Friday, 31 January 2014

Professional Practice: Lee Corner

To get us prepared for the 3M Buckley Centre visit on the 4th February 2014, our professional practice lecturer Lee Corner gave us some encouraging and helpful advice.

First of all, we were introduced to the Commission Checklist and discussed some possibilities that we might have to consider when communicating with a commissioner:

- Can't guarantee the client is the commissioner.
- Danger of chinese whispers (things could get mis-communicated)
- Ethos of building- what goes on? what are their values?
- 3M- ecofriendly, contemporary, growth, business.
- Find out their limits.
- What if personal ethos doesn't match clients ethos?

After much discussion, the whole class came up with a final Commission Checklist to consider when we go to the building:

  • Space and lighting
  • Fit to colour scheme
  • Limits? Open-minded? Appropriate!
  • Funding for resources- time/ money/ people
  • Inside/ Outside
  • What kind of people work there?
  • Health and Safety- practicalities
  • How many pieces do they want? Can we create multiple works?
  • Size of work?
  • Accessibility? Are we curating it?
  • Long lasting materials? How long will it be up for?
  • Collaborations?

We also decided on some questions to ask while we were there, and also things to look out for:

Questions (Don't ask questions you can research- show interest)

  • Previous art work? Consider reaction/ repetition
  • Are projections allowed?
  • Size restrictions?
  • After initial ideas, can we check health and safety?
  • Will they or us be doing risk assessments?
  • Interests? 
  • How many works are they expecting?
  • How many sites are available?
  • How do we keep in touch? Invite them to the studio.
  • When can we access the building? Curation?
  • How long is the work up for?
  • Who views it? Can anyone say no? Who is it?
Look Out For

  • Colour
  • Lighting
  • Space
  • Style
  • Windows
  • Existing objects
  • Shapes
  • Surfaces
  • How it's used- who? How?
  • Facilities
  • Temperature
  • Mood; feel of building
  • Context
  • Workers
  • Noise- bleeding

With all these things in mind I feel prepared to visit the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre and take plenty of notes. A post will follow once the visit has been completed.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Frottage and Leaf Relief

As I chose to look into how nature has inspired innovation, I was interested in how this related to several art practices.

Max Ernst

Initially, I found a true innovation in art in the form of Max Ernst's surrealist frottage. This technique is often associated with our childhood memories, where paper is placed over a natural textured surface i.e. wood, leaves etc. and graphite is rubbed over the paper to gain interesting effects which mimic the texture of the natural surface.

Max Ernst's 'Forest and Sun', Graphite Frottage on Paper, 1931
Ernst used this technique of frottage as a starting point to enable him to build on the initial lines and markings to create inventive, surrealist imagery.

Although the element of frottage is definite in Ernst's work, it often lacks colour and tones. Often the viewer has to piece together any meaning reflected in the imagery as it seems quite spontaneous, working with textures rather than a particular subject.

Leaf Relief

Through research, I found an interesting article by Cassie Stephens based on leaf relief, which explored the simple process in step by step form. Following this article, I created my own versions using found leaves.


- Found leaves spray mounted onto mount board
- Seal with more spray mount over entire surface
- Measure foil to size and place over board
- Carefully rub the foil over the surface to bring out the texture of leaves underneath
- Using black spray paint, completely cover foil
- Wait for paint to dry fully, use metal scourer to reveal foil underneath in certain places and to reveal lines of the leaves. 

After creating my test pieces, I was pleased with the result, though felt that some of the lines were lost among the foil scratching surrounding them. To make the lines clearer, I could try using string and other various materials to create the imagery. However, I think the hint of silver with the foil gives a more sophisticated, delicate finish which I value in the pieces.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Initial trip to 3M Buckley Innovation Centre

As part of the brief, I was told that I would have to make a commissioned art piece for the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre at the University of Huddersfield. Therefore, my initial reaction was to go to the building itself to gain a better perspective of the style and layout which will help me when making appropriate design decisions.

As a general observation, I found that the building had a modern interior and exterior, but also felt quite corporate and simple. There are a lot of geometric shapes and limited colours, seemingly only grey, green and red tones. As the building suggests, it has a very professional look, though lacks any vibrancy in colour to fit into the sleek, modern finish. 

In the corridors, light projects text onto the walls and much shadow. I will need to be careful when placing my work so the reflection doesn't disadvantage my artwork and think about how it could affect the overall look of the piece. The artwork will need to be appropriate for the setting, keeping a modern feel whilst interesting professionals and creatives who work in the same building.

I immediately took initiative and asked the receptionist to forward my email to those who work in the building so I could interview them about their companies and what they would like to see in the building. So far I haven't received any emails.

Even though I have already looked at the building, the 2 week research period is strictly focused on the themes of 'innovation' and 'creativity' rather than the innovation centre itself. I will go back to researching more on the building at a later date.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

New Term, New Brief! Innovation and Creativity

For the second term of University, I was set an entirely new brief where I was given a 2 week period to complete research and ideas on the topics of innovation and creativity.

