Tuesday, 29 October 2013

48 Hour Brief: Visual Response

To begin with, I started writing down and visualising ideas based on the second drowning scene in 'Drowning by Numbers' focusing on the ice lolly melting in the grass.

 Left: The melting ice lolly in the scene reflects on the slow drowning death of Cissy's husband. The film cuts to the ice lolly twice during the death, finally melting when her husband is dead. I loved the concept behind this and how it was a subtle representation of such a dramatic scene.

Initial thoughts for themes which could relate to my editorial illustration were; the hint of red on Cissy's beret which is a key feature of her character, lies, deceit, sexual dissatisfaction, and obviously the idea of death and deterioration.

From this I created a few visual responses to get my ideas flowing. These are extremely rough but portray my thought process when deciding on a final outcome.

After my initial thoughts I then decided to feature the ice lolly in my illustration as a main reflection of the scene. This included two ice lollies next to each other in composition (as seen top right), with one whole and the other melted almost completely. This was intended to convey Cissy as a dominant figure (left ice lolly) which over-powered, and eventually killed, her husband by drowning. I deliberately used watercolour for this to gain the textured effect of a real ice lolly, and also it made it possible to use the wet-in-wet technique to enable me to portray the melting effect of the lolly. Red tones were also used to imitate danger and blood, but also the significant red beret Cissy's character wears throughout the film.

My final process of creating my editorial illustration was experimenting with digitalising one of the images in Photoshop.

Altering the brightness and contrast of the image immediately made it look and feel more complete. I also saturated the tone slightly as I felt the image was too bright for the Sight and Sound magazine I was illustrating for, who generally use more muted tones.

As a complete editorial illustration I didn't feel like the image was complete at all. Therefore, I took a collage I had previously done and experimented with layering and altering the opacity in Photoshop. This gave the illustration a more complete composition for the double page spread layout.

Finally, after altering various aspects of the layered image, I came to a visual standard which I feel is appropriate for the magazine I was designing for.
Final editorial image

The final outcome, I feel, is very effective for communicating the key themes from the chosen scene in 'Drowning by Numbers' and captures an appropriate style to fit the brief for the Sight and Sound Magazine. I chose just one muted burgundy tone in the final image as it represents the themes of death in the scene. The background collage adds an element of numbers into the illustration which bring more of a clear link to the film. I also value how the initial ice lolly illustration appears fully incorporated into the final visual image, and fits into the composition very effectively. The editorial illustration as a whole is not literal at all, and makes the viewer think about the ideas and representations in the film.

Overall, I am pleased with the final outcome of this project and feel that working quickly is a positive way of working as it forces me to concentrate on my ideas and visual process without over-thinking too much. As well as this, through making this illustration quickly, it has opened up a new style of working for me which I will consider continuing into my main Black Mirror project.

48 Hour Project Brief!

So today I was kindly informed by lecturer Ian Massey, that there is a new project brief set... with a deadline for TWO days time! At first this slightly worried me, though after speaking about it I realised this would be perfect experience and practice for real illustration client briefs I could possibly be set in future. Therefore, I am very excited about this quick project as it will test my abilities as an aspiring illustrator and challenge the speed in which I work.

Here is the project brief which was set:

• You have until 2.15pm on Thursday  to produce a good working visual of an illustration for the magazine Sight and Sound. Your visuals will then be presented to the Art Directors of the magazine (aka Dr Lisa Stansbie and Dr Ian Massey), who will with other students provide feedback on the work you have undertaken.

• Your illustration is to accompany a one-page feature article about the film you are working with as the subject matter for the current project. The illustration will form part of a double-page spread, and will fill a whole page of the magazine.

• The illustration should encapsulate the key themes of the film, or concentrate on a key scene which is central to the film narrative. It must be in portrait format, and in colour, though the amount of colour utilised is up to you. You may use any technique you feel relevant.

• The magazine is published by the British Film Institute and as a wide and informed readership. You illustration should be pitched at the magazine readership.

As a starting point I decided it would be best to find out more about the magazine, Sight and Sound, published by the BFI to give me a better idea of their own personal style and content. 

