Sunday, 18 December 2011

Music: Portfolio Visit #6

Last week I was lucky enough to be offered an opportunity to go into Music design agency in Manchester to work on a Christmas installation on their glass office. I went in for a meeting and took along my portfolio, which designers Craig and Ed had a look through with me. 

They had obviously seen some of my work on my website before I went in (because of the installation offer) so it was good to hear their thoughts on it face to face. As with other visits, I just went through and explained what each piece was about, and showed them any printed material that I had. They remembered my piece for the 8x8 publication so it was good to show them the full colour printed version of that, and they also liked the astronaut piece I created for my Lunar project, and it wasn't until I mentioned it that Craig noticed the camera reflection in the visor. He suggested that it might be cool to have little twists like that in other work as it makes in interesting and gives in more depth. I definitely like the idea of including little details that aren't obvious at first glance, so this is something to think about in future work, if appropriate. 
This was the second visit I'd been to with my printed childrens book, which I showed to them. Fortunately they were able to see the link between the childrens illustrations and my regular portfolio work, mostly via my use of colour and textures again. They mentioned the fabric texture on the monkey and how it looked like someones jeans, and also that they had seen the illustrations by some other students on the same project at previous portfolio visits.

Overall it was a positive meeting and they didn't really have anything bad to say about my folio. I went away from the meeting to work on my designs for the window installation, which is based on the Christmas 'Grinch Song'. I've posted a sketch for this below, which it should look like more or less when I'm finished. Cheers!


Christmas Cards

So, a group of us 3rd year illustration students decided to create some Christmas cards to sell, in order to raise money for a stand at D&AD Newblood next year. There was also a group of students who held a bake sale selling all sorts of lovely baked goods, and managed to raise a good amount of money for D&AD!

We screen printed 5 Christmas card designs, one by each of us involved. 3 of the cards were 2 colour jobs, and 2 were single colour. It was a really fun project to work on as it was probably the first time we had been able to work as a group on something this year, and it also gave us the opportunity to get back into screen printing, which I hadn't done since first year, and others had never done.

I did a couple of quick designs for my card, but we opted to print the Santa one (below), which was a 2 colour print of black over red.


Head over to Kris Sale's blog post here, as he kindly took few snaps of us hard at work prinitng the cards!

Illustrations Digital Future

Throughout my time at uni studying illustration, its become more and more apparent that when we graduate, there is a good chance our work or illustrations could be used for digital output, possibly even more so than in print.
With the invention of new technology such as smart phones, ipads, and most people owning computers and using the internet everyday, there seems to be a shift in the ways that illustrations can be created and applied.
Firstly, new software for pcs and macs means that digital illustrations can be created quickly and therefore more cheaply, but they can also be created in the style of more traditional methods. The work of Matthew Lyons for example is created completely digitally with custom brushes and textures to give it a more hand made feel. It makes editing and amendments much easier if working digitally, as well as it already being in a format to send over to a client. Vector illustrations in particular provide greater scope for use as they can be resized bigger or smaller without losing quality.
Although there seems to have been an increase of people going back to handmade methods of creating illustrations by painting, print-making, papercutting etc, these inevitably will have to be scanned in or recreated into a digital format to send to clients in most cases. Email seems to have taken preference over phone calls, and also over sending hard copies in the post, as its just quicker and easier. So even if illustrators work by hand, there would rarely be a time when a computer in some form wouldn't make an appearance during a project. There is a really interesting article here in computer arts about the digital revolution due to software that is worth a look.

In terms of application of illustration, computers and the internet have provided lots of different outlets for work rather than print. Apps, digital magazines (webzines), websites and animations have created more outlets for illustration, whereas the opportunities in print seemed to have decreased, especially in a hard economy.
For example, I recently saw this video about how artist Raghava KK used the ipad to create in interactive children's book  that can be shaken to change up the characters!


There is a list here of children's e-books compiled by The New York Times, that is worth a look. 

There are opportunities in web design too, where illustrators are being used to create interesting artwork, and moving animated artwork for use on websites. I recently saw a piece of work by one of my favourite illustrators, Dan Matutina, where he created and designed a website for Revolver Studios. It required moving elements as well as backgrounds that also have small moving elements to them. (Check out the oil spray and UFO) So i think this is another way that illustrators are being asked to work more like designers, and to apply their skills more broadly across different areas rather just static images. 

