COVID-19: How an Illustrator is Affected.

Due to the outbreak of a new global pandemic, the focus on my current project had subsided for about two weeks, as I moved all of my work from the university studios to my home in Cardiff, discovered about new hand-in guidelines/ module deliverables, and had my family to be concerned about during the self-isolation enforcement from the government.

Due to COVID-19, we are no longer having a degree show, which means I must re-think my original installment plan as my final piece, as the hand-in will be completed through digital format.

I believe I will most likely stick to my plan of making (by creating the objects I initially set out to create in order to form the installment), and then find a way to photograph my work and place them in a setting which would show how my work would look, if it were to be set up in the initial concept I had set out for (gallery/ exhibition setting).

The installation was initially going to look as so:

I believe I am going to call on to my old photography skills learnt through A-levels in order to create realistic/ abstract environments, and perhaps a model/ realistic edit of what my set up would look like through multiple photos of the final piece, and a background.

Professional Practice: Pen and Paper

On the 14th of March, I was able to hold a live demonstration within The Pen and Paper, both demonstrating my skills as an illustrator, elaborating on what it means to be an illustrator, my purpose within the world now as an artist, and what the tools I was using that particular day are capable of.

I used copic markers, pro-markers, brush markers and fine liners to demonstrate a small part of stock that the art shop has. Whilst doing this I was approached by several people not only asking about the tools that I was using, but also regarding what it means to be an Illustrator. I was able to gain a few followers on my social media through interactions with a few participants of the demonstration coming into the store purely to ask me questions regarding how to use the tools that I was demonstrating.

I was able to give tips and tricks to those members of the public who approached me to get information, and was even able to help make some sales of that stock that day as people asked me what colours I’d suggest getting for minimal toned colour palettes, and how many colours to use in order to get a smooth blend/ specific textures.

I held this demonstration from 11am until 2pm, and was able to complete an observational piece using the markers, as well as make a tools and textures sheet to help and explain certain techniques to people who brought queries about what I was creating.

This was a great experience to not only build connections, but to also be able to get an idea of what it may be like to work within freelance, how to advertise myself, and how to improve my connections to those around me who may bring creative opportunities and partnerships.

Penguin Random House Student Design: Submission

Last Week I had set out to test the commercial aspect of my current main project for Exposure, by seeing if it could be altered to fit another purpose.

I decided the perfect way to test this would be by entering this competition, as not only am I able to see if my current project has potential, but I am also able to develop my Professional Practice process.

I knew when going into the design, that I would like to include photography of a paper sculpture, which is the main body of work I am creating for my exposure module. Although, instead of re-using old work, I decided to create a new illustration which I could then alter to fit the theme.

I decided that as the 2D illustration would not be the focal point of my book cover design, I wanted it to be simplistic and sketch-like. This lead to me taking the aesthetic of a blue-print, to show man-made markings on a blue sheet showing development and design. I then took this and made a paper-fold sculpture from this piece, which resulted in the form below.

I was happy with the outcome of this paper fold, as it almost looks as though it is warping, perhaps being sucked into a black hole, or time-jumping, which fits the content of the book “A Short History of Nearly Everything”, which is a form of science guide, which provides learning material as well as humor and characters to keep a young adult audience engaged.

This is the final book sleeve design that I created for the competition. I am quite pleased with the outcome as they wanted it to be new, innovative, include use of typography, and suited to the contents of the book. I believe I have made a cover which is innovative and different to the examples and past covers created that I found whilst researching this book.

I believe this live application has lead me to find that my current work being produced for the Exposure module definitely has commercial potential, as it is quite versatile with the ways that the imagery of the paper can be altered, the type of paper, the type of fold. It will hold the same aesthetic whilst morphing to fit a different purpose. This has left me optimistic for my degree show, full of anticipation and ideas.

The Penguin Random House Student Design Awards: Research

I have decided that as part of my Professional Practice module, that I would like to go back in time and re-visit one of the first illustration competitions that I had taken part in.

The reason I have chosen to take part in the Penguin Random House Student Design Awards contest, is due to its versatility of entries. I would like to experiment with what I have been working on at the moment for my main project for my final year, by taking the same process, but applying it to a different function. Therefore, I will be taking 3D Paper folding, into digital editing, and book sleeve cover design.

