Moving the Museum: Idea Development

Thumbnail of my idea generation page from my sketchbook.

To begin developing concept ideas for my response to the given brief of this project; I began by noting any idea at all that came into mind into my sketchbook in the most simplistic form possible, to allow my creativity to take a topic and explore the metaphorical realm behind the concept.

After coming up with a vast amount of reasonable ideas for my investigation towards this project, I chose the idea that appeared to have a grand opportunity in terms of possible experimentation, research and method processing.

The one idea which stood out most to me was the topic ‘Behind the Painting’. This is because of the potential of research (artists research regarding background/ upbringings) as well as development (ways in which to illustrate the artists unheard/ hidden past).

As an Illustrator, I also know my way around the whole pun format of Illustration. Whilst going through the broad amount of opportunities for me to explore my creative mind within this idea, the phrase ‘World of Wall Craft’ appeared into the deliberation. At first, I thought this was quite an overly comical name for my piece/ project; although, I realised how quickly it became stuck in my head due to the close relation to the online game ‘Word of War Craft’.

Due to legal reasons I didn’t want to risk the possibility of any allegations of myself completely copying the game’s known title, therefore I decided to make it focus essentially on the superior purpose of my final piece, which was to look behind the paintings and into the backstory as to how they were created. Thus the name ‘Behind the World of Wall Craft’ came to be.

Moving the Museum: Gathering Inspiration

Observational marker illustration of the ceramic section within the museum.

All of the different values, emotions, structures and specimens held within the museum. From a large abstract painting by David Hockney, to a species of butterfly pinned to a wall. All of these encapsulating features take great importance in this project.

Whilst exploring the grand spectrum of art and history held within the museum’s collection, I was silently noting all pieces/ aspects within the museum which I believed were captivating.

I also carried out multiple observational sketches whilst in the museum of artefacts which grabbed my full attention, or of activities being carried out by other visitors which I found to be intriguing, such as unwrapping a large oddly shaped black canvas case which turned out to simply be a folding chair, and then proceeding to sit in front of a large scale painting and sketching the piece in the same style as displayed in front of them. What information were they aiming to obtain? Were there secrets hidden under the brush strokes?

Alongside creating my observational sketches I gathered photographs of animals within the museum’s collection using a stop motion app called “Animate it!”. I joined a fellow student (Aaron Jay Davies) so we could both share the device which held the app, and also gave each other help when needed.

Stop Frame animation I created of the insect specimens within the museum.
Stop frame animation created using portraits within the photography exhibition in the museum.

Carrying out these activities were insightful to potential ways we could approach creating our final outcomes, and was also a useful way to feel inspired to attempt being creative using different formats. (Non static imagery).

After returning to the Clore Discovery Centre within the museum, we proceeded to attempt another format of stop frame animation- using our own drawing skills.

I decided to focus on a horse’s skull, and experimented with a ‘decay’ story/ effect.

Attempt at drawn stop frame animation

My next aim is to home in on a single idea which I believe will be a greatly effective response to the museums collection.

In order for my response to be successful, I would like to:

  • Explore outside of my comfort zone of sketchbooks/ large final single illustration responses, and experiment with book form, or animation/ animated images.
  • Reference a large amount of my research within my final product/ artefact to ensure my outcome offers a form of response to the viewer.
  • Offer room for interpretation or discussion by the public within my outcome. Allow my skill and tools within illustration to do most of the talking, avoid using large amounts of text in the final outcome.
  • Make myself more confident within my practice. Challenge myself to explore different opportunities within the museum.

Moving The Museum: Introduction.

Photo taken on the upper floor in the Nation Museum of Cardiff.

In this project I will be launching an investigation into the National Museum of Cardiff’s art collection to later respond to the collection with an artefact of my own.

My artefact will take a grand amount of inspiration from what truly defines the museum, or from aspects which form memorable moments for the British Public, whether it be the architecture of the building, organisation, artefacts on display, the visitors themselves, or possible conspiracy theories hidden throughout the building.

Francis Bacon: Study for self-portrait. A painting obtained within the Museum’s collection.

I am optimistic about what my knowledge of Illustration could bring to this project, as I have always been an enthusiastic visitor of museums around Britain, and to be specific, paintings by as established artist named “Francis Bacon”. Bacon has been an inspiration to me since I first sought out his work at the beginning of my art studies. The hidden meanings behind his paintings strike controversy throughout the public who view his work, (such as a white cage surrounding his painted figures potentially representing his entrapment in his family refusing to accept Bacon as the homosexual man he was).

I look forward to the research aspect of this project and in particular discovering information about the backgrounds of artists who’s work is currently held within the museums collection. This is because the odd lines or colours paintings/ artefacts can hold entice me to read further into the artist’s background to investigate the deeper meanings behind their art work.

