Sunday, 20 December 2009
Speaking of which I just found this on said blog and had to let you see it! (words/image taken from Lines and Colours, I would've posted something directly from Eric Feng's site but it was taking ages to respond due to everyone and his dog being online at the moment, that and some pretty heavy video use on the site. I'm sure it's lovely but Sorry Eric I couldn't watch it)
It includes suggestions such as "create-a-monster-a-day-for-a-month", and smaller activities like "why did the chicken cross the road?".
All of the activities are split into sections such as 'practical projects' or 'academic exercises'.
Dani ( a children's illustrator) also has lots of other content on her site including practical tutorials and even on weekdays a live, streaming show on which she will create illustrations and the like...
Drawn! is "a collaborative weblog for illustrators, artists, cartoonists, and anyone who likes to draw. Visit us daily for a dose of links and creative inspiration."
Sunday, 6 December 2009
I was lucky enough to attend a conference in Sheffield last week based around Authorial practice in context with commercial illustration. Authorial practice being the personal output of illustrators away from their work for clients, this include ventures into fine art and the production of 'zines and ornaments, animation and so on.
So we went up to Sheffield to see three main speakers namely Simon (in order of appearence) Spilsbury, Ben Cox and Andrew Foster. The day also included the official opening of Andrew Fosters' gallery exhibition at the nearby Sheffield Institute of Arts Gallery entitled 'Precious In Thy Sight'.
The conference aimed to define how authorial practice affects commercial output and development, how online publishing has changed the role of the art director, designer and distributor etc. and lastly determining the role of the commissioner, director, artists agent in
furthering the contextual use of illustrative outcomes....apparently.
The speakers involved all had very different thing to say concerning the topics, first up Simon Spilsbury gave us an exciting talk through his career and how he chose illustration as a career and how he developed his style.
Saying that his dad was his art teacher, he took us through some of the work he completed at art school when he still didn't know what he really wanted to do. I guess he was saying that it was this sort of authorial practice that helped him develop a distinctive style. He went on to say that now he is not concerned about how his clients perceive him and is more than willing to draw things up spontaneously right on the spot for clients. Apparently the time he spent working at an ad agency gave him a good appreciation of quick turnover which has also helped him.
He talked quite a bit about the importance of context concerning his output and being aware of the critical factors in determining what suits a brief.
Simon also told us more about his personal attitude towards his work. Whilst he does not have a specific output other than his commercial work he constantly develops new ideas in and from his sketchbook that goes everywhere with him. This is where he will find many of his ideas but he also talked about being able to really look for the right answer to a question no mater how hard it might seem at first.
At the conclusion of his talk we were reminded that nowadays everything is considered media space.
Ben Cox from Central illustration (CIA) was next and he talked about the role of agencies and finding and matching the right client and illustrator together in order for the most mutually beneficial relationship. He explained to us the importance of personal experimentation and development being crucial to creating new styles and looks for clients to commission.
We were shown how one of their illustrators completed some personal work after completing a fairly well paid job but who was unhappy with the sort of thing they were being asked to do by clients. They decided they needed to show what they were capable of to their audience and so spent a couple of weeks working on something they preferred and submitted that to them (central). The agency liked it so much they used it as part of their own promotional material and the illustrator involved got more commissions along the lines of that sort of work.
We were reminded of the need to keep developing our work as over time it can start to look and feel stale.
Ben talked to us about various promotional exercises the agency had done with their (illustrator) clients. One of these was the Summer/Winter festival an event where the illustrators involved decorated the Royal Exchange in London and held a street party where prospective clients could see their work on display.
This was followed by an explanation of the Consequences show in Covent Garden, an event where each illustrator involved was given a piece that would sit in between the work of two others'. They were all given a horizon line to adhere to and the contact details were supplied to them of their respective neighbours.
The main point Ben seemed to want to make is that he saw authorial practice as a way of the artists he employs being happy in what they do.
