Friday, 26 February 2016

BAIL303: Project 3 - Progressive: Illustrating the Point: Editorial 1: Anorak Magazine: Research

The Editorial - 'Spot the Squirrels'

As part of my progressive project for BAIL303, I'm looking at completing some illustrations for editorials for both children and adults. 

The first of these is a double-page spread for issue 37 of Anorak Magazine. A fully illustrated spread - it involves an image where 10 characters are 'hidden' within a landscape.

Here's a crop of the original spread by Inma Lorente (

Lorente describes it as 'a magical forest.' Using coloured pencils and watercolour, Lorente has a really calming, mysterious palette of blues and pinks. (and some brown for the squirrels) 

From looking at the image, reading Lorente's descriptions on her tumblr page and the context of the issue, I presume the brief read something along the lines as follows:

10 happy woodland creatures in a magical forest setting. Image area: 420 x 260mm with 5mm bleed CMYK 300dpi. 

In Lorente's image she has reused the same illustration at various scales/positions. I'd quite like to make a couple of different illustrations, just so there's a bit of variety. I may stick with the colour palette though, as it is very pleasant.  I might move away from the squirrels, too, as I don't want to just do a re-hash of what exists. 

Research - British Woodland Mammals

According to the Woodland trust here are Brtains native woodland species:

  • Bats: (Barbastelle, Bechstein's, Brown long-eared, Lesser Horseshoe, Natterer's, Noctule.)

  • Weasel-type things: Badger, Pine Marten, Pole Cat, Otter, Stoat, Weasel.
  • Mice: Dormouse, Woodmouse, Yellow Necked Mouse.

  • Deer: Red Deer, Roe Deer.

  • Rodents: Beaver, Brown Hare, Bank Vole, Hedgehog, Red Squirrel

  • Fox

  • Wild Boar

There's a focus within this issue of Anorak of looking after the woodland, so it might be nice to include a species that is rare or in decline. (see those in bold) Maybe that's why the red squirrel was chosen originally? 

Dormouse are probably a bit too tiny if I want to produce a landscape image. Pole cats could easily be confused with ferrets. Pine martens are cool, if a bit ferocious - though they are very cute and illusive to most of Britain. I quite like the idea of a beaver or wild boar as they have been re-introduced after native populations became extinct. 

I think I'll start with some sketches for the animals Pine Marten, Beaver, Red Squirrel and Wild Boar and see where that takes me. 

Friday, 12 February 2016

BAIL302: Creative and Professional Development: Generative Stage: Group Self-Promotional Strategies and Fund Raising: Christmas Quiz/Raffle

5 December 2015 - Illustration Festive Night: Christmas Quiz and Raffle

Alongside Tilly Gibbs I hosted a Christmas Pub Quiz and Raffle at The Roundabout Pub. 

What we did:

Tilly was responsible for collecting piece of work off of peers to enter into the raffle, secured the venue and provided some raffle tickets. Alongside Sam Skerratt shew also set up the space. 

I helped Tilly to produce the actual quiz by suggesting a structure of categories, whilst she sourced the questions and answers. 
We worked together to sell raffle tickets to friends and peers and both ran the tombola together on the night, which I sourced from Mel Brown.  

I hosted the quiz, with assistance from Tilly counting up the scores. 


We had initially intended on hosting an auction alongside the quiz, but didn't get much of a response from our peers. I think this was partly due to circumstance, as we were in the middle of BAIL301, so there wasn't much work at a stage where it could be sold, nor was there much in the way of free time for people to prepare items to sell.  So we elected to go for a raffle instead. Despite this we had a good turn out at the event and raised a fair amount of money for the group pot.

I think we will consider organising an auction together at a later date when people have a decent body of work to choose from. We might also have to consider the interests of the wider group too as there weren't that many people from the course at the event or interested in taking part - so maybe we need to discover if that was just circumstance or because of the venue/atmosphere. 

Our year group is quite a shy one and we had initially contacted graduate Jack Viant to see if he would be interested in hosting the event if nobody within our group stepped forward. He graciously declined believing it would be a good opportunity for someone in our group and stating that he didn't feel that he was in the position to represent us. 
So I stepped forward, which was an interesting experience, I have been in a situation where I've had to speak in front of a large group of people before, but I was initially a bit apprehensive. I think I'd happily do it again if we were to hold an auction event. 

BAIL302: Creative and Professional Development: Generative Stage: Competitions: On the Cards

On the Cards - the people

On the Cards is a greetings card design competition set up by independent greetings cards publisher Paper Rose and paper merchant GF Smith.

Paper Rose has various 'collections' This card by Beverly Edge is part of their Juvenile Collection 'Marzipan Toybox' made from Polymer clay sculptures. 

From Jojo Norris' Contemporary Collection 'Magpie' made from collage of found papers and textures.

GF Smith has been crazy about paper since 1885 sourcing the finest paper from across the world and offering a voluminous range of colours and textures. 

The Brief

The competition aims to draw on fresh innovative ideas from young and upcoming designers, whilst generating interest in the industry. They wanted us to know that the UK greetings card industry is the world leader and still a very much relevant part of our culture, responsible for at least 100,000 jobs and generating £1.6 billion each year. 

There were two categories that you could enter; 

The best use of illustration, character, typography, photography or graphics. This could be, but not limited to, a more ‘classic’ card format.i 

The best use of new innovative ideas in formats, paper engineering or new materials and/ or interaction with new technologies and media.

Each category had two prizes;

Gold- £250 cash prize, plus a minimum of one week work placement from Paper Rose/ The Art Group. £100 towards a G. F Smith Make Book (perfect for your portfolio!) ( Opportunity to have your design put into production and stocked in Paperchase 

Silver- £100 cash prize from Paper Rose/The Art Group Opportunity to have your design put into production and stocked in Paperchase

My Response

I was initially quite intrigued by the prospect of generating ideas for innovative designs, but when I realised the deadline was sandwiched amidst the deadlines for BAIL301 and BAIL304 I decided it would be far more sensible for me to think about producing a traditional card with a unique theme. 

Our responses began with a  group task, producing a time-line of events and proposing greetings card ideas for them. Things such as mobility scooter licences or stair lift certificates at age 70 or so. It was an interesting way of generating ideas, as multiple people came up with different concepts, but it was also good to see different interpretations of the same theme. 

Humour was a real focus for my card designs and I decided to progress with two themes:

  • 'Get well soon' cards featuring pets and based around puns 
  • 'Happy Birthday' cards themed as passive-aggressive messages from neighbours based around a drier sense of humour.  

After a discussion with Phil I decided to drop the pets deigns as the animal theme has been done to death and the passive-aggressive neighbours was a far more novel idea.

There were a few different ideas involved with this theme, all designed as comments about an upcoming birthday party;

  • Invoices for sleeping aid devices like ear plugs, sound proofing etc.
  • Suggestions to modify the party to the neighbours' benefit, such as a silent disco or a play-list which heavily hints at the suggestion of sleep.
  • A play on the term 'party animal' which includes a 'hibernation schedule'

The design process wasn't particularly involved; I hadn't done any market research, the designs were drawn up as thumbnails and roughs and then I produced them digitally. I had wanted to dedicate some time to this project to get it done properly, but circumstance left me with a limited time frame. 

I used a font that I had recently created for BAIL301 and decided on a magenta, yellow and cyan colour scheme for simplicity sake, but also because they are bold and bright colours that fit the party theme well. As a result of using the font, I decided to generate the artwork as a digital collage using the polygon select tool, to get those paper cut shapes that evoke the font. 

My Submission

Card Information

Card Design 1 Front and Back

Card Design 1 Inside

Card Design 2 Front

Card Design 2 Inside

Card Design 3 Front

Card Design 3 Inside

I'm not that disappointed with the outcome, I think the cards convey the concept well. It would have been nice to pay a bit more attention to them though, perhaps considering the envelopes and taking a product placement image within my local branch of Paperchase.