The Internet has also provided opportunities for illustrators to show their work and find work. Things like twitter and facebook means that illustrators can network ore easily and get their work shown all over the world. Free portfolio sites that have their own networks such as Behance and Dribbble again provide opportunities to share work, as well as personal websites and blogs of course. So in that respect, I think that the internet can be helpful to illustrators.

Overall I think that illustrations digital future is probably a very rich one and provides many opportunities. Difficulties may arise for illustrators who work more traditionally perhaps, as the amount of print decreases. Also, if illustrators don't have any animation or digital skills on photoshop or illustrator for example, it may be difficult to get jobs when competing with people who can create, animate and design for digital output. Gaining some digital and animation might have to be the way to go for most illustrators,...I guess time will tell.

Website Research

I've had a website for a while now, but I haven't really spent as much time as I would have liked sorting it out and designing it properly, so it's quite basic at the moment, but I think I'd want to keep it pretty simple anyway.

It was about two years ago when I decided to set up a website, and I went about it in the more common way of buying server space and my domain name, and then using html/css and templates to put together a site, with the help of a friend that knew more about web design than myself. It had a splash page (which I thought was cool) and was then just a basic portfolio site with a selection of images. However, it really lacked the more professional look that I was after, and it was difficult to add content as it was all done through ftp via my hosting account (apologies as I'm probably using completely the wrong names for things).

When I did some research into illustrators websites, there seemed to be a split between professionally designed custom websites, and then sites that used content management systems, mostly either Cargo or indexhibit
At the time, because I already had server space, and I'd seen a couple of cool illustrators sites that used indexhibit, I decided to download the package (which is free) and install it. For example, Allan Sanders's website looks really nice and clean, as does Paul Blow's. hey are clean and simple looking, whilst still being easy to navigate, and are also slightly customised to make them a bit different to others.

At the time I didn't really know much about Cargo and thought it was less customisable and more of a portfolio site like Behance, but in hindsight, I think Cargo would probably be a better way to go as its already set up for you and is really easy to add content to as far as I know. Installing indexhibit was a steep learning curve in ftp, html/css coding and working through all the technicalities of installing the system via my server space. This probably wouldn't have been hard for a web designer, but as I knew nothing, google became my new best friend! I did mean a learnt a bit more about web design though which is always a good thing.
Once the package was installed correctly, its pretty easy to add content to, and its customisable through html/css. I liked the simplicity of some of the indexhibit sites I'd seen, so decided to go for just a list of the projects on the left (index), and then the projects images on the right (exhibit). 

It's quite simple looking, and I haven't really got anything on the main page at the moment which I think I need to change. There's the option of a splash page too, but I'm not sure about that yet. Things that I think I'd like to have on my site are possibly a news section on the main page, or a grid of images from the site that link to the separate pages, such as on Steve Simpsons site here,...

...The Silent Giants site here, or Andrew Rae's site here, that has a similar layout to my indexhibit site but runs on Cargo.
Chrisitan Montenegro's site is also built with indexhibit and has a nice and simple news feed. I think this could be something to look into so that I can post updates on there also so it doesn't seem like I've forgotten about the site, or relying on people visiting my blog to see what I'm up to.

Overall I'd like to improve the look of my main page of my site, try and get a news feed in there, and also try and improve the image placement on the individual pages. Finding a good way of presenting embedded videos is also something I need to look in to. Hopefully I can do this via indexhibit, otherwise making a move over to Cargo is definitely something I'd consider.

Here are a few illustrators websites that I really like, mostly because I think they are easy to navigate and have all the information about the illustrator, contact, blog etc. 

Scott Balmer - his site presents all his work in a grid, is really simple and easy to use, and all his vital contact information is right there for you to see. 

Matthew Lyons - his site is like a blog and portfolio site in one, running on wordpress. 

Heads of State - again this has a grid system but is custom designed as far as I can tell. It looks really professional and has a nicely designed header.


Hopes, Fears and Opportunities (pt 1)

At the start of this semester at uni, we were asked to write down and think about our hopes and fears for the forthcoming year and also to think about our overall aims, and any opportunities we could take advantage of.

