Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Critical Thinking II - BCOP100

This week we reviewed the idea of critical thinking. We did this as it is such a complex, yet useful tool, which will continue to help us beyond our degree.

Critical thinking can be applied to many different situations, and can aid you to make well-balanced decisions, considering bias and weighting. For example, when looking into the different newspapers available in the UK, it is easy to see how many of them have biased political views. However, if you approach each story/news article critically, you will recognise this bias, and will take a viewpoint/opinion away from it, unaffected by the bias.

Critical thinking can also help you to construct a well formulated and persuasive argument. A good structure is as follows:
- Formulate your question
- Gather your information
- Apply the information
- Consider the implications
- Explore other points of view (evaluate your choices)

Then we looked at comedians and how they utilise this structure to their performances. Very often their comedy is focused on a particular topic e.g global warming (George Carlin) [1]. They will convey their argument in the most convincing way (with comedy), in order to project influence over the audience.

[1] YouTube (2007). [online]. George Carlin - Saving the Planet. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7W33HRc1A6c [Accessed on 28th February 2017]

Monday, 27 February 2017

My Skills & Development - BAIL104

The following are 20 specific skills that I will need in the future in order to succeed in Illustration:

1- Confidence
2- A strong personal illustrative style
3- Reply quickly to emails/enquiries
4- Motivation
5- Confidence talking in front of large groups of people/giving presentations
6- Ability to work in a team, as well as independently
7- An understanding of printing, i.e when sending work off
8- Other creative skills e.g ceramics
9- Professional communication, e.g emails, telephone calls, letters
10- Able to work quickly and efficiently to deadlines
11- Able to draw autonomy
12- Able to draw animals without heavy reliance on photos
13- Understanding of effective colour use e.g colour theory
14- Eye for composition
15- Ability to freehand typography in different styles
16- Can use watercolour properly
17- Professional branding of my business e.g business cards, website...
18- Ability to create accurate observational drawings
19- Confidence using Photoshop and a digital tablet
20- Organised

Skills I have now: 4, 6, 10, 13, 14, 18, 20
Skills that I need to develop: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 19 (A lot of these I know the basics, but would like to develop more).

Skills Development:
- A strong personal illustrative style - this will develop overtime as I get experience using different processes, materials and techniques.
- Other creative styles e.g ceramics - I could develop this through my interdisciplinary studies, as well as getting an induction/take part in a class in my spare time.
- Able to draw autonomy - practise in life drawing sessions, and experience observing people in public.
- An understanding of printing - research, experience on my degree, and in workshops.
- Confidence using Photoshop and a digital tablet - experience during digital sessions, practise using the tools.

My Top Trump Card - BAIL104

I created a Top Trump card on my future self:
I rated myself on each category as if I was a successful illustrator, but with still some room for improvement. 

Aspirational Goals - BAIL104

When thinking about what I would like to do in the future, I am unsure. I know that I would like to stay in South Devon, surrounded by my family & friends, and to live in the countryside. I also know that in terms of a career I would like to do something creative, but when thinking about what particular sector of illustration that I would like to specialise in I am undecided.

I know that I have a natural interest in children's books illustrations, book covers, editorial & perhaps gift ware, but as I don't have a clear illustrative style, I'm unsure to what area would suit me best, but I'm sure that this decision will come naturally as I develop my skills over my degree. On the other hand, I know that I am less likely to work on comics or concept art, as I have found that I don't have a natural interest in these areas.

I am very much interested in creating detailed, cute, and realistic illustrations with loads of texture. I also have a love for nature, so perhaps I will end up focusing on animals and plants in the future? I also love combining materials, including collage, watercolour, ink and pencil, and then finalising my illustrations digitally on Photoshop. These likes/dislikes are likely to change as I learn more about myself as an illustrator on my degree, so although I don't know exactly what I want to do in the future, I have a idea on what areas I am likely to work towards.

I would also like to build up my following on social media, so that I could run my own online shop alongside my commissions. In addition to illustration, I would like to have a go at glass and ceramics, as its always been something that I've wanted to have a go at - and it could possibly be something that could enrich my products on my online shop.

