Friday, 18 May 2012

Dr Sketchys

After our boat ride into London, it was a bit of a drama and we were a little bit late, but eventually we found our way to Dr Sketchys Burlesque life drawing class. I have wanted to go for SO long, so I was really excited. The class took place on the top floor of the old queens head in islington, the room which it was in had brilliant lighting and the art work around the room was really interesting, really fitting with the theme of the burlesque goings on.

The view from my seat

Throughout the class the model would pose in different ways and we all had to draw them, each pose lasted 5 minutes, and Dusty Limits (the host) would add random ideas which we had to fit into our drawings, for example one was that the model was in a secret garden. I started to draw 'properly' for a while, and then once the male model Lieutenant Luke came on, Dusty told us to draw him solely of geometric shapes, I realised from this that the way I draw actually is of made up shapes! This is probably because I work best when collaging, and like to create images using illustrator too, so I see everything I draw as made up shapes. 

Amelie Soleil and my drawing of her in that pose

My first drawing of Lieutenant Luke, and then my
 'geometric shapes' drawing of him, which is much better!

My drawings of Lieutenant Luke and Amelie Soleil 
and both performers posing together.

I had a great time, it really helped me to think about how I draw people, especially because it was exactly the kind of people that I like to draw too. I cant wait until I can get down to another Dr Sketchy event!

Boat life

Friday was deadline day at Uni, as soon as that was over, I went straight to london again! I stayed friday until tuesday and did lots of exciting things. We got their on friday night, so just stayed in and had a take away and chilled out. The next day, saturday, we got up, had breakfast on the balcony and then got a boat across the thames to then get another actual boat into central london! A very strange but exciting experience!

Ferry across the thames

View from the ferry

View from the boat into London

Amazing. Sailor life!

Friday, 11 May 2012


Our most recent brief is a collaboration with MMU students, there has been 8 short stories chosen for us to illustrate which will be produced into a book later on in the year. The story I was given was 'ladies', a story about a teenage boy who is working as a cleaner at a primary school, he finds a pregnancy test in one of the rubbish bins and this causes him all sorts of stress and drama throughout the day, he wonders who it belongs to, is it one of the cleaners, the teachers, or even weirder, one of the childrens? He is working with 3 ladies, A butch middle aged mother like figure, a young sweet lady, who the boy is instantly besotted with and another lady, who the writer described as quite nasty in aura. The boy dwells on who the test belongs to whilst listening to the women gossiping whilst he is forced to make a cup of tea.

I didn't want to just blatantly illustrate something from the story no did I want to include the pregnancy test, as the job of an illustrator when illustrating text is to illustrate the things that we can't find in the text. I instantly began to draw the women and the boy and worked on different character styles, as the writer said he was keen for me to include these. I wanted the boys face to look scared, worried and isolated. The idea of isolation led me on to drawing the boy from inside a building, us looking on from the outside world. I started with a really simple illustration made on illustrator (below), everyone liked it to an extent but seemed to think I could do better, and pushed me to further the idea.

My tutors began to refer back to older work of mine such as my age uk piece and questioned why I hadn't used the same cinematic type angles and compositions as I had in these past works, and how this would make the idea work much better. I started to look at images like below, showing people in similar scenarios in different compositions. 

A Young Man at His Window by Gustave Caillebotte

When starting creating my new image, it seemed like too much work, it was really hard working out how the lines would go, what direction, was angle. However once I just got on with it and carried on I decided my it was definitely not too much work, it was definitely worth it! The way that I create imagery is informed greatly by my love of photography, my love of complex composition, and the idea of telling a story from an image. 

Howkapow finals + feedback

Above is my final mug illustration for my project with Howkapow. The feedback I received was positive, they liked the characters, they said they were fun and would work well with the brand. They also liked the colours however questioned how well the colours would actually work when printed. With my tea towel design they said I should reconsider using a cream background, I was aware of this as I only used that to show how the image would look, as I believe it would look better on a cream background. I was really happy with their feedback as they only told me to improve on things that I had already considered and were happy with my illustrations otherwise. I have not yet started to change the work based on feedback as I would like to do this properly, I really liked my designs and would love to see them on actual products when completed to perfection!

