Saturday, 5 December 2009


Another extra project which is exciting! Aaron Tierney, Adam Brandon and Belle Stevens set up this Christmas project based on the '12 Days of Christmas', the idea is to create a t shirt for each line of the song but using an alternative/unexpected image. I was asked to draw some foxes for '10 Lords a leaping' (something which fits quite well with Ted Baker, post about that later) so I played around with some fox drawings and came up with these:

Which Aaron then turned into this:

Which looks great! I like this drawing because of it's weird oversized head, it adds quite a nice contemporary twist to the old rhyme and the associations with it. I was really flattered by the request to take part in the project, I hope it's a success. The aim is to raise money for the degree show so BUY ONE HERE: TeeTwelve

Helping John Walsh

Last Monday John phoned me up and asked me to do some illustrations for him; some snowflakes, a Christmas tree with star baubles and a male and female angel. Although I had LOADS of work to do already I said yes and stayed up until about 2am (ridiculous) trying to get them all done. The illustrations are for a flyer/Christmas card for Flannels which is quite exciting. These are screenshots of the Illustrator versions of the drawings that I did, John only ended up using the snowflakes but it's still really exciting to have my work (even if it's just a little bit) used in a piece of print for a real client. It was really lovely to be picked out to do this work and I hope John asks me to do more illustration work for him as I'm happy to do it! It's really good to have extra work and this and Teacup are nice projects to work on.

Ian Anderson

This term I've taken part in 2 workshops with Ian Anderson, the last 2 ever in fact. Compared to last summers workshop these were a lot less terrifying, probably because my confidence is slightly higher or maybe because I was used to the critical nature of the sessions. Anyway I think I've gained a bit of knowledge from both of these mainly with regard to presentation skills and with reading and understanding briefs properly.

Workshop 1

The first project sounded a lot easier than it actually was; the brief was to do something pointless for an hour, document it and present it, I had 2 days to do this. I chose to write 100 names (boys and girls) on my hand and then wash off and repeat this for the hour:

I photographed my hand every 5 minutes and wrote down how many names there were each 5 minutes, something that was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. The samples of presentations that Ian showed to us were all about infographics and statistics taken from the experiments which was initially what I intended to do as well but I spoke to Ian and he suggested trying something more creative and exciting. This made sense really as I'm not the kind of person that uses inforgraphics and graphs and charts etc in my work so I tried to create something that was more suited to my style of working - something a bit more delicately crafted.

I ended up spending a lot of time picking out and writing down all of the names from each of the photos to make a list of names the occurred more than once and I used these names to make map like images. I traced over the photographs where the names were by writing the names and also with lines to create small documents of each time.

I then printed these onto an A3 sheet, 1 or 2 for each time and I then printed the list of repeated names. This was the format for my presentation (something that was actually meant to be 10 minutes long but mine was about 2) and I think this is where I started to go wrong.

Ian had actually wanted the presentation to be the most important part of the brief, something that I overlooked completely; I prepared mine about an hour before I had to do it and didn't consider issues with visibility (my images were quite small on the A3 sheet) or timing or even the content really. This was a really valuable lesson, I concentrated too much on the pointless task and trying to make my documentation unique and beautiful when I should have focused on the presentation and selling my idea in an interesting way rather than relying on the work to sell itself which was impossible because nobody could see it! I wasn't as nervous about the presentation side of this task and I think that made it easier for me to take on board the comments that Ian made whereas last time I just seemed to take everything a bit too personally.

Workshop 2

For this 2 day workshop, everybody had to bring a friend along so I took Molly Clifford although I didn't actually end up working with her. The brief this time was to work in groups of 4 or 5 (picked out by Ian) and to create a pitch to present to the "World Organisation" of the future who were looking for a colour for their rebrand, each team was given a colour and had to persuade the "Organisation" to use it. My group was Hannah Davies, Ben Kither, Caitlin Clancy and Jacqui Williams; with the exception of Hannah I hadn't actually worked with anyone else before which was good for the task as Ian wanted us to get used to working with people we didn't know that well. Our colour was yellow.