I guess he did a pretty good job of promoting his agency as a place where good illustrators want to work and where the best clients will look. He showed us other examples of illustrators they had used to create promotional material for Central, playing us the video 'we like colour' (link to creative review), by Pirates, a creative group who were given a very open brief
Ben also took time to portray his agency's role in creating this sort of relationship whereby he says they will also try to bring client and practitioner together as soon as possible so that the creative involved can have as large an impact as possible on the output of the project. This he believes limits the amount of poor illustration and dummed down ideas that we see time and time again and hence must be good for the industry.
Andrew Foster has some of the strongest views on offer and by the time he took the stage we were all waiting t hear what he said.
There was a large focus was on -as we might have expected- the lines/boundaries between fine art and illustration.
He was very concerned about people doing things just for the sake of it and what he sees as a struggle within the industry for finding real talent and discerning that from the people who assume that just because do something means that you're automatically good at it.
He wanted us all to decide if we were interested, if we had anything to say.
He had a lot to say about practicing illustrators who rely on illustrations that they completed 'fifteen years ago'. He looked at examples of what he perceived as boring approaches to illustration with an example of a bag; he told us if something is 3d, why just draw something 2d on the front of it?
With such a large focus on integrity and responsibility he began to explain that he will loose 90% of his prospective commissions because of the content of his work. Client will be drawn towards his style and attitude but when it comes to the point they dont like wht he wants to do.
Such an uncompromising attitude has left him needing to find other outlets for his work and that is why his work has crossed the barrier into being fine art. Something that he has produced purely for himself, for 'therapy' as he calls it. It seems as a sort of cathartic exercise for him to exorcise his demons and push his creativity.
Following all this we had about an hour for a Q&A session.
All the speakers got together at the end with some of the staff from Sheffield university for the Q&A session where questions collected from members of the audience were put to the panel and discussed with also some input from the audience.
The debate shifted from the need for this sort of approach to illustration being perhaps a 'sticking plaster solution' for an industry producing too many graduates for the work producing answers such as;
There is now so much work out there with the internet and other forms of media that there is no excuse to not find work, or make some.
This sort of work is purely the result of unemployment.
There should be more of a focus on authorial practice in illustration courses.
This raised particularly heated debate with various camps being set up within the room, arguing over the neccessities of what an illustration graduate needs to know with regards to the industry and how to teach that. Some were adamant that the particulars of the commercial demands need not be taught to students as apparently they need to be creative and not get bogged down with that sort of thing. Some believed that authorial practice pretty much was covered on their courses and so the argument was mute.
Panelists particularly Andy Foster said that he felt students were short changed and to many people could get onto courses by virtue of the fact that they had a checkbook and a pulse. He wanted to see more realism and preparation for the real world of illustration.
It seemed to me that it was the usual case of people wanting to moan about something instead of being willing to accept something for what it is and accepting that it is you that has to change and not the world. If we want to be illustrators we must accept that there is a system there that works a certain way and if we are going to change any of it then we must play the game to some extent.
One good viewpoint on this was made I believe by Ben Cox that nothing is really going to substitute actually looking for a job anyway.
There seemed to be a lot of confusion on the floor when the subject of personal style came into discussion. Some believing it to be not important or that too much emphasis was put on students to produce something very particular to themselves with regard to style upon their graduation.
Panelists views included such things as, If you don't have a style you're not going to get anywhere. With someone from the audience pointing out the you might be able to do all the tricks under the sun but if your work doesn't hold together and isn't strong, that no-one will be interested.
It seems to me that the more you work at producing something that is your own the more the work you produce starts to hold together as your own. Whether you realise it or not, you will have particular tastes and patterns in your decisions and with things like the way you draw that are very much specific to you and so the only person you have to blame for not having a style is yourself.
It is your responsibilty to experiment with the things you want to experiment with and to come up with good illustrative ideas. No-one is going to do it for you.
And remember to keep experimenting and things will develop over time.
Oh and thanks to the staff at Sheffield uni we all thought it was a brilliant day. :)
Sunday, 8 November 2009
The article considered that robots might one day be able to consider their memories and their consequent feelings on such matters as a measure of their consciousness.
Saturday, 7 November 2009
Here is a link to the Art Director's Club, an international organisation based in NYC. A not-for-profit company which contains details for the awards they offer and podcasts about the job they do. They also offer things like portfolio reviews, help regarding scholorships and student competitionsas well as other services.