Although it sounds odd, it’s a good opportunity for myself, as not only am I able to put myself into the world of an illustrator, but also I am able to see if my current project is able to be somewhat commercial, to see if it can morph into suiting different topics, and different formats.

This year I have decided to design the cover for the Adult Non-Fiction Book: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.

When you search for previous designs that had been made for this book, they all seem to have the common theme of space, this being due to the fact that this book is primarily about how we got from nothing, to something, going from empty space, to many galaxies, planets, and life forms.

I would like to keep this theme in my cover as it relates to what the book is about, and I would not like to distract the audience from the main contents, which is that of Bill Bryson’s writing.

I have also noticed whilst viewing the past winners of the penguin random house student design competition, that most of the winners’ main similarity is the play with text, as opposed to image. I can recall that in second year, when I entered this contest, I put most of the emphasis on the imagery, seeing that I am an Illustrator, where as this time I will do more research and experimentation with text that I can use on the front cover, to push my chances and skill display as a multi-disciplinary illustrator.


The winners of the Norwegian wood Category from last year.
My Entry from 2019

I can also understand that the winner’s front covers were not too distracting, or saturated, which I can see my cover was, this impairs the viewer from seeing the main text of the book.

This time around I would like to play with photography, in hopes that I step away from using bold colours, and strong weighted black lines.

My idea is to take the paper folds which I have been doing at the moment (such as shown above) and use imagery in the folds that relate to the book, and then use my use of typography to create the rest of the cover.

I want an item of imagery, in central vision, but not distracting from the text and typography explaining and advertising the book.

I believe an interesting way to incorporate the image into text would be if the image was to reference the sun, or a point of rotation/ gravity, and the text was to somewhat wrap/ warp around the image, to reference the planets orbit around the sun. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt the hard way through my studies, is that you should never be afraid of cliches. You can start working on a cliche and make it better than before, or it can branch off and end up as something else. Therefore, I have decided to make this my main reference point, a safe base essentially.

Whilst looking at fonts to use, I had selected 9 that I believe could work well on this book cover:

The reason behind me selecting these fonts, was through referencing the typography used within the examples, both from past winners, and from the cover/ alternative covers that have been made for ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’.

I then went on to pick the fonts that look most similar to that of the current book, to either avoid, or incorporate into my design in some sense.

I have also contemplated making the main words of the title a different font to the rest… or bold/ italic/ different colour to make the purpose of the book pop.

These words are ‘History’, ‘Nearly’, and ‘Everything’.

From these results of me experimenting with the fonts that I liked, I then selected 4 which I found were most effective, and have colour coded them so that when I place them on the cover design, I remember which word belongs to which font.

The sub heading I will experiment with when I have my imagery discovered to ensure that it works with the imagery rather than against it.

Give Me a Sign: Milestone 2

Today I was able to present my work and development that has taken place since the previous crit that took place with the entire year group of Illustration.

This time we were split into groups in order to get more in depth feedback, and to be able to explain our project in full to those offering suggestions.

The outcome of this group feedback session was quite beneficial, as I have left again feeling as though I am on the right tracks and creating work that is to the quantity and quality expected from me. Although, I was also given suggestions which has offered an alternative way to display my work in my final degree show.

I had finally finished printing my urchins and have finished sticking in the copper wire spikes, and was quite happy with them, although in the group crit, it was suggested that rather than sticking to 3D-print, although it is effective and well made, it may be more beneficial to create the urchins in paper form to stick to my main paper folded pieces.

This is a good suggestion, as I can see the way that it would help tie all of my work together, although I wanted to display in my final degree show that I can work with multiple mediums, and thought a way to do this effectively would be to have the urchins be 3d printed, as opposed to the paper sculptures, as I found it also offered a contrast through all of the outcomes.

This piece was made in response to a TED Talks lecture as part of my course work last year in Illustration. It was suggested to make this again, but on a larger scale, although the outcome I had with 3D printing the urchin, especially as I wished for them to be wall mounted appeared as so:

I found these to be a little more advanced and improved to the paper sculpture version, and thought that due to the fine spines/ copper wires, once light was shone on it perhaps from above whilst wall mounted, then it would have quite an interesting effect.

This was my initial idea of how to display my final outcome in the degree show.

