Friday, 11 May 2012

Animation Inspiration

I first came up with the idea of my animation after watching this guy's work. It's only 5 seconds long but it's definitely quality over quantity. It's such a clever, neat idea and it's executed so well. I love the simple concept and the shifting shapes which change direction and form. The added popping sound effects really compliment the whole concept and make it a really novel, fun piece. Enjoy!

Animation Music

This is the full length song that accompanies my animation. It's so beautiful that I thought I'd share it so you can listen to the entire thing. I for one could listen to her all day! Enjoy!

Big Illustration Party Time podcast - episode 16

This podcast was centred around contracts - which sounds pretty daunting to me! Joshua and Kevin said it was vital to have a contract as you never know what sort of mess you could get into. It also makes you appear more professional which in turn could get you more work.
You should spend time making a standardised contract which you can then adapt for different jobs. A contract makes things easier in the long run and it's always best to be prepared. The guys said that contracts are standard now in any profession and a client who doesn't have one is not someone you want to work for.
They advise you to keep a contract simple but comprehensive - you don't want to scare clients away with loads of legal jargon! You can always check with the client or a lawyer if there's something you don't understand though.
They also explained that work for hire means you assign the authorship of an image over to the client which means you wouldn't get any extra money if it went global - be careful with that!
Kevin said when coming up with hourly rates in a contract to make sure you add extra time for research and preparation - you always take longer than you plan and you don't want to work without being paid the appropriate amount.
Another essential thing to include in your contract is a kill fee. It's basically for when a job gets cancelled you are still paid - usually around 50% of the originally agreed fee.
Best get cracking with a contract then!

Graphic Guru - Graduating

I emailed my Graphic Guru Natalie Wood to ask her how she felt when she was about to leave Uni. I told her I was excited to start my own work but nervous about how to go about getting it. I also said I was reluctant to leave the security of Uni and the advice of tutors. She got back to me with an extremely detailed and thought out email which was really kind.
She gave me some great advice which included not to slip into the routine of not doing anything. I sometimes lack motivation but she pointed out that you have to be self motivated in order to get yourself work. The main point she made was not to sit and wait - you've got to get out there and find work because it won't come to you without some serious effort on your behalf.

Read her reply:

Hi Philippa,

Thanks for your email. Wow I remember the feeling of the last week of uni. I bet you're crazy busy!

To be honest it was a bit of an anti-climax when I graduated. All of the working towards something final, all the long hours you put in to your work..and then that's it! It's all over!
It's quite easy to slip into a routine of not getting anything done, seeing as there's no-one around you to motivate you anymore..but you just need to crack on.

I was quite scared of finding work to start with. I kept wondering if I was capable of actually producing ideas and images that were good enough for magazines etc. But I worked my way through big lists of art directors and contacted them by email, sending out samples of my work in the post as well as by email. It took quite a few months (of feeling quite deflated) before I finally got my first commission, but then after that was out of the way it seemed quite natural. 

I emailed agents too when I graduated but they all wanted to see experience first, so once I got a few commissions under my belt I contacted them all again. The work is still slowly building up for me still, even with my agent. Sometimes I can have nothing for a couple of weeks..and then I can have say 3-front covers all to work on at once. You just have to be good at time management and prioritizing. I work part-time hours too so I regularly find myself working until about 4am to make sure I can get a job done in time. I'd rather be working like that than have nothing to do though, so I'm grateful for every commission I get.

So I suppose my main piece of advice is not to sit around and wait..start your self promotion now so that you can get your first few commissions out of the way. After that it will just be a steady process of building up your portfolio and hopefully the more jobs you do the more you will get.

I hope this has helped in some way! When is your degree show by the way? I'd love to come to it.