Worth a look.
Friday, 6 November 2009
I was lucky enough to attend Charles Hively’s lecture; ‘The Rise and fall and rise of American Illustration,’ at Sheffield University this week.
Hively is the producer of 3X3 a three times a year publication devoted solely to illustration. The format being that it features three illustrators written about by three of their illustrator friends. The aim of the magazine is probably best put on the magazine website;
- “Our mission is to spotlight the best international artists working today and encourage a new focus on the use of illustration by the advertising and design communities.”
Being an ex-illustrator himself Hively started the magazine amongst a lot of negative advice from people telling him the magazine would never be successful, despite this, the magazine has gone from strength to strength since its first edition now reaching issue13.
It must be said that Hively is really all about promoting illustration as a valid method for communication compared to say, photography.
In his lecture he first explained how he got started in illustration, producing an illustration whilst under the influence of a bad cold, as well as the drugs which he had taken to subdue its effects. Producing a, ‘squewy, lined drawing’, of a local scene with a Christmas message, he was convinced that it would never see print. He was wrong of course and this was the launching board for more freelance work.
Launching an advertising agency and then becoming a creative director, he also became more involved in creating the layouts for the magazine he was involved with. This led to critical acclaim.
This gave him the opportunity to hire people that he really admired the work of and enjoy the relationship of working with people coming up with ideas. He really likes concepts and not just decoration.
This career led him to do photography, illustration and art direction, he also worked as an advertising head and this left him with a unique perspective when looking for the next thing and deciding to do 3x3 as a publisher.
Hively, as I have said is a strong believer in illustration going so far as to say that we; ‘have the power to change the cultural environment.’ Pointing out historical examples from American illustration of people wanting their hair lin the style perhaps of how a certain illustrator had drawn it or how everybody at one time could recognise, and know the name of, whoever had done a particular illustration, such was their notoriety.
The next section of the lecture contained what Hively saw as reasons for the ‘death’ of illustration. He named photography as art as one siting people like Steiglitz as art-photographers, suddenly making illustration look very dated. Photography was now capturing the environment in the way that illustration once had.
Another reason was art schools, coming up with abstract ideas representing things like emotions, that were before recognisable as an expression or action that the illustrator would draw now becoming strange shapes and smears of colour for example.
One that you might find surprising was the Apple Mac, whereby he talked about us no longer needing scrap files for resource and just googling everything for example.
Of course the lecture was not a bleak eulogy for illustration and Me Hively was of course dutifully bound to tell us of the resurrection of the illustration world and why his magazine is so successful.
He took us back to a day before computers and even photography (at least before it was used widely in print) and showed how art and illustration were almost the same thing. Moving on, he showed us how things moved on and illustration started to be used in advertising, with the obvious advantage that an illustrator can show an idea and not just a piece of art.
One problem he noted was that when he mentioned (recently) the idea that an illustrator could be hired to produce an idea to art directors that this came as a surprise to them. They had become so reliant upon photography that they were not even aware that they could hire somebody to think of and develop an idea for them. He stated that it was a problem amongst the industry that they would merely come up with an idea and then tell a photographer exactly what they wanted to see.
He stressed that this is something that us illustrators really need to take note of and that we should be pushing art directors, creative producers et-all to consider illustration as a practical and perhaps superior alternative to this sort of avenue. He also that they might be saving themselves some money by hiring just one person instead of the army of assistants and so on that the photographer needs. An illustrator will take an idea away and work on it and refine it and come up with new solutions. They have the ability to draw an idea straight from their heads onto the paper and develop it further. Also you would be buying something entirely more original, what with illustration being such a personal thing.
We were shown that a photographic style could be recreated by another photographer and you wouldn’t know who had taken the photo, but with illustration (at least good illustration) you would get that individual’s style. Interesting.