My hopes for this year and beyond were to be able to get a job or commissions, to be more confident in my way of working, and to also improve and build on my skills. Overall I don’t think I’ve done too badly with these so far. As far as jobs are concerned, I was lucky enough to be picked to illustrate a children’s book, and I’m currently working on a window installation that I was approached about due to someone seeing my work, so although these aren’t paid jobs, they are a little bit more challenging and high profile (for lack of a better word) than things I’ve done in the past.
I think I have become a little bit more confident in my ways of working, and this kind of goes hand in hand with improving my skills. I think that the children’s book definitely helped with this as it was something I had never tried before, both in terms of the concept of creating and designing a book aimed at children, and also in terms of my working method. I can honestly say I was really not confident that my children’s illustrations would work out when I began, but just thought I would give it a go anyway. I tried a new method of cut paper and digital work for the book, which I think helped improve my skills a bit, and also improved my confidence as I felt that I was able to make the imagery for a different audience, but not go too far away from my usual way of working.
This made me think that all of us as illustrators are probably able to stretch in different directions quite easily without completely changing our work. I think ‘diversification’ might be word of the year at the moment.
Also, going to portfolio visits, and coming runner up in the MASI competition also makes me feel a bit more confident in my work; it’s good to have other people’s views on it rather than just from inside the uni bubble I guess!

My fears for the year were that I wouldn’t get any work, that I would lose motivation, and that my work won’t find a clear aim or direction. I think that these fears still stand and I’ll probably have to wait and see at the end of the year as to whether they will happen or not.  I think that portfolio visits and contact with industry professionals is a step in the right direction when it comes to getting work, so is actually creating more new work. But I think that keeping up motivation and finding a clear direction will probably come with finding a project/subject matter that I’m really interested in, or a way of working that is exciting. I think this could be a real aim for the final major project. Picking a project that is genuinely interesting and something I think I could do an extended body of work on will be really important and will hopefully be both motivating and, if successful, will help me find a direction for my work (or if unsuccessful, at least I’ll know what I don’t want to do!).  

The opportunities that I wanted to take advantage of this year were to enter student competitions, to take advantage of college facilities, to work with other students, and to visit some shows/exhibitions.  Overall I think that I have had a good go at taking these opportunities. I entered the Manchester and Salford Illustrated competition which worked out quite well, and I definitely got to meet a few new people through it, and also submitted a couple of pieces for the V&A illustration awards, as well as working on my Little White Lies cover for the D&AD competition next year.
I’ve made a start at using some more of the college’s facilities; screen printing for example. I’ve been able to do screen printing a couple of times this term, which is twice more than last year! I really like doing it and the Christmas cards we printed in particular, worked out really well. Maybe having a go at using the vinyl cutter, or trying other forms of printing could be things I could aim to do next semester.
I’ve definitely been able to work with other students this year. For instance, I’m currently working on an animation collaboration with Tom Mathieson from moving image for my bugs project, and also worked with Matt Bray on a short brief where we made a 3D birdhouse (complete with beak and wings!). It was also a lot of fun to work as a group on printing the Christmas cards we designed to raise money for D&AD. Hopefully this will continue into next year and beyond as I really enjoy working with others and I think the results are generally more exciting.
As far as going to shows and exhibitions, I think this is something I could improve on next semester. Mostly down to lack of time and location of exhibitions, I haven’t been to as many as I would have liked. I did manage to go to the Leeds Thought BubbleFestival, which was really interesting; the MASI exhibition, the BLAB night, and a quick look around the studios at AWOL studios in Manchester. I think I need to do a bit more research into this aspect for next year.

My aims for the year were to create a good portfolio, to get some portfolio visits with industry, and to have some work published. I’m quite glad that I’ve achieved these to some extent. I think my portfolio will hopefully improve as the year progresses, but so far feedback has been generally positive so hopefully it’s on it way. I’ve managed to have 6 portfolio visits so far which I’m quite pleased with, as thinking back to the start of September, I was really nervous about this and had no idea how to go about it! And these have been quite helpful, and have given me a bit more of a sense of what designers are looking for, and has also familiarised me with some of the agencies in Manchester and the people that work there. I think this makes it just a bit less intimidating for if I want to make contact again in the future.

