Wednesday, 24 October 2012

On the Map Project

I am already really keen to get started on this project 'On the Map' that we were issued with the other day.  The project is in partnership with 'Don't Panic' magazine and Profile Books who have set up an open competition to celebrate the release of 'On the Map' - the new book from best-selling author of Just My Type, Simon Garfield.

The project objective is to design a map of your weekend, showing everything you wish to include from the places you visit and the things you do to the bizarre mental journeys! We can be creative as we want as long as it's within the context of the brief.

I'm deciding if I should make elements in 3D and photograph them or if I should work on a flat surface, maybe incorporate collage and mixed media.  As always I have a set process and order of how I approach briefs and like to begin by researching, looking at influences and starting a 'Sense of Place' sketchbook.

I spent some time looking at the The Hand Drawn Map Association here, There's a wonderful collection of hand drawn maps sent in and showcased from different people (see below).

I also took a look at David Robinson who spent hours and hours drawing enormous maps of the city of London (see below).

Lions, tigers and bears: The artist sketched London Zoo and even coloured it in too

David Ryan Robinson has spent hundreds of hours over six months drawing the map of London. He decided to start sketching the map to help him find his bearings

There's so much detail in them! - After looking at this work I was intrigued to visit David Robinson's website, it's really packed full of quirky drawings and filled sketchbooks of things he likes, sees etc - It's almost like he documents things that he's interested in, Here are some of his drawings...

I referred back to Keri Smith's book 'How to be an Explorer' which I really love and looked at it in first year, it's filled with ways of looking and noticing and creating a visual/collected world of things and ideas.  I think it will be relevant for this project of mapping and documenting things along the way.  Below are a few pointers from her book that I am taking on board for this project.

Another reference I am looking at is Katharine Harmon's book 'You are Here: Personal Geographies and other Maps of Imagination' for ideas of ways to communicate a map.  The following images are taken from her book.

Now it's time to make a start!

Friday, 19 October 2012

The Amazing Sarah Orstein...

What can I say!... This morning I was shown the magical and beautiful works of Sarah Orstein who is a Designer, Animator, and Moving Picture Maker currently based in New York City which is ironic as I am due to visit in New York in a few weeks!.

I literally was blown away her work, I am not entirely sure how she creates her work but I am very keen to find out.  She appears to use mixed media, combined with 3D and animation, whilst looking at her website which is available here, I recognised the British Gas advert straight away and I can recall falling in love with the look and feel and the characters/world she had brought to life as it's right down my street!

In particular I was most drawn to 'Windows, Masks & Doors' which is digital animation piece, obviously I love masks and I was just speechless whilst watching the animation.

I would like to make to contact with Sarah Orenstein in the near future and find out more about her influences and how she creates her work.  Below is some more of her spectacular work....

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Where is the content, Where is the comment?

I recently participated in a group discussion forum with other students in my class where we reviewed the article 'Where is the content? Where is the comment?' from Creative Review by Lawrence Zeegen who is an artist, illustrator and author.

Lawrence Zeegen describes Illustration today as being highly decorative and pretty with no purpose in conveying any message or meaning in other words there's a 'nothingness' about it.  Zeegen said...

''illustration has become entrenched in navel-gazing and self-authorship...obsessed with it's own craft, it has withdrawn from society's big debates to focus on the chit-chat of inner sanctum nothingness.  It's time for the profession to stop pleasing itself and engage with the world outside''

Zeegen made it clear that he very much favoured David Shrigley's work.  David Shrigley who is a illustrator, cartoonist and animator combines his hand rendered type and own unique naive illustrative style to communicate controversial messages and meanings and also to pass comment on our society.  It is obvious that Shrigley's work is about the message and meaning not about the naive style drawings.  Zeegan thinks that Shrigley engages the public and has a meaning as his work is more about the content.

I didn't agree with what Lawrence Zeegan is saying for the following reasons.  Firstly all artwork in any medium has a value as it communicates with people in different ways in the same way as it is interpreted by the viewer.

Secondly all illustrations made for editorials/commissions must have a point as they are made in response to strict briefs and are generally restricted, not risky and led by the Art Director.

Thirdly Illustrators are getting out there and getting their illustrations on a range of products and working in a variety of mediums and having a versatile approach when commission are low, this shows a very driven passion in what they do.

In addition to the above I also feel that as Illustrators we consider the line, shape and texture and integrity of the materials and how we draw objects to ensure that we communicate the relevant message, feel and look of something.  Also Illustration is no longer the sole meaning of communicating with the world, radio, newspaper and Internet are all much used to communicate message and meaning.

I am enjoying the Discussion Forums that we attend on a weekly basis as it's a great opportunity to share ideas and engage with the creative world outside of the studio and become more involved in the ideas and debates that take place currently.

To read the full article on 'Creative Review' click here

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Manchester Weekender!

The Manchester Weekender

This weekend sees the city of Manchester showcasing everything creative from pop-up cinema and video artists to David Shrigley's exhibition 'How are you feeling?'... There is something for everyone to see and get involved in!  The events will be taking place across Manchester during Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday.  I shall certainly be visiting over the weekend!

Please visit: for more information.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Follow Me!

Please follow me on twitter...

Thank you.

'Imaginary Beings' Influences

I started my research for this project during the summer break when I began reading Jorge Louis Borges's 'Book of Imaginary Beings', a magical book filled with weird and wonderful mythical creatures.  I was torn between 'Baldanders' and the 'Banshee' as they both were great characters, however I decided on the 'Banshee' as the character could be portrayed as beautifully elegant or evil and sinister which appealed to me and I wanted to try something different.