After viewing the 2013 issue of Sight and Sound I found the general look of the magazine to be quite clean and ordered. There also seems to be a colour scheme of muted tones which fit the overall professional look of the magazine. Above, the imagery contains dark tones to imitate the horror theme of the issue. There is a clear target audience of adults for this magazine, so when creating my editorial illustration I will take into account the style of the magazine and common themes.

For my personal editorial illustration, I will take inspiration from the film I have been working with, 'Drowning by Numbers'. As I have already been looking into some of the key themes and scenes for my main project, it seems appropriate to work with what I already know. Therefore, my editorial illustration will focus on one of these elements whilst taking into account the predominant style of the magazine.

More to come soon!!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Illustration Weekly Briefing 22.10.13

Lecturer: Ian Massey

In this weeks illustration weekly briefing, the focus was on Illustration and Text: the integration of image and words.

Sara Fanelli

I was particularly inspired by one artist which was given as an example, Sara Fanelli, whose work I have viewed before. Her main techniques include collage with old, decorative paper which often incorporates text.

Magazine Illustration
I love Fanelli's use of mixed media to create interesting, unique imagery. This gave the idea to use collage in my own work, perhaps using text and numbers to relate to my own project involving association with numbers. On the other hand, as I wish to create a pack of playing cards, I could use numbers written as words to include a text element in my work.

Oliver Jeffers

Jeffers' editorial design and sketchbook work also intrigued me with the element of humour and quirky illustrations.

 – Economic Indicators
 – Mexico City

I noticed that in both Jeffers' and Fanelli's work, the text element has always got a sense that is has been handwritten. This makes their work more authentic and original, giving a sense of personal style. The imagery and text work together in an informal manner, never seeming to be too neat and careful. This gives the artists work a more individual quality and made me realise that illustration doesn't need to be completely perfect to be successful. 

Later on I explored the idea of text and illustration through contextualising an illustration by placing it within a magazine article with text along side it. I feel that this kind of integrating text gives the illustration a sense of purpose, where an individual illustration might struggle to offer without this element. I used InDeisgn to create this finished visual which can be seen on another blog post 'Mock Up of 48 Hour Brief'. Take a look.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Experimenting with Playing Card Ideas

To get some of my initial thoughts flowing, I began by creating some quick watercolour and ink thumbnails of potential playing card designs. 

Above: Original designs manipulated in Photoshop.

Left: This design for the 9 of Spades was inspired by a deeper meaning than the others. It is based on one of the final scenes in 'Drowning by Numbers' where Smut, a boy who plays the role of game maker throughout the film, commits suicide by hanging himself from a tree. 

In the illustration I have included the tree as a more literal connotation of the boy's death, whilst the spades act as leaves. I chose 9 spades as, through research, I found that this specific number has symbolism relating to loss which is ideal for the portrayal of the tragic scene.

Below: As I thought my original design was too brightly coloured for the subject matter, I altered the tones and contrast in Photoshop to create these more subtle images.

Overall, I think that my designs are a good starting point for further development of my work. However, whilst I like how they come across quite playful, I would like to create designs which reflect upon the film's theme of tragedy so I need to create imagery more suitable whilst still keeping the association with numbers.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Illustration Weekly Briefing 15.10.13

Lecturer: Ian Massey

The focus of this weeks lecture was on contemporary illustration. Therefore, our task was to bring in an example of an illustration I found interesting and write a paragraph about it. The image I chose was 'A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing' by Jonathan Woodward, found from the 'Big Book of Contemporary Illustration' by Martin Dawber (2009).

Jonathan Woodward, A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (2008)

This image caught my eye with Woodward's use of mixed media collage, including photography, text and acrylic paint. I particularly value how Woodward has chosen specific tones and images for his collage background as it sets a night time, calm mood. The text which has been used for the sheep's body is quite clever as it indicates the detailed fur strands.

The overall look of the illustration is not perfected, though finished. This suits the style of the artist and makes a unique piece of work. After seeing this, it has inspired me to perhaps include some collage into my own work including numbers.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Guest Artist Lecture: Jonathan Lindley

I was particularly excited for this guest lecture as Jonathan Lindley is a previous Graphic Design graduate from the University of Huddersfield.