SWOT Analysis on Illustration Roles - BAIL104

I decided to redesign the original SWOT table that we were given, as I discovered that my 'strengths' and 'weaknesses' were the same for when being applied to the 3 different roles.

Illustrator Role Comparison - BAIL104

Book Cover vs Editorial Illustration

Book cover and editorial illustrations are both designed to represent or to convey a story. Book covers become the 'icon' of the story, where people will instantly recognise the novel due to the illustration, whereas editorial illustrations are more low-key, and normally feature inside the book in 1 or 2 spot/full page illustrations. However it can be argued that editorial illustrations can be featured on the front cover of a magazine, and in this case the two fields of illustration serve the same purpose: to attract, engage and to be visually stimulating for the reader. Likewise, book cover illustrations can be featured inside the book, as very often the cover is a certain scene from the story, and in this case the illustrator will design both the cover & the inside illustrations.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is the time frame in which the illustration stays relevant. For example, book cover illustrations can stay the same for years, and they become instantly associated with the story, and so may be used in advertising and merchandise. However, the large majority of editorial illustrations have a very quick turn over, where new illustrations are created for each monthly, or even weekly magazine/newspaper. This means that they serve the purpose to represent a certain article/story, but then this doesn't get saved by people or kept in a bookshelf like novels do - they don't become iconic or recognisable.

Another big difference between the two is how editorial illustrators can make a living from just working within the singular field of illustration, however book cover illustrators normally undertake multiple illustrative roles including: giftware, stationary, typography, children's books, and even some editorial too. This is not to say that if you become an editorial illustrator you will only focus on that area, because there are many who also involve themselves in other fields, however it is more common for book cover illustrator to do this. This is because the demand for book cover illustrations is much smaller than it is for editorial illustrations. Each article, in each magazine/newspaper, for each month/week, may require an illustration or even multiple illustrations to accompany the writing. Therefore an editorial illustrator could easily earn a living from just working in this sector, due to the high demand for work. On the other hand, although it is possible to earn thousands for illustrating a book cover, the demand is much lower, and so it is common for these illustrators to expand their expertise across more illustrative fields in order to attract more commissions, and so more money.

Ultimately the skills that are required for both roles are similar. You must be able to work quickly, have an eye for composition (whether it be on a front cover, or surrounded by text), be able to represent and convey the message/themes of the piece of writing, take criticism and advice, work individually and well as a team, knowledge about printing, and colour theory. Also the target audiences for both sectors are similar, as it all depends on the themes of the magazine/book, however editorial illustrations won't appeal to children under the age of 10 as they are unlikely to come across these types of illustrations.

(Above) are some examples of a book cover and editorial illustration. When designing a book cover, you have a lot more creative freedom as you can play around with both image and text. On the other hand, editorial illustrations normally have to fit into a template that has already been predetermined by the client, and so you have to fit your illustration around this layout.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Illustration Job Role - BAIL104

Although I researched concept art in the group task, I've chosen to research a different area of illustration for this task, so that I can learn more about an area that I'm more interested in.

Although I don't know what exact field of illustration that I would like to specialise in the future, I am however interested in the following:
- Children's book illustration
- Editorial
- Book cover illustration
- Gift ware
For this task I will research into book cover illustration, as it is the one which I know least about.

The cover of the book is the first thing that you see, so the image has to be visually striking in order to catch people's attention. Also, as we process pictures faster than words, the illustration has to give some sort of visual indication to the theme of the book, whether it depicts some of the characters or the main themes of the story. The illustration on the book cover also has to work well with the text and title, and so typically such illustrations are normally designed and composed with careful consideration and thought in order for it to be successful. The illustration also helps to promote and give an identity to the book, which attracts sales attention.

The audience of each illustration corresponds to the demographic of the novel/story. Therefore the style of the illustration is normally designed around what would be attractive to the reader of the book, whether it be for children or adults.

The front cover illustration would quickly become associated with the book, and so could also be printed for advertisement & merchandise. It could also be printed in/on magazines, billboards, social media, and posters (i.e in book stores).

Examples of Work

Above are some illustrated book covers that I found particularly interesting. I think that what makes them successful is the way that the images interact with the text, and how they give a really good insight to the theme, mood and subject of the story. 