Thursday, 10 May 2012

Hopes, Fears and Opportunities (Part 2)

Looking back at my last Hopes, Fears and Opportunities post is quite strange! I vividly remember writing it and how determined I was to do the best I could in the Final Major Project. I mentioned the fact that I feel I owe it to myself to work as hard as possible in order to get the grade I know I am capable of. Also, at the end of the post I said I don't want to look back and regret not putting enough effort in - but low and behold I am disappointed at myself as I know I could have worked harder. The first few weeks of the Final Major Project flew by and I didn't do as much work as I could have. I don't know if it was because I was exhausted from doing the dissertation or because I kept thinking I'd got ages to do it all - but I definitely took my eye of the ball. It was only a couple of weeks before London that I really got going and started to make progress. Even then, I felt I could have done more as these last four weeks have been a bit of a rush to get things finished. As I've got a First in the rest of my modules, I know I'm perfectly capable of achieving it overall. If I don't, I will only have myself to blame - which will not be a nice feeling!
Anyway, regardless of my grade I really hope that I will be able to get work in the next few months. I've got one possible commission at Rapport Events so far, it's just after that that I'm worried about. Making contacts with industry over the past year or so has been really helpful though and I hope to make use of those connections. As well as continuing to network and try and visit people, I want to set up a mailing list which I can use to update people on my progress. An email every three months to all my contacts will hopefully keep me in their minds but will not be too often to annoy them! Art directors and designers see so many people that even if your work is amazing, if you don't keep in touch they'll probably forget about you! I also think the idea of sending a holiday card at Easter and Christmas is a nice way of reminding people about you. On the surface it seems innocent, but the fact of the matter is is that you're getting your work in front of possible clients and employers.
I'd love to be able to make a full time career of illustration and design, but I know it will be hard to achieve. Having said that, there's no reason why I couldn't - I'm the only person standing in my way! If I work hard to forge contacts and keep improving my work, there's a chance I could make it! I really want to do more hands on work such as installations or pattern design for products. Unless it's for an interesting article, I find editorial illustration quite tedious and it's not something I want to rely on to bring in the money.
At my recent portfolio visit at Rapport Events, the creative director Chris Platt said he really wanted me to do a similar sort of thing to the Music project for them. They both seemed enthusiastic but Paul Rose (who I was seeing) said that I'd probably need to keep pestering Chris until he wrote me a brief! This is something I will definitely do as soon as the Final Major Project is out of the way. I'm really looking forward to doing something like that again as I had such a great time doing the installation at Music. I've no idea what the brief could be and it will be a test if it is something tricky - but it will be interesting to see how I cope!
Another opportunity I intend to make the most of is D&AD. I'm looking forward to going to London again and am excited to have my work displayed at the fair. When I visited D&AD in my first year I remember being really impressed by all the work so it will be a lot of fun to be directly involved when I go this time. I've also been selected by my tutors to be one of four students to take part in a portfolio surgery with a design professional. It's such a great opportunity to get advice on my portfolio from the best in the business and forge new contacts.
There will also be lots of other things going on over the course of the event which I want to get involved with. I won't get the chance to go to D&AD as a student again so I want to make the most of it. Whilst I'm in London I also want to try and visit other people in the industry whether it be for portfolio visits or to try and get commissions. It would be stupid to miss the opportunity to network with the London design scene, as that's where all the big clients are.
At the moment my main hope, aside from getting a good grade, is to put on a good exhibition. Hopefully there will be people from the design industry attending (Paul and Chris from Rapport have said they want to come) so you never know what could happen. Obviously the main wish would be to get some work, but it's always good just to meet new people and hand out business cards.
My main fear is failure! I'd hate to see the past few years go to waste but I'm determined not to let it. Even if I have to get a part time job to support myself financially, I'll never stop doing illustration and design as it's my main love in life! I've learnt so much on this degree and although there's been some downs there's been so much more ups. I'm thankful I had the opportunity to learn and work with such lovely people!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


This is my animation which accompanies my Final Major Project. I created it using Flash, which is compatible with Illustrator files - so it suits my work better than After Effects (which is better with Photoshop files). It was my first time using the software, so it took quite a long time to do - but I really enjoyed the process.

As the theme of the animation project was transformation I decided to have my animals merging in and out of each other. This meant matching up all the right pieces and then adding a 'shape tween' to make them transform from one shape to the other. This had to be done with each individual piece and then 'shape hints' had to be added to guide the transformation. As I was new to the process it took a long time to do - I was in every Tuesday for the entire length of the project, trying to make it work best I could. There are still little details I would change to neaten the shapes and transformations up, but as a first try I'm pretty proud of it!

As my Final Major Project is inspired by a Finnish fairytale, I chose a beautiful Scandinavian folk song to accompany the animation. I also thought the music fitted the gentle transformations of the elements.