Again there was a 10 minute presentation at the end of the 2 days and this was the focus of the task, something that I realised this time and so we aimed to have an entertaining and exciting presentation. We began by exploring the associations that the colour already had, where it was currently used and any objects/foods etc that were yellow to gain a bit of background knowledge. It was good to discuss ideas with everybody and share all of our knowledge, something that you obviously don't have when you work alone. We discussed a few ideas and decided that our main idea was to promote yellow as the happiest colour but ensure that it was understood that it could also convey serious messages. Our concept was based on the idea of yellow being like a mother: warm, safe and happy but also warning of danger, informative and looking out or you. We made up limericks combining the ideas of mothers and yellow as a fun way of putting across our idea and also chose to give out some form or yellow food and drink to create a happy feeling that associated with yellow.

I think as a team we worked really well, we discussed and developed all of the ideas together and everybody contributed some form of work through sheets, limericks, food, scripts etc. I really enjoyed working with everybody because there were no issues with work or arguments etc which can always be a problem with group work, everybody was motivated and it was a really positive experience.

Our presentation consisted of an introduction, limericks, a graph about the relationship between yellow and mother, some 'equations' about the benefits of yellow and then our food handout. It was supposed to be 10 minutes but was actually about 5 but I think we presented it well with confidence and, I thought, it was entertaining and lighthearted but still made an attempt at selling the colour. The comments from Ian and Hitch were quite critical though; they thought that we should have explained our idea before launching into limericks and nobody seemed to understand the relationship or relevance of the mother idea which just really irritated me. But that's probably because it was my idea. We got more positive feedback from other people in the group though which was nice.

Again there were some valid lessons to learn about presentation, a good presentation of something not so great is (apparently) always better than a bad presentation of something good which I suppose makes sense but is depressing as presentations are just never good from me. Basically Ian has taught me to always present in the best way to suit the client, always be confident and pick up on the details in briefs as they are KEY.

Craig Oldham

Another insightful lecture about life after university; this one wasn't as scary as some of the previous talks have been but it still raised the usual panic inside of me about never being able to get a job.

Craig offered us his '12 lessons in 12 months', all of them which I was happy to listen to apart from the 6th tip about placements something which I am failing to find because I have no idea where to look due to my general confusion about myself and my work. I don't see myself as a graphic designer really because it seems like too much competitiveness and stress for my little head to handle. So anyway he basically told us that if you didn't do a placement you had no chance and if you hadn't one one by now then you were in trouble. Nice wake up call there!

The rest of the lecture was good, he kept it quite casual and that helped to get his point across about it not being the worst time in the world once you leave. One point that he continually made was that the clients, bosses, designers etc. that we could possibly be dealing with are all just PEOPLE something which I always like to remind myself in scary situations and that I need to always remember.

Craig also gave us a nice booklet to remind us of these 12 tips, here are some blurry pictures:

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Teacup on Thomas Street part 2

After a week or so of confusion and neglect Nia and I finally returned to Teacup to finish off the window display. This time we were joined by Arron and Kat which was a big help as they did a really good job of the window above the door (and Nia helped also, I was the only one that didn't..but I am injured around the rib area so I can't reach very much). Anyway this time John wanted us to paint the logo above the door and change some of the dots into teacups, teabags etc. so I concentrated on that. We also collectively decided to put the snowy looking section at the bottom and added a few Christmas-sy looking gingerbread men to the dots to make it look more fun.

Here are some more low quality phone pictures - go to Nia's blog for better ones!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Teacup on Thomas Street

Nia and I were asked by John Walsh to do some window work for Teacup on Thomas Street (previously known as Cup). He wanted us to create a window display that would show off the new logo and would be appropriate for the winter/Christmas season. I was really excited when he told us what he wanted us to do (the promise of free tea and cake really swayed it for me) and we got to work trying to think of some interesting ideas. This was actually a lot harder than I expected it to be, it was really difficult to remember ANYTHING to do with Christmas that wasn't really tacky.