Through my initial research, I found that innovation was 'the ability to generate new ideas or to restructure and redeploy old ones'. Also, a lot of innovation has been centred around new technologies created by man. This led me to think of how I could innovate my own practice and perhaps look into personal past projects to see how I could re-invent them in new, innovative ways. Themes that immediately sprung to mind were modern day political issues, experimentation, superstitions, and editorial design for magazines. However, even with these initial thoughts, nothing seemed to really grab my attention for a starting point for the project.

Group Tutorial with Ian Massey: 23rd January 2014

In the group tutorial, we were asked to present our initial ideas about the theme of innovation. However, as I was not clear about which direction to take with the project, I listened to others to try and gain some inspiration. 

After hearing others responses to the brief, I decided that as one starting point I could look into the link between nature and innovation. This interested me in the sense that on the surface, natural forms do not seem to have a part in this kind of modern innovation and are unable to innovate themselves. This led me to think about adaptation and evolution. 

Another idea that came to mind was the link between innovation and the subconscious and so I asked myself, can innovation be accidental? This triggered me to think about how I have experimented with media, made 'happy accidents' due to mistakes, and how I often find myself thinking up new ideas at random intervals where I am not consciously making a decision i.e. the shower! These subconscious thoughts have often directed my projects or at least given me starting points! 

Therefore, I found the group tutorial with Ian Massey a major help as now I have at least a couple of ideas to start off my research into the new brief!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

First Term Achievements

What did I achieve?

After the completion of my project 'Hide and Seek' I feel that I have progressed quite a lot in comparison to my previous work. I managed to achieve what was requested of the brief which I had set myself, and achieved a professional standard of work at my final exhibition.

My main achievement of the overall project was managing to stay consistent when designing my pack of playing cards. Although this proved to be challenging, I found that this has helped me develop a personal style with the use of watercolours and has enabled me to be more creative, designing from imagination with limited reference.

How do I want to progress?

In this term, I would like to continue creating new ideas and perhaps testing out more traditional techniques. I have a great desire to focus on making my work professional and ready for potential clients.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Contacting Little Meg's Cards

Recently, I have been thinking about how to put my designs onto products and branding myself, so after stumbling across these fantastic card creations on Little Meg's Cards personal Facebook site, I was immediately intrigued by the artist's use of layering and colour combinations to make these beautiful designs.

Here is a link to her personal website and blog:


I contacted the artist to find out more!

"Hey Shelly!

My name is Carla Taylor, a second year illustration student at the University of Huddersfield. I came across your Facebook page and must say I was completely wowed by what I saw!

As a fellow creative I would love to know what are your person inspirations for pattern and design? Do you design the characters yourself? And how did you start out making your cards to start your own business; do you have any tips for starting out designing for cards?

Thanks for your time,

Carla Taylor"

I was excited to get such a detailed response:

"Hi Carla

Thanks for getting in touch and for your lovely comments.  I have to say I'm very jealous that you are doing illustration at Uni, that must be fantastic!

To be honest I take inspiration from anywhere really and I think I'm just lucky that I seem to have a good eye for colour and what goes together.  As you can see I use a lot of layering in my cards and I love to use as much texture as I can with ribbon, embossing and buttons etc.

I use Pinterest quite a lot to look at patterns etc and for some bizarre reason seem to love anything spotty!

I wish I was clever enough to design the characters myself but funnily enough I bought a book recently about how to draw Kawaii manga characters and my hubby had a go the other night and has drawn me some gorgeous little characters which I am going to use on my cards.

Generally though I use digital stamps which I buy from various craft companies on the internet.  I find these much easier than rubber stamps as I can resize them according to the design I want to do.  I colour them myself using Copic markers.

I usually start out with an idea of what I want the card to look like but then as I play with the papers and layer them up it becomes totally different in the end and evolves along the way.  Sometimes if I'm stuck for inspiration I use card sketches from the internet to get me started with a design but more often than not I just play with bits of paper until I like the layering.

To be honest I never intended to have a business doing it.  I've always been creative (but work as an office manager :-( ) and started crafting about ten years ago when I had a long period off work.  It just went from there really and then a couple of years ago I thought rather than having my cards sat in a cupboard I would open up a FB page and see if anyone was interested in buying them.  I can honestly say I never in a million years thought I would have a website and a page with over 4000 followers and more orders than I know what to do with !!!  I approached some craft magazines and have done some design work for them.

If you are interested in making cards and you are doing illustration it would be amazing for you to design your own artwork for your own cards.  You could even design and sell your work too as stamping is so popular now.

So sorry I've garbled on so much, can you tell I love what I do !  If I can help with anything else give me a shout.

Shelly x"

Once again, I got such a warm welcoming response from the artist. It really goes to show that one small email can really boost a budding artist's confidence, it certainly boosted mine! Try email an artist who catches your attention, ask about their inspirations. You might find you have more in common than you think or find new approaches to your work!