In the future I really want to do more animations - they don't all have to be as long as this, just some small ones of individual pieces would be really nice. I'm probably going to buy Flash when my bursary comes through, might as well make the most of being a student while I still can!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Portfolio Visit - Paul Rose at Rapport Events

My third portfolio visit this semester was at Rapport, an ideas led events agency right here in Manchester. I'd heard about them from Chloe and Lisa who had previously visited them, so I dropped senior designer Paul Rose a line to see if he'd see me too! Luckily he got back to me and we arranged a time to meet.
I arrived in good time at their offices which are located in the Northern Quarter. The building they're housed looked pretty normal from the outside but it's really amazing inside. You walk into this 'indoor courtyard' with windows either side. Almost all of the windows had flower boxes on and there was lots of other plants which made it look so nice! Anyway, I went up to this little circular desk and the man behind it told me to get the lift up to where Rapport where.
As I said, I was quite early but there wasn't really anywhere else to go so I had to go in - better to be early than late I guess! Paul didn't mind that I was early though, he offered me a drink and said I could sit on this sofa until he was free. He was expecting an important phone call so I waited until that had been dealt with. It was a typical sort of Northern Quarter studio - a converted warehouse, with floorboards, big windows and cool artwork on the walls.
When Paul was finished we went into a meeting room and sat down. Paul told me Chris Platt (the Creative Director) might pop in when he had finished with some work but we could start without him. We had a brief chat about what I was doing at Uni and what I wanted to do afterwards. He was interested to know that I didn't just want to do editorials - I far more enjoyed 'physical' things, like installations and pattern design for products.
The first thing in my portfolio is the James and the Giant Peach book cover, which is very bold and colourful. I'm always slightly worried that people won't like that piece, as it doesn't bode well for the rest of the portfolio! Paul really loved it though and was impressed with my use of colour. He said that they usually steer clear of using too much colour as it can look quite chaotic but I had handled it well and it didn't look over the top. He loved the concept of the piece and agreed that it was wise to not just illustrate a peach. He said he could easily see me illustrating a whole series of Roald Dahl books using this layout - which is something I definitely want to do one day.
Next up was 8x8 and, again, Paul loved it! He liked the concept, the colours, the composition and said the black background really helped to not only make the colours stand out but to also 'soften' the piece. He was also really enthusiastic about the spot illustration and liked the fact I'd had it photographed in context as you could see how well it sat on the page of the book.
When we came to the Japanese book covers he once again said I used colour really well. The simple colour palette suited the subject matter and was well used across the two covers. He said that it was nice to see that I could use colour in different ways - wasn't bright and crazy all the time. He also said the figures in these pieces were really good and tied in well with the rest of my illustrations.
The Wellspring building is different to the rest of my portfolio as it is in black and white, but Chris said this was really good as it shows my 'adaptability'. He loved the arrangement of the elements and when looking at the photograph said the building sat really well on the page. The use of negative space around the shape made it look professional and draws your attention straight away.
At this point Chris came in so I went back to the beginning of the portfolio so he could catch up. He liked everything as well and it was so nice to hear Paul pointing out things that he liked to Chris!
We then got up to the Music piece and they were both really interested to hear about the project. They were also impressed to hear that my piece was the first to be chosen. Paul started to say it would be nice to see some photos of the final thing when I turned the page and there they were! They were both really enthusiastic about the installation and it was at this point that Chris said he'd love for me to do something similar for them! I was so happy to hear this as the Music project was so much fun so I'd love to do something like it again. At this point Chris had to leave but he said he'd write me a brief in the near future.
After this me and Paul talked for a little while longer and he said to keep emailing Chris until he wrote me a brief as he might be quite busy - but he'd get round to it one day. Paul asked me to keep in touch and send him new work when I do it, which I will definitely do.
Overall this was one of the best portfolio visits I've had - Chris and Paul seemed to love everything and they gave me some good advice on how to improve some bits of my portfolio. It really boosted my confidence and the thought that I might have a commission when I leave Uni has made me so happy! Thanks guys!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Big Illustration Party Time podcast - episode 8

