Thursday, 28 March 2013

Mood and Memory brief

Over the Easter break I will be prioritising making a start on the final brief of the second year!. The brief is entitled 'Mood and Memory' and is very open in terms of response (which I love). Initially I was a little unsure how to respond, after speaking with my tutor I began to get lots of ideas. After listening to Gustav Holst's 'The Planets' which is mentioned in the brief, I thought about which planets and meanings stood out to me, I was instantly drawn to Uranus the Magician and Neptune the Mystic, Saturn the bringer of Old-Age and Mercury the Winged Messenger also interest me.

To start with I will begin a 'Sense of Place' and start to research various ideas. I may also explore the idea of visualising a person I wish I had met or a fictional character I remember meeting. Saturn (Old Age) stood out at me as I thought about a tale or story from memory, I may also consider creating a Invented Persona as a route.

I am also in the process of watching Jim Henson's 'Mirror Mask', It's already triggering of loads of crazy ideas!.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Words of Wisdom (123)

As I approach the end of my second year I have been reflecting back over the last year and thinking about the best bits of advice that I  will take with me into my final year of my degree and beyond.

Firstly, one of my tutors who worked with us in the first year simply said ''work hard but enjoy it'' and it's always been on my mind.  I have always work hard on each brief, although I have never really seen it as work as I love what I am doing so much and really enjoy it.

I interviewed a Brooklyn based Illustrator who advised that as an Illustrator it's really important to try new styles, stretch and push yourself in different and unfamiliar directions as long as you stay true to yourself.  GSA brief was a prime example of this for me, I chose a brief with challenging subject matter for a challenge and a change, but I ended up changing and compromising my style to fit the brief.  I feel that it could have been a more successful outcome, had I explored new styles but kept it close to me and remained myself.  The GSA was still a great learning curve for me and I will bare it in mind on future projects.

I also spoke to Illustrator & Maker Vanessa Boer who gave me some very valuable advice about finding your own style in your work, she advised ''try to make as much work as you can....the more work you do, the more your own voice comes through''. Like others, I am always questioning about developing my own style, but I must admit compared to feeling lost in the first year, I am now starting to find my feet!.

Vanessa Boer also mentioned this ''There are so many talented people in our industry, it's the dedication and perseverance that will get you work.  You can make the most beautiful paintings but nobody is coming to find you, you need to get your work out into the world''.  I found this advice to be honest and true, I really think that being pro-active and seeking opportunities will help me as I progress into third year.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Wind & The Willows

Below are a few more ideas I made using acrylic paint/acrylic ink for Wind & The Willows Penguin book cover brief.

Wind & The Willows Type

This is the type I made out of twigs for Wind & The Willows brief.  Hopefully the weather will pick up as I would really like to photograph this outside.

Blue Peter finished Ideas...

Below are my final ideas for the Blue Peter brief, I have decided to choose the Theatre as a final idea and will work on a 'How To' set of instructions and a story board for filming the making of the Theatre.

Art Therapy Placement

Today I began my Art Therapy Placement at the Meadows Community Hospital, the placement involves working with a small team of volunteers and nurses and also the Lead Occupational Therapist.

Today I worked with 4 patients who have been diagnosed with Dementia and helped them decorate large wooden garden posts with mosaic tiles and coloured glass pebbles, we started by creating patterns and then also wrote the name of the ward in mosaic tiles, once they are completed they will be fixed into the ground outside in the garden.  I found the session emotional to start with but once I settled in and got to know the patients a little I felt relaxed and found the experience very warming.

It was interesting talking to the patients and finding out about their lives.  The best thing was seeing how rewarding it was, for example some of the patients became really engaged in what they were doing and enjoyed doing something different.  I look forward to the next session where we will continue with the same activity and also discuss ideas for a new project.

Photographs to follow.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The amazing Vanessa Boer!

I was very pleased to have a lovely response from the amazing Vanessa Boer who is based in Portland, USA.  Vanessa Boer is a Illustrator and Craft Stylist who works in a variety of mediums,in addition to Illustration, Vanessa also makes props, 3D work and characters created from various materials.  The thing I love about Vanessa Boer is that her work is really out there and she is so versatile which is very inspiring.

Here is the lovely and short but very helpful interview:

- How did you branch out into making props?, was it a natural progression from making or is it something you have always done/wanted to do?

I got my BFA in painting at the University of Hawaii and during my last year in art school, I worked as an assistant art teacher with kindergarten through high school kids. After college I worked as an art teacher full-time at the Honolulu Academy of Arts as well as a few schools in Honolulu. When I decided to move to NYC, I was put in touch with a family friend who was a photographer. She recommended I consider prop /set styling  as I had a fine arts background and was familiar with making still lifes. After assisting set stylists who knew I was an artist, I was soon commissioned to make custom surfaces, backdrops and props. I eventually became a stylist myself and focused on the craft styling as I would always prefer to make props rather than buy or rent them and arrange them. So, in short, I didn't even know prop styling was a job at first! But once I did, I saw evidence of it everywhere. I still make custom props but I have been focusing more on illustration and our Scout & Whistle business as of recent.

- Where do you find all the lovely finds you have in your studio and your work?

I LOVE going to thrift shops, antique shops and flea markets. I have found a lot of my treasures that way, as well as absorbing little things from my family's collections. 

-Do you characters come from initial ideas and drawings or do they come from things you make/find?