Overall, for the final semester, I think that I need to firstly come up with a good proposal for my final major project. I think finding something I’m really interested in will hopefully keep me motivated and make me produce better work. I’m looking forward to working on a longer project, and will hopefully have some good pieces for the final show next year. I’m also hoping to work with other students even more, because I think it’s good to combine skills and work with people who are as interested in a project as you are, and it’s also more fun!  Hopefully it will all come together and I will have improved my portfolio and worked on some good projects that will help set me up for when I leave. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Neighbourhood: Portfolio Visit #5

Last week, I went into to The Neighbourhood, an animation and design studio in Manchester, to show them my portfolio. Creative Director Jon Humphreys and Designer/Animator Chris Moran had kindly spared some time to see me which I definitely appreciated so close to Christmas. 
As with other portfolio visits, I just went through my portfolio explaining what each piece of work was about. I showed them the pieces that I had in print, such as the 'transformation' newsletter, which they said did look better printed up big. This was also my first opportunity to show someone my finished children's book, which I wasn't sure if people would see the link between the book and my portfolio work. Thankfully they were generally positive about my portfolio and didn't really have any specific negatives about any of the pieces.
I had a quick chat with them about the projects I am working on at the moment and mentioned my interest in animation and the scarab animation collab I'm working on at the moment. They mentioned that they had seen work from moving image students from Stockport, but hadn't really seen much from the graphics or illustration courses; I was the first from illustration to go in.
Overall, the visit was pretty positive, and Chris sent me a really helpful AE tutorial for character animation to help me get started animating my work even more, which I'll hopefully have a go at over Christmas. Cheers!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Nobrow : Portfolio Visit #4

Whilst I was at the Leeds Thought Bubble Festival, I was able to go and speak to Alex Spiro of Nobrow and show him my portfolio.They had a stall up in the main hall, and also gave a talk that I went to, about what they do and how they started out.

Firstly, I took my portfolio to show Alex, and I mentioned that although it was a comic con, I didn't have an comic work to show him! He seemed pleased to have an illustration portfolio to look at, and was impressed with the presentation and layout of the folio (thanks again Ian), so that was a good start. He went through the work quite quickly and didn't really have anything bad to say. He liked the lie detector editorial illustration and said it did the job well, and again appreciated seeing it context with the type and layout. As I've said before, this seems to definitely be something that people like to see; work in print or in an appropriate layout so they can see how it would work.
Overall, he said it was a strong portfolio, and I spoke to him about what he thought of having a variety of different work in a portfolio. He said this was definitely a good thing as generally most of your work won't be for just one thing, and its good to show that you can apply your work or style to a variety of different media. He also said that it would definitely be helpful to join the AOI because they have a lot of contacts available for work, as well as workshops and help with pricing and the legal side of things. I knew that the AOI did offer help etc, but I just hadn't gotten around to looking into it, so this is something I might try and do over Christmas.  

He was a really nice guy and I definitely appreciated his input and advice. Thanks!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Lord Whitney

A couple of weeks ago, Lord Whitney, aka Amy Lord and Rebekah Whitney, came in to uni to give a talk about themselves and their work, as well as setting a small brief for us all.
Leeds based Lord Whitney have created "life sized illustrations and installations" for a variety of different projects. They have created photo illustrations using hand made costumes and sets, as well as creating installations for events such as festivals, parties, window displays and for stage.


They spoke about how they got from uni to where they are now, which was really interesting. Rebekah was studying illustration, and Amy, photography, and it wasn't until the end of their 3rd year that they collaborated together on a project that sparked of their interest in making and crafting sets and illustrations that cold then be photographed, combining both of their skills. They were really great to listen to and spoke honestly about their experiences, which I think was really great for us all as we could all relate!

They talked about how they started out just making sets in their basements or kitchens and photographing them, using whatever they had to hand to build the sets. They also said that although they are getting more regular work now, it hasn't always been that way and they've had to have temp jobs periodically since they left uni. I think the overall message of their work was the power of hard work and dedication, and to just keeping creating and making work. They used a nice metaphor of people falling at the first hurdle, and the longer you keep going the more people will fall away around you, to describe working in the creative industry.