Shooting The Marivaux music video with Northern Lads!

Around this time last year I was asked by my friend Andy to do some film stills for a short film his production company was creating. That hasn't been released as of yet, however I was asked to work with them again, to take some film still shots for a music video they were filming and producing. I said yes as it was really fun last time, and the experience I gained from just being on set was really helpful and interesting, it was also great to meet new talented people too! The music video was for band the Marivaux.

We shot the first lot of shots on the sunday and this was the band scene, so there was a lot of time re-creating a gig like setting, filming the crowd jumping up and down, the band playing, all that sort of stuff. On the tuesday we then shot the majority of the rest of the scenes, this was really fun and exciting although very cold as we were out in the centre of town until 4 in the morning! It was really interesting and exciting to chat to everyone in between takes as well as actually taking photos too.  The lighting was really dark in parts, so I'll admit I got a little bit stressed out, however DOP Jay helped me out and all was fine! Below are some of the photographs that I liked from over the two days.. cant wait to see the final video!

Jill Calder

Recently Jill Calder came into university to give us a lecture, she was awesome! She told us everything we needed to know about the industry and the way that she has worked throughout her career. She told us exactly how it is and explained to us the positives and negatives of certain things. it was refreshing to speak to someone who had had a lot of experience, yet still remembered how it felt to be in our place.

Above is a piece of work she shown us, I really liked the way that all hr characters were actually quite different but still looked like they were from the same world.
Afterwards she came and spoke to us all about the work for our 8x8 illustrations to help us with what he had done so far, she liked mine, as she had written down, having read the story what she thought the illustration would look like and it matched exactly what she had written! She seemed to have faith in my illustration at that point, which made me feel much more confident to move forward with it, I would be interested to see what she thought of it at its current stage!


Here are 3 pieces of advice I would give myself to further my work and my abilities as a creative!

1. Just because its a published piece doesn't mean its your best piece.
By this I mean when looking through work for my portfolio, i was tending to select a few things that weren't really 'me' anymore, and this was only because these were competition wins, finished pieces or published pieces, I realised that these weren't the kind of work I would like to produce, so why would this be the work I would show people?

2. Go with you own instincts.
This is such a cliche thing to say, but it is the most relevant piece of advice I need listen to, I have spent way too much time in every area of life doing things which I think will make other people happy, pushing my own views aside sometimes, the times in which things have been most successful is when I have put my own thoughts first, my own opinions, and got on with what I need to do. I spent too much time worrying about trying to get all the back up work done, when in reality the best of my work has been created by just getting stuck in and doing it.

3. Make  project our own.
Every illustrator or creative I have spoke to has said that they have had projects which sounded uninteresting to them, however that it is a skill you need to learn to be able to take project you would never write yourself, into something which will make your work flourish. Speaking to Lord Whitney, they made me realise this as I was uninterested in my brief at the time, they told me how they had had projects in the past, but how they had made sure they included things they liked in there, to make it more interesting and feel like it was their own.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Stod ID Photography

When I became aware that we had to contact people from industry and get advice or opinions on their way of working or the industry itself, I began to contact illustrators, I did not have much luck at all with this, and am still awaiting replies, as I have been working quite a lot recently with other creatives in the form of photographers, actors, directors. I thought it would be useful to contact these, as although the disciplines are entirely different in a sense, there are so many similarities.

I emailed the Jay, who is a photographer that I met when shooting for the Marivaux music video, he was really helpful as he is a skilled photographer, and as I'm on my way to getting there, he was really helpful when I was having stresses and dramas!  Although he is predominantly a photographer, he was the director of photography for the music video, so he was venturing into new disciplines. So here are my questions and answers:

What are you opinions on creatives of any discipline working for free in the start of their career?
I think working for free at a time, you can learn so much and its a massive bonus but it has to be to a point where you are learning and not just being used because you are free. I have been doing a few video projects for free as in The Marivaux video as I know that there are definitely things to be gained in the future.

Do you think creatives have to stick to one style of work (one style of photography/illustration etc) to be successful?
No you are better finding your self a set ground at what your good at and expand from there. My main core of photography work is interiors and property, but I still do equally well from still life and fashion.

