Give Me a Sign: Reflection

This project has brought self discovery, it has lead me to be determined, it has been long, it has been difficult, but it has been without a doubt one of the best/ most enjoyable projects I have completed in my life.

I have been able to adapt to changes, I have fought with my own difficulties (depression, anxiety and ADHD) in a global pandemic, and although I needed a little extra help from mitigating circumstances this time around, I am proud of where I am today.

Upon reflection of the beginning of this project, I am unsure as to which category my project now fits under. Although I begun working in the thematic group, this project I believe can fit in both responsive and thematic. I researched into the theme of re-birth through this project, I have gathered information on spiritual signs shown from those in the after-life, I have essentially gotten in-touch with my core beliefs and explored my personal ways of understanding situations and adapting to change. I also responded to a life event being the loss of my family dog as I experienced multiple ‘signs’ of re-birth and communication from a possible ‘life beyond life’. I was also inspired by a story which I recalled my mother reading to me when I was 12 years old after losing my best-friend to an incurable syndrome. The story I cannot locate again, although it was very similar to ‘The Secret of the Dragonfly’. This story taught me about loss, but also re-assured me that the lost loved one will still be looking down and wanting to communicate in some form.

The loss of my dog although at first caused grief, it ended up re-igniting the emotion/ relief I felt when the story was read to me, and I wanted to create art work that would offer the same feeling to an audience member if they were possibly experiencing a loss of their own by viewing an exhibition of my work where they would be re-assured, but also feel a sense of escapism, a place of beauty, where a negative/ bad experience (failed/ old 2D work) is re-birthed/formed into something beautiful and intriguing (3D paper butterfly, slice collages, urchins) as the work can be interpreted in alternative ways, which I wanted from my outcome as it can be interpreted to connect with multiple people. I believe it could be interpreted to recycling, reserving the planet, nature, fragility, bullying (fragility being reborn into strength), mental health (although times may be bad now it can be beautiful again), and more. I believe the artist statement I created for the work helps clarify what my personal intentions were and how I was inspired, however I believe leaving the work open will be able to connect with a larger audience.

Overall I am extremely pleased with how this project turned out, as although there was a period of time where my motivation was lacking due to the beginning of the COVID-19 lock down throwing my routine off and causing my ADHD to take over, I was able to create a substantial amount of work which I am finally satisfied with. I was able to offer suggestions for re-gaining motivation to fellow people on my course through a previous blog post, and had fellow students message me asking for advice after reading my post, which felt quite sentimental. Although I fell down, I am proud to say that I bounced back up more ready and more excited about my project than ever.

If I were to change anything about my project, I would have liked to have found a space or had a space nearby to perhaps set up a mock-exhibition, although as I lived in a shared student house there was insufficient space to do so. I believe the way I reacted to the pandemic cannot be changed, and therefore do not regret the fact that I initially lost motivation, as the brightest and most hardworking people need to take a break some times, I suppose I regret not realising this sooner as I initially felt guilty about my lack of productivity.

I believe this project has allowed me to find my visual language, being experimental. I like to work within 3D disciplines but also like to include photography and ‘typical’ 2-Dimensional drawings/ illustrations. Although I have been able to explore and develop my 3D work with this project, which I would like to continue to do as the way that paper can be manipulated from 2D into 3D fascinates me.

I also explored some professional practice opportunities within the exposure module which has been extremely beneficial for myself as I was able to experience first hand what it could be like to work within my desired profession. It also allowed me to focus on my communication skills and confidence in public which is a something I still want to work on, although the experience of doing live demonstrations in the Pen&Paper shop in Cardiff really helped me gain confidence in my profession and engage in conversations with an audience intrigued by my work.

I’d like to say that this is not going to be the final blog post I make. I intend to keep this blog going in order to keep a personal diary on where I have started from and where I am now. I decided to re-visit a 1st year illustration which we did at the beginning of the year, where we were asked to draw our bedroom from memory, so I decided to draw my room now and add my current project into it to feel a ‘full circle’.

Thank you to everyone who has read my posts throughout the three years that I have studied at Cardiff Metropolitan University, thank you to those who have followed me, thank you to my friends and family for supporting me, and thank you to my lecturers for encouraging me to be the best that I can. I cannot wait to hopefully post on this blog as a BA(Hons) Illustration graduate. Thank you all.

Room Observation

Give Me a Sign: Final Collection of Work

This project by far has been one of the most personal and experimental times for me. I have been able to focus on and improve my 3D work, such as my understanding of the software SketchUp, I have been able to explore paper folding techniques in more detail and found a method which I enjoy and am able to adapt to suit different forms, and have been able to explore collage techniques, photography skills, visual language techniques, video making skills, and explore the boundaries of illustration itself.