The Banshee has connections to witchcraft, paganism and magic and already I was bursting with ideas, so I began creating a 'Sense of Place' sketch book that would show the world it lived in and the things it liked along with the characters that would also live there.

I began looking at images connected to the above and started making a small witches altar, tarot cards, a wicker stick and a spell book filled with strange diagrams that were sourced from a book I found in the library on 'Alchemy & Mysticism'.

Here are some images that inspired me...

Legend has it that the Banshee makes a high pitched 'keeling' sound when they are angry or if death takes places, So I decided that the expression on the Banshee's face would be sinister, dramatic and scary, it's hair would be wild, big and demonstrate movement, it would have a evil look and a open mouth as if it was screaming/keeling!.  I also looked at 'Hybridity' and Monsters as points of reference.

I also looked at Pagan Symbols as I am really interested in them and felt that it fitted in with the theme perfectly.  I have recently been given some flat pebbles from Bulgaria and thought I would paint them white with the Pagan Symbols in black to make them stand out.  They worked really well and I used them to form part of the setting and I also animated them to give them a magical/surreal character.

During research I also looked at old books of Churches and Gothic style stained glass windows, I began cutting and pasting images to create surreal looking Churches into my 'Sense of Place' sketchbook.  The images were in black and white so I decided to use vibrant felt tip pens and coloured sections of the stained glass windows to inject some colour as the characters are all in black and I felt the contrast works well.

I worked to A3 scale in my 'Sense of Place' sketchbook, I then enlarged them to A1/A2 and backed them with a stern card and cut them out to create parts of the set.

I wanted a creepy feel for the setting, So I looked at dark creepy woods, midnight skies and moons for ideas.

I decided on painting a simple back drop of a large moon with a creepy eye, dark blue night sky and black woods.  I also made a tree prop from found branches and leaves which I painted black and glue gunned together.

I have always loved Chrissie McDonald's way of working as she uses found random parts and almost lets the integrity of the material create the character.

I decided to make my characters from old barbie dolls, farm animals, odd parts, rubber dinosaurs and monster toys found in charity shops.  I made sure I used the most appropriate materials to create the characters, for example the Banshee's were made like Hybrids, to create a surreal, scary feel and were painted all in black for a sinister feel with white scary eyes to create contrast.  Other creatures such as the Shird and Sorsee are more gentle, tame and friendly, The Shird is half bird and half goat and I used fluffy feathers to add a sift feel, The Sorsee is surreal looking but has a warm, happy face to show his gentle side.  I will be posting finished video soon, All feedback welcome!.

Reflecting on the 'Imaginary Beings' project so far..

My I-Stop filming for the 'Imaginary Being's' project on the 'Banshee' is now completed and it's time to begin editing using the After Effects software that I haven't used before.  It's been a massive learning curve that's really pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me over come various challenges along the way.

Looking back at doing I-Stop I can already identify better ways of working for future reference.  Firstly I would make all my characters in a similar size as it's much easier to film and ensure the scale is consistent when zooming in with the camera and moving the characters around the set, I also would take into consideration how I want the characters to move around the set and interact with one another, the characters I made this time had very limited limb/head movements which limited me to what I could make them do.  My characters for this project move in a crude/awkward manner, although I rather like it as it adds humour.

Another thing I would do differently would be to consider how my characters enter and leave the set, and how they move/angles etc as I very roughly made rough sketches of each scene but didn't consider how it would look to the audience and on camera.

So far I am pleased with the outcome and I've learnt alot, the Banshees are so sinnister and ugly that it is funny!, I normally create nice, playful characters so it's been a fresh change to try something different.

Below is one of the scenes that I am working on at the moment...

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Jim Henson's 'The Labyrinth'

My favourite film of all time is without a doubt 'The Labyrinth' (1986) written and directed by the legendary Jim Henson who collaborated with Brian Froud who did the screenplay and developed/inspired the characters for the film.  I first watched the film aged 6 and instantly was fascinated by it, over the years I have watched it over and over again and I never tire of it,  the film fuelled my imagination as a child and I would dream that I was in the Labyrinth itself!. 

The Labyrinth is a surreal, strange but magical place where anything is possible and nothing is what it seems, the possibilities are limitless, and the characters are all so diverse and different.  There are so many reasons that I love 'The Labyrith', firstly I am a big David Bowie fan, I love his music and how he reinvents himself, he plays the Goblin King perfectly.

I love Jim Henson's films and the way that he collaborated with Brian Froud to come up with a concept and bring the characters of 'The Labyrinth' to life.  I recently watched a documentary on the making of 'The Labyrinth' and Brian Froud was interviewed about how the ideas begins, Brian Froud explained that he likes to begin in a sketchbook, drawing and doodling very rough ideas and little characters, he also mentioned that sometimes it's better to work with a character that's not completely finished as that way it let's the character just be and that there's more possibilities for the finished character,  I really like the way he works,  I have recently been  making characters for my I-Stop motion piece and began worrying about creating a narrative and the finished product, but I just played and the characters began to tell the narrative themselves!

Below are some illustrations from Brian Froud's book I got called 'Goblins of the Labyrinth'.. I strongly recommend it! it's a brilliant book

M.C Escher also was a big influence for the set design in 'The Labyrinth', the most memorable and favourite of mine is the staircase scene at the end of the film, it's just amazing!

Here are some more images of the characters from 'The Labyrinth'...