I'm glad I engaged with the project, greetings cards weren't really an interest at all before taking part - I'd tried my hand a couple of times before but didn't feel great about the outcomes. They're something I'd consider doing again in the future, a good application to experiment with illustration for children and humour-based illustrations. 

BAIL302: Creative and Professional Development: Reflective Stage: Portfolio Consultations

Creating a Portfolio and Receiving Feedback

In preparation for our exhibition of work during our summer show, after graduation and potentially at New Designers this summer, we were tasked with pulling together a portfolio of work.

Back in November we created our first drafts. Mine predominantly featured my best pieces of work from second year and any recent pieces I had produced for stage one of BAIL301. This was a fairly tricky task as there wasn't much consistency in the work that I had produced so far and I only had a few pieces that I felt were worthy of putting into a portfolio. 

This first portfolio surgery took place with Tristan Manco who provided some great feedback:

  • The portfolio needs to have an area of focus.
  • If you have a preferred material to use/intend on using a particular material more often, it needs to be well represented in the portfolio - this was a comment about my intentions to continue with collage as an image making process, with there only being one image in the portfolio that uses collage.
  • The black and white images found in the middle of the portfolio are the weakest and don't hold up as much as other work in the portfolio.
  • Stand-alone images would benefit from being placed into an application context e.g. the dinosaurs on a moc up of a museum exhibit. 
  • Images would benefit from having a title and some information to provide context. 
  • Photographs are of a poor quality (they were last minute placeholders) and need to be replaced.
  • The activity pack does not need so many pages dedicated to it - try to stick to one page or a spread for each piece of work. 

Taking these points into consideration I edited my portfolio so that it had a children's illustration focus, adding in new pieces from stage 2 of BAIL301 and editing an older piece of work to fit in with the collage rendering. I also took some decent product photos during daytime on a digicam rather than at night on my phone. 

The second portfolio consultation was with the mighty Fig Taylor, who's been in the business for 30 odd years. I was a bit worried at first, expecting that Fig was going to rip my artwork to pieces because of an urban legend that she made some third year cry last year. It was actually a really informal, pleasant experience. Fig took a nosey at my portfolio and said 'Yep. This is illustration for children.' and then proceeded to tell some humorous anecdotes.  

Fig picked out some key points that were encouraging because they were in line with some proposed plans I had for the future.

  • Look at applying children's illustration to products and to editorials - places like anorak, okido and the loop. - a bit of variety in the application of illustration for children.
  • Look at working in editorials with your cartoons/caricatures as there is some good humour behind them - along the lines of Steven Applebee and Gary Larson. (This was a really nice and surprising point that she picked up.)
  • Be careful with the use of simplistic features - they can make expression and age ambiguous. 
  • Pay attention to character design - make sure they look like individual children rather than the same stunted adult in different wigs. 

Fig also broke down the typical age-range to illustration ratio of picture books and chapter books as well as commenting on the nature of mass market and non-mass market picture book covers. 
And she made a comment that my children illustrations had a naivety that she thought children could identify with, an essence of finger painting. I guess she meant it's not too cutesy or patronising but it isn't at the extreme end of being adult or grotesque maybe? I'm not really sure, but it seemed like a compliment. I'll take it over 'that looks shit' any day.

She had a couple of hearty laughs at my portraits which bookend the portfolio too, which was rewarding.

I think what I will do is make a couple of different portfolios - depending on the amount/type of work I manage to produce before the end of the year. At least a children's illustration portfolio - probably a mixture of picture book, editorial and products for children or even separate portfolios for these areas? And then potentially a separate editorial portfolio which focuses on humour or articles for adults.  

Thursday, 11 February 2016

BAIL302: Creative and Professional Development: Reflective Stage: 'I Wish I'd Done That' Case Study Presentations

Artist Case Studies: October 2015.

These case studies are an exploration of icons in the illustration industry that are relevant to or inspire my current practice. 

