Sunday, 17 January 2010

me, myself and i

With the recent stir up of what i'm doing/planning on doing with my life I dug out all of my sketches to try and see if there was some sort of common theme or style to them which would help me focus, develop my work and progress...

I've really enjoyed some of the briefs we've been given over the last year and half, from illustrating for newspaper/magazine articles, fictional theatre posters, classic tales and even for carpets but these aren't the things that I've ever imagined myself illustrating and designing for... to me illustration was always just about cartoons and comics... what I now know as illustration, I always thought was actually graphic design... hence my initial interest in it... but I've always wanted to make my own t-shirts, products, stickers and snowboards. I've got a tonne of catalogues from snowboard and skate companies, as well as magazines, just because I liked to look at all the designs for influence in making my own... this actually led me to contacting a few small companies offering my skills just to see if any would bite, but in doing so, there was never any discussion of payment which meant I soon lost interest as I could be putting in a load of effort, losing my designs and all for no turn around...

but anyway... the whole point of this is for me to try and shed a little light onto my current working method...

as I said, i have a load of sketches and they just sit in a folder in a drawer at the moment... some are quite detailed, others are loose roughs that need work doing.. but none of them are finished. this is because I dont know how to colour them, I dont know which style to use in order to get the most out of them... I admire so many different artists work and I like to mimic what I like about their work and as a result I could probably create the same exact illustration but in at least 6 different styles/finishes... I've kinda gotten over my obsession with style, even though I do still want to define my own, but the struggle to be unique is quite hard nowadays with everything from advertising and television picking up on growing trends within art and society.

All i can really say right now is that my comfortable drawing style is scruffy and loose, which led me to look at Ashley Wood and then to other (comic) artists like MahFood and Skottie Young, but I am quite confident with drawing in a cartoony style too, influenced by old and modern cartoons - that i still love watching - as well as yet more comics and toys. I also love contour drawing ( i dont know how many more times i will say that, but i neeeeed to find a way to do more! i need a reason to do some!)... I've ended up trying to cut out the fact that I used to enjoy photography and that I know photoshop very well as I didn't (past tense) realise that I could actually incorporate it rather than trying to seperate myself from it, especially due to my interest in screen printing and that it is still a part of me that does influence my work...

I've also developed a way of working that I thought suited the university course.. as if i feel that in order to succeed on my course i must use this way of working. I've been told this isn't the case but it seems that I am relying on this particular method in order to complete a piece of work so that I can a) use illustrator and b) won't get in trouble by something of my own... which i was discouraged from in the last year and a half in favour of exploring something new. This particular method developed after the Sindbad project, in which I looked at the work of Lotte Reiniger, but also with my interest in using illustrator... the simplification of ideas into icons and symbols makes my work almost universal in understanding but it lacks character and feels very cold, as if made by a computer to just be an efficient graphic... this has suited the last project as I wanted to communicate information to a wide audience who may have no interest in that area.. but when compared with my Hansel&Gretel poster, the character I made from cutting out card felt as if it had more personality... maybe this is a sign that I should be moving away from the computer as a tool to create work...

Actually that isn't a bad thing, I miss working in 3D on projects... but that's only because recent work hasn't developed into something that I could make 3D... this is the problem I have, in that I have many ways in working and I want to do them all.. but IDEAS have to be the main reason behind the work... if I just made a giant water drop out of wood for the last project, what significance does that have to the way in which society uses water? but say if I sculpted varying sized water drops to show the figures/scale of water consumption in specific towns, regions or countries for example, then the idea has a greater depth to it rather than just being an exercise in showing off...

I do feel like I have been changing my ways to suit the course in order to succeed, rather than sticking to my guns and just drawing/creating work in the ways that I am most comfortable which has me torn... on the one hand, I have begun to focus more on the ideas behind work in order to make them successful as opposed to creating them in a popular style, but it doesnt really feel like my own work... I have no real connection to some pieces and they are merely created to put a tick in a box to achieve a specific mark/grading. For example, the doorway project was great fun as we all created something we were happy as well as enjoying what we were doing, yet recent criticism deemed it as "laddy" which is completely understandable... one of my own designs was VERY laddy, but humourous and something that I genuinely enjoyed... but if some of the stuff that I actually enjoy doing more is going to be looked down upon then I might end up leaning towards this acceptable style...

I actually started this post with the intention of clarifying why I have a cartoony style and what influences me.. such as skateboard graphics and then i wanted to go into how a lot of vectored illustrations mimic characteristics of skateboard graphics (like Jim Phillips' Screaming hand) by using heavy thick outlines or tapering edges/points for example... which i now actually want to return to.. these characteristics are the reason why i wanted to learn illustrator in the first place and also why i like screen printing :) but now i've ranted again, I think i'll save that for the next couple of posts.. (again im building up a collection of links that i need to get out of my bookmarks and into research!!!!)


  1. (maybe this is a sign that I should be moving away from the computer as a tool to create work...)

    the computer can go to hell, your hands are the best tools you've got.

    (but it doesnt really feel like my own work... I have no real connection to some pieces and they are merely created to put a tick in a box to achieve a specific mark/grading.)

    This is a major issue i had with last year, by the end of the year i felt like i was starting to understand the course and get into the rythm of things, but at the same time when i looked at my work i saw no trace of my self within it, i felt like a comformotist to the 'changing of my ways to suit the course' as you put it. and when that occurs, though your work may past the tests and earn the marks it will be hard for your to appreciate and admire it.

    now that the first years over im pretty sure that the philasophical teachings of the first year will be firmly rooted in your mind, use those teachings and re-approach your comfort zones, applying what youve learnt to the old can lead to some very surprising creations that can be just as succesful as trying to be something your not.

  2. Hello Marco,

    I hope you are well. Your words of wisdom to Chris are great here. I am glad you could see in your last paragraph why this approach is encouraged. The 1st year is about nudging fixed ways of working or preconceptions, throwing the balls in the air to see where they land and then ultimately sorting them out to find yourself in it. It would be pointless if there was no distance travelled. I know you all hate it though!

  3. Oh the folly of man!

    All through that last year I really did struggle with the teachings, I'd never been confronted with anything like that before and the whole experiance was so alien to my mind, but now ive had time to let it all cool down and actually form in my sub concious I feel like its helped me quite alot.

    I've got a way to go before I fully utilise the potential of what I've learnt but the improvement is that rather then rejecting what I've learnt Im starting to see it seep into everything that I do in one way or another. maybe its effecting me on such a grand scale because I was such a closed and boxed in artist.

    Hope you and Gary are doing well,


    P.s sorry Bob for hi-jacking your thread!