Would you give any advice to or opinions on people aspiring to work in multiple creative disciplines? 
I think diversifying is a necessity in this day and age, I think movie making is a natural progression with the advent of dslrs with movie functions so I think if you think in this day and age you can just be a photographer, you have blinkers on. Lots of top photographers are now making short films and music videos I think that's where photographers will excel as when I shoot films I think of them as thousands of still images.

I found Jay's responses particularly interesting because it is what I have realised recently, I have done quite a lot of work for free over the past few years to gain experience, and I'm starting to feel now, people think that you need them more than they need you, and it gets to a point where that isn't the case. I do however gain lots of experience on some free jobs, so its all relative to the circumstances. Also I think his ideas are similar to mine in the sense that people shouldn't limit themselves to one style, however should have a set area/style which they are predominantly skilled in. His ideas are also similar in the sense of working in different disciplines, it is good to expand your work into different areas, it gives you much more depth as a creative, as well as there being different areas which you can output your work. I found Jay's responses really useful in clarifying that my ideas are exactly what someone with years of experience thinks too! Thanks Jay!

Here is the Shot ID website so take a look at his work!

'I wish I'd done this'

Roy Lichtenstein
Woman in Bath
Oil on canvas. 173.3 x 173.3 cm

This is just one of those pieces of art which I look at think, 'I wish I'd done this', there are a lot of things about this image which I am jealous of. I first came into contact with this particular piece in high school. I had been interested in art from a very young age, my first recollections of art were the likes of Picasso and Lowry, the kinds of things you were asked to recreate yourself in primary school art lessons. Although I appreciated this kind of art, I did not feel a personal connection with the style, it confused me in a sense, and I didn't crave to create it myself, and still don't. So, when I began to come into contact with pop art, like the image above, I was immediately intrigued and felt a connection with this style of art. I had always had an interest in past times, so as I began to look into this art movement, I became completely obsessed. 

I guess one of the main reasons why I wish I had done this image, is because I wish I was there in the time that this image was created. Everything about the culture of that time I find interesting, the music, the films, the fashion. But also, the way that art was now being created with popular culture in mind and the way that consumerism was being acknowledged in creative areas. That the concepts behind the piece were something I would understand automatically.

The composition and use of shapes and textures of pop art images interests me greatly, it informed almost every piece of work I have created. It is important to bare in mind that popular culture is the main basis for pop art pieces, and when we think of popular culture, what do we think of? Musicians, movie stars, magazines, the media, film. This informs the atmosphere and feel of the image as a whole, and changes how we look at these images, now when I look at a pop art image of a woman, I can image this woman as a model, a film star, a musician, so now I start to notice the composition, shapes and textures used in regards to this. 

The composition of 'Woman In Bath' is off centre, which makes the image look more natural, almost like a candid photograph, capturing a moment. I am interested in photography as well as illustration and I like to try and capture a scene when I am taking photos or creating illustrations. I believe this image creates the feel of that of a photograph, and therefore connects the two disciplines in the same way I like to think I can in my own work.

Not only is it the composition which interests me about this image however. Possibly the main thing which caught my eye about this image was the use of colour, it is simple and limited, yet striking, which is something I wish I was able to recreate in all my work. I think it is a talent of Liechtenstein's that he has managed to create a woman using abnormal colours for a humans skin tone, yet we as viewers do not question that she is human, or based on a real woman at all, we see her as normal. I think the different thickness' of lines are really interesting too, something that I need to spend more time working on within my work. The way in which the lines have been used to created her figure are well thought out, they create the shapes perfectly.

The lines around the woman are thicker than the lines behind her, this highlights her even more as the main subject of this image, going back to the idea of celebrity, the 'all eyes on me' aspect of popular culture. 

I wish I'd done this image because, it creates an atmosphere, a sense of place and a sense familiarity. The technique used, screen printing, is something i one day aspire to be an expert at, the lines and textures used are really simple yet effective, which is what i think makes a successful piece of illustration in my opinion. The use of limited colour works really well, and it is this type of use of colour which informs a lot of my work. Not only is the style which makes me jealous of this piece, it is also that this image is part of a movement, how amazing would it be to create something  so influential to so many people?