I am unsure if I should follow these suggestions, as once the milestone had finished, I decided to physically explain how I intended to initially set up my show by holding the urchins onto the wall to show how they would be mounted. Once I did this, those who were still in the room from my group said that it would be a great idea to go ahead with this. Therefore, I will continue to finish the printed urchins and create a mock up of how I would display them, and if I think that the other suggestions would be more effective than this idea, then I will change my approach. My next step is to create a poster/ announcement to ask people to donate failed/ old work that I could re-form for this project’s metaphor to be further emphasised.

Professional Practice: Update

In order to begin gathering potential ways to partake in a demonstration of professional practice, I decided to re-visit connections that I have, as I have many potential ways to engage in experiencing life in the real world, outside my education campus.

Fortunately, during my time in Cardiff, I was able to gain work experience at an art material/supplies store, and have been able to stay in touch with the bosses ever since. Also, during my time working in the building there was an artist who came in to do a live demonstration of paints that are currently being sold, which engaged conversation from audiences, and people wishing to view his work, thus this artist then being able to hand out business cards and gain more followers of his work.

I had a discussion with one of the bosses of the Pen & Paper (the art shop), named Wendy, who told me that if I was welcome to do the same thing in their store, when the store and myself have the time to hold the event. I was also told that I may be able to get a small window display in the shop to help advertise my demonstration, as well as my work.

I decided it was time to send an email to the Pen & Paper, to see if this opportunity was still available, this is the email I wrote:

The day after sending this email, I received a response from Pen and Paper, which was as follows:

This seems as though this opportunity of professional practice can be achieved, so I will be meeting with Wendy tomorrow to discuss what will be happening, and when.

In order to explain what I wish to do I will be compiling a selection of works done with the materials I had mentioned to her in the email to see which she would find best suited for the regulars of her shop, and I will also bring a selection of work from my current project, in case I am still able to have a small window display of my work.

Give Me a Sign: Applying Feedback

After hearing my peers opinions and suggestions on how my project has progressed so far, I have had suggestions, such as to age my work, to emphasize the narrative of the work becoming weak and frail, but then becoming something new and colourful.

As my work is being constructed from old works which were never completed, or works which never saw the light of public, whether it be due to being damaged, distorted, or generally a piece which I dislike; I decided to begin by creating a paper sculpture/ paper fold from tea staining, to see if this method of aging made the piece more interesting/ engaging.

The outcome of staining it made the piece more colourful, I wouldn’t say it looks more aged, but this may due to the image I printed onto the tea-stained paper. If I am to use a less saturated image, perhaps it will appear more worn.

I have found some older images from old projects, as well as from personal sketchbooks and have compiled them into one folder to be able to access them with ease.

These images have come from life drawing exercises, collage workshops, personal sketchbooks, old projects, and work that I had created towards this same project before I had discovered that transferring the 2 dimensional flat images are more effective.

I have also taken some of these pieces and compiled them together in a collage as another way to re-form/ give new life to old/ failed work.

This may be a more interesting way to show the public what inspired/ what is on some of the paper sculptures in my final pieces, rather than creating a zine/ book full of the regular older illustrations. Although, I still want to make the old pieces more clear, so a possibility I have considered is to place a page of the regular older illustrations, followed by a collage using those images on the opposite page, such as shown below:

Alternatively, I could stick to just creating collages, and placing whatever images/ collages were used (as opposed to collages and the separate pieces used to create the collage) within the sculptures, into the book/ bound collection.

I believe this option works best, as it offers a larger contrast between the imagery each time you turn the page, making it more interesting to view. The book will also almost work as a secondary portfolio, as it would contain work from older projects which have now been manipulated and brought forward into a different form.

Milestone 1- Give Me a Sign

Reaching the 5th week into our final project, it was time to get feedback from my peers to understand if I am headed in the right direction with my work thus far. It goes without saying that I was nervous about this, seeing as I have had to re-configure my project multiple times throughout the past few weeks, I was filled with anticipation to find out if I have finally hit the nail on the head with my new concept.

We kicked off the day with a silent crit, where we were able to place paper in front of our work and label how intense we wanted the feedback to be, one chilli representing that we only want encouragement, slight suggestions, two chillis being be honest (but not harsh), and three chillis meaning be brutally honest (and as harsh as possible). For this I chose two chillis as I wanted to have some suggestions, but as I am fighting to find my confidence again I need some encouragement and motivation to continue to wish to create.

