully trained and have professional experience’, posing the statement in away that focusing on the things that you offer as a partner or freelance hire that make you the best and most beneficial hire.
Julie Collins was a really great speaker during this workshop and I found much of what she had to say very helpful and informative on the subject of how I might approach talking to future partners and making a successful pitch to a person or company that I want to work with. The past buzz business workshops that I have attended have been good, but this workshop was perhaps the best as I feel like I can really apply the skill that I’ve learned and that it was the most tailored to me during the session.