As well as this, we looked at the need for illustration to cross into the realms of art as both another source of income but also of course as a means of promotion. Hively tried to convince us that it would be pertinent to get a second job to support ourselves but also to always be looking at fresh ideas and working on our creativity, as the average illustrators career lasts maybe seven years. He suggested tactics such as having an alternate identity, a nom-de-plume, or having two or three recognisably different styles, which we can work in.
He pointed us to people such as Seymour Chwast, at Push Pin studios and animation as helping to once again breathe new life into the illustration industry.
Adding that even through digital manipulation not everyone could match the specific skills of the individual illustrator for producing ideas. ‘Not everyone can draw.’
As I have said he now enjoys promoting talented illustrators through his magazine 3x3. With his assistant Sarah they also now produce other sister magazines and they also now produce an annual for 3x3. This includes a competition contained in a section at the back of the annual.
The three things we all need to know are;
Illustration is a business.
You work for yourself -you have to be prepared to jump in head first, those that get to the edge and turn back are not going to make it.
This also means that you do your own accounts, you bill and collect (always stating; ‘net due upon receipt’). You do the filing and taxes.
Websites are marketing tools.
Blogs are not, prospective clients need to see the work you are offering, not a long list of text and have to search around for the type of work you offer. You need your best work to be there straight away and not a bunch of flash animations and menus in the way.
Don’t just print off 600 postcards; send them to the people that matter, the ones that you think will hire you. Be everywhere, a client needs to see you at least three times for you to be in their minds.
Enter every show and keep doing it. Put you work in directories (good ones) not just the ones that charge, 3x3 is a good one, people pay attention.
Show work in galleries, this will get your work to a wider audience and rovide alternate income.
Try to get your work in to memorable media, Times magazine or similar, better quality print, more memorable media, wider audience.
Do’s and Don’ts
Do be original-Don’t be a copy
Be professional-Not a prima-donna
Do try to see directors-Don’t dress like a slob
Do be outgoing-Don’t be recluse
Be assertive and positive-Don’t do jobs you can’t handle
Do get the second job and take time to promote yourself, denying work while you promote yourself gives clients the impression that you are busy, they will call again if they want you!
Do publicize-Don’t wait for the phone to ring.
Do join clubs-Don’t just join the AOI
Art directors will give you work, illustrators wont.
Do take AD’s to lunch.- Don’t just take illustrators. This will extend your career.
Support the community-Don’t just support yourself.
Do bid fairly- Don’t undercut a pro. This is just undermining the industry and will bring all commissions down, how will we make a living?
Do be prepared to barter, if a client names a price, ask for more.- Don’t just jump at the first figure out of the bag. Have an idea what the job should be worth beforehand if possible, ask the community.
Do research-Don’t just make something up.
Do lots of sketches-Don’t just use the first idea that you come up with.
Do be ruthless-Don’t show everything you’ve done, only the best or things that you are prepared to do again.
Do subscribe to print-Don’t just rely on the web.
That should give us all something to consider….
For a little more information there's a good interview with Charles here.
Monday, 2 November 2009
and this is really useful, printable, interesting reference.
Monday, 26 October 2009
His website/blog can be found here where you can see the successes he is enjoying with video producers and various clients but the pieces that grabbed our attention today (pictured) were found in the book Naive, published by gestalten, a book of; "modernism and folklore in modern graphic design".
Saturday, 24 October 2009
It seems that the combination of author illustrator can an appealing one to publishers, and this is certainly the angle I've been working along during the last few weeks -Looking at competitions such as The Macmillan Prize.
Here is an interesting blog explaining a publishing editor's point of view of matching illustrators and authors, it seems quite negative towards people trying to match the two themselves and very much in favour of the editor being able to match the two with their informed view. But there are some interesting posts. This post in particular has provoked some interesting replies...
Thursday, 22 October 2009
What was interesting for me were Kermode's views on The Fantastic Mr Fox, or at least his comments on Rhoald Dahl.
He pointed out the dark side of Dahl's stories which made me think back to my current project, the deadline for which was today. I have been trying desperately to manage and balance the light and dark elements of my story into something that kids will find amusing but also be able to gain something from. Thinking back it sems to me that these evil characters always met their end in the most wonderfully inventive and drastic way, but also (usually), by fault of their own hand. Sort of reminds me of an ACME device or something...except I always wanted Wile. E. Coyote to catch the Roadrunner.
