Friday, 21 December 2012

Advice from Jack Hughes

When emailing Jack Hughes, he was happy to answer questions so, I asked him a few questions and he gave me some really great advice. I thought it would be a good idea here to share some of the most useful advice for someone in my situation here:
If you're going to fuck up and make mistakes, make them at uni, you'll have no support once you leave, so you need to get the majority of your disasters out of the way.”

I wouldn't let marks get you down, they're only really a rough guideline when it comes to art courses, they matter a lot more in academic subjects.”

Look at what other illustrators are doing out there (but don't try to emulate them!)"
"Contact agencies, illustrators and designers just to ask for advice, don't be disheartened when they don't reply, a lot of this industry is getting very few replies.”

Keep working, always find time to do personal work, only have work in your portfolio that you want to be commissioned for - work that you enjoy doing, this is very important!”

If you are finding it difficult to get work, again don't be disheartened, apply for internships, apply for roles or jobs that aren't necessarily creative but are in a creative environment, that way you can still be involved and it'll help influence your personal work and any paid work you get through.”

Its great to get advice from someone whois doing what I want to be doing once I've left university. I think all of this advice is important for me to remember..

Portfolio review with Jack Hughes

Last week I went to London. Before I went I thought it would be a good idea to try and get someone I admire to look at my portfolio while I was there if I could. So I very cheekily tweeted Jack Hughes. I didn't expect a reply at all, I didn't even think he'd read it so when he did I was very excited.

So I  then sent him an email asking if he was free on the friday, he got back to me whilst I was in London saying he had a deadline on the saturday so couldn't see me in person but would be happy to answer questions and look at my portfolio online, so obviously that was great. I sent my portfolio off to him as soon as I got home and he was very helpful in his reply.

He explained how he could see two styles of illustration within my work,'the more graphic style' and 'the more hand drawn naive style'. I had never really considered there was a difference because I generally create my work in the same way. He said he thought my graphic style was more successful and I should push that more in his opinion as my portfolio would be more considered if it were to all be in that style, I agree.

Speaking to Jack gave me a lot to think about, it makes you think, someone seeing it from an outside view who doesn't know you won't know your inspirations or the way you want your work to look, it made me think I'd really like to change that, I want my work to look how I think it looks. 

It was really great to speak to someone who's work I really admire, he is inspired by mid-century imagery which is clearly visable in his work so I thought was perfect to get some advice from him and I'm really grateful for his throurough response!

Comment & content or Decoration?

So which is more important in creative work? Is it more important for your work to communicate a social comment and provide meaningful content? Or is it more important that your work is received well as a decorative piece?

I find this topic interesting, because I find myself fighting with both sides of the argument when creating my work. Creative work must certainly at times have an under lying meaning, in both personal work and for a client. Personal work firstly is a part of you and automatically a brilliant platform to showcase that; a part of you, your thoughts, feelings, opinions. Work for a client especially demands you to use your ability of portraying an idea in the form of your illustrative style, whether it be for a book cover, a cd cover or an editorial piece, more often than not you are asked to portray some form of idea, and it is almost more often than not, the idea which begins to make the piece more successful.

Now on the other hand, in my opinion, the whole point of being a creative person and then choosing to make visual communications of some sort, to portray an idea, or just something, creatively, is that you are able to do so in a way that looks attractive. No matter how good the idea is, if you aren't able to communicate it in a way which looks attractive, it will not be successful. There have been many times in my own work where I have had a great idea, but for various reasons, lack of time, motivation, etc. I have not had the energy to produce the nicest looking piece of work, which means overall the work is not successful, and sometimes means you can't even understand the idea I was trying to illustrate.

I think essentially to be a successful illustrator, designer, surface designer or creative of any form there has to be a good mixture of the two. It has the potential to become boring if your work simply never has any meaning ever, in a way of that it can lack connection, if its always just pretty pictures it can become empty. However, in the same sense, work with opinions, and throwing social comments into your work, has the potential to become boring and tedious too, sometimes I find myself looking at some peoples work and thinking 'okay, we get it, you've got an opinion'.