They showed us photos of their great studio in Leeds, that they totally transformed from an old, dusty attic space in a mill, into a huge and really cool studio realtively cheaply. I think that in itself had us all dreaming of getting a studio!

After the talk, they came up to our studio and we were able to have a chat with them and show them our work. They also set us a small week long brief that we could do if we wanted. It was to make an image (whether it be drawn, painted, photographed, etc.) of a compound noun, aka two nouns that together make another word e.g. blackboard, grasshopper, seafood, etc.

I'll post about it in a seperate post, but I teamed up with Matt Bray on the word 'Birdhouse' (or Housebird originally..), and we had some fun making a model. But for now I'll leave you with some more of Lord Whitney's work.......enjoy........

Leeds Con: Nelson - Blank Slate Books

Whilst at the Leeds Thought Bubble Festival a couple of weeks ago, I (accidentally) went to a panel discussion/launch of a comic anthology called 'Nelson', published by Blank Slate Books.

I had no idea what the panel or book was about, but I stayed, and it ended up being quite interesting!

The book is a collaboration between 54 comic artists, covering 54 days in the life of the title character Nel. Each artist did a day each (which was one day per year, so the book spanned 54 years, with a single day each year being told), and they had quite free reign to come up with their part of the story as well as doing the imagery for it. All the profits from the book are also going to charity.
At the panel there was one of the editors, Rob Davis, as well as four of the contributers. They spoke about how they each went about thinking of their day/year, and what it was like collaborating.

I think it was interesting that they spoke about why they wanted to contribute to this anthology inparticular (they got everybody they asked to contribute!). Firstly it was raising money for charity, but they also liked that fact that unlike many other anthologies which are just a collection of different peoples seperate works, this had a throughline and continuous thread of it being about one person. Each artist could put their own spin on it via their drawing style and obviously coming up with a section of the story themselves. Someone mentioned that this also helped in getting everybodys work seen too. In a normal anthology, people might just flick through to the artists they like, but because this was one long story, it meant that people had to read through everyones work so that they knew what was going on. Clever.

None of the artists knew what others had written before or after their day/year in the story, so I'm sure it was probably hard to make sure it all came together for the final product. Each artist worked independently and just liased with one of the editors, who gave minimal notes on the work, you know, like dont kill off the main character etc.

There are a couple of names in there that I recognised such as Luke Pearson and JAKe, but other than that I didn't know any of them, but having a flick through the book at the stall later, they all looked fantastic. 

Overall I think it was interesting to hear about a successful collaboration project and how they went about it. Definitely seems like something that could be applied to just illustration rather than comics, too. Maybe something to think about for next year...hmmm...


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Richard McGuire

Recently, the animation work of Richard McGuire was recommended to me because of an insect animation I'm collaborating on. McGuire is an American illustrator and animator, and the animation below is titled 'Micro Loup', and is a short film about a tiny wolf. The interesting thing about the animation is that it's all shot from above, and uses quite simple and abstract shapes to represent the people and objects etc., but is still incredibly easy to follow and understand. This birds eye view style of animation is something I'm trying in my own work, so its interesting to see it used here so successfully.
There is a great interview here with McGuire, conducted by Steven Heller, which mainly focuses on an animation he did as part of a collaboration, all to do with fears. I've posted his section of that animation below also. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Creative Review : Book

The book I recommended at the first creative review was 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' by Philip K Dick. I'm doing my dissertation on the film Blade Runner, and this is the book that it's based on. I'd actually read this book a while ago before I'd seen the film, and decided to start reading it again recently.

The book is a sci-fi novel set in San Fransisco in the year 2021, and follows Rick Deckard, a police officer who's job it is to 'retire' androids. The book is a lot broader in detail than the film in terms of subjects and the different issues it tackles, but still follows the main issue of humanity. With out going into loads of detail about everything that happens in the book, I'd say its definitely worth a read as like the film, it presents an imaginative but not unrealistic future vision, extrapolating the present, and issues such as war, religion and technology are discussed via an interesting and exciting detective story. Good times.

It also contains one of the best words ever : Kipple.