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Emily Gravett's site is here. She won in 2004 and uses a traditional painting and ink style combined with the computer for compositing images. There are some nice vids and things to check and you can see her working method, which is not too dissimilar to my own.
In an interview for Macmillan here, she talks about about what winning Macmillan meant to her and how she came to children's book creation. There is lots for students, -especially the older, new parent variety, such as myself- to relate to. Great stuff!
Thursday, 15 October 2009
He, incidentally is an artist, print-maker and university lecturer but you can see that stuff on the site. I came across him by looking at some of his YouTube videos.
I should mention that he himself is chronically dyslexic (why did they make that word so hard to spell?!?!).And here is something a little more nostalgic featuring Kermit the frog to show you that visual thinking is not necessarily a new idea.
Co-founded with author Eric C Carle ( he created The Hungry Catterpillar) the museum also bears his name.
Definate food for thought for anyone interested in this area.
The first is an author Rob Scotton who's book Splat the cat I have been using as part of my investigations.
The humour and likeability of this title showcase what I think are some of the most important qualities of a children's picture book.
Ther is a good synopsis and introduction to Scotton at http://www.lovereading4kids.co.uk/book/3355/Splat-The-Cat.html.
The story is delightful, but the comic nature of the characters especially Scotton's choice of awkward, spindly limbs and bent tales are little devices that give them so much life on the page.
Just going to the page for Russel the Sheep and looking at the role of awards for this title should show you how widely appreciated he is as an illustrator and creator in general.
There seemed to be a shortage of material on the author as an individual in my search, perhaps this is fitting of a children's illustrator. He does live on an island so he must be a little reclusive. I did manage to find a short light-hearted interview here.
The title was also mentioned in a top ten children's books of 2008 rundown at the Newe York Times taht can be seen here (it's at number 4).
Noting that is style appears to be heavily dependant on digital media gives me a little hope as I approach graduation.
Following on from this I began to look at his publisher, Harper Collins.
Also home to people like Oliver Jeffers, it seems like a nice place for modern illustrated children's books.
All I need to do now is win multiple international prizes in consideration of my work !
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
If you can't tell she does a lot of children's illustration.
I like her strong colours and sense of shape, something that's a bonus when you have to work together type and pictures so much as when working with children's stories. She also really enjoys putting a lot of texture into her work through mainly the use of collage, which is very popular in these circles also.
Someone that enjoys having an agent do their networking for them and also copes with a new baby at the same time, something I'm getting used to. She spends some time talking about making time for both family and work.
She talks about her new studio at the bottom of her garden- which gives her the opportunity to focus more. She also has just finished a masters in illustration and says this; "was great as I was able to fully dedicate my thoughts to some personal work for a while".
She answers all the usual questions Illustration Friday points at its chosen interviewees and I suppose you can just follow the link at the top if you want to know more.
Saturday, 10 October 2009
Here's another Illustrator working in the same field as my current project (children's illustration/picture books) that I have been looking at recently.
Stian Hole is a Dutch graphic designer and illustrator, with national accolades behind him in his home country. His style it seems has been picked up on perhaps by the people that have been doing the recent British Gas adverts on TV.
His use of photoshop to give the chracters in his work an ethereal and cartoony quality. The illustrations in his books still retain the hand crafted and human quality that we so love in these publications and have a little sense of 70's cartoon in there too.
The stories his books contain are also worth a note as they tend to be of quite a personal nature. Difficult issues such as the loss of a grandparent and first days at school form the backbone of the tales involved.
Sunday, 27 September 2009
The current exhibition features work from Bloomberg gradutes and students. Going to look at a fine art exhibition is always a challenge and as I was hoping for a little inspiration for my current project it was kind of nice to seperate ourselves from everyday activities and immerse ourselves in this sort of work.
The exhibition itself covers three floors of the building and contains a wide variety of work. From video installations to free standing sculpture and the usual paintings and things.
I guess it did the trick because I came away with new ideas and thoughts for my project. Funny how something so out of the ordinary can be so thought provoking.