Tobias Hall

Tobias Hall has created a series of book covers for Tove Jansson, however this is not his primary field of illustration. He typically specialises in typography:

Anna Bond creates these beautiful colourful book covers, but this again is only a small fraction of the spectrum of work that she does. She creates all sorts of illustrated products, ranging from stationary, gifts and fashion textiles:

Therefore, from my research it is evident that book cover illustration is a field that is done in addition to other areas of illustration. They are done alongside the illustrations inside the book (if there are any), or as a commission for an illustrator who normally undertakes multiple roles.

The Illustrator
Normally book cover illustrations are created by one individual, however the design process involving suggestions and alterations will be done with the company of art directors, writers, and/or agents. This field of illustration can be undertaken as a freelance or in-house illustrator, and the artist normally specialises in other areas of illustration other than book covers in order to qualify for more commissions.

In order to design book covers, you need to understand the relationship between image and text, as well as to be able to work to a deadline. You would also need to be skilled in creating illustrations, whether that be digital or hand drawn, and also to have an eye for composition & topography. A successful book cover will need to reflect the themes and mood of the story, so the artist would have to research & understand the novel fully in order to create an effective depiction of the book and its characters.

"A great cover will stand out across the room and still look relevant in 20 years" - Anna Bond [1]

Book cover illustrations can be found in most illustration websites, magazines & books, such as the AOI.

[1] http://www.digitalartsonline.co.uk/features/graphic-design/21-book-design-illustration-tips/#1

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Illustration Job Fair - BAIL104

This is my group's display, showcasing everything about 'Concept Art'

We decided to split it into 4 sections: the basics, and then 3 more specialised sub-topics of animation, games & film. 

My contribution to this task was the middle poster & the light bulbs, which covered the function of concept art. I felt like it was a good role for me to undertake as I didn't know much about the topic until carrying out this task - and so by researching the basics enabled me to get a good all-round understanding of this specialised area of illustration.

All of my findings are below:
What is Concept Art?
- Concept art is a form of illustration used to convey an idea for use in films, video games, animation, comic books & other media, before it's put into the final product.
- Artists try several designs (concepts) to achieve the desired result for the work.
- Designs are filtered and refined in stages to narrow down the options.
- Concept art also shows a project's progress to directors, clients and investors.
- Concept art may be done individually, or as part of a creative team working on different elements.
- A lot of concept art has tight deadlines where a highly polished piece is needed in a short amount of time.
- Concept art usually develops from quickly hand-rendered sketched, into final digital illustrations (although the final result can also be created using more traditional mediums e.g paint and markers).
- Concept art can be split into several subtopics: animated/live action films, video games, story boarding, character design, comic books, posters, environment/set design...

Facts, Skills, Materials & Audience
- More and more concept artists move to freelance due to the security of having multiple clients.
- The average salary is £45-55,000 a year.
- Graphic tablets are commonly used to create concept art, although some initial sketches are done by hand.
- Key words that best explain concept art: inform, explain, represent, test, trail, foundation, exploratory, preliminary. 
- You must be able to: draw, think of ideas quickly, work to strict deadlines, work digitally, & be able to render ideas quickly.
- Concept artists must know the foundations of: autonomy, design, perspective, colour theory, & lighting. 
- Concept art is typically created for the people working behind-the-scenes, rather than what is presented to the public.
- Concept art can be found in/on: portfolios, magazines, social media, YouTube, behind-the-scenes releases (teasers).
- Each category of concept art has a different target audience/demographic.

Illustration Roles - BAIL104

As a class we brainstormed all of the different illustrative roles and professions that we could think of:
Authorial, technical illustration, fine art, editorial, comics, greeting cards/giftware, drawing (rotoscoping), graphic novels, web design, product design, fashion, concept art (games, film, storyboarding...), medical, advertising (posters), reportage (court illustrations), printmaking, pattern making, food, architecture, tattoos, teaching, design, children's picture books, typography, book illustrations, zines, maps, character design, animation (background, characters...), set design, writing...