Lindley works mainly in animation, music and video. Even though his degree suggests a more 2-D way of working, I really enjoyed his 3-D animations. 

Screenshots from Animation 'Lightening Bolt'

The first animation Lindley showed was 'Lightening Bolt', a stop motion made from around 3000 photographs, all made from cardboard. The amount of skill and technique used to make this short animation is just simply compelling. I also love the bright use of colour which has been used as it makes the animation fun and lively, emphasising the detail and effort which has been put in to create each frame.

After seeing the rest of Lindley's lecture, it soon became apparent that he has a very unique style which consists of very fast-paced graphic animation. He appeared very passionate about his work and doing something you love rather than settling for anything less satisfying. 

"If you ever stray from your work
 just crack on and do it" - Jonathan Lindley

Lindley also went on to talk about his final year at the University of Huddersfield. He advised us to email companies which interest us and explained how in his final year he took a risk and that is the point where he began to create animations- his first ever animation was a flip book which he started in his third year at University.

"Do something you can see yourself doing in future- Jonathan Lindley

Overall, I enjoyed Lindley's presentation and it definitely made me more confident about getting my own work into the real world and realising there are many opportunities out there! I think I need to start contacting companies which I may want to work for in future and see what options are available. It was particularly nice to have a graduate from the University speak to us as it makes a dream seem like more of a reality!

More of Jonathon Lindley's work can be found on his website: http://www.jonathanlindley.co.uk/ 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Illustration Tutorial 10.10.13

Group tutorial with Ian Massey.

In my first tutorial I presented my initial primary source photographs and expressed my initial idea to create my own narratives from the numbers I found in the environment. Also, i could use the idea of association to help me look at new ways of interpreting numbers to aid me in making new illustrations with various narratives .

I gained positive feedback and suggestions from my peers. One idea was to perhaps look at historical sites which contain numbers and create illustrations based on the true story behind the dates and names. Another was use numbers as information and out of context to create new narratives.

After the tutorial I felt more positive about continuing in the direction I was heading. My person target is to continue taking primary source photography of numbers in the surroundings and look into number association to see what imagery I can create.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Illustration Weekly Briefing 8.10.13

Lecturer: Ian Massey
Storyboard method by Uri Shukevitz

The main focus of this weeks briefing was visual narratives, sketchbooks, storyboards and gaining better knowledge of the illustration industry.

We were introduced to a variety of storyboards by several illustrators who used their own style to convey their ideas. I particularly enjoyed the notational drawing technique used by Uri Shukevitz, who quickly sketched out his ideas in a storyboard layout using basic shapes to create each separate composition. This made me realise that the initial ideas of a concept do not need to be perfect and act as a starting point for further development and detail. His storyboard also includes annotation which marks down the main ideas which is effective for noting down initial thoughts which are subject to change.

Furthermore, I was inspired by Ed Fella's sketchbook collages (http://www.edfella.com/collagesketchbooks.html). He uses found images, typography and mixed media collage in his sketchbooks to convey his thoughts and ideas. This is a quick and effective method for noting down ideas which has inspired me to add an element of collage in my on process of documentation.

Another illustrator's sketchbook that inspired was the works of Oliver Jeffers:

I love Jeffers' use of mixed media collage and found objects he incorporates into his work. There is a sense of delicacy in his sketchbook works which feel to me as though they are finished pieces in themselves. I think this kind of approach would enhance my own personal work.

After being shown a variety of illustrator sketchbooks and documentation methods, I feel this helped me a great deal when thinking about how to present work in my own sketchbooks. I will try to make my ideas more visual when documenting them and think about how it could be presented in an illustrative way.


Saturday, 5 October 2013

Primary Source Photography and Studies

As a starting point to get my ideas rolling, I went out and took some of my own primary source photography. My main focus was to find numbers ideally in unconventional places, but out in the environment mainly outdoors but some indoors. The aim of doing this was to capture the placement of numbers in real life in comparison to the directors placement of numbers in the film 'Drowning by Numbers'.