I believe that sometimes people do just draw, for example, a cat, simply because they like to draw cats, the way in which I draw sailors, because I like how sailors look, yes there can be meaning behind it but sometimes it simply is because I think it looks nice. People are always going to put meaning behind your work whether or not you have, however, simply having meaning behind your work does not make it successful, and it is important when approaching the idea of meaning behind your work that you steer away from becoming pretentious.

Personally if I saw something which was designed or illustrated badly or un inspiringly, I wouldn't take a second look at it to find out the meaning behind it, whereas is something looks beautiful, sometimes it does not need meaning behind it for it to inspire you. While it is important to make sure your work sometimes features some sort of meaning, whether it be a fun, playful idea, or something deep and meaningful, I think it is important to remember you are creating something visually, so for it to look attractive really needs to be most certainly equally (if not in some cases more) important.

Portfolio Review with Matt Bray + Jord O'Brien

So today I went into town to visit Matt Bray and Jord O'Brien. These two left Stockport college last year and have since became part of self formed collective 'Foursight'. I thought it would be useful to get some advice from people who were in the same situation as me this time last year, as their thoughts about it all would still be fresh in their mind.

I took my pdf portfolio with me to show them on my Ipad. I wasn't sure if this was a wise choice, but as they looked through it, it was interesting to see how they both automatically zoomed into the images for a closer look, something you couldn't do with a printed portfolio. Although it would be a good idea to take along some of the actual printed items too (Age uk bookle, 8x8 book etc.).

It was great to hear some positive feedback, Matt was really impressed with my characters and the way I use simple shapes to create my work. He explained how he thought it was good that my characters were versatile, how they worked to illustrate Madonna, but also the characters in Brave New World. It was great to hear this as character design is something I really hoped I'd cracked by this point, I especially appreciated this comment coming from Matt because he has a really distinct style when it comes to character design!

They advised me to start screen printing some of my work as they thought it would work really well printed. So far on my degree, when working on tight deadlines, I've had to cheat make my illustrations look printed as much as possible, which pains me to do. I'm glad they thought my work would work well printed as next year when I have more time hand printed my illustrations is something I definitely plan to do.

Jord was interested to see what I wanted to do once I left, I told him I planned to make and create my own things, clothes, prints, books. He and Matt both gave me advice on the sort of places my work may do well such as print fairs, and explained how they got their work into places like magma which was usefull.

All in all it was a positive review, as recently I've been doubting my work, so it was nice to hear feedback from great illustrators, which re-inforced the same views I once had on my work!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Website Design Research

Being a creative, you need somewhere to show off your work. Today, where the internet is of a large importance, its vital that somewhere within the online world you and your work have a presence.

In a sense, a website is a portfolio of your work, its a place where people can see what work you've done and where you can explain how you've done it. Being able to explain your work is good, because your physical portfolio may not always answer the questions people may have about your work. 

It is important to keep your explanations concise and not over laboured on your actual portfolio page on your website, however having the option of links to your blog or extra pages is useful. Jack Hughes' website created through Tumblr is a great example of this as it features his work but also lots of links and updates to ongoing work which clients can look, at if they were interested:

 Now not only does a website give you chance to explain your work, but also give the idea of the sense of place your work creates. In this sense a website is better if your style and ideas are consistent throughout your work and your website, much like a business card a website shouldn't be an after thought with pieces of your work just plastered onto it, a website should be a piece of your work in itself.

A great example of this is Lord Whitneys website. On their enter page it features a photograph which instantly shows the way they work. You know that this was specially made for the website and clearly wasn't an after thought:

It is important to set your work out neatly and easy to understand. A good way which I have seen many times is to use a small crop of the image, which links to the full page, like here, again on Lord Whitney's website:

It is also vital to have easy to understand navigation throughout your website. Timba Smits does this well having a header of all different aspects of his work, this sort of navigation would be good for someone like me who likes to showcase different types of work (in my case illustration and photography): 

There are lots of different online platforms for creating websites. Tumblr and Cargo are both great places available at the moment for places to upload your work, they can be as simple or complicated in design as you wish and you can also connect with other people by 'following' them on there too which is a great was to connect other people to your work. If you're looking to sell products, Big Cartel is a good place to start off with an online shop, you can connect this to your website and have the small online shop for free, this is really easy to use and has a nice simple design which you can changed the colours, header etc.