Some more that I have since thought of: textiles, cartography (cartouche), biological illustration, botanical illustration, merchandise (for music etc), cover illustration (books, magazines, vinyls, albums), vignettes, paper art (stencils, paper cuts), infographic, collage.

And all of the above can be done whether you are a freelance or an in house illustrator. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Experience Reflection - Repeat Pattern - BAIS300

What was the experience/workshop/session?
Our workshop was focused around learning how to create your own repeat pattern using Photoshop. This involved creating both a simple and complex pattern, which we would then impose onto different products to see how the designs could be applied to different products.

I created the individual images for my pattern using watercolour, which I then scanned in and edited. I then resized and arranged them following the instructions, in order to create my repeat patterns.

How do you feel about the process?
The process involves careful thought and planning, which I really enjoyed. The logic involved is essential to creating a functioning and successful pattern, which was satisfying when you got to see the final result applied to different products and items. Overall I think that the process enabled you to think differently about your work, as you had to be mindful of different criteria which wouldn't be necessary in other processes, e.g thinking about the organisation of colours and how the shapes interlink together to form a repeat block.

How will you apply this in the future?
Repeat patterns really allow you to create a huge range of items, like stationary, books and wrapping paper, but the process could also be used in other designs, e.g in a scene you might need a pattern for some curtains or wallpaper in a children's book.

The process and technique is very versatile, and so can be used and adapted to help me in all sorts of ways in the future.

What would you like to build on?
I would like to practice making my patterns more successful in a way so you can't see the repeat so obviously. Very often in pattern designs you can see the repeat square, and I think that it distracts the attention away from viewing the design as a whole. This is something I wish to avoid and take note of in the future.

How could you relate to Gods & Monsters?
As I have mentioned before, you can apply the repeat pattern design to a range of different products, and so the possibilities are endless. I made this pattern based around the monsters habitat: the woods, but I could expand this and relate it more closely to the theme, by using my monster design within the pattern itself - then creating something from the pattern.

My simple repeat pattern

My complex pattern square

My complex repeat pattern

My complex repeat pattern applied to a range of different products

My repeat pattern printed onto fabric

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Everyday Spaces - Reading the Quotidian - BCOP100

This lecture highlighted the fact that when we are in any environment, our brains are incapable of taking in all of the information around us. This means that everyday we are missing small details and hidden treasures that make up the world around us - "The world's too full of complicated things for your brain to deal with them consciously" ([1] Wrights and Sights, 2003). Our minds 'gloss over' the mundane and ordinary occurrences, and hone in on the unusual and abnormal.

When going about our daily lives, our routes that we take become automatic and don't require concentration. It is only when we are put into an usual setting that our brains 'switch on' and take in every little detail. Being familiar and comfortable in a setting determines how much information our brains absorb in the moment. So even when you go about your daily life, you can still experience the extraordinary by stopping and forcing yourself to acknowledge these little details.

In response to this I decided to document an environment that I experience every day: the bus. Normally I switch off, plug in my headphones and become oblivious to the events around me. Instead I took the opportunity to absorb and document the setting by recording the overheard conversations during my journey to and from university. Even if I only hear several words of an entire conversation, it acts as a window into their lives. The journey for everyone is a time for people to chat and to make the time go faster, and each conversation can tell me so much about the person's day, personality and relationship with the person that they are talking to. The bus is an everyday space, but it can act as so much more when you force yourself to listen and use your senses.

*click to enlarge*

I decided to further my response and chose to observe the environment of the college library. I carried out a range of quick observational sketches that capture the essence of the space around me. It has since become apparent that even when carrying out a simple task such as observational drawing, you are stopping and forcing yourself to look and take in what's around you. 

[1] Wrights (2008). [online]. Wrights & sites. Available at: http://www.mis-guide.com [Accessed on 21st February 2017]. In-line Citation: (Wrights, 2003)

Monday, 20 February 2017

Sunday, 19 February 2017

My Dream Workspace - BAIL104

*click to enlarge*
Created using pen & ink

My dream workspace would be in South Devon, near to all of my family & friends. I would perhaps also like to have another workspace in a shared space, so that I could socialise & be surrounded by other creative people.