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
My current project is concerning Children's Illustration, specifically, I am attempting to write and illustrate a children's story.
The project has led me to look at many practitioners doing similar things but one of the biggest inspirations so far has been Shaun Tan.
I first encountered his work in the book Play Pen by Martin Salisbury. I have found book an invaluable resource containing insight into and information on various talents in the world of children's illustration, worthy of a place on the bookshelf of anyone who is interested in this area.
His (Tan's) varied work contains a few children's titles some of which have been a major influence on me over the summer months. His site also contains some interesting essays on the nature of his work and some of the issues he has encountered.
Some of his titles, specifically Rabbits and The Lost Thing have found their way into my collection and I feel duty bound to offer a few pics of some of this work.
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
Monday, 20 July 2009
Was browsing around and found this work Peepshow have done in conjunction with CBeebies...Promoting educational themes such as ethnic diversity the usage of different language and locations is backed up by the animations backdrops using designs derived from materials associated with the specific culture involved... It's all very pretty and the bold design is attractive and seems very appropriate for children's illustration. Using cut out shapes in a basic but fun kind of way and combining them with real time footage of children.
All of their other stuff is worth checking out too!
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Anyway that aside... I was introduced, as I mentioned to all sorts of new talent at the D&AD new blood exhibition. Whilst it was slightly dissapointing to realise that my own work (which recieved in-book status) was not on display at the exhibition, my page is there and my work can be seen here.
^ D&AD page of My work! ^
Owen Davey has a really nice website with lots of well done illustrations with a heavy slant towards children's illustration.
He also has links to all his classmates. One of which is Bobby Cheung.
There is a whole array of new things that I want to post up here, so they will be up soon.
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Just found time to finish one of my poster illustrations from the start of this year. I suppose that it's an Homage to Alphonse Mucha.
The brief was for an imaginary play at the Lowry in Manchester based on the popular fairy tale (as you may have guessed) Rapunzel.
Friday, 8 May 2009
Tom Humberstone won an Eagle award for his comic, "How to Date A Girl In Ten Days" 2008. Which apparently is "the comic equivalent to a Bafta".
I've just come into contaact with his work through Stephen Collins who I did a contact report on a couple of months ago.
To be honest I didn't realy know what to expect but looking over his (very well presented) site there are full pages of the comic and the story pulls you right in. Most of the panels are of peoples faces which lends itself to the emotional theme of the story with a strong use of text surrounding the story and having a great impact on the reader.
The site also containd some insight to the creation of the comic and there are links to his blog, sketchbook and illustrations. Well worth checking out.
Thursday, 7 May 2009
An artist that I've been following on Deviantart has just been interviewed by this Ezine that focusses on comics, illustration, animation and other arty stuff. There's lots to look through, lots more interviews, blog stuff, you could probably be reading it for weeks.
So, if American illustration is your thing it's worth checking out.
As you may have noticed I've been looking at quite a bit od fantasy art recently. On of the people who pops up most often is Todd Lockwood, his work will be well known by anyone who takes an interest in the Dungeons and Dragons type stuff and many try to imitate his style.
He started out as a commercial illustrative artist in the States before he got bored and moved into the realms of fantasy.
He displays great tecnical skill and his website is a great reseource with galleries, links to other great sites and also a large QandA section ( no doubt as an attempt to keep all the fanmail in check), discussing technical issues and the business of working in the industry.
He also has a usefull book for anyone intersted in character design and I've been getting through that recently, it's one of those things that you wish you'd read before you did your last project y'know?
There's usually a lot of story telling in his pieces, describing where a character comes from easily with just a few visual clues and I adore his painterly style (coming from his roots in traditional media). Generally there is a strong use of light and composition with his work.
Monday, 4 May 2009
Vera Neubauer is very respected for her fine art type animation 4. This comes from her website;
“Vera Neubauer has made more than 30 films, written numerous scripts, had photo exhibitions and curated festival screenings. Her films have been widely shown internationally in cinemas, galleries and on television. They have been awarded 2 BAFTA’s, as well as major prizes at international film festivals. She has had retrospectives around the world including the UK, Germany, Italy, Brazil and India.
