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!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Portfolio review with Lorraine Owen from the Organisation

I had a portfolio review with Lorraine Owen. She is an agent for childrens illustrators, so when looking at my work she definitely was looking for areas which could relate the childrens illustrations. I myself am not really interested in creating illustrations for children, mainly because I like my work to have quite adult themes. She said my work would work well for childrens illustration which genuinely made me really re-think all my previous work. Although I can see how my simple way of illustrating characters and the circular cheeks I use etc. could be suitable for illustration used for childrens products or books, this made me feel extremely disconnected to my work as it made it clear my portfolio really was not showing 'me'.

I like to illustrate images relating to popular culture and sexuality and there were none of these images in my portfolio, it was as though the work wasn't even made by me! I made a conscious effort to make sure all work from that point on reflected exactly what I want people to think of me and my work when looking at my portfolio.

The one positive comment which I took from my review with Lorraine was that she said I worked well with characters and could convey an expression on a characters face. I suppose this was a another reason why she said my work would be suitable for illustrating for children as its important for childrens illustration that the children understand the characters mood. I have spent a lot of time trying to work on how I draw people, and working how to convey different expressions on the same characters, I am glad that she picked up on this and felt I was doing this well.