Monday, 30 January 2012

Bryony and Hannah's Discussion

Our last class discussion was lead by Bryony and Hannah, who talked to us about designing for free.
The issue is where do you draw the line when people ask for favours? 
Friends and family regularly request drawings and things that I make, and at the moment I'm happy to create things for people for free in my spare time, but at some point I will hope to be able to make money from the work that I do, and this time may be better spent creating things that people will want to pay for. For example, at the moment I am continuing with (what I suppose is an on-going 'personal project') my handmade animals, which I make for friends. I love taking the time to do this and it doesn't seem like a chore to be prolific in this way, but I would also love to be able to sell these types of creations, if there is a market for it! I have been curious to look into how some fellow college students are getting their work out on the internet more so than me, like Millie Connors in 3rd year illustration has her some of her hand-made products on sale on her etsy (made by millie). I would definitely need to look into being able to create things more quickly, which is something else that needs to be considered for free design work; it seems best to be able to design for lots of different projects at a fast pace, rather than labouring away on one piece for weeks on end. This also links to finding your own 'illustration language' and having the confidence to make it a speedier process, which I feel I'm getting close to with each brief we get.
People don’t always
appreciate the skill that goes
into design work. Often
companies think just giving
credit is enough as it will get
work seen.
Is this good enough?
Is it worth turning down an
offer that could get you
recognized even if the
company is taking advantage
of you?
 Of course, when starting out as a designer we can't expect to be in high demand. If anything, most of us will be fighting our hardest to even find jobs. Therefore, entering competitions and gaining as much exposure as possible through designing for free can be the only way forward. The risk that nothing will be gained in return is sadly a necessary one- at least it continues to build up a body of work and allows you to keep improving through different projects.
As for the view that companies take advantage of designers through their competitions, I feel that it is unfair, especially when many of them should easily be able to afford to pay a winning designer for their work. Unless the particular design becomes famous enough for the designer's name to be made prominent, the recognition may only be brief and perhaps not lead to any paid work opportunities. Bryony and Hannah pointed this out with president Obama's election poster competition as an example of the designer being made anonymous.
This extremely famous image is by designer Shepard Fairey. This is the most widely distributed version, featuring the word 'hope'. Other variations used the words 'change' and 'progress'. The original was aquired by Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.
The overwhelming popularity of the design has lead to many imitations and parodies of the image, using the faces of different people and words, but in-keeping with Fairey's distinctive graphic style. If I were him I might find it incredibly frustrating not having any rights over the image, yet at the same time, grateful for the huge popularity the design has internationally. The only other danger is becoming a one trick pony-how can a designer progress from a design so popular when it has become the thing that defines them?

Monday, 23 January 2012

'Little White Lies' Brief

My current project is very exciting. I am designing a cover illustration for the film magazine Little White Lies to enter into the competition. My design will be a portrait of Nina Seyers, the main character of Black Swan.
So far my research has involved re-watching the film, making notes on the atmosphere, themes and looking closely at Nina's character; attributes that may be relevant to the design. I've also watched and read various interviews that offer others' insights into the film and Nina. Natalie Portman's own words have been particularly useful:
"Nina starts out as this childlike woman, trying to please her mother, trying to please her ballet director and fit exactly into the standards of this world that’s prescribed to her. Finally she finds that perfection only lies in pleasing herself." 
-Telegraph interview, January 23rd 2012 
I've also been paying attention to the existing covers shown on the digital archive of the Little White Lies site. After a brief look it seems clear that the preferred style is quite graphic looking. Some of the examples had more of a hand-drawn feel though, but often mixed with digital imagery, such as The Life Aquatic Issue, where Bill Murray's face appears hand drawn in a sketchy style, combined with bold, colourful graphic clothing.
Another I was drawn to was the Drive issue, which would appear to be a very simple, yet skillfully painted watercolour.

I'm trying not to focus too much on existing film posters and magazine covers on Black Swan, as there is so much imagery already available, I'd like mine to be as unique as I can manage! At the moment I'm continuing to immerse myself in as much research as I can relating to the film and character, as well as beginning to do some drawings. Here is my first attempt at a sketch of her:

The Finished Product of the Life Stories Brief

I am so proud of this illustration. It took so many hours of work, and after being kindly given two consecutive photo shooting days, working with and without a flash, followed by my own timid attempts at photoshopping, I can't wait to show it to the world.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Photo sessions with Graham

The past couple of days I've been lucky enough to book out one of the photography studios to get my work shot professionally. Here are some of the best ones. (All that's left to do now is a little bit of tweaking on photoshop to fit the final image to the correct dimensions, and alter the lighting and colour).

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Sisterly Pride

Recently my sister has started modelling for some life drawing classes. It's something my mum also used to do while she was a student too. Perhaps if I was brave enough I might look into doing it myself. Here are some of the paintings the students produced...

Monday, 9 January 2012

The joys of gingerbread architecture.

My dad, my sister and I are the proud builders of this gingerbread house (granted, it was not made from scratch but a gingerbread house making kit). I attempted to build it first with a friend. The first instruction was to melt some sugar to use to glue the pieces of the house together. It was EXTREMELY hot so we decided to leave it to cool for a while, only to return to a bowl full of set which point we gave up. 
So my dad took it upon himself to have another go the next day. He managed to glue the house together with extremely hot melted sugar (and now has heat blisters to prove it). I decorated the roof using an assortment of m&ms, jelly tots, chocolate drops and squeezed icing. Anna finished off with a few more icing details around the edge of the house, and a dusting of winter icing sugar! 
We haven't demolished it as yet. 


I had a mental block for quite some time on what material to use for my Life Stories project when it came to the flooring of my 3d set-up, which is designed to look like a dance hall. Originally in my early designs I had taken for granted that the flooring would be easy, and it would just be a fairly straightforward representation of a wooden/ parquet floor. When it actually came to the point where I needed to construct it I was unsure how to approach it. I thought about a few options: I could have photographed parquet flooring and then used a repeated  image of this to create a realistic floor (which would have been fiddly, time consuming and potentially not fit in very tastefully; I could have continued the technique I used for the dancing figures and transfer a pencil drawing of parquet flooring (but that would also be very time consuming and might look monotonous); or I could have placed pieces of real wood in it.

Finally I made the decision to make it more surreal, and create a floor that looks like a garden, to include an element of landscape gardening that is also very important to the history behind this piece. I've since been knitting different textured samples to then sew together for this. It's been taking up a LOT of my spare time for the past few days, and frustratingly slow work.

Molly, my cat, was not being particularly helpful earlier today...