Vera began teaching filmmaking at Central Saint Marten School of Art and Goldsmiths College and is now a guest lecturer at film schools in Belgium, Germany, Turkey and Norway. She is a director of Spectre Films and works as an independent artist and filmmaker.”
Damian Gasgoigne, is perhaps best known for the commercial work he produces for television advertisements but also for his teaching in London, on the animation course at the Royal College.
Vera Neubauer’s films contain a mix of cell animation, using pen and ink drawings that come across in a tribal, rootsy way. She will also employ anything else that is at hand to give her films the right feel, including stick drawings in beach sand that can then be seen to be swept away by the tide, as in her film depicting the bible story. She will draw in the condensation on windows, using strikingly different means to convey the message or feeling she has in the most sensitive manner.
The intimacy Damian’s style affords is perhaps its biggest selling point. The characters’ poses and appearance are both something Damian is proud of and wants to continue to convey as he moves on to working now with computerised 3d animation, something that he has tried to avoid but sees as just ‘the way the industry has moved’.
I believe that this sort of consistency with his own artwork being such a signature of his work is a major point for Damian.
His work sells because it looks like his work.
He does not need to be adaptable or to change his style to fit the market. He must therefore value the communicative value in what he does. His methods for transcribing his thoughts into the animations we see are capable only by him and the characters themselves are more alive because of it. This is something he is working hard to maintain as he endeavours with his current generation of students to make the transition.
I suppose he has a slightly different approach to Vera’s whereby these are all strings to his bow and in order to exist certain concessions are inevitable.
Vera’s work on the main, appears very fine art oriented, it is no wonder that we see that she is writing scripts and making fine art. Though we still see evidence or her own style and her own characters through the work she produces, she is not so contained by the notion of a particular style I think as Damian. This is perhaps due to his roots in illustration, whereas Vera has a different background, what with her roots in filmmaking meaning that, as I mentioned in an earlier post on this blog, as a student she; ‘was merely given a camera and told to go and film things’.
She is very brave when choosing what will go into her films, perhaps because of this approach towards her education. Not conceiving boundaries in the same way as others and being more willing to give things a try. It is difficult to picture her working with 3D animation with its stuffy offices and long nights of coffee and cola.
She has a much more immediate approach to the way her elements are placed together, even featuring live action at times. It seems she is very willing to take whatever conveys the message best without feeling constrained to having to sit down and draw everything in a certain way, something she feels would kill the train of thought. It has to be said that her films convey this sense of immediacy extremely effectively.
I suppose that as a student of illustration though, I do tend to appreciate the style of something coming across through a piece. That elements are tied together with a singular style is something I have craved when working on my pieces throughout the last year or so and things don’t feel finished to me unless they appear so.
Vera’s work does however offer unity through the very fact that it is (obviously) a single piece of film. She has the last laugh in the fact that all things taken into consideration , we are looking at her talents as a film maker, her skills in composition and timing and ultimately her communication of thoughts and feelings, the emotional impact of the things she chooses as her subject matter. She is not trying to sell something with a few laughs or a little sense of symapthetic selfishness, more she is engaging with the viewer on a very personal level and pushing the boundaries of film.
So we have two people and two different goals here but Damian should not be discounted from the goals of Vera’s that I have just mentioned, far from it. For Damian’s work with his students also pushes the boundaries of what is ‘accepted animation’, something that should not be forgotten.
I can sypathise with Damian having to make the move to 3D and have considered it myself in the past, even going so far as to learn to use a little of the software to give myself some kind of working knowledge. I suppose that everything comes with a catch and we have to decide whether the pros outwiegh the cons in this case.
I think the possibilities that Damian is approaching with his students are amazingly interesting, after all once the art is working and the puppets ready to manipulate there is (Literally!) a whole other dimension to encounter with this method.
I do appreciate the consistency of style and the feel when somebodies vision is realised in such a way. It is a beautiful thing, it's easy to feed off the enthusiasm of both of these people.