" JR - Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after
you use the last match or gum wrappers of yesterday's homeopape. 
When nobody's around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to 
bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the 
next morning there's twice as much of it. It always gets more and more.

Pris- I see. 

JR - There's the First Law of Kipple, "Kipple drives out nonkipple." Like Gresham's 
law about bad money. And in these apartments there's been nobody 
there to fight the kipple. 

Pris - So it has taken over completely. Now I understand. 

JR - Your place, here, this apartment you've picked - it's too kipple-ized to live in. 
We can roll the kipple-factor back; we can do like I said, raid the other apartments. But - 

Pris - But what? 

JR - We can't win. 

Pris - Why not? 

JR - No one can win against kipple, except temporarily and maybe in one spot, like
in my apartment I've sort of created a stasis between the pressure of 
kipple and nonkipple, for the time being. But eventually I'll die or go away, and then 
the kipple will again take over. It's a universal principle operating throughout the 
universe; the entire universe is moving toward a final state of total, absolute kippleization. "

Thought Bubble : Leeds Comic Con

On the 19th of November, I went up to Leeds to the Thought Bubble Festival. Thought Bubble is a convention "dedicated to promoting comics, graphic novels, and animation as an important national and international cultural art-form.", and ran over a few days throughout the week at venues throughout Leeds and Bradford, and then there was the main convention and events over the weekend. 

Although I know nothing about comics, I thought it would be interesting to go as they had loads of people and companies/collectives there selling work, as well as some interesting talks scheduled. The main convention was held at The Armouries, a complex of shops and casinos as well as the armouries museum. When I got there, there was a huge queue for tickets, and lots of people in costumes which was really cool to see. There were a few stormtroopers, a batman and judge dredd.

I'll post about some of the talks I went to in separate posts, but for now I just wanted to mention the huge hall of stalls run by various companies, collectives and individuals, all selling there own publications, posters, prints and a whole load of other cool stuff.

Apologies for the not so great pics.....

I have to say that I wasn't familiar with many of the people or groups there (as again I know nothing about comics!) but there was loads of great stuff to see and buy. There were a couple of them that I recognised, such as Nobrow and Luke Pearson, but I've scanned in the list for the main hall anyway and you can take a look and see if there's anyone you might know....(give it a click to make it big time)

Overall it was a good event to go to with lots of interesting stuff to see. I'll post about some of the talks in separate posts so as not to overwhelm you with comic/illustration goodness...


Monday, 28 November 2011

D&AD Education Day: Wash Portfolio Visit

Back to Preston again! After I'd spoken James from Dorothy at the portfolio session, I had a bit of spare time whilst waiting for others to finish their visits, so I went back to see if there was any chance of speaking to somebody else about my portfolio.
Fortunately there was still an open spot, and I was able to speak to Andy Walmsley of Wash Design, a Preston based studio. He was, once again, a really nice guy to talk to, and actually went through my portfolio pretty quickly without me explaining anything to begin with, as he said he wanted to have a look through and then he'd go back and talk to me about the work. 
First of all, he really liked the presentation of the portfolio and the little explanations and titles at the bottom of each page (thanks Ian!). He also said that he was quite pleased at the range of work I had in there as he went from page to page, as it seemed spread over a few different areas (editorial, poster, etc.). This is again something I've found everyone seems to consider a positive attribute in a portfolio. And again, he seemed to appreciate seeing things in print which I'd taken with me; the Stolen Peace Album cover for example.

He seemed to like the work I had in there, in particular the origami/transformation newsletter image. As this is one of my least favourite images in my portfolio, I'm always surprised when people like it! I think it's definitely more of a concept based piece, but he like the geometric design and compared it to a kind of Metropolis, art deco type design. I do love art deco so I think that was a nice comparison to hear, but I can't say I consciously was aiming for that look, maybe it's evident just through the balanced, graphic nature of the image anyway...