A few of my primary source photographs:

After taking some photos within the environment I soon realised that numbers were a large part of society and was able to capture a variety of numbers in different settings.Many of the numbers were situated in obvious contexts, though some of them were more obscure. From this I had the idea of creating my own narratives from the numbers so I produced some charcoal studies and then put them in sequential order to see if a narrative could be created.

I am generally pleased with my quick charcoal sketches however I struggle to find any sense of narrative from the sequence of imagery.In this sense, the numbers make the sketches into a complete set which is similar to how the numbers create their own narrative in 'Drowning by Numbers'. Also, the way the images are cropped brings the numbers out of context and allows the viewer to interpret them in their own way, creating their own possible contexts.

As a focus for development, I will explore artists who deal with similar compositions and work with numbers in their work, in order to gain inspiration and find my own personal direction with my project.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Initial Thoughts and Ideas of 'Drowning by Numbers' (1988)

After watching the film 'Drowning by Numbers' (1988), I quickly noted down the main aspects of the films which caught my attention in mind map form. Complete with illustrations and screenshots, I felt that this way of organising my thoughts worked well. 

The main aspects which stuck in my mind when watching the film were: the sequential order but random placement of numbers throughout the film, the various games which were invented and played, and also the relationship between sex and death. In particular, I was intrigued by the game 'Dawn Card-Castles' and the idea that certain playing cards and numbers could affect the way you dream. This caused me to think that perhaps I could create my own ideas about how each playing card could cause a variety of dreams.

Moreover, I loved the general placement of numbers throughout the film which created its own narrative. This caused me to start thinking about how I could interpret this in my own way.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Guest Artist Lecture: Ryan Gander

I was very excited to see some of London-based conceptual artist, Gander's personal work in this lecture, however I soon realised as a member of the audience, the artist was filming the lecture as a piece of performance art so I became part of his work! This was an interesting and new concept to me as the filming was not consented by the audience and I was not sure how the film would be presented. Regardless I did not feel less comfortable knowing this.

Symbol used on band poster/ album cover
Several aspects of Gander's lecture intrigued me including his discussion of the symbol 'X' and how it could be viewed as a sign of censorship. He also spoke about how 'the xx' band poster was first released publicly without the knowledge that the symbol represented the band. This concept was interesting as it explored the idea of not only censorship, but also how symbols can be interpreted in different ways by the public and how they become 'hungry' for more information when it is purposely withdrawn from their knowledge.

Gander also mentioned the idea of associations and how each memory or thought can trigger another completely different one. A good example Gander later gave was the 'create your own adventure' books where the readers choice of path led to another section of the book, which then created varied stories depending on the choices of the readers. This gave me an idea to look into the number element in 'Drowning by Numbers' and think of how they may associate with certain narratives/ memories and thought triggers.

Overall, I felt a little disappointed by Ryan Gander's personal input into the lecture. He mainly spoke about other outside influences and didn't show any of his own artistic work. Therefore, I left feeling I still knew little to nothing about the artist himself and was left wanting to know more. Even the work he did show as his own I later found out that some of the things he spoke about were false, and so decided that as an artist, he could not influence or inspire me and felt confused about whether the knowledge I gained was authentic.

To view some of Ryan Gander's personal work visit http://www.lissongallery.com/artists/ryan-gander/

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Illustration Weekly Briefly 1.10.13

Lecturer: Ian Massey

The main focus of this lecture was Denotation and Connotation which are keys parts of Semiotics (click link for previous first year blog post on semiotics)

In basic terms, Denotation is what we are seeing, therefore the actual description of something. Whilst Connotation is what is being suggested by the image and different interpretative meanings.

