Beginning the End: First Day of my Last Year.

Walking back into the studio after having several weeks to relax and be my own artist, was quite a nervous experience. I was not expecting to feel this way, as I had grown to be quite comfortable in my surroundings in my Illustration course, although I believe the seriousness and true impact this year will have on me has finally sunk in.

The welcome back was lovely, as it is always a kind sight to see those who you have created friendships and connections with throughout the course of the study, yet it is also bittersweet. This final year is going to be one of the most intense in work load, yet it is the final year to meet up with those who may live in a distant area. Therefore this year is going to be a test on balancing out social and working life, which essentially will be quite beneficial as this is a good way to introduce myself into what working in the art world would be like, yet also difficult as I try to maintain my relationships with others whilst having to be selfish and focusing on myself and my work load in this decisive year.

After a brief meeting with my tutors and year group discussing the plans for this year, we were told to lay out our work which we had curated over the summer holidays in order to show what we had been up to. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, over the summer holidays I had to complete my dissertation proposal as I was unable to complete it by the original deadline. This meant that a substantial chunk of my holidays were spent reading and writing, rather than exploring and drawing. Nonetheless I had managed to create some observational pieces, as well as some rough sketches referencing a potential theme which I would quite like to explore for my major project this year, which I decided to base off my dissertation, questioning what an artist is, or what it takes to be one.

After laying out our work, we were told to go around the studio and observe eachother’s creations and offer some motivational/ supportive advice to them in order to keep up morale. I received 3 post-it notes which read the following:

1- “Beautiful observational drawing, rich use of mixed media + colour. Keep drawing!”

2- “Nice mark making! :)”

3- “You nice, keep going :)”

As you may be able to sense from the 3rd comment, this was offered by a close friend of mine (hence the general support as opposed to support focusing on my work). Which, even though there was no advice on my art it was equally as useful as the others as it offers a reason to smile whilst turning through my sketchbook pages and reading that post-it note.

The range of forms displayed in the work shown by my fellow students was on quite a grand spectrum. Ranging from cartoon lady parts stitched into fabric to miniature puppet theatres.

I found whilst looking around, those who chose the same themed group as myself (Thematic) has the largest range of work. As Narrative had a set outcome of a graphic novel/ cartoon strip related outcome, they were all quite uniform, despite having unique story lines due to the format typically being on A4 pieces of white cartridge paper.

This was a happy realisation, as I can already see that the freedom in the Thematic approach has such a range of outcomes that it makes me feel very enthusiastic about the final degree show. Knowing that those viewing the show will not know what to expect around the next corner fuels the audience to use their imagination.

I have decided to go for thematic for two reasons. One being that the explanation for the group is ‘research through illustration’, which is what I enjoy doing through all my projects. One of my favourite projects from second year being my TED Talks project where I researched into sea urchins and ended up exploring by making, leading to me creating an outcome which I had never thought I would be capable of.


On top of research being one of the sole reasons that I was able to explore and experiment with creating, the knowledge of of the outcome not having a set form allowed me to have no limitation. This further motivated me into being able to have fun with the project, as I had no concern about not completing something, only creating to satisfy my creative needs/ ideas for this concept.

This day has left me filled with anticipation to what I will be able to uncover through my journey of this year. Especially with quite a broad subject. The idea behind me wanting to know what an artist is, is due to the fact that this year is quite substantial on what to make of my university experience. If I fail, that means the past two years meant nothing to the progress of myself as an artist as I was left not fully capable of completing the degree. If I pass then that means all the stress, hours, blood, sweat and tears put into my degree were most certainly with it.

The past two years of my degree have lead me to have quite a lot of self discovery. Not all bad, not all good.

Some of the discoveries being that I enjoy making animatics and being able to incorporate my music skills into my work, the others of which being that I discovered I have ADHD, which affects my ability to focus on a task. This means that completing work by given deadlines become difficult when I have to focus on multiple things at once, whether it be from an external source from uni (family issues), or also having to balance writing my Philosophical dissertation on art.

Some may look at this discovery and think that this is surely would have quite a negative impact on my work, yet contrary to that thought it has been able to help me get the help I need in order to be able to handle the work loads at a more efficient level. This is not to say that I now have complete control and ADHD will no longer get in the way of my work, as I am not able to poke my own brain with a stick to get it to start working. Some days are worse than others. Although knowing that now I have support available to help me cope with these times means that I have a weight lifted off my shoulders. As I feel as though I can work more towards my potential, one day, I hope to be able to show what I am truly capable of without having to fight myself. Throughout this year and throughout this project, I would like to find a way to do that.

In order to be able to understand who I am, I wish to understand who it is I want to be. An Illustrator/ an artist. Therefore, I want to include what I have learnt from my research into philosophical papers regarding who an artist is, and it has left me quite confused, so by drawing out what I have discovered I believe it may help me further understand myself.

My Fears:

I am concerned that this topic may lead me to no end, or may be too confusing for myself to understand, therefore demotivating me to create.

I am concerned that as the question is so philosophical, I will struggle to find ways to fit experimentation with materials in which would make sense.

I am concerned that the illustrations I curate may be a bit too cliche, therefore not being strong enough in the communication sense.

What I’m looking forward to:

I am looking forward to exploring a topic which further allows me to gain some self discovery.

I am looking forward to finding ways to display the topic in ways in which I enjoy working.

I am looking forward to experimenting with new methods of working.

I am looking forward to working with mixed media.

I am looking forward to attempting to work with a form of print making.

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