My Workspaces - BAIL104

Workspace 1 - Dining Table
*photo here*
Work completed here: sketchbook work, research, drawings and paintings, uni assignments, experimentation, completing work...
Pros & Cons: Good lighting, loads of space, use of a range of materials, but could be distracted by the TV, and lack of personalised space.
Productive timeframe: I can work in this space for hours, as it is normally where I spend most of my time completing work for module deadlines.
Company? Distractions?: Family environment, could be distracted by TV when trying to write, other than that it's a good environment to work productively in.
Improvements: None that would work in a shared family space.

Workspace 2 - Uni Studio

Work completed here: Workshops, experimentation, lecture write ups, sketches, presentations...
Pros & Cons: Creative environment, help at hand, fun, social, but sometimes there can be a lack of materials, and the room temperature can be temperamental.
Productive timeframe: 2 hours max & then a break for lunch etc
Company? Distractions?: Company of friends, peers and tutors/lecturers. Possible distractions due to the large quantity of people in the room.
Improvements: Personalised space, air conditioning, more materials available.

Workspace 3 - Bus

View from my workspace

Work completed here: Writing, research, evaluations, proposals, lecture summaries, quick observational sketches.
Pros & Cons: Good controlled environment which forces you to work to make use of the spare time, however the bus is really bumpy, meaning that it limits what work you can undertake in the environment.
Productive timeframe: 45 minutes max, but commonly the work that I undertake on the bus normally takes less time to complete, i.e lecture write ups take 15-20 minutes.
Company? Distractions?: Public space, can be noisy.
Improvements: None that could be possible/realistic.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Illustrator Workspaces - BAIL104

Jon Klassen 

In interviews, Klassen has said that his work space is normally very unorganised, as he creates all of these hand drawn/painted textures, which are then scanned in & left lying around.

He has recently just moved into a new studio space:

Holly Exley

Holly has also given a studio & desk tour on her YouTube:

Lizzy Stewart
Stewart has a whole album of photographs of her workspaces over the years which can be found here. Below are some examples:

Good & Bad Student - BAIL104

I created two posters that illustrated a 'prefect' student, and a 'bad' student. I chose to represent the student as a panda, as it's my favourite animal, so I felt like it would be a relevant link to myself.

The good student is named Earl as it makes a 'nod' to a highly respected title. He is also surrounded by attributes that make him a role model to others, and also by some bees to show that he is very busy and always on the go.

The bad student named Nigel is asleep & surrounded by qualities that make him less successful. He also has some drawings of footballers, which is a link to the ones students in our class have to draw as a punishment for being late. There is also a snail, which symbolises his laziness and slow-paced motivation.

The Life Snake - BAIL104

The next part of our task was to create a 'life snake', which was a timeline of our life with indications to certain life events & skills that we acquired along the way:

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Soft & Hard Skills - BAIL104

Soft Skills:

  • Write well
  • Construct an argument 
  • Good communication
  • Able to work a till
  • Able to understand and discuss complex topics e.g philosophy
  • Patience
  • Determination 
  • Counting
  • Persistence
  • Good geographical knowledge
  • Can use tools such as a pencil, scalpel, computer
  • Timekeeping
  • Quick thinking 
  • Can send an email
  • Able to follow instructions
  • Dependable
  • Trustworthy
  • Reliable
  • Willingness to help others
  • Talk confidently on the phone

Hard Skills:

  • Able to work a laser cutter
  • Can work Illustrator and Photoshop
  • Good observation skills
  • Work experience in the creative industry
  • An eye for design and composition
  • Able to mix and use colours effectively
  • Passion for different fonts
  • Experienced with computers & the web
  • Organisation
  • Good presentation skills
  • Perfectionism
  • Book binding 
  • Experience with different printing methods
  • Able to work independently and in a team
  • Thinking outside the box
  • Able to work quickly & to a deadline
  • To be adaptable 
  • To produce work to a high standard
  • To write, explain, and give relevant context about my work
  • Ambitions and motivated

Illustrator Top Trumps - BAIL104

Illustration Portfolios - BAIL104

Holly Exley
Her website on first impressions, is very clean, clear and organised. It is made using 'Cargo', which specialises in online portfolios, which has allowed Exley to create a professional site to display and organise her work:

When you click on one of the categories it allows you to view her illustrations up close, and then click through to see her other work in the same album: 
It also has links to her other social media accounts, which help to distribute interest onto all platforms, including her Etsy shop and YouTube channel. 

