Thursday, 2 May 2013

Logo for hairdresser 'Holly The Hair Fairy'

I was recently approached to do a logo design for a hair dresser. I have only done very little logo design since finishing the graphic design course I did in college, so I was wary as of to whether I would be able to pull it off. However she said she was after an image of scissors and also a nice type, I thought this was a great opportunity to not only challenge myself, but also to work on drawing objects and hand drawn type (things I love to illustrate!).

I started by drawing lots of different ideas and deciding which layouts worked best. I kept her updated throughout, as I thought it was really important that if this was to be her branding, she was entirely happy each step of the way. The next step was deciding on whether I would illustrate it girly, or a little bit more edgy. Holly had shown me ideas which featured floral patterning but also a more edgy tattoo inspired pattern too. I decided to attempt to draw out the scissors first and then work into the image and altering what I felt I needed to as I went along.

I finally illustrated scissors I was happy with, I didn't want to just add the floral-esque patterning on the outsides of the scissors, so made sure they were part of the actual shape. I thought this work really well, and decided to work on type.

It came down to the two ideas. I like how the first one looked better (below, left), however felt that the second (below, right) read better (before I added the connection between the words). It was really challenging to find a way in which the type would be read in the correct way. I eventually decided I would attempt to connect the text in some way subtly, so that people would subconsciously see the correct order through the connection.

Once I added the lines between the words, I asked around 20 people how they read the text, and luckily they all read it in the correct way. I thought that worked best and in that layout would fit better into a square for use on websites, business cards etc, so scanned it in, edited the levels, evened out the illustration, and added a slight texture. Heres the final outcome:

I'm really happy with how it turned out, and so is Holly The Hair Fairy!

'Nonsense' Brief set by Lord Whitney

Creatives Lord Whitney came into our studio recently to set us a brief. They came and spoke to each of us about the brief but also about our work and the things that inspire us and how we create our illustration work. They were really enthusiastic and helped me get excited about my own work. They also suggested some people to look at which was extremely helpful as they suggested I look at photographer Helmut Newton. I was very familiar with his work, however was never sure of who the photographs were by, so it was great to finally know where some of my favourite imagery actually came from!

The brief was to create a response to a nonsense poem by Edgar Lair. They encouraged us to use this brief to experiment or maybe try out a new way of working or a process we were interested in. I chose the poem:

"There was a Young Lady whose bonnet,
Came untied when the birds sate upon it;
But she said: 'I don't care!
All the birds in the air
Are welcome to sit on my bonnet!"

I just wanted to move away from digital work so much, because when I do it, it just sucks any form of passion I have for the subject out of me. I decided this would be the start of where I would do so. So as Lord Whitney suggested, I took elements from my chosen limerick and illustrated them. I then screen printed these images. I've never really done the screen printing process on my own for a quick illustration in that was so it was good for me to practice. This was my outcome:

I wasn't particularly happy with the actual drawing, although I was happy with how the prints turned out. The drawing that I put on a screen was sketchy so the actual prints ended up looking almost like chalk which was interesting. So after this I then decided to do another drawing. Here was my final piece:

I know it needs more work but as a short brief I was happy with the outcome.

Hopes, Fears and Opportunities


When I last wrote my 'hopes' for the my future both on my degree, and generally in the world of illustration, my main hope was that I personally was happy with my work, and that I felt that after 3 years of my degree I finally knew how I personally as an illustrator, illustrate. I believe that if you are happy with your own work and it really truly reflects you as an image maker, you are more confident in showing people your work and making contacts within the industry (this is most certainly the case for me anyway!).
Before I started my final major project, there was very little work of mine in terms of finished pieces that I could show in a portfolio and be truly confident in. However, since working on my final major project and working with subjects that I found interesting, my work really started to become more connected to me, and as I was working with subjects I cared about, I also cared more about how they looked and worked as a piece. I also began to think “How will I work once I leave?” (without the input of tutors or peers) so I spent a lot of time pretending I was already at that stage, this really helped me define my way of working!
I hoped that my website, portfolio, business cards etc. would all fit together, through doing my final major project I feel this has began to happen. So now, I am at a stage, where I have a portfolio I am finally happy with, which clearly shows the kind of work I would like to be commissioned for, and business cards and a website which represent me in a way of which I am happy with. I am hoping I can use these tools and the confidence having these things has helped me gain, to get out there, show my work to potential clients and make the contacts, and take the steps forward I need to, to move on and get where I want to be!