Pick me up

So last month I went to London twice.. the second of my visits was to go to pick me up! I went to see the David Shrigley and Jeremy Deller exhibition too, I didn't really have much of an opinion on any of it, I wasn't particularly inspired by anything I saw, however there was a map in the Jeremy Deller exhibition drawn of Manchester by a child which shown a lot of places I know of which I found interesting and coincidental considering I was in London. So pick me up was at somerset house, below:

When I arrived I was literally amazed, when I'm in exhibition, gallery type areas there is usually very little I'm like "wow!" at, but at pick me up everything was amazing! I was so happy walking around, everything was catching my eye, there was not one thing I looked at with a negative view. Below is an image by Tim Mcdonagh which I was particularly amazed by, I'm obsessed with tattooed sailor ladies, but not only that, limited colour too, especially the use of black white and red, so this caught my eye instantly, it inspired me so much, straight away I wanted to go off and draw some sailor ladies of my own (I did).

Tim Mcdonagh

Below is some of the work created by Sarah Beetson, I really liked how the subjects she illustrates are well known people or situations, I like that because it shows how she, personally,  illustrates certain people, I always find the way that different people draw different things really interesting. I particularly liked her illustrations of Amy Winehouse and Sailor Jerry which you can see below.

Sarah Beetson

Below is the work of Paul X Johnson, his work although it had bright areas seemed really dark, I liked this as I think it made the images really atmospheric. I liked the way the shapes were really smooth too, his illustration style I think is one of the many ways I wish I could draw.

Paul X Johnson

Inside pick me up

Nice view of london on the walk there

I had a great time looking at everyones work and speaking to a few people too, it was nice to tell people personally that you really liked their work. I wish i'd gone for more than one day now or had stayed longer (I had to leave early to go and see wicked though, which was also amazing!). Can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

One day project

So we got back to uni today, and were thrown straight back into it all by being a set a one day brief in which we, illustration, were to work with graphics to create an image based on a certain question regarding doing our degree at stockport college. I worked with Danny and Rachel and we had the question 'what inspires you', we had lots of ideas of composition, using shapes with different objects in, or letters surrounded by objects.. but one thing which was consistent, is that we wanted to feature items from all areas of things we are inspired by, and collectively create an image featuring them all. We thought it was necessary to create something which would include the word 'inspiration' to clearly state what we were illustrating, simple but effective I feel. We collected lots of different images, musicians, characters from films, pieces of art, we then used our images collected to create different letters to spell out 'inspiration'. Below is our finished piece at the end of the one day:

We were happy with how far we'd got so far however would like to work on it more, we have all worked extra on this and tried to further the design, here is how I furthered the design, I felt that the type was easier to read as one clear word rather than separate letters, I also added the background colour as I just think this worked better with the type.. not sure what the other guys think yet though so we'll have to see what the final final image will look like soon.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Kat Mullen Ep cover

Kat Mullen is a singer from Manchester, she was recently looking for someone to illustrate her EP artwork, I contacted her and she was happy to have me create it. She didn't really have any ideas in mind apart from that the title would be featured, so it was really fun to create, I had complete control, the only downfall was the worry that maybe I would make it and then she wouldn't like it, but we kept in touch throughout the design process and luckily she loved it! 

It was around the time I had started my work for howkapow which I started to think of ideas, I thought it would be a good idea to use the same sort of themes so I wasn't distracted around that time by any other ideas and styles, so that I could fully focus on my ice cream themed illustrations! 

I started to sketch ideas which seemed to work well, but I wasn't sure of the layouts, or how I would execute the final design. I looked back to my most recent work and the work I most proud of, and decided creating most elements in illustrator, with hand drawn elements and type thrown in there was the best way of working for me!

The ice cream was created on illustrator, all of the type were created using ink onto paper and the dots were created using photoshop, although I love how (especially when you look close) they look hand printed, all of it was put together using photoshop. I really like how it turned out and I think it really represents my way of working well!

Kats EP is now available on amazon here !