He thought that the weakest image I had was perhaps my MASI tram image, because of the windows. This is something I've actually been waiting for someone to mention, as they are the only bit of that image I'm not really happy with. Due to the deadline I just wasn't able to work on them as much as I'd like and so they look a bit flat and boring. He said they probably didn't need the slight flare on them as it clashes with the blockyness of the rest of the image. I do agree with him on this, and it does grate a bit using what I guess are stock effects in photoshop, I think I was really just trying to sell it being a window. I think I could definitely improve this somehow, maybe adding more detail and working on the through and through aspect of the tram. I also used a flare on my astronaut piece, but I think it worked ok on there because it was a bright light reflection, might try out a custom reflection of some sort on there though...I'm not sure...

Overall it was a really positive viewing, and he really seemed interested in my work. He gave me a card and told me to send work through to him throughout the year when I do anything new and he'd be happy to take a look at it and see how it progresses. This was really generous of him and positive for me as I guess he saw some potential in my work (or that's what I'm telling myself!). Cool. Thanks Andy!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

'Red' by Oneedo


Ned Wenlock aka Oneedo created this animation music video for Jet Jaguar, which involves minimalist insects and flowers interacting. Ned describes on his vimeo page,-

"I was going through a minimal phase at the time and approached this as a digital nature documentary. I was interested in finding simple, graphic ways to animate insects, my favourite here being the light flys."

The simple designs of the elements are really cool, and remind of the work of Charley Harper; very flat and geometric. 

As I'm working on a short insect animation collaboration at the moment that is kind of in a similar 'flat' manner, its interesting to see how other people have animated insects, use of movement, shot choices etc. as well as how the visuals and music work together.

The more abstract use of flashing lights and strips of colour along with the electronic music is dichotomous with the images of nature and insects, but it works together really well and a great choice which makes it more visually interesting. It doesn't have to be realistic to make sense. Cool!

Friday, 25 November 2011

D&AD Education Day : Dorothy Portfolio Visit

At the D&AD education day last Wednesday, they held a 'Portfolio Surgery' where we could take our portfolios to be looked at by various industry professionals from different design agencies. 
We were all allocated a 20 min visit with a professional, and my visit was with Manchester based design agency Dorothy (there was some confusion over whether this was the name of the person or the company, but I can confirm the chap I spoke to was not a Dorothy). He was in fact James Quail, and was really nice to speak to.
As we went through my portfolio I told him a bit about each piece of work, and he was very positive about it. As we came to the last piece he said he was actually disappointed that it was the end as he would have like to have seen more, which was really nice, but probably also means that I could do with maybe a few more pieces in there, as I've only got about 8 in at the moment. Hopefully I'll be able to create a couple more decent bits of work to put in there. 
He liked the variation of different ways I'd applied work, i.e. books covers, editorial, posters, etc. It seems people like to see a bit of diversity so that they can see how your work could work in various settings, and again he commented on how its good to see things in context, so either in print, or dropped into some sort of layout in your portfolio. I'd definitely recommend that to everyone.
Overall he seemed really positive about the work and thought it was a strong portfolio. I asked him about the different ways that they find illustrators at Dorothy, and he mentioned looking at different blogs (I know I follow a few that show great work) and I talked to him about how submitting work to blogs can be a great way to get exposure. 
He also said that having a web presence for your work is a must. So making a site is definitely important, and places like Cargo are popular for that, or even a portfolio site like Behance or even Flickr is better than nothing.

So, it was a good portfolio visit, but I think a few more pieces of work would improve my folio a bit, and I also need to think of better questions to ask next time! I go completely blank!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Creative Review : Exhibition

Back to the first 'creative review', with an exhibition. This isn't an exhibition that I've been to, but one that I think would be really interesting to go see if I were in London. It is a Postmodernism exhibition that is currently running at the V&A on London, entitled...  
'Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990'

You can check out what the exhibition is about here at the V&A website, but I'll explain why I think it would be good to go see anyway.

I'm doing my dissertation on postmodernism and the film 'Blade Runner', and when it comes to trying to form some sort of definition of what postmodernism is or refers to, the more you read; the more difficult it becomes (to me anyway!). Ideas about postmodernism span many different facets from art, film and fashion, to architecture, philosophy, sociology and psychology, but when its comes to visual postmodernism (e.g art, design and architecture) I think that being able to go to an exhibition and surround yourself with examples that are considered postmodern, I think would be really helpful in understanding it. 