Presented as a PowerPoint presentation which lasted 6 minutes, we had to look at 3 icons (Artist/Illustrator/Studio/Collective/Director etc.) aiming to answer the following questions:

  • Why have you selected this case study and how did you discover it? 
  • What is the theme/narrative/concept/message in the case study? 
  • What is the application or purpose of the case study (genre/context/audience/function)? 
  • How was the case study produced (materials/techniques/processes/team work)? 
  • How has the creator benefited from making this piece of work (commercial gain/award or commendation/viral following…)? 
  • Has this case study inspired/informed/influenced your own practice? If so, please include and explain a visual example. If not then how could it inspire/inform/influence you as a BA (Hons) Illustration student? 

Case study 1: Viviane Schwarz - information from her website: ( and Varoom Issue 21 

Slide 1:

Name: Viviane Schwarz
Project: Welcome To Your Awesome Robot (2013)
Client: Flying Eye Books (Nobrow)
Genre: Publishing, Children’s Book, Graphic Novel, Activity Book, Craft Book.

Why have you selected this case study and how did you discover it?
I found Viviane whilst researching picture books as part of my dissertation studies. This book was part of a feature in an issue of Varoom.

What is the theme/narrative/concept/message in the case study?
Narrative: A cardboard box arrives, empty except for instructions on how to build an awesome robot! The engineer (the child) and their assistant (the parent) work through the book to create their own robot.
Concept: Through this narrative Schwarz presents a healthy model for how the parent and child should work together – avoiding injury on the child's part and molly coddling on the part of the parent . Promoting a healthy environment for creativity.
Schwarz also uses the narrative to brighten up the typical ‘do this, do that’ nature of a craft/instruction book – suggesting ideas rather than enforcing them.

How was the case study produced (materials/techniques/processes/team work)?
Collaborative effort between Schwarz and Sam Arthur of Nobrow.  Content – particularly the workshop rules, was also informed by friends and their children who often undertook craft projects.

The physical book is printed on decent card and paper stock that is environmentally friendly and printed with vegetable inks.  It also bears in  mind that the book is going to be man handled in a craft environment.

Artwork: Sketched out simple roughs and then worked digitally in photoshop to generate the finished work. This was a step away from her usual way of working, which she describes as ‘usefully awkward’ and ‘encouraged others to join in creatively.’ Some digital collage elements produced with a marker pen. Limited palette of red/blue/brown/green.
 Skills involved: Colour separation. 

Slide 2:

Rough concept for a narrative recipe book.

How has the creator benefited from making this piece of work (commercial gain/award or commendation/viral following)?
‘Welcome to Your Awesome Robot’ was the first book of Nobrow’s new children’s publishing imprint Flying Eye Books., something it will always be recognized for. Working with Nobrow allowed Viviane’s work to have international exposure. She received acclaim from Varoom, Comic Book Resources, Washington Post, Forbidden Planet and the International Board on Books for Young People.

She also received a lot of fan mail from those who had purchased and used the book, a nice bit of gratification from seeing her work in action. 

Has this case study inspired/informed/influenced your own practice? If so, please include and explain a visual example. If not then how could it inspire/inform/influence you as a BA (Hons) Illustration student.

Encouraged me to think more creatively about how to use narrative as a tool to present complex ideas or to encourage interaction with a typically mundane format, rather than just to present a ‘nice’ story. It has given me ideas for what kind of project I will look at when I have to write my own brief later in the year – perhaps a narrative driven recipe book or textbook.  

Case Study 2: Eric Carle - information from his website ( Wikipedia: ( and 'The Art of Eric Carle' by Philomel Books. 

Slide 3:

Name: Eric Carle
Project: The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969)
Client: World Publishing Company
Genre: Children’s book, Educational, Toy Book

Why have you selected this case study and how did you discover it?
Best selling children’s book, most internationally renowned, Has a place in almost everyone’s childhood. Really clearly demonstrates the image making process that Eric uses in most of his books.