I have walked away from this group crit feeling a lot more excitement towards this project, as I was given positive feedback and genuine excitement from my peers regarding where this project could lead to.

Taking the suggestions given to me, I will research the artist ‘Kiki Smith’.

Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith (born January 18, 1954) is a West German-born American artist.

She works with prints, tapestries, sculpture, artist books, and more. She has addressed themes such as sex, birth and regeneration.

Smith’s work have quite an antique aesthetic, almost Gothic Victorian style. As I am not working in 2d form I would not be able to essentially experiment with their work, although there is a possibility of including a victorian style to my work, rustic or aged. Although, I had the original assumption of making it look quite clean and modern, but I could attempt to visualise it to give the sense of aged items forming into something new and clean, aka, re-birth. It appears as though Kiki uses cotton or fabric sheets, either naturally aged or tea stained before painting her illustrations onto it, it may be worth attempting to age some of my failed images.

Leaving this group crit, I feel inspired and optimistic towards my project, which feels great to have again. I will also experiment with my work a little more.

After the group crit, I was placed into a group of Morality, as out of all themes offered my work seemed best suited to that category. My group is composed from 4 people, myself, Austin Mills, Vicky Yang, and Erin Julian.

It was interesting to look at our approaches to our topics relating to the theme as they were very contrasting. Vicky had made an interactive constructed children’s book, Austin has made a set of prints, and Erin has made a collection of collages, masks and short films.

For us to view our work with similar themes and have such obscure responses to it was inspiring, as I have left feeling excited to what our degree show will look like as there are so many approaches and forms, from gifs to sculptures, and masks to prints.

Give Me a Sign: Artist Research 2

As I have altered my concept, I have decided to conduct new artist research to uncover illustrators/ artists who have created work of 3D form, which could inform the outcome of my new project.

Richard Sweeney

Richard Sweeney was born in Huddersfield in England, 1984.

Sweeney found his natural talent for paper folding and sculpting during his study at Batley school of Art, which he then pursued by studying three dimensional design at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Richard Sweeney’s sculptures are influenced by nature. He takes the form of plants, weather and shapes of nature and manipulates them in order to gain an interesting and abstract form.

Image result for richard sweeney book

I am fortunate enough to own this book written by Sweeney, which contains almost a catalog of his work, along with what inspired each of his paper sculptures to form.

Sweeney’s work appears fascinating, as it has an intricate form with no colour palette, it allows the viewer to fully view and appreciate the manipulation the paper has taken, as well as the clear craftsmanship put into each individual piece.

I would like to play with paper crafts, as I find it fascinating that I could give a new life to my failed 2 dimensional work on paper, and I see this to be a perfect opportunity to experiment with. I would like to experiment with different ways to represent a butterfly through paper craft, as although I believe the butterfly folding I used to be effective, I believe testing a more metaphorical approach to a butterfly could result in a new discovery and more gripping/ interesting form to view in my final show.

Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy was born in 1956 in Chesire, England.

Goldsworthy currently lives and works in Scotland, where he creates land art/ sculptures.

The works that Goldsworthy creates are typically made from bright flowers, leaves, mud, and items found on site of his sculpture.

These 3 dimensional sculptures formed from items found within nature may be something I could experiment with in this project. This due to further pushing the metaphor of re-birth, how twigs that have broken from trees, leaves that have begun decaying, could re-form into something to be viewed and admired by public, where as they would normally be decaying outdoors, un-noticed.

I would most likely not create a large piece, however I could see if there’s a possibility to include another piece to the sequence, this is because although it would not illustrate another part to the story my concept is based upon, it would still relate to the metaphor. It would also give multiple dimensions to my work, seeing as not only would it be displayed on the wall, but also potentially on the floor, or on a podium.

Goldsworthy’s work offers an emotional perspective to viewers, this being to notice the beauty in nature, and that anything can be art. The twisting twigs and slanted stones offers a seemingly natural form to the pieces, although it is clearly done by a sculptor, it almost appears as though it could have raised from the ground, or have occurred through a blessing of nature.

The two forms of 3d art discussed above would be something I would like to explore within my work, although I may not use both for my final outcome, I would like to experiment with them, as they may express my story and metaphors effectively.