As an example I looked at a trailer of Delicatessen (1991):

Having seen the trailer before watching the entire film, the context behind the scenes I viewed were completely unknown and open to interpretation. After initially watching the trailer I managed to note down some key points of denotation which stick out in my mind:

Denotation notes:
- Two people bouncing on bed, man and woman; man wearing jumper with elephants on and woman in dress.
- Man looking around
- Man in apron sharpening knife
- Woman beating rug, looks up towards ceiling
- Man and woman playing instruments, cello and unknown instrument
- Snails spinning on vinyl record and on dolls head

Once I noted down the description of several scenes in the trailer, I then attempted to connote some of the imagery and come up with some possible interpretive responses:

- The two people bouncing on the bed could be romantically involved which is suggested by the rhythmic sound and pace of the bed springs; it is almost like they want someone to assume their romantic encounter. On the other hand, the couple are not physically touching, implying that they are not close to one another and therefore do not have any romantic involvement with one another.

- The man looking around appears as though he is fearful of something or someone. He may be hiding and trying to listen out for someone. The dark tones and shadows reflect this fearful mood.

- The man sharpening a knife appears to be a butcher, though the angle of the shot makes him look large as he fills the screen. He seems intimidating, implying a strong perhaps dark character. Also, his identity is kept hidden leaving more mystery behind the character and insinuating that there is more to him than meet the eye.

Back at University: The Black Mirror

From this point on, I will share with you all my University project briefs, artist influences and processes after my initial summer project work. :)

First project: The Black Mirror

My initial project is centered around producing a body of work by watching four films and finding inspiration from them. Here are my initial thoughts when I watched all four films:

'Drowning by Numbers' (1988) 
 Dir. Peter Greenway

My overall initial response to this film was a bit confusing. It seemed that there were too many conflicting narratives which didn't compliment each other, making the film quite hard to watch as a first-time viewer. However, I found that there was a lot of substance within the film with a variety of themes such as: sex, death, games, numbers, women as a dominant gender, rules and conventions and the absurd. Also, I was intrigued by the portrayal of insects and animals in this film as they appeared to be a large part of the games and numbers in the film.

Some key scenes in the film I was particularly interested in were:

The Opening Scene

-Symmetrical composition with dead bird in foreground as a sense of foreboding for the deaths in the film.
-The dark space around the main focal imagery signifies a sense of fear and danger.
-"Once you've counted a hundred, all the other hundreds are the same"

 "Those who wish to dream of romance build their cards with the seven of hearts"

-Again, the composition is quite symmetrical to keep in theme with order and functionality.
-The overall tones used in this screenshot are dull with a hint of red, a common colour palette used throughout the film.
-I was intrigued by the idea that cards can influence how someone can dream, therefore an idea could be to illustrate how each suit of cards can interpret dreams, or perhaps what kind of random objects could influence dreams in a particular way.

The Second Post-Drowning Scene

-Symmetrical composition is once again the focus of this scene.
-Red worn by the woman could connote the blood and death of her husband, or her lust which she was never satisfied by, and which led to her becoming the murderer as a consequence.

'Delicatessen' (1991)
Dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro

Set in a post-apocalyptic war time period, there were natural dull, dark tones to set the mood of the overall film. Even though there is a serious undertone in this film, the director still manages to include an element of comedy to make the mood more light-hearted and fun to watch. There is also a noticeable choice of cartoon-like characters which compliment this sense of fun and silliness.

Overall delicatessen focuses on themes of death, poverty and fear, which contrast with ideas of comedy, love and the absurd. The audio choices made by the directors were also fun and rhythmic, often setting the tone of the film in a comical way.

'Gone to Earth - The Hunting' (1949)

After watching this film I was initially struck by the connection between people and nature and how there is a huge focus on the natural English countryside.

I was also captured by the focus on the sky, which portrayed the beauty of the countryside and set a mellow mood.

'La Jetée' (1962)

This film was initially viewed in its original language, French. Therefore, as I was unable to fully translate the commentary, I was forced to use the visual alone to figure out the narrative in the film.

After watching all the film I decided I didn't feel inspired, but was left confused. If it was watched with English sub-titles I may have enjoyed it more, but the black and white, slide-show style of the overall film didn't interest me, but perhaps bored me with its slow pace and confusing story line. I will not continue to look into this film.

After viewing all of the films, I have come to the conclusion that I will analyse 'Drowning by Numbers' in more depth and take inspiration for the development of my work.