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.