We thought of a few ideas: gingerbread men, snowflake baubles, snow/polka dots, Christmas jumpers and John took the ideas to Teacup to consult with them.

The final design is going to be one that changes over the next few weeks but begins with the polka dots, a pattern that features heavily in the decoration of Teacup on Thomas Street already. SO Nia and I began working on the window today. We had to paint the logo in iridescent white paint which proved to be quite a challenge as it went on quite thin and streaky. After a few coats it looked a lot better but I still think it needs a bit of extra work to make it look neat and tidy.

After battling with the paint for a few hours we stopped for some AMAZING cake and a little rest and then began work on the polka dots. This was another challenge as the window is pretty big and we had to make a grid out of masking tape - a task that involved a lot of terrifying ladder work and A LOT of masking tape (a whole roll in fact). John wanted the dots to be quite loose and imperfect so we weren't too precious over the size and shape but we wanted to make sure that the grid worked well enough. It started to look really nice until condensation reared it's ugly head and made the bottom 4 rows of dots disintegrate and run down the window. At first we thought it looked pretty good, it almost fitted into the snow theme but then as they continued to disappear we weren't so pleased.

I'm itching to get back to the window now (after I've had a break from it, it was making me feel a bit crazy) and really clean up the text and the messed up dots. I think the window has the potential to look really lovely and wintery but we definitely need to go back and make some improvements. I'm really excited about it though and I think this is a really interesting project, quite a challenge for me as I'm so used to my sketchbooks and this window is quite clearly considerably bigger. John also mentioned the possibility of some work for the menu which would be an absolute treat to do!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Quick quick quick

I just had a tutorial with Mack and he told me to try taking some photos of my photos on screen to distort them and make them look more interesting. I just took 254 photos! So here are a few just quickly. I LIKE them, I think it makes them more of a challenge to look at, could tie in with my theme of censorship.

Now I'm off to see 'Up'! Exciting!

Kino4 so far...

So I realised that I haven't actually blogged about any of the films so far so I'll just crack on with that then!

Rollerball (1975) directed by Norman Jewison

I have to say that I think my opinion of this film was highly influenced by the fact that I felt ridiculously ill while I was watching it so I didn't think too highly of it immediately after it had finished. However after some time to reflect I realised that the film was actually very good but not the kind of film that I would choose to watch on my own: I find the futuristic, dystopian setting very depressing. I found the extent of control that the corporations had over people quite chilling, especially during the actual rollerball games. The game was used as a distraction and the way that the fans and the players were so brutal towards each other in comparison to the still and calculating character of Bartholomew watching over them was really unsettling to watch. The film was interesting in it's approach to the theme of control and mediation and I could see links with some of the documentaries by Adam Curtis and the film 'The Corporation' itself which explore the idea of the dominance of corporations in society today.

If...(1968) directed by Lindsay Anderson

I really enjoyed this film, I think the public school setting really drew me in as this is something that I have always found interesting; the language and the rituals of public school boys is always something I've found quite fascinating. Again there were themes of control and rebellion similar to 'Rollerball' but I found it much easier to watch than 'Rollerball' I think the element of camaraderie in 'If' made it seem a lot warmer in a sense than 'Rollerball' where Jonathan was pretty much fighting his battle alone. I liked the structure of the film, it was set out in sort of chapters which all seemed to build up to the crucial point at the end where Mick Travis and his friends carried out their brutal attack on the school. This film addressed a lot of issues about the reactions that people have to power, command and restriction; it was possible to understand the reason why Mick takes action against the school authority maybe not in such a violent way but you can see him being pushed throughout the film. This was definitely a thought-provoking watch.

Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)
(2008) directed by Tomas Alfredson

This was surprisingly a very beautiful film, both in story and setting. The whole film was completely different to what I had expected after hearing that it was a film about vampires but the subject is approached in quite a moving and tender way. The film is set in Stockholm, the main characters Oskar and Eli are both 12 years old but Eli is a vampire. There is a real feeling of sorrow that comes from Eli and you can see how hard it is for her to cope with the murders that she commits. The film begins with her father brutally murdering someone and draining their blood; however when you realise that he commits these crimes only out of love for his daughter they become less sinister. It brings up a conflict of morals as you want the little girl to live. Although the vampire theme is dominant throughout it never becomes ridiculous as in most horror films, the violent acts are all out of necessity rather than just for shock value.

I found it quite horrific to watch the scenes of Oskar being bullied, especially towards the end of the film but it was quite uplifting in a way to see the courage that he gained from spending time with Eli and later in the film to see how she protects him. The feelings between the 2 characters is really believable considering they are so young and you can see how much they rely on each other for support.

I thought this film was stunning to watch, the snowy setting and the dark wintery days created the perfect atmosphere for such a chilling yet moving story.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

What a nice way to spend my money.

A couple of weeks ago while I was away in Leicester I visited the local Borders for a browse, something I always enjoy. While I was there I found this lovely book about sketchbooks featuring images from the sketchbooks of a lot of very good designers and illustrators (even Johnny Hardstaff has a few pages). Here are some of my favourite pages by Ed Fella, Oliver Jeffers and Pablo Amargo

Everytime I look through the book I find new things which is exciting and the whole thing is so inspiring, it's refreshing to see unfinished and personal work from designers who are usually so polished. It's made me start using my own personal sketchbook and it's really good to just play around with different materials. Each designer/illustrator also has a chance to explain the way that they use sketchbooks and it's actually really interesting to read. I want to research the professional work of some of the people I've never heard of to see if there's much of a difference.

Here are some pages from my own sketchbook that I've been playing around with in the past few days and weeks:

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Can't take pictures..will do it anyway

So I don't really think my blog has been receiving enough attention recently, probably because my fingers are so cold that it's difficult to type etc. BUT anyway, I thought it was about time that I put some of my silence work up here. This is the later part of my project (not silence part 2) the first part was a book of drawings and paintings surrounding the theme of cats and I'll put those up here when I find a nice way of capturing them.

I've taken some photos of the 3D work I've been making but the quality is pretty poor, I just can't be patient with a camera!

The idea behind this work is based on the lives (well, correspondence) of Prisoner's of War from the 30's and 40's. There isn't a real narrative yet, I came across the idea after I visited the 'Captured' exhibition at Imperial War Museum North. I basically started linking the idea of silence to the restrictions that the prisoners had with regard to communication, whether with each other or with their families and friends. Themes such as censorship and secrecy are what I was thinking about. I made these three 3D pieces over the past two weeks using photocopies of some letters, postcards, newspapers and photographs that I have from the time period. The imagery isn't specifically related to Prisoner's of War but they have the essence of that time which was all I needed really. I suppose they are meant to represent the way that the prisoners were trapped, they're weren't able to talk freely about things. Letters would mount up or become lost and a lot would be censored. The censorship that I've used is really just the cutting up of the letters, it makes them illegible and useless because so much of the text is missing.

The images above are the first structures that I made out of cardboard and baking paper prints. I wanted the sections of letters to have a slightly transparent quality to them, making them quite flimsy and fragile in a way and the baking paper helps to achieve this look. I also didn't want to use the originals of the postcards etc that I had. The structures didn't really turn out as I had planned, I was looking a lot at Joseph Cornell's work and obviously that is a lot more sophisticated than the pieces that I created. However I did make them in a very short time.

This is the third 3D piece that I made, after showing my first attempts to Hitch he said to try and bring the paper out of the structure and he said to make the pieces more beautiful. I decided using a frame would tie in well with the theme as the whole correspondence idea is a very personal one and has links with family and memory which is the whole point of keeping photographs in frames. I'm really pleased with the structure, it's not completely finished yet as it's very fragile and almost impossible to move around and I want to add some more detail once I have a narrative to go with it. I love the image in the background of the people, especially the woman, she really draws your attention.