The V&A explains...'Postmodernism shattered established ideas about style. It brought a radical freedom to art and design, through gestures that were often funny, sometimes confrontational and occasionally absurd. Most of all, postmodernism brought a new self-awareness about style itself.'

 From the description of the exhibiti[_m jP9Gʪ0 Boz dd*!'ve posted online I think this would be a really interesting exhibition to go to.

D&AD Education Day : Jack Renwick

Designer and art director Jack Renwick also spoke at the morning lecture at D&AD last Wednesday. Originally from Scotland, she moved to London to work with established design and branding agency The Partners (who have both an office in London and New York), and had been with them for a good few years until recently when she decided to venture out on her own. Jack is also a D&AD judge, and has won a few awards herself, both as a student and for her work at The Partners.

Jack firstly spoke about how she got into the industry, through ramp welding and sign making, and went on to talk about the work she had done at The Partners.

For example, they were asked to design the packaging for 'Mr Singh's Bangras', Indian flavoured sausages. They decided to not only create the box packaging, but also to design the package and look of each individual sausage by printing onto the skin in edible inks, such as the henna style pattern on the sausage below.

I really loved this idea as it just seemed to have taken the idea of packaging to another level, and they had really gone that extra mile to create something unique and special. They could have just made a nice box or packet but they really though about how to create something really appealing and created a great selling point.

Another project I was really impressed by was one that they had done for Deloitte (a huge accountancy firm with more than 165,000 employees all over the world). The brief was to create a fancy screen saver for all of Deloitte's computers, but as screen savers aren't really needed anymore, they created an eco friendly application that shuts down the computers to save loads of money and more importantly, energy. I think this is an example of really thinking outside of the box, and not just how to answer the given brief, but to answer the problem behind the brief in a better and more efficient way. I've posted a little vid from their website below which explains the idea, check it out.......

She spoke about a few other projects to that involved making logos, packaging design and typography. She also gave a few bits of advice about working in the industry, including learning to love the client, working hard, having a good personality, and how it can be really good to work as part of a team. 

I really enjoyed Jack's talk as she was really honest and down to earth, and some of the ideas she presented for projects were just really imaginative, and things I would never have thought of! I'll definitely keep an eye out for her work in the future....

D&AD Education Day : Preston

(photo courtesy of Steve Wilkin)
Last Wednesday a group of us from uni attended the D&AD Education day at UCLAN in Preston. The day was set up as a chance for students to go and learn about D&AD and to get advice about the upcoming competitions, as well as an opportunity to get involved in some workshops and to meet people that worked in the creative industry.
We attended the morning lecture, where Rhiannon James (Education Director) from D&AD spoke about the history of D&AD, as well as how to approach the student competitions and how it was judged, as well as showing some work that had won awards at D&AD. 

She firstly spoke about the history D&AD and how it was set up in 1962 by a group of designers including Alan Fletcher, David Bailey and Terence Donavon, as a charity aiming to look for the best in design, and to reward those responsible. It's ran as a charity, as all the money they receive they try and give back to the designers by providing monetary prizes, and funding workshops, education days and providing links with industry to both graduates and students. 

Then she talked a bit about the D&AD awards and gave examples of some of the winners and the reasons that they had won. 

There's the yellow pencil award for - 'Work that is outstanding, rather than merely brilliant...'

and the black pencil award for - 'The best of the best, the ultimate award, for work that is truly groundbreaking.'

They have also introduced the new white pencil award introduced this year which is -  'awarded to a creative idea that changes the world for the better; an idea that demonstrates the ability to influence real and positive change in the world.'

She also spoke about how entries are judged, and showed a video of various professionals describing what they look for in a D&AD winner. These are the criteria: (as stated on the website also)

' - the work must be a highly original and inspiring idea. 
 - it must be exceptionally well executed.
 - it must be relevant to its context.

(In craft categories, such as Editing or Illustration, work is judged primarily on the strength of the specific craft, and then on how it contributes to the success of the idea.) '

There was also a small video showing how the judging was done, and how the work was displayed for judging in a huge hall down in London.

This first talk was overall really interesting, and it was helpful to learn a bit more about D&AD as a whole, as well as what they are looking for when it comes to the awards.

I'll post about the next talk by creative director and designer Jack Renwick soon, keep your peepers peeled......