Wednesday, 18 May 2011


Yeah my 8x8 post has reappeared!! During the whole blogger saga, that was the one post that vanished - even though it was created before the meltdown! Anyway it's back now :D

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Folk article

Jo pointed me in the direction of this really interesting article from Creative Review titled 'The F-Word'. It looks at the current trend of folk style art in the illustration world and explores why it has become so popular.
There was one issue discussed that I found particularly intriguing - that illustrators have stopped thinking about what digital software could do for them and rather started thinking about how they can rewire it to suit their needs. I think this is a good point and somewhat relevant to my work. I have to make sure that I never let the digital technology become the driving force behind my work.
The article also discusses the reasons why folk art is suddenly everywhere we look, from fashion and home-wares to TV adverts. One theory is that larger brands may want to be associated with the organic feel of the artwork in order to appear more 'green'. However, I think it's only natural that everyone wants to jump on the folk bandwagon - it's on trend at the moment so everyone is going to want that look for their company.
One artist who is discussed in the article is Sanna Annukka, who has Finnish heritage and a love of Finnish landscapes and nature. "While advertisers may have cynical motivations for tapping into the folk trend, its foremost practitioners are referencing something that has personal significance." Annukka is proud of her background and Finland has always had a big influence in her work.
It was interesting to read that folk is considered a dirty work (hence the title), with no-one ever asking agencies for 'something folky'. Apparently 'homespun' and 'wholesome' are more commonly used!
"No doubt the trend wheel will turn again soon but for now, it's all about the folk."

(Sorry the scan of the article is so small, I couldn't get it to go any bigger when I loaded it on here!)

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


Simplify line and shape (Ian Murray)
I think Ian first talked to me about this during the 'James and the Giant Peach' project. I was considering doing a very busy design so he suggested making the elements as basic as possible. It was quite hard at first to simplify everything down but I was really pleased I did, otherwise the final piece would have been so hectic! I've carried this principle on whenever I've produced a busy design, such as the Wellspring and 8x8, and I think it works well. Next year I'd like to try combining this idea with making a more elaborate composition and see what happens!

Love and enjoy what you do
(Hannah Firmin)
This may seem obvious but I've realised how important it is to enjoy what you do. Sometimes I've been made to feel that because my work is created purely digitally, it doesn't have a 'soul' and looks too generic. I've often thought that maybe I should try adding textures and hand drawn elements to my work to make myself feel more like an illustrator. However, I've realised that I really enjoy working in the way that I do and I shouldn't feel bad about it. Two of my favourite illustrators at the moment, Patrick Hruby and Arlene Adams, both work purely with Adobe Illustrator and their work is doing really well. All that matters is that I enjoy what I do!

Do what you feel is right (Ian Murray)
I find it really difficult to decide if my ideas are working or what I've produced is good enough. I need reassurance that I'm going in the right direction and I really need to trust myself more. During the 'James and the Giant Peach' project I was changing my mind a lot and when I spoke to Ian he just said to do what felt right. In the 8x8 project I think I became a bit more confident and made decisions on my own. At the end of the day, I'm not going to be at uni forever and I need to learn to trust my judgement if I'm going to succeed.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Arlene Adams - Contact Report

So I got in touch with Arlene Adams to ask her a few questions and she got back to me! Here are her answers:

Looking at your website, your new work is very different to your previous work. What caused this change?
There were a couple of reasons for the change. I had a few years out of illustration when I had my little boy. I came back afresh wanting a change in direction and a desire to do something new. Also when you work in a style that is quite fashionable inevitably your work has to evolve.

What are your inspirations? Do any artists/designers inspire you?
I like Alexander Girard and a lot of mid century design. I collect a lot of mid century objects and books which have influenced my work recently.

You obviously love using colour, how do you know when enough is enough?
I think it is just an intuitive thing. Working digitally now has made it a lot easier to play around with different colour combinations.

Would you be able to tell me about your working process? How do you get started on a project?
A lot depends on the brief and how open it is. I may gather some reference material if needed (now a lot easier with the internet). I start with pencil sketches which I scan, then work in Illustrator.

Are you ever stuck for ideas? If so how do you overcome this?
It is not that I get stuck for ideas more that I find it difficult to decide on what idea to go with. I find it easier working to a brief as I am very indecisive and the options are more limited.

The elements in your pieces are often symmetrical and your designs in general seem to play with this idea, is this a conscious thing?
I think this is something that has evolved but comes quite naturally to me. I am quite an ordered person so perhaps this is reflected in my work!

Is there any advice you would give to an aspiring illustrator?
If you want to make a living from being an illustrator you have to find a balance in being true to yourself and doing work that is commercial - which isn't always easy!!! You often have to compromise to keep a client happy! It is not a 9-5 job - you will have quiet periods and (hopefully) hectic ones. 'By perseverance' which happens to be my old school motto!

Saturday, 7 May 2011


For the past few weeks I've been working on a project entitled 8x8 which is a collaboration with creative writing students from Manchester Metropolitan University. Eight students have written a short story and we get the chance to do the accompanying illustrations, with all the work being featured in a book and sold at the Didsbury Art Festival. However, only one illustration per story can be chosen to feature alongside the stories and there are two or three people working on each story!
The story I was assigned to is called 'Junctures' and is written by Anna Paldanius. The story revolves around a girl called Joy, who has a long time boyfriend called Frank. Joy cheats on Frank with a man called Jack, who she eventually falls in love with. Realising she loves two men she cannot choose who to be with and who to break up with. Eventually both men find out they have been lied to and leave her. Frank ends up killing herself and at his funeral Joy realises she loved him the most. At the end of the story, set a few years later, Jack runs into Joy and her young son. It is implied Jack or Frank are probably the father of the child but we are not told which one.
My foremost idea for the main illustration was a treasure chest with a lock in the shape of a heart. The lock has two keyholes representing that two men 'have the key' to her heart. I decided to build up a symmetrical pattern representing the two different men and the choice Joy has to make - one or the other. Surrounding the chest are various elements which symbolise the eight chapter headings in the story:
Despair - stormy sea
Joy - yellow flower
Love - heart
Innocence - acacia leaf
Decadence - bitten chocolate (self indulgence)
Anger - bull
Sorrow - teardrop
Happiness - sun
I also included playing cards to represent the chance and risk Joy is taking and arrows which suggest choice and different directions. For the spot illustration I took the elements I had already made and arranged them in the shape of a heart - I thought 'love' was the overriding theme in the story. However, I can't decide between putting yellow in the background or not...I think it ties the two pieces together but not sure if I need it or not?
I'm really pleased with the final outcomes, I think the main illustration in particular is very striking. I like the black background as it just adds a sense of darkness which the story has. The simple elements work well and I like the symmetrical look - it adds balance to the piece and gives it more of an impact as opposed to it being asymmetrical.