At the end of last semester I wrote ‘Hopes, Fears and Opportunities (Part 1)’, reflecting on work I had done up until that point in third year, and stating my aims for the future. It’s been really interesting to look back at that piece of writing for the first time in about six months, and see if I’d actually achieved any of my aims, and how my thoughts and feelings have changed.
The aims I set myself for the rest of the year were to come up with a good brief for FMP that had lots of mileage and would hopefully improve the quality of my work and help me find a clearer direction and confidence in my way of working. Secondly, to work with other students again as I had a lot of fun earlier in third year making Christmas cards etc, and finally to build up my portfolio in order to get work when I leave.
I really didn’t remember what goals I had specifically set myself until I read back over the piece of writing, but I think I’ve achieved each of them to a certain extent. In terms of my FMP, I really tried to go into it with just a strong subject matter in mind rather than any ideas of a final product, so that I knew whatever the outcome, I’d enjoy and find the subject matter interesting throughout. For this I chose space and underwater exploration as my subject matter, which I really knew very little about so it’s been really great being able to do lots of research; reading and watching documentaries etc., and learning all about these two worlds, and then trying to create images from them. I’ll leave the pros and cons of deciding to do this until my project evaluation, but choosing to do a project on space and underwater exploration definitely gave me a lot of mileage. Looking back at the work I’ve created too, I definitely think the project has helped me improve both the look of my work, and also my confidence in that particular way of working. I think I’ve become a bit quicker at working which has in turn meant that I’ve tried to put more into each image than I might have done at the start of the year; been a little more ambitious, although I think and hope there is still a lot more I can do to improve the quality of finish and ideas in my work.
As well as working on my FMP project, I’ve tried to take other opportunities for work that have come my way, which has been really positive, but I did mean I had less time to devote to my FMP project than I would have liked. For instance, I spent the first two weeks of FMP working on my Scarab animation with Tom for the Manchester Museum Bug Event. It was good to learn a bit more about animation and also how long it can take to do it, I think I underestimated the amount of work that goes into it so it was a bit of a challenge to get everything made for the animation in time! I also spent some time re-doing my Little White Lies ‘Super 8’ cover, to attempt my first portrait more in my own style than just drawing from a still like I’d done earlier. I’ve also recently done a poster for the next Draw North West event, and had a couple of editorial illustration commissions, so these were opportunities I really couldn’t pass up, and will hopefully be good for building up my portfolio in regards to getting more work in the future.
I’ve also tried to work with other students where possible. The Scarab animation was collaboration, and I’ve also worked with students making cards and running a stall to fund raise money for D&AD New Blood. A group of four of us (Matt, Jordan, Kris and I) have also joined forces to hopefully work on a collaborative project in the near future which I’m excited about, and will no doubt yield much better work than I could do on my own. I really hope to be able to work with other students again after we’ve finished, as the quality of work I’ve seen and the broad range of skills that people seem to have has been incredible, so I think it would be a missed opportunity to not try and work together in the future. Fingers crossed.
Although I haven’t had as many portfolio visits this semester as I did before Christmas, I think the trip down to London and the visits there were invaluable. Not just with the advice that was given (which was equally as good as from people here in Manchester) but more for the fact that it made the idea of trying to get work from down in London a bit less scary than it was before. Both the people we met down there and the people we spoke to on the phone (an idea I think we were all devastated by to begin with) were generally really nice and approachable, so it made getting work seem more of a possibility than before.
Whilst in London we also had the opportunity to go and visit some galleries and exhibitions. The Pick MeUp graphic arts fair was a really good thing to go and see as it seemed really relevant to the type of work illustrators are producing and was a fantastic showcase, and is something I think we’d all love to be involved with in the future. Also going to meet ups like the Draw North West events has been really positive I think, as it’s a great way to talk to people and get advice about your work and getting work in the industry, and is something I’d definitely recommend and will continue to go to after I leave uni. Makes you feel a bit more part of a group rather than just on your own...
Overall, I think when looking back at my work and aims from earlier in the year in comparison to know, I have achieved them to some extent, and I definitely think my work has improved, or my confidence and enjoyment in how I work has increased at least. I’ve worked on some interesting projects both in and out for uni and been able to work with other students. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep doing this after I leave.
My plans for the future are to hopefully keep producing work and work on my self-promotion to try and get a few more commissions. I really want to keep up the momentum of producing work and working with other people because I think it’s really vital to keep a presence and not disappear, which I’m sure it’s very easy to do especially when I get a day job. I think meeting with other illustrators and working on collaborations like the one a group of us have got planned, will help with this, and also entering competitions and creating your own work to sell would be a good idea. I really don’t want to lose links with uni either and would love to go back and help do stuff there in the future also. I’m pretty scared at the moment but I’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds....