Thursday, 20 June 2013

Major Project Evaluation

Looking back on the last several weeks of work, I'm fairly proud with what I've achieved; although when comparing my initial proposal to the actual final outcomes, it is clear to see that my work does have some significant weaknesses.
To begin with, I'm happy with the creative aims of the project. I chose a story that has a personal appeal to me, and that kept me engaged and determined in the work from start to finish. Choosing to create a book was an ambitious goal, considering I have had difficulties in the past with similar work related to narrative illustration. But I think it was important for me to strive to create something that had a purpose beyond superficial aesthetics, since I have always found storytelling appealing, and (trying to say this without sounding obnoxiously pretentious) am interested in making art that has a deeper meaning to it-something to express my beliefs/interests. I feel that my research into the story itself helped a great deal in informing the character of (I felt) the main protagonist, Big Bad Mr. Wolf. His appearance gives him a personality that I don't think is often portrayed in other versions of the tale: he is an endearing, misunderstood character, despite his devious actions against Little Red Riding Hood; in a way, I wanted to get across in my images that he is a product of his loneliness, and the confusion between his animal instincts (to hunt and eat prey) and his desire to dress up like a gentleman and be human.
Since the importance of the story research was particularly in looking at the metaphorical analysis of its message, planning the narrative was otherwise simple, and not a problematic part of the project. I wrote a version of the story myself which deviates very little from other generic versions; hoping that the images themselves would be the more significant factor in making it stand out as something of my own. My visual research was mostly focused on the setting of the forest, which I think made sense as most of the images would use this scenery as a background, and I feel very lucky that I managed to wander round such a beautiful German forest as inspiration, and use the actual tree branches I gathered there as the trees in my woods!
Technically, I'm pleased with the development of my working method. Although the thought of creating a wolf that could be mobile enough for a successful animation was scary at first, I'm happy to say that I pulled it off! My animation demonstrates the movement I wanted to be able to achieve, and I think as a stand-alone object, he is probably the best creature I've made as yet. In fact, it was hard not to get carried away taking a million pictures of him and making images based solely on his character! I think I did a little bit, actually, but it proved to work in my favour as I'm now the proud in-house illustrator of this year's college newsletter!
 Little Red Riding Hood was also a success, and has a surprising amount of movement herself. Sadly, she wasn't ready in time to be involved in the animation side of things, but as I viewed her as a less significant character, this didn't bother me too much. My problem-solving in her production involved risk-taking, using a material I've not had practice with (modelling clay), which probably should have been tackled at an earlier stage to allow for experimentation, but the gamble paid off. Creating the forest also required some quick thinking when I realised the tree branches were too heavy to stand well on their own, but picking the mod roc to stabilise the structure was a wiser decision in this case as I've had plenty of experience using it before (just not for this course!) I think the research is evident in the production of the woods, and the atmosphere of the final images. I'm happy that the illustrations convey the story effectively, with the tone and atmosphere I wanted.
However, despite the fact that my production methods have evolved positively, I am still lacking confidence in the relevant computer software needed to really bring my work together and make it cohesive for its set purpose (in my case, the obvious part that's missing is the arrangement of the pages and the text together, ready to be printed as a book). I'm also disappointed that I didn't complete the drawings I had planned to place in between the full illustrations. The drawing side of the work became forgotten about, when originally I wanted to integrate them effectively with the photographs. I still aim to complete this eventually, and although it's sad that I don't have the final product ready to be marked as part of my degree, I'm happy to now spend a little bit more time perfecting everything before I will send it to be bound professionally. (The pressure is on because I know certain family members have been requesting copies!)
Professionally, I think I have obvious strengths and weaknesses. My organisation skills still need a boost. I feel that if the work had accelerated quicker in the initial few weeks I would have found the production towards the end much less stressful. But personal circumstances also intervened and had a terrible effect on my motivation. Although I've had an extension, I still feel the negative impact of this is evident in the standard of my work. I was aiming high, but I've accepted I couldn't quite get there; at least I tried my best. I would just love to know what my best could have been! (Life, eh). Aside from the work itself, I've still been keeping my blog updated regularly with critical posts about myself and also looking at contacting the industry and learning more and more about influences and inspiration. I have identified artists who are achieving success in the kinds of 'niches' I'd love to get into (who unfortunately haven't responded to my attempts at contacting them), but attending the craft convention earlier this term opened my eyes to the fact that there are helpful people out there who will show interest in my work. I just need to maintain my enthusiasm for what I do, keep making, keep getting myself out there and ultimately not give up on what I'm passionate about.
In conclusion, the end of this project has been a bittersweet victory for me. I'm relieved that it's over, and positive about the future, just frustrated at my short-comings this time round. It still feels like a valuable learning experience. Although I think I've developed a strong 'illustrative voice' which feels like me, I am still refining and improving myself, which will probably be an ongoing process for some time to come. This isn't necessarily a negative thing, just something that will require perseverance and a strong belief in myself. As long as I can get that confidence back, I think I will be ok...

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