Give me a Sign: A Sign to Re-Birth.

After receiving feedback in my tutorial, I have concluded that making 3-Dimensional work is essentially the only thing that will work for me in my degree show.

This has lead me to design a way to not only display the story of signs and loss, but also re-birth. Not only is the fish reborn as a butterfly in the story about loss in my first post on my ‘Give me a Sign’ project, but also the re-birth of me. I am to be re-born. A professional illustrator who now understands how the art world works. An illustrator who is expressing herself, although twisting my approach to suit others.

In my 3D installment or object, I wish to express that I am reborn, through showing my initial link to grief, the story of the fish and butterfly, and also showing how although I am reborn and should be free, I am constrained within a wall, or a bubble, stopping me from being truly free, as myself.

Returning to my work-space after understanding that all of my 2-dimensional work was not good enough, or do not contain any potential, this gave me the idea to re-birth it in a form that may be more appreciated. I took some work which I had completed in a creative-play workshop, and gave it a new purpose.

I had explored the prominence of butterflies in after-life and re-birth so far in my project, and as I am essentially re-birthing and re-forming my work, it seemed fitting to create an origami styled butterfly out of my work, to take my 2D paper and transform it into a 3D artefact.

This idea almost immediately expanded; the design, concept, and form seemed to fall into place. I am unsure as to if it is down to the frustration I have with myself for how I have been naive enough to believe that I should ‘do what I love’, or whether it is because it has taken until the final knock of confidence, where there is nothing left, to finally say, screw it. Let’s have some fun. Express myself, but in a way that will gain striking, positive responses from others. It is time to accept I am but a small fish in a big pond. If I like jumping through hoops and follow that hobby, the likely hood is that there is someone who can jump through the hoop better than myself. There is someone who has done it before and there will be more people in the future who can do it better than I will ever be capable of. I have to take others opinions. Although I have forever been applying them to my own methods, I am now taking their opinions and creating entirely new methods that will focus primarily on their critique.

The issue I found whilst exploring my work without being able to use 2D illustration in any form, is that it is impossible. I need to create designs, I need motifs and deeper meaning applied to my outcome, which is to be developed from an idea in my mind into 3-Dimensional form. Unfortunately for myself, I need colourful and interesting imagery infront of me in any circumstance in able to keep focus, due to my ADHD causing me to be distracted easily. I have always made my notes and research colourful and illustrative, it is what I have found to work for me. Due to this I have illustrated the progression of my 3-Dimensional work idea, in order to be able to explain and illustrate my intentions in a clear format to my peers when explaining my aims.

The concept relates to the main story to influence this project. The fish and the Butterfly. However, I have decided to include an urchin in place of the fish, as I had a breakthrough during my sea urchin project in my 2nd year of study. I also believe it allows the story to be a little more metaphorical, as it is not a complete link to the influential narrative of the fish, however it stays within the nautical theme.

It will display a timeline of the story, how an urchin loses its spikes, appears fragile until there are no spikes left. The remaining egg-form then hatches into a butterfly, however, the butterfly does not escape the bubble, unlike the original story this piece is based off.

There will be 8 smaller pieces, displayed within a frame around the main large piece. The 8 smaller pieces will start with the urchin (I believe I will take the 3D print I made last year and alter its sizing to fit within the smaller frames), I will create black spikes to sit on the white urchin shell, this offering a strong contrast. I will make the butterfly out of fragile paper which has concepts and designs printed onto it from this project. This gives me the chance to work with multiple mediums, experiment with installation art, and still involve my 2D work in some form, which makes it still beneficial to this project. The bubble will be shown with some form of clear dome around the main piece (butterfly).

I would like to explore with different ways of creating the spikes and egg/ urchin shape before settling on my initial ideas.

I would also like to create a zine of my pieces with some information about the story it is based on, this I believe would resolve any possible confusion with the direction in which the frames are to be read. I also believe that as zines are easy and affordable to make, I would be able to make enough to even potentially give some out at the show.

As this project features a lot of nature’s influence, I would also like to do a collection of sketches or photographs of items which may relate to this project, such as a conker shell, as their appearance it quite similar to that of an urchin. Also it would be interesting to witness some butterflies and possibly photograph them, this could be featured in another zine illustrating how influential and mind opening nature can truly be.

https://vimeo.com/388740338