What is the theme/narrative/concept/message in the case study?
Narrative and themes: A caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly. Naming foods. Counting. Time, days.
Concept: Educational, touchable book and readable toy. Helps with the transition from playing at home to learning at school. Pushing paper and print to their limits, whilst producing/aiding an experience for children.

How was the case study produced (materials/techniques/processes/team work)?
Materials/Process: Think we all know this- Watered down acrylic paint, applied to tissue paper. A variety of colours and textures are built up. Using these textured papers to create collage images.

His relationship with his editor was integral to his development as a children’s book artist, their collaborative relationship helped to generate an abundance of book ideas. – The hungry caterpillar was initially a bookworm when Carle first pitched the idea of the book.

Slide 4:

Personal work inspired by collage process.

How has the creator benefited from making this piece of work (commercial gain/award or commendation/viral following)?
Established a visual style that is universally associated with the artist. Spawned a whole host of spin-off educational materials. Helped him to become a house hold name.

Has this case study inspired/informed/influenced your own practice? If so, please include and explain a visual example. If not then how could it inspire/inform/influence you as a BA (Hons) Illustration student.
One of the first books that got me interested n pictures.
I visited the collage technique a few years ago on my foundation course.

More recently with Caroline’s workshop, I’ve found that collage is a technique that I enjoy. Especially producing the textures papers. I’d like to experiment more with them in future work.

Case Study 3: Mister Hope - information from his website: (, blog: ( and Master's of Anatomy: Book One

Slide 5:

Mr Hope's Ideal Man

My self portrait.

Name: Mister Hope
Project: Masters of Anatomy Book One: The Ideal Male & Female Body (2014)
Client: Masters of Anatomy
Genre: Crowd funding, reference book.

Why have you selected this case study and how did you discover it?
Mister Hope has a really quirky style that he applies to work with a business web design agency MM&B. He also has a humble online fan-base, self publishing books, collaborating with other artists and attending comic conventions in his free time.
I discovered Mister Hope in the Canadian art study book Masters of Anatomy.

What is the theme/narrative/concept/message in the case study?
The book itself is a collection of human figure drawings from artists based across the world; ranging from animators, comic book artists and illustrators. The artists are asked to draw their version of the ‘ideal’ male and female figures in their own signature style; shadowing the work of Andrew Loomis. It is intended to be used by artists and art students to help them grasp an idea of individual styles and to practice drawing the human figure themselves in their own creative way.

His independent work ranges from contributions to books created by others, self publishing picture books alongside his wife and other writers and fore mostly producing images of pop-culture characters by commission or to sell on as prints.   

Slide 6:

Name: Mister Hope
Client: Self Published
Genre: Personal work, Commission, Fan art

How was the case study produced (materials/techniques/processes/team work)?
Mister Hope primarily works in pen and watercolour, though he also produces some wholly digital images, typically from graphite or coloured pencil roughs. He also dabbles in screenprinting.

How has the creator benefited from making this piece of work (commercial gain/award or commendation/viral following)?
With nearly 7000 backers, the book would have given Mister Hope some great potential for exposure. Through proper networking, creating illustrations of popular characters can be a sure fire way to gain followers.

Has this case study inspired/informed/influenced your own practice? If so, please include and explain a visual example. If not then how could it inspire/inform/influence you as a BA (Hons) Illustration student.

Mister Hopes work inspired me to play with exaggerating body shapes and using simple shapes to build up facial features. His work also encouraged me to play with water colour and digital line in the later months of year 2. (see triceratops above.)


It was a challenge to present all the content within the given time frame, but by familiarising myself with it I didn't have to worry about reading it all word for word. The actual presentation went really well, I think I'm quite a confident speaker and it helps that I really engaged with the content I was looking at. 

I found looking beyond the aesthetic value of the work was quite engaging so maybe writing about other practitioners is something I could consider doing in the future. It's interesting to find out how illustrations are made and to put the projects into context; providing some insight as to how I could do similar projects and what opportunities they could potentially lead to.
 I think there is a benefit to reflecting on your own work to see how other artists have influenced what you are doing too, to make sure you are putting your own spin on it rather than just ripping them off.