I began with creating 2-D, pen on paper, marks on a surface work and then explored a different dimension, one that made my message and purpose of an artist strike more than it has before.

I have conducted in depth artist research in order to gain multiple locations of inspiration such as by looking into Richard Sweeney, Andy Goldsworthy, Ana Ramirez Gonzalez, Gracia Lam, Maria Andrews and Kiki Smith. I believe that the range of sources of inspiration helped me find my method of creation in this project as I was able to see so many styles of illustration in a binder near by where I kept all of the artist research along with various images of their work.

I have created multiple pieces and explored many disciplines in order for myself to improve and understand my visual language with confidence, and fortunately (better late than never) I believe I have confidence in the outcome(s) of this project.

Although I would have liked to exhibit all of my work in a show setting, I decided to create a catalogue/ book of my final outcomes in order to put all of the pieces that I created for a show in to one place. This is so if an exhibition opportunity were to arise, I would be able to see what I could place/ fit in the given space. Ideally, I would like the 2D images in print mounted to walls, the 3D Paper sculptures hanging from the ceiling, and the Urchins on a form of podium central to the space. But what I am very pleased about is the adaptability of my work for a show space due to the quantity and variety of work I have curated through my response.

I will include a selection of final images below, although will not give all of the final outcomes away as I would like that to be inclusive between myself and my lecturers, so that if an exhibition opportunity were to arise it would be a surprise to all. I will also add 3 bonus images which I made whilst curating the final collection of work which were not included in the final cut.

Selection of final outcomes

3 Bonus Illustrations

These 3 images I found didn’t quite fit in with the general aesthetic of the majority of the successful outcomes due to the collage/photo edit technique so as a result I decided to cut them from the final catalogue, although it is possible that they fit together in a form of 2D Illustration/Digital edit hybrid series which may be something I could explore later on.

I also created a video/ animatic of my final outcomes to explore my video editing techniques. I placed a musical piece that I created myself over the animatic to create a sense of question/ deep thought.

I decided not to include the urchins and slice collages in the video as it seemed almost out of place, as the butterfly paper sculptures reoccurred throughout the photo edits and individual images it gave more of a sense of metamorphosis/ coherency, which I tried to achieve by using an additive dissolve transition which gave almost a time-lapse sense to the pieces. I did this in order to reference the message/ inspiration behind this work, being re-birth/ loss.

Give Me a Sign: Development of Finals

As the Degree Show and University are in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, I have had to change the method of hand in for my work. This also means I am unable to set up my final pieces in the way that I had wished to present them. In order to adapt to this situation, I have re-visited my photography days, although with lower quality devices, such as using my iPhone and scanner (as my DSLR camera has somehow broken, and I am unable to find what the problem is).

During the times I ventured outside of my home, whether it be to get my prescriptions, or to go food shopping, I made sure to look for any sorts of scenery that could fit the metaphor of re-birth, or to emphasise the beauty of the resurrected broken, this being the paper sculptures.

So far, I find that the paper sculptures located in de-saturated locations seems to be most effective, as although they look out of place, they also look as though they offer some sort of break from reality, or something ethereal.

I have finished creating the 3 main urchins also, to show the decay and cycle of re-birth.

I am hoping to create a series of these edited images of my sculptures in real locations, in order to place them in a setting as I would have been able to place them in a setting if the degree show was to go ahead. I also believe as my sculptures have a somewhat commercial value, this being that they can be altered to fit alternative purposes, as I experimented with during my professional practice live penguin book project application. I have made a collection of 10 paper sculptures, 3 urchins, over 150 spikes, and am curating a collection of collages of my work in outdoor places.

From this point onward I am aiming to create more collages, and if needs be, 2-5 more paper sculptures. As I do not want to overload my final collages with too many forms, as it risks distracting the viewers from the metaphor and beauty of simplicity, re-birth and somewhat gaining a spiritual aura from the concept of re-birth, through the butterfly-like forms. I am also going to experiment with lowering the saturation of the scenery/ backdrops which I merge my sculptures onto, as I believe the limited colour palettes assists in the sculptures gaining more attention.

I experimented with placing the sculptures in places currently available to myself, such as in my bedroom and in the garden, which resulted as so:

I decided that the camera quality was not strong enough to use these as final images, as I used a Panasonic DSLR which was a little dated. Also I didn’t find the outcomes with editing to be as striking as when using the photoshop overlay technique. It was however interesting to experiment with my sculptures being within a homely/ real setting.

COVID-19: Creation of the first Urchin

Throughout the past few weeks, there is no doubt that my speed of working has slowed down. Being an individual diagnosed with ADHD in this time where everything is consistently changing has left my focus to be disturbed. I cannot seem to stay motivated for long periods of time, and need to have breaks more often than I can afford.