Perhaps some of the goals of Vera's films with their high emotional content can be approached in this way after all. After all, isn't it just visual story telling being honed and refined?
It is interesting to note that in both their lectures they each referred to seeing being so creative as a type of ‘mental-illness’. Each of them stating that it takes a certain type of person to be able to go and do some of the things necessary to gain their results and overcome the challenges they encounter with their creativity.
This is something I find easy to admire as too many people are happy to say; ‘sit down!’, ‘you can’t do that!’ or; ‘What will people think?’. I find it much too good for the spirit to get out and draw people and things that even whilst writing this, I am desperate to get out and do just that. I think this sort of practice is refreshing, feels good and well, if the weather stays nice...
Saturday, 2 May 2009
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
I have been pestering him for some words of wisdom and some insight into his fantastic ability for some time and he has kept promising me in spite of his fantastically busy schedule.
So, today his answers arrived. Here is the work of a man who obviously takes great pride in his work and appreciates his fans. : )
My questions are in blue...
How did you start to develop your (astonishing) talent ? Was this complimented by classes? life drawing and painting (presumedly) ?
Did you have to flaunt yourself a lot when starting out by visiting clients, showing your portfolio etc, when you started out?
Do your clients contact you personally? Do you meet with them? Are they repeat clients? Do you need to use an agent?
What percentage of your work is digital and how much traditional?
All digital now but I keep my hand in with the oils when I can get an hour or so spare time.(as I bloomin well miss painting). But I come from a differnet angle now with accepting digital as the main way i create the pictures..When I used to paint for publishers the down side for me was that what overtook the scene I was painting was the fact that I was rushing to get it done..so it was almost a matter of losing a lot of the detail I had in mind when starting out with the idea of creating the picture.Now I treat it as creating what's in my mind without worrying or spending time on the process I create it with .Sometimes with painting you are restricted from what vision you have in your head to whittle it down to something you can create in the given time .It to some extent similar to digital creating but with digital you can expand your vision..and for me if it looks good on a cover that's all I am worried about not the process I used to get there.If it looks original and believable and striking then that's fine by me.
last one.. Do you have a studio that you go to work in? Do you share your workspace?
Here are some more examples of Jon's work and this link to his site where you can see some of his sketchbook work as well as many of his finished pieces for books etc.
Sunday, 26 April 2009
Damien Gasgoinge is a teacher of animation t the royal college London. He started out as an illustrator and his work is all pen/pencil driven. After he made us laugh for about an hour he managed to give us a talk on his work and the methods and practices he is involved with at the school..
He works in the world of advertising and most of his work is driven towards these ends but his lecture focussed mainly on his technique and methods rather than explaining (or even showing) his commercial work.
During his talk he repeatedly referred to his need to be doing something creative all (or most!) of the time...He really loves his work, which was apparent in his tirelessness and seemingly boundless enthusiasm. He sees being so creative as a kind of madness and he is not ashamed to admit it. He stressed to us the need to have something to record what we see around us. He took us through some photos and sketchbook material and entertained us with the different stories he invented around this source material.
He has no qualms about stopping someone he sees making a pose or gesture he finds interesting to quickly draw them.
He usually uses a Chinese pen in ink to capture these images and they are usually on a small scale. This gives his pictures a kind of immediacy and they retain their character more easily this way.
He took a little time introducing us to some of his students, (not personally, he used photos!) explaining their personalities a little and the different things he enjoys to do with them.. Some are currently working with him to develop some 3d work, based very closely on his drawings.
Although he stated that probably about 90% of advertising animation is now digital Mr Gasgoigne has tried to avoid going down this avenue. Perhaps noting that the people that tend to work on PCs all the time are more akin to lifeless zombies than the animated fun guy he likes to perceive himself as...Can’t fault his logic really...my girlfriend will attest to this theory whole heartedly (I always thought I was such a fun guy)...He equated working in 3D to driving a Porsche in a chip shop. I guess for someone that enjoys the freedom and creativity generated in a loose, fast environment having to sit in-front of a pc with all its protocol and limitations must be very tiring indeed and I can see why he might be more than happy to leave it to someone else. I guess it has its pros and cons.