This website is full of beautiful moving images that are all presented in a grid, and all play in a loop:

All of the tabs are coloured to match his colour palette, so his website stays consistent throughout. All of his images are big enough to see the detail, but not too big as you can still view 2 side-by-side.
The website appears to have been created from scratch, rather than on a website building platform.

Fryer's website instantly makes a direct connection to the style of her work. The coloured, patterned background and illustrated banner all link together to give the website a really professional appearance:

Images can be viewed up close, and are also supplied with a small piece of writing, which gives them context. However the website itself doesn't function as well as it could, but it does serve its basic purpose. 

Scobie's website is instantly colourful, clean and easy to navigate. The home page is full of her work, which makes it attractive and easy to get a feel of the artist's style and process:

The website allows you to click on the squares to bring the images up closer, and to read a bit about them. You can also find links to her other social media accounts in the top navigation bar. This website was also made on Cargo Collective. 

His website takes a more interactive approach, as it asks you to click on each of the characters to read more about that project:

Although instantly fun and captivating, it does become a little tricky to easily find the information you're looking for. The website was created using Cargo.

Her website is beautiful in the way that it instantly draws your eye & shows you an instant idea on the work that Lee does. The clean white background add emphasis to the coloured illustrations, and the website functions perfectly, allowing you to view her projects in more detail:

I love how Corell's website perfectly reflects her style of work, as when your mouse hovers over the images on the home page, they turn red:

The style of the website is consistent throughout, easy to navigate, and it has a very professional feel to it. The website was designed by 'pensandpencilsandpens'.

This website has a beautiful layout, with moving displays of work, and clear information of the artist:

Illustrations can be read about with context and information on the brief, which gives it a very personal touch. 


My Favourite Illustration Portfolio
Choosing a favourite out of the 8 illustration portfolios that I researched is very hard, as I like each one for different reasons. Perhaps if I had to choose an absolute favourite, I think that it would have to be Somang Lee's website, because it is so beautiful, simple, clean & functional. Instantly you are greeted by a bright and colourful full page illustration, which immediately gives you a feel of the artist. The backgrounds and tabs are minimalistic, yet function perfectly when navigating through the site. The fading transitions and smooth scrolling gives you a very satisfying user experience, which as a whole leaves you with a very good impression Lee's work ethic, personality and perfectionism.  The website appears to have been made professionally, rather than on a website building platform, which is why I think her portfolio stands out from the rest.

However, there are so many other things about the other illustrator portfolios that I looked at that are equally as successful. For example there are 3 other websites that come in very close second place: *in no particular order*
- Lorna Scobie - The thing I love about her website is how her work is presented, and how the bright colours that she uses in her work are carried throughout the site. Also she gives you more in depth information about each piece when it is clicked on, which is very informative and useful. The images are all excellent quality and well presented, so the details of her work can be appreciated. All of her social media outlets are also linked on the site, which allows for her to spread the following of people across all platforms. This website was made using Cargo Collective.
- Gemma Corell - The thing that stood out to me was her 'mouse responsive' front page, which was really effective & also echoed the theme of her work. I do think her site is also successful in the way that it is jam packed with loads of information about her, and her practice. Although her site was made professionally, I think the way that her work itself is presented is less successful than the ones made on Cargo. I feel like the images could have been presented bigger, and perhaps with some more context. 
- Sandra Dieckmann - Her site has a really personal feel to it, as you are instantly greeted with a picture of the artist, adorned with text about her, and her work. Dieckmann's illustrations are on a slide bar on the top, which automatically plays on loop, allowing for viewers to preview some of her work while browsing her site. Although I think some of the pages are a bit unfinished, I would argue that it is maybe more successful than Gemma Corell's, as her illustrations can be viewed up close, and are written about in full. I also love her different tabs which categorise the nature of her work, which also link to her other social media accounts. This site looks like it was also made professionally.