I bought my domain a few years ago and have since tried out a lot of online platforms, I have even created my own website from scratch, however I am excited next year to get started with my brand new website which can have a great overall look and perfect navigation throughout showcasing the best of my work and design skills all in one place.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Hopes, Fears and Oppurtunities

My Hopes

By the time I leave university, I hope to be happy with the way my work looks, I don't want to look at it and think 'thats not me', I feel like I'm getting there but I hope that doing my final major project I can get a chance to really do the work I want to do and learn what it is I'd like to be making when I leave. I'd really like my inspirations to be clearly shown in my work, again I think I'll be able to further this in my final major project and since I will have explored a lot of my inspirations in my journal this will help me to have some of these ideas at the forefront of my mind. My main hope I guess is that everything fits together, I want my portfolio, business card, website, etc to represent me, my way of working, and my inspirations and ideas, in a sense creating a brand, I think thats how a creative becomes successful, its important for everything to work together, and I hope I can begin to achieve that.

My Fears
I guess my main fear is just that at the end of all this I'm not happy with my work. I came to University to learn about my own way of working and I just want to achieve that. If I left and I still thought 'So how do I draw people? (or cats, or cars, or food, or whatever)' I'd be disappointed because once I leave I know theres not time to mess around, I want to be able to show people my portfolio straight away and be confident when I tell them they need me to do work for them. I obviously fear that no-one will like my work, I won't get work, I won't be happy, but in all honesty I think being successful is not down to just your creative talent, being confident in yourself can get you a long way, and being happy with my own work is the first step towards that!

Opportunities I wish to gain

I am taking full advantage of the opportunity to carry on learning, the end is near and I'm wishing I could go back and do 1st and 2ndyear again and learn some more, but I can't, so this year I'm planning to not take for granted this time I have to mess up before I have to go into the real world. I can't wait to start my final major project, I am so excited for the opportunity to spend time on creating self initiated work involving the things I care about. I really want to be able to create my own real life products, that could potentially be produced and sold in real life, this year I want the opportunity to speak to the right people who can give me advice on this. I'm excited to have the opportunity to spend time creating a portfolio, business cards, a website, products, illustrations which I will be happy with and proud to show people, I'm excited to have the opportunity to further the standard of my work and hopefully end up with work I am extremely proud of.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Exhibition at Bench - Self Made Gallery

A few weeks ago a friend of mine who studies at salford told me there was going to be an exhibition at self made gallery in Bench in the northern quarter and that they wanted my work to go up. I was really excited so got thinking what I could put up. I've been doing a lot of drawings recently inspired by old school tattoo flash. I've always been interested in the way tattoo flash make characters and items into little emblems almost, but also the simple way of illustrating different characters. I started sketching my own little characters firstly, then I developed them with colour, and eventually decided on the ones which worked best, I decided for this I would paint the images and give myself a break from illustrator, I really enjoyed it!


Heres the final pieces on show on the night:

 As the exhibition was showcasing talent from Manchester, Northern Lads Productions would also be showcasing a showreel for their short films and music videos, I do the stills for these lads, so a wall of my photography was up too. It looked great, it was great to finally showcase some of these images too as for a while they've been under wraps! And as well as this, The Minx were showcasing there talents as an up and coming Manchester band, which meant there was a whole table of the photography and illustration I  had done for them too.

It was a really great night, everything went well and it was really good to speak to creative people in Manchester. I really enjoyed seeing my work up and hearing peoples positive reactions to it as they had a look around. It was great to know people were reacting positively to all variations of my work too, not only the photograhy and illustration I had done for other people but also the self instigrated project I had set myself.