Fortunately, I have managed to complete one sculpture from the series of urchin paper sculptures which I had planned to make for a while, although I had to make 148 individual paper spikes, which were made from old/discarded work.

I decided to photograph some of the pieces I used to make the spikes along the way; although I look at them in their previous 2D paper form and see aged or failed work, I now can look at this 3d piece which has said failed work imported to a successful artefact.

These are the pieces which I cut into 148 x 2cm width strips and formed into spikes.

Creating these spikes took me about 5 days of constant searching (for old work), measuring, cutting, twisting, and sticking. It then took me a further 2 days to glue all of the spikes into place.

In order to create the spikes, I tried to choose illustrations which contained large areas of colour, lines and contrast. I looked for this so that once the spike is to be rolled, the majority would not be white, as I wanted each spike to be unique. I also decided on the length by making it about 1.5 cm larger than the initial copper wire inserts that I was going to use to create a modern aesthetic, although I am more pleased with the outcome of using paper-crafted spikes as opposed to the wire. This is because the piece appears more hand-crafted and personal to myself, as the creator.

I believe in regular circumstances, although this was quite a demanding task which involved implementing multiple techniques, I would have done this artefact in half the amount of time that it took me. Unfortunately, as my focus and concentration is moving and changing, my progress is slowing down.

Although I have strong hope that I can complete this work in time, I am concerned about having enough time to tweak my previous encounter module/project.

I will continue to create the 2 urchins with spikes, as well as my clay urchin body/egg breaking sequence and judge when I have finished those if I have time to create my final piece for this project, as well as re-visiting my puppet project in order to insert my new learned techniques into my previous work.

Although I said this in my last blog, I’d like to reiterate that in this uncertain time, it is to accept what you are and what you are not capable of. All you can do is try your best in this new pandemic. We are all adapting and you are bound to need time to yourself in order to adjust to the new circumstances. Although it is important to try and keep motivated, all should know that it is equally as important to rest and do nothing. It is okay to take time to rest. Isaac Newton didn’t search for an apple to fall on him, it came through rest and waiting. Balance is the key in these times.

Do work because you enjoy it, not just because you have to do it. Also, take time to do nothing. Recuperate, recover and re-engage your senses to the world around you and where you are at this current place in time. If you’re stuck, talk; whether it be through email, messenger or phone call. Finding someone to bounce your ideas back to you is useful. Hopefully through taking my own advice and talking to those around me, I can find myself on track again. I believe it is beginning to work, as I managed to work collectively with my house mates yesterday, which sped up my working speed and allowed me to finish my sculpture.

Trying to Find Creative Motivation

Whilst going through this new unprecedented situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have had quite a knock to my motivation and creative inspiration with so much negativity going on at this current point in time. Although, I know I need to be making and creating in some sense in order to try and build up my motivation again.

In order to try to keep creating during my lack of motivation, I gave myself the simple task of creating photo collages through photoshop in order to create scenes with my work in as I have some photos of the sculptures that I have made this far. Editing is something I enjoy doing and find relaxing; although it may not be of great importance to my project it’s important to allow yourself some creative escapism in these times.

I took some old photographs of scenes I had taken, one of a street in London and another of a park in Cardiff.

I was quite pleased with these pieces, although, I am afraid these may not have any significance to the development of my project. Although this is a way for me to practice/ get back in touch with my editing techniques on photoshop, the illustrations I have created may not be of much importance to the goal and objectives of my project. Although, I have learnt through my time studying illustration that any work is good work. Even if it is a failed piece, which my project is essentially trying to portray through the butterfly metaphor, and turning failed 2D work into beautiful 3D sculptures.

Also, if creating work relating to a current project in any sense drains yourself any further, then it is important to allow yourself to create whatever you wish. Just to keep your pencil in your hand, your brush on the paper, and your brain engaged.

I am hoping to find more motivation now that I am clear of the new deliverable’s expected of me, and after having a year meeting with my fellow students also going through the same stresses as myself.

A note to self, and a note to you, reader, is to allow yourself some healing time. Know that it is okay to not always be okay, and that there is always an end to your troubles. You just have to be patient for it to come. It’s not easy and it’s not fun to feel stuck or lost, but know that the best and most productive people in the world need to take breaks sometimes. Everyone needs a moment to gather their thoughts.

I hope my art helps people see beauty from the broken, and how emptiness/ nothingness can become something. A place, a shadow, a new form. I am uploading my work that I do alongside creating my final pieces to social media, in hopes of potentially raising people’s spirits in these uncertain times.

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.

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.

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.