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.

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.

Professional Practice: Artist Research

It only makes sense now that I am within my final year of studying at Cardiff met to consider possible career paths I can go into upon completing my degree.

Naturally, like most artists I have considered finding a way to work within freelance as it seems like a dream to be your own boss. What has turned me away from being definite about going into freelance is the uncertainty of your income. As working for yourself would mean having to put yourself out there, finding work for yourself, creating connections and being super social, which I don’t believe is my strong point. I enjoy having discussions with friends, but I always have a guilty feeling when emailing people who I may not have met before to sell myself, as I believe I’m taking up the time of one’s day. This thought I will need to change if I want to make my way in freelance.

Although, an artist who has made a name for herself without having to work by contributing towards group projects, and being able to make money from doing their own original paintings, creating videos on social media, selling prints, and releasing her own line of watercolour paint brush sets is an artist named Polina Bright.

"Overwhelming Power" original

I came across Polina Bright’s work on Instagram. Her work is typically completed with a minimal colour palette, allowing her work to fit in most rooms; whether it be framed in one’s hallway or in their living room, it will be able to fit in to the surroundings.

I would describe Bright as having found her ‘niche’, as she creates work that have quite clear similarities being that she has rarely if ever drawn a male figure, and doesn’t typically use more than 4 colours within her paintings.

During a live stream, Polina Bright told the viewers that she managed to make her name purely through the use of social media. She found that she quickly gained a following on instagram and pinterest. After finding a following Bright opened a ‘patreon’ account, which allows an audience to pay for a subscription to the artist, in which you are able to watch exclusive videos made just for patreon by the artist which could be painting tutorials, sketchbook flip throughs, or general speed paints. Subscribers can also win postcards from the artist, allowing a special connection between the artist and the viewers.

Polina Bright’s originals can sell from anywhere from £1,000 to £6,000.

Bright also makes a good income from prints being ordered from her online shop https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/PolinaBrightArt , where most of her prints are prices at around the £40.00 range.

Bright has also recently released her own brush range, which once launching was quick to sell out. A set of 4 brushes converts to roughly £82.00.

Due to all her methods of income, being prints, originals, t-shirts, postcards, commissions, patreon and paid advertisements on instagram, Polina Bright makes a good and steady income from her work within freelance.

This artist shows that it truly is possible to be your own boss, although it takes a lot of self discipline. As Polina has stated that she never has experienced an ‘art block’ and is able to constantly create, which is quite rare to come across.

Bright also has her own schedule on which days to upload what to which social media site. This amount of self discipline makes it work for her.

I find this information useful, although I am yet to decide whether or not I would definitely like to be my own boss, as I would ideally like to have a guarantee to a stable income.