I am also excited to be experimental within this project, as I intend to challenge myself and my capabilities within not just illustration, but other art forms also.

First Person: The Graphic Novel- Working on Mixed Media.

Visiting and viewing a collection from the artists book selection available in my university allowed me to gain a lot of inspiration.

I quite enjoyed seeing the difference offered between traditional and digital media, offering the illusion of two different worlds. This is an important aspect to the story I wish to tell through my novel, as I would like to show first of all the evolution of art, as it is becoming a very digital world. Not only in the art sense, but in communications, running businesses and the danger zone of art theft as the software available makes art theft a lot easier now than it would have been in the past.

This made me decide to make the first/ past scene in traditional media and the current/ future scenes in digital media, to show that change in tradition.

The traditional pieces were done with fineliners, brush pens and alcohol based markers. I used these particular materials as the hatch marking with the fine liners gives a more aesthetically pleasing value in the sense of it being hand drawn and authentic, yet the markers have an almost digital sense to it, allowing a slight connection between the traditional and digital world, which results in a smoother transition.

The first 2 pages of the novel are going to include hand drawn panels, as shown below:

Although I will also be working in digital, I have drawn the foundations in brush pen in order to produce the digital imagery faster, as I find that I sketch faster in traditional media. Some sketches are also shown below:

I will be taking these illustrations into Adobe Photoshop and Paint tool SAI in order to add colour and texture.

First Person Graphic Novel: Brainstorming.

Creating a novel takes a lot of thought, as there are so many components which are ESSENTIAL to be able to call an outcome a ‘Graphic Novel’. This means coming up with a story line, a message, character design, colour palettes, textures and more. This post will attempt to narrow down my brainstorming for this novel into as simplistic of a description possible; mainly due to the story line.

As an Illustrator, it is my job to display messages, conflict emotions and provoke responses from an audience. Therefore, this novel’s aim is to involve my key roles.

I have decided on my main message I would like to convey through my story line. This is art theft/ how it effects creativity. I have already come to a potential way to illustrate this event in the novel (without any dialogue). I thought up a metaphor of the artists hands disintegrating- this depicting the true worker/ hands of the worker almost being non existent and not appreciated. The disintegration is to show the work gone into the piece not being recognised/ being taken advantage of.

I would also like to include both traditional and digital media in my comic. Traditional media to show the past tense, and digital to show present/ future tense (as digital is constantly growing in popularity due to the aesthetic and the fact you can almost forge a traditional aesthetic through use of textures etc).

Therefore the main theme/ aim of my novel is to depict how art theft is affecting the art community. I got this idea from my recent essay I wrote in university discussing true creativity in art. I realised that I had not discussed art theft/ forgery and wished to include that in this project.

It is also aiming to touch upon how only if you are truly recognised and considered a ‘well known’ or famous artist are you most safe from this.. yet there is still potential for work to be taken.

My general story line is as so:

  1. Main Character glimpse/ background introduction.
  2. Main Character present time view of world.
  3. Meeting secondary character.
  4. First sign of art theft from background character stealing from secondary
  5. Metaphor introduced
  6. Notice surrounding background characters effected by art theft.
  7. Run back to safe place.
  8. Begin to make novel (my novel) to try and make their world aware
  9. An Illustration is stolen/ Main character effected/ hand disintegrating
  10. End.

Brainstorming a potential main character in different styles.

I quite like the idea of a yellow checkered coat as it isn’t a common item of clothing yet it is toned down enough to fit into a world, allowing the character to stand out amongst background characters yet also managing to fit in to a regular world design. I would like my graphic novel to be in-between the styles of my regular and the ‘quick drawing’ style. This is because I find them the cleanest yet the most effective.

The bun hair style also allows me to show a large amount of the character’s face, which will allow me to show expressions to a greater clarity.

First Person Graphic Novel: Research into Reference.

Fortunately, I have always been quite the secret fan of novels and comics, so hide a small collection where no one can see them. The main reason I have collected comics is simply for the art (and of course the dramatic story lines). This is because I find novels to be one of the best sources of figure/ pose referencing due to the amount of emotions and activities taking place in a single story line.

Marvel has most definitely been one of the pinnacle reasons I became so interested with art, so I intended for this project to almost inform myself of how much marvel and graphic novels have influenced my work.

One thing that definitely struck me when re-visiting these comics is how no one person has worked on these comics. This concerns me due to the clear amount of work that will have to go into this novel. I am unsure what standard it will be up to in order to complete it in time. To explain, in the ‘MS. MARVEL’ comic shown on the far right of the above image, there were 8 people who worked on the final outcome.