When I last wrote about my fears, I stated “I guess my main fear is just that at the end of all this I'm not happy with my work.”, I'm pleased with the work I have produced recently and this really has made me more optimistic about moving forward. The main reason I decided to do an illustration degree was to find out how I draw, I needed those three years to find myself as an illustrator and although I may not be 100% there, its certainly starting to feel a lot like it. So this fear has since gone! However, as mentioned in my last “Hopes, Fears and Oppurtunites” although I like my work, I obviously still fear that no-one else will, that I won't get work, but I guess this is a fear everybody has, and I can't let this kind of fear get in the way of me moving forward. One thing however which is quite scary to me is the business side of things, I tend to find dealing with money and official rules confusing or stressful, so thats something I need to look into (So although it is a fear of mine, it is something I can educate myself on). Another fear of mine is that other life commitments will get in the way, I have to make money and trying to become a successful artist isn't the easiest way to do this, I am scared that I may not be able to move forward, I don't want to lose the momentum the past couple of weeks has built up, so I need to constantly find ways to make sure I am inspired and continue to create work.


For my whole life I have been saying “When I leave University I want to...” (and reeling off a list of all the life plans I have made!). Although it is extremely scary to be moving on into the 'real' world, its really exciting too. So along with the fears, comes a lot of potential opportunities! I have really enjoyed working on my final major project, I have created imagery for posters, postcards, books covers. I have also created patterns which is something I have wanted to have the opportunity to do for a long time. Over the past few years I have been lucky enough to work with some really talented people as an both an illustrator and a photographer. I hope in the future I continue to be lucky enough to involved in their projects as I always receive great feedback and it is really encouraging to know people who are extremely talented themselves in their own creative fields value my work. I really hope I get the opportunity to work for clients in the future who I am excited about. I certainly work best when I care about what I am illustrating so working with more interesting people would be great. I really would like to create my own products and begin to sell them, this is something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember, so I really hope I can find the opportunity to make my products successful! I am just hoping that I am able to sustain confidence in my won work, as I think if you are confident in yourself you really can make things happen for yourself, I just need to get out there and do it!

Animated gifs!

For a requirement of our course we had to make an animation, as I had been in hospital on the days we were learning the animating skills on after effects, I had to work a way around this! Luckily a few years ago I worked out how to use photoshop to make animated gifs, so I thought I would use this way of working to animate some of my work.

My final major project revolves around female sexuality and is inspired greatly by the imagery used for strip clubs, sex shops etc. I wanted this to be a quick process because I feel my drawings are more connected to me when they have not been changed and over laboured. I quickly Made some sketches:

I then added colour to these, and animated them to make them look as through they were flashing neon signs! Heres some of them:

I am really really happy with how they turned out, I even made myself a HMJ flashing sign!


Saturday, 27 April 2013

Portfolio review with Matt Bray

As Matt reviewed my portfolio before christmas, I thought it would be a great idea to have a follow up review with him now I have completely changed my portfolio and see whether the change was positive or not in his opinion. I contacted Matt online as I feel at the moment my portfolio works best in PDF form and was really interested in Matts opinion on my actual illustration work more so than the presentation. 

Here is what Matt said, below: 

"Just taken a look at your new portfolio and: wow! You’ve moved on so much since Christmas! 
I love the new pieces that you’ve created for your FMP around the topic of female identity. Your style has become even more strong and recognizable, and suits the subject matter perfectly: you’ve clearly chosen a theme that you feel passionate about and that enthusiasm shows in the illustrations.
My favourite pieces are the set of postcards: I love the simple yet deliberate colour choices, the offset shadows that give a kind of ‘print-effect’ and the energetic line work that gives the pieces a sense of urgency. The images you’ve designed for ‘the minx’ are awesome too: lovely typography and very nice composition.The only advice I can really give is: keep up the good work! Keep on creating exciting, unique and stylish illustrations on the subjects you feel passionately about."

