Friday, 11 November 2011

Taylor O'Brien : Portfolio Visit #1

So, the other week when I went into Taylor O'Brien to see how the children's book I had illustrated was going, and I also took my portfolio with me to show to Helen Taylor (the creative director), who had kindly spared a bit of time for me.

Helen definitely made me feel relaxed, so I wasn't as nervous as I thought I'd be about talking through my own work! As she went through the portfolio I just explained a little bit about the brief and what we had to do, and then why I chose to create the piece of work I did.

I kind of wondered what she was going to think about the work in my portfolio as it is a bit different to the images I did for the 'Christmas in Uganda' book. I always wonder if people can see the links between any of my pieces of work, never mind between my kids book work and the more graphic pieces I have in my portfolio, mostly because I find it hard to see myself sometimes (usually because I've made it differently and wonder if it has the same feel about it!).
But it was encouraging that she could see a link between my portfolio work and the kids books images, mainly through the use of colours and textures. She mentioned that they had the same feel about them, but the children's book images were just softer and more organic feeling. I think this was partly due to the fact that I didn't use computer generated geometric shapes like I often have, and chose to do all the kids books stuff with cut paper so it had a more hand-made feel. Definitely more time consuming though!

She seemed to like the work in my portfolio, particularly my 'lie detector' editorial piece, and was also interested in my newsletter/origami image. It just so happened that they had been working on a project with a similar idea of using birds to show transformation and flying off to something new, so that was quite cool.

I also took along a pieces of work that were in print (8x8, newsletter, album cover, wellspring paper) and showed these to her alongside the images in my portfolio. From what I've gathered it seems important to show your work in context (I've tried to do this actually in my portfolio through putting things in Indesign layouts, or through photographs) as it just gives them an example of how your images could work in the real world, as well as it looking quite good if you've had something in print. However on the flip side to that, it seems that people sometimes don't like seeing your work with type all over it, particularly if it hasn't been done by you or it's just plain bad. They seems to just want to see the images in those cases....which makes sense as the image is the only bit you're generally going to be doing.

The one piece I have type on in my portfolio is my 'James and the Giant Peach' book cover. This is because that was actually part of our job to sort out (and I hope it's not completely awful!). Helen commented on the interesting way I had designed the type for 'Roald Dahl', and also the fact that I'd made a feature out of his name rather than the title of the book. I mentioned that I thought that Roald Dahl was kind of the brand, and was the selling point and the thing you would first look out for in a shop.

We also talked about the fact that I'd made the cover so dark, and she mentioned that one way that could be remedied to make it more appealing to children would have been to just change the background colour. I think that was a really good suggestion which probably would have improved it, I think I was just too set on making it night time and trying to get the glowy effect from inside the peach!

Overall, it was a positive visit, and she didn't really have anything negative to say about my portfolio (unless I've conveniently blocked it from my memory), and it was definitely helpful to have someone reactions to your work as a whole. However, it's times like this I wish I had my business cards printed (even though I'd already been in contact with Helen and she knew my work through the children's book) but I still definitely need to get cards sorted for future meetings.

And finally, because the 'Christmas in Uganda' book was just about to go to print, I also had the chance to talk to Graham Bartle (the studio/production manager) about how he prepares things for print, and the different types of printing methods they used. This was really interesting as it's not something I know very much about.
He talked about sourcing different materials to print onto, and how they went through the layouts in Indesign. He also spoke about the differences between digital printing and offset litho printing, and the different cost and quality benefits from both depending on the volume to be printed.
I was able to look over a couple of examples of booklets printed in both ways, and there was definitely a bigger difference than I thought there would be. Some of the litho printed stuff I saw definitely seemed a nicer quality than the digital printed, but it often depends on which is most cost effective, with lithographic being better for large runs due to the cost and amount of paper used in just setting up to print.

All things to keep in mind for the future....... 


1 comment:

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