MARC SUMERAK: Writer

ADMIRA WIJAYA: Penciler

SCOTT HANNA: Inker

RACHELLE ROSENBERG: Colourist

VC’S JOE SABINO: Letterer

STEPHEN SAJDAK: Project Manager

MARK BASSO: Assistant Editor

BILL ROSEMANN: Editor

Above are all the individuals who worked on that single comic. Although would clearly cause some apprehension about approaching the topic, I am also looking forward to it. As it shows I will be dipping in to many different techniques of working within Illustration.

Ms Marvel is my main reference point for this project. This is because I find the imagery to be highly effective and the transition from one image to another to be near flawless, due to the utilisation of each page in the comic:

Blue toned Page from MS. MARVEL comic.

The overlapping borders gives dimension to the page, allowing the user to feel as though they are peering into a place they shouldn’t be… ‘looking beyond the page’ is the common saying. The imagery is also very stylised. Not many comics look like this as the line art is usually more bold, and there is less text. MS. MARVEL comic managed to have an original style, although when it comes to me making my comic, I’d quite like to experiment with a no dialogue comic. To allow the imagery to do all the talking. As the top illustration in the novel page above displayed such strong emotion, I would like each panel to be equally as gripping.

I would also like a consistent colour theme to avoid over-complicating the imagery and therefore loosing the reader’s attention as each page of the MS MARVEL comic has followed a colour scheme. Although the colours may change,the page is consistently following a particular tone:

Pink toned Page from MS. MARVEL Comic.

I would like to try and use this method in my comic to ensure that it contains a style and flow to match that of other novels and therefore fits within it’s community/ format.

Whilst reading through the novel I also found many sound effects. Some written in ways that you would not expect. I would also like to use this in my novel as I enjoyed how it engaged the reader into working out the pronunciation and playing it alongside the image to get a true sense of place and realism.

The typography used in the comic also seems to be quite thematic due to the consistent fonts in dialogue and then different yet still consistent texts used in the sound effects. I will also be taking this tool into my own novel creation.

Artists Books Collection

In order to gain inspiration for this project, our project leader (Chris Glynn) managed to book us in to view the University’s artists books collection.

During this visit I found so many interesting methods and layering of papers and medias that I had not seen before.

One book in particular that stood out to me amongst the collection was the book called ‘Sinbiba’.

The reason this book stood out to me was the layering of papers, almost creating an ‘onion skin’ effect. I found it captivating not only due to the aesthetic effect the paper offered, but also the feeling of the paper changing throughout the book. The changing of papers made me curious as to what would be on the next page, and the page after that and so on.

Due to the intriguing effect the layering of paper gives, I would like to experiment with this method within my own novel.

First Person: The Graphic Novel – Intro.

How I ended up in First Person:

The first field project of year two I have selected is First Person: The Graphic Novel. Initially I was placed on a field group entitled “Space is the Animated Place”, although I found that the group that I was placed into were not reliable and knew that the work I would have produced within the group would not be up to standard.

From the get go in Space is the Animated Place, the animator and graphic designer within my group (bare in mind that this field option particularly homes in on the animation art form) stated that they thought I should curate all of the work as I am an Illustrator, thus have the largest understanding of all the art forms.

This rung alarm bells as I was carrying the group for the first day. I was concerned about the stress and workload I would have to carry upon myself, thus made the decision to switch field groups as I was not granted the option to join a different group within Space is the Animated Place.

I found First Person to be intriguing once I read the brief, as I have always enjoyed creating short comic strips/ anime stories, so was curious to see what I could create in a Graphic Novel with my new understanding of my practice within illustration from learnt tools from year 1.

My First Lesson:

To begin the venture into the unknown world of what it takes to create a successful graphic novel, we started by unpacking the novel collection “The Smartest Kid on Earth” by Chris Ware. This novel in particular has been described as the best graphic novel ever written so is a great reference point for the duration of this project.

Illustrative Photo Cards laid on table for Inspiration.

We also carried out some creative writing exercises which allowed us to place ourselves in a scene which we could use in a graphic novel. I found this vital to my creative input of the idea generation for my novel as I feel in touch with the story. This helps set the scene in terms of emotion and setting as it improves my description skills.

Finally, I went to the library to rummage through the graphic novel aisle and take out three different novels to use as inspiration and research whilst carrying out this project. The three books I chose were: ‘The Smartest Kid on Earth’, ‘Quimby the Mouse’ and ‘Wonder Woman: The Complete History’. I chose these particular books as they are not novels as such, but discuss the most effective pages and stories occurring in each of the novels, which I believe to be highly useful as I am still trying to decide on a story line for my novel.

I feel a lot more confident with this field group than my initial choice of Space is the Animated Place. I look forward to what this project has to offer next.