His response was extremely positive which I found really encouraging. I don't respond to criticism well, and that is not because I disagree with it, but mainly because I have a tendency to get disheartened and this discourages me, rather than spurring me on to rectify the problem. I am aware this is something I must see past as not everyone will love my work, but for now, positive feedback is what makes me work harder!

I am extremely passionate about certain subjects, and it is important to me that this reflects in portfolio, and that my enthusiasm shows through. Its really great that Matt picked up on my enthusiasm for these subjects, as I think honestly I work best when I genuinely care about what I am illustrating. My portfolio previously reflected barely any of the things I would hope to be commissioned for in the future, so its great this is no longer the case.

It is important to me that my work reflects actually my way of working and being a recognisable as a piece of my work, as the portfolio I previous shown Matt had in a sense two different styles, a digital way of working, and a hand rendered way of working, neither of which really felt like 'me'. I'm glad that I have now found a way to merge the two which works well and really does feel connected to me. I am pleased that Matt has pointed out areas of my work which I really want to show through ('energetic line work that gives the pieces a sense of urgency', 'simple yet deliberate colour choices', 'the offset shadows that give a kind of ‘print-effect’) as I have never felt this before with my previous pieces.

It was great to hear basically everything I want to hear when someone is looking at my work and has spurred me on to work even harder!

Recent 'The Minx' Illustrations

I have worked a lot previously in the past with Manchester based band The Minx. I have photographed them, illustrated them, and designed posters, CDs and other merch for them too. They are now just about the start a large campaign, and have asked me to be part of this with them, in which I will do all of the creative side of things.

Illustration and design I did for their debut single 'No Friends'

I really enjoy working with bands as music is something which really inspires me to create, I can't listen to music without starting to hand draw the lyrics, or imaging an image to go alongside, so working with The Minx on their upcoming campaign is extremely suited to me and very exciting! Its also great to work be working with The Minx as they have given me a lot of creative freedom, and as an illustrator trying to find myself, working on a live brief in is a great opportunity to push forward images which really represent my way of working and certainly gives me confidence on my own way of working.

Here is a recent poster I did for them which promoted their first headline gig in Manchester after just finishing touring with Inspiral Carpets. The objects on the poster related to an upcoming release so the illustration on this poster acts as a taster. I am really happy with how it turned out and can't wait for their upcoming releases to share everything else I have been working on!

Portfolio review with Alan Dalby

Yesterday I met up with Illustrator Alan Dalby for a review of my portfolio. I had only recently put together my portfolio so was expecting negative feedback and was hoping for constructive suggestions on how I could make it better as although I thought it worked well as a PDF for use on my ipad, I was not entirely happy with it as a print portfolio. There were two main things which Alan said which I have really took into consideration, those are the following points.

Alans first suggestion I used my name on the first page rather than 'hellohmj' as people would wonder where where my name was (with it not actually being a birth name), I understand this, and have often wondered whether I should changed it from 'hellohmj' to just 'hmj' but as I am known as being 'hellohmj' to quite alot of people online and otherwise, I have been wary of making the change. This was the final push and I now need to re-think my logo and facebook page so that the 'hello' just acts as a introduction rather than 'my' actual full name.

The second thing which Alan mentioned was that the way in which I had displayed my work (3 images of the same project to a page) made it look like I didn't have a lot of work, however felt that this in reality wasn't the case! He also felt that the success of the imagery was in the detail, so being so small, the images lost something. I agree that the work does lose something when smaller, as although this isnt too much of a problem when using the portfolio as a PDF on my ipad as who ever is looking at it is free to zoom in close to whatever areas they wish to, it certainly is an issue if I am to use a print portfolio. So  with this in mind I now intend to create two separate portfolios for each different output, spreading the images out across more pages and changing the layout from landscape to portrait may look much better when used in print form.

Alan also suggested I photograph some of my work in context which I plan to do, which I think will make a big different to the portfolios overall look. It was great to get some constructive criticism which I can take on board and change in time for handing my portfolio in!