Because I draw almost entirely animals, I use a lot of photo references from nature photography and then draw them in my own anthropomorphic way. I am definitely inspired by artists like Thornton Burgess (from the late 1800s-early 1900s). He had a really sweet drawing style, you should definitely check him out. As for which animals, I go through phases of what I like to draw. Birds, foxes, sloths, bison and raccoons have all been in that list. Not sure what is next!

-Do you have any advice you could offer to a student like myself going into the industry?

You probably hear it a lot but try to make as much work as you can. The more you make, the more you will cultivate your own style and feel proud of your portfolio. It's common to really like a certain artist and subconsciously start making work similar to theirs, but the more you work, the more your own voice comes through, and then you will stand out from the crowd. There are so many talented people in our industry, it's the dedication and perseverance that will get you work. You can make the most beautiful paintings but nobody is coming to find you, you need to get your work out into the world.

To see more of Vanessa Boer's beautiful work, please see her website

Monday, 18 March 2013

OFFSET 2013 - Get your tickets !!!!

It's nearly time for OFFSET 2013 in Dublin, I have volunteered to be the main point of contact at Stockport College for information and enquiries on tickets for OFFSET 2013.

OFFSET is on the 5/6 & 7th April at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin.

OFFSET are also offering day tickets and also group booking offers, For further information please contact me at or  You can also find me in Level 5 Illustration studio on Tuesdays and Fridays.


Thursday, 14 March 2013

Further Blue Peter Ideas...

The current project I am working on is the 'Here's one I made earlier' activity to be pitched to Blue Peter children's television series.  Since I began researching last week I have faced a few challenges with my selection of materials to use and they way in which they are put together, for example my original idea was 'Junk Puppets' and I bought lots of random DIY parts like screws and springs and began glue gunning! Big mistake though, as I didn't stop to think if the materials were accessible and also a glue gun is a big no no due to health and safety.

I have found it a little challenging making and thinking as a younger person would instead of doing my normal way.  I took a trip to the library and began thinking of alternative things I could make and that would be simple and fun! and so I set to work making a Theatre out of a cardboard box, I will also make 'Peg Puppets' that can be made later to interact with in the Theatre, and also a narrative sheet.

I have also been thinking of other options to make as alternatives.  I am going to make a Tiki Lodge with a Tiki Doll, A Monster and a Nature House with a Leaf Monster or Leaf Fairy, I feel all these things can be created from easily sourced materials from around the house and garden.

Here are some reference images I looked at.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Thing about studios...

I am not sure why, but I really love seeing artists work spaces and studios.  They really intrigue me and I think they say alot about the artist or Illustrator.  When I visited New York last November we went to see Andre Da Loba's studio in!, the studio was like a gallery in itself, cram-packed with things that he had created, made and painted.  I think it's really important to have a personal space where you can just be creative and feel relaxed.

I have my own little art room where I keep all my things that I make, things I collect, paints and strange oddities that may be used one day for a project!.  I found these pictures the other day via Face book for Lia Kent who is a visual artist that works in mixed media alot.  I went crazy over the pictures of her studio and things that are in her studio, it made me realise how dull and boring my room looks! So I now feel inspired to spruce it up when I finish for summer!.

I also loved the 'inspiration board' - what a great idea!

This is the link to her page

Sarah Orenstein

Ever since I discovered Sarah Orenstein's mind blowing 'Windows, Masks & Doors' I have just been blown away by her amazing work, the diverse range in her work is brilliant too.  I made contact with Sarah as I was fascinated to learn about her work and her influences etc, I wasn't sure if I would hear back as I am sure she is very much in demand!.  I was very fortunate to get a reply back from her and found here response very helpful and informative, and most of all very honest and real. (See research file).

Below is some of her beautiful work, and a link to her website

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Visual World

I have started putting a visual world of my own up in my art room at home, I feel it really helps and inspires me, it's a little random, but they all have a tiny meaning to me!...I have only started it so don't have too much up, but I plan on filling the wall!...

Here's one I made earlier ! (Blue Peter)

This year is flying by!, yesterday we had the choice of 3 briefs to choose from, instantly I was drawn to the making brief, the task is to come up with an idea that can be made on the children's series of Blue Peter.  It's a really exciting and open brief and already my mind is ticking away with ideas!.  This morning we met with Jane who has previously submitted an idea to Blue Peter to be used on the show.  I found the meeting really knowledgeable and it triggered of lots of ideas.

My first concern is that the idea will have been used previously, so I aim to do lots of research and try to be innovative and push the boundaries of instant ideas and try to explore them.  A great idea this morning was looking into historical and folk festivals and linking it into something that can be made and that is educational.  We can also just be playful and do something that is really fun.

I plan to research, research, research and brainstorm ideas, as well as collecting visual reference.  I think getting into budget shops and looking at different materials that are both affordable and accessible and how they can be used will be really beneficial too.

I have a love for stories, characters and worlds so already have thought about puppets, characters, houses or theatre/cinema.

Toad and his Caravan

I am still deciding if I want to make Wind In The Willows or use drawings, so I am still experimenting with both at the moment.  I made Mole's Home, but then I felt inspired to make Toad and his Caravan in a dream like woodland environment.  Here are a few before and after photographs of Toad with his horse and caravan.  I also made a mobile out of of twigs that spells out the name of the story, I thought about hanging it on a tree outside and having it photographed.