We were advised to listen to a podcast entitled Big Illustration Party Time which is hosted by Kevin Cross and Joshua Kemble. This particular episode was about promotion, emailing clients etc. The two guys are both cartoon illustrators and sound like really fun, down to earth people. I was sceptical about having to listen to the podcast but I actually found it pretty useful.
They started of by saying that you shouldn't cold call art directors to ask for work. More often than not they will be too busy and don't like to feel pressured over the phone. An email is a much better way of contacting such people as they can decide to contact you in their own time. Basically an email is a lot less intrusive. I have recently proven this theory when I tried to get in contact with Rapport events. I emailed Paul Rose initially and he got back to me but asked me to contact him the following week as he was pretty busy. I emailed him the next week but didn't hear anything so tried phoning. I got the impression the guy on the other end was not exactly receptionist and didn't have much time to spare. I left a message but didn't hear anything back so emailed again. This time I did get a response and arranged a meeting. Paul asked me to ring and confirm our appointment on the day but when I did speak to him he seemed to be in the middle of something and I immediately felt back. Having said all that when I met him face to face he couldn't have been nicer! This just proves that art directors like to decide when they speak to other people and they can take time over an email.
Anyway back to the podcast, the guys suggested that a mailing list was a great way of keeping in touch with all of your contacts. You have to make sure you include the option for someone to remove themselves from the list but it's a nice 'reminder' to someone that you still exist. Art directors are generally a fan of this idea as, again, it's less intrusive. They suggested sending a mail-out every three months or so - any more could seem too much and this way you can build up your work in-between. They also said not to send an attachment as this can clog up the inbox and put people off responding to you. In the mail-out you should have an interesting font and make it short and sweet - people don't want to know your life history!
Another idea is to send holiday cards (this is the only exception to attachments according to Kevin and Joshua) - but only if there good. They suggested setting yourself a challenge such as illustrating a Christmas card without using green or red.
After you have done a job they said it's always good to send an email thanking the person for the work. You should always be appreciative and it will make people more inclined to give you more work.
Kevin and Joshua also said not to bother emailing people who don't get back to you, they'll just block you and slate your name to others so it's not worth it.
A great tip they gave was to go to book/magazine shops and find out the names of art directors from there.Once you've got their name you can search for an email address online. If you can't find an address, companies usually have the same format so if you can find one from that particular company you can have a good guess at the others.
Next the guys moved onto to social netwrking. Neither of them particularly liked the idea of using sites such as DeviantArt for finding clients - they're more for networking with other designers. Flickr is quite good though as there are lots of art director groups that could be useful. It's also another way of keeping in touch with other designers' or former classmates' work.
A final point they made was to keep in touch with teachers and classmates from Uni, you never know what you could do for each other. A job could come along that wasn't right for you but you could pass it along to someone else and hopefully they'd do the same for you in the future.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Pick Me Up

During my trip to London I visited Pick Me Up at Somerset House. It's an annual event for graphic artists which showcases the best work in the Uk and from around the world. There was lots going on, with a variety of stands and stalls for graphic designers, artists and illustrators alike.
In the first section there was an exhibition entitled 'Pick Me Up Selects'. This was a collection of 20 international up and coming illustrators and graphic artists who had all been selected to take part by a panel of 'distinguished' judges. The work represented a variety of styles, methods and techniques. All the work was completely different, from paper sculptures to watercolours. All of the designs on display were available to purchase, not that I could afford any!
One of my favourite stands was right at the beginning of the exhibition. Lucie Thomas and Thibault Zimmermann teamed together to form 'Zim and Zou', a French studio based in Nancy. A lot of the work featured on their stand were paper sculptures in the form of a variety of objects. One particularly project on display was called 'Back to Basics' and featured a camera, telephone, polaroid camera and cassette player - all crafted from paper and card. The colours were what initially drew me to them - I loved the palette of blues, reds and greens with a smaller hints of an array of colours thrown into the mix. Then, when you look closely, you appreciate the incredible craftsmanship of the pieces. The time and effort that must have gone into making a single piece is mind boggling!

Another designer who used colour beautifully was Mimi Leung. Although her work is not usually the sort of thing I am drawn to - the vibrant colours of her pieces immediately caught my eye. I also discovered that she often acts out the movements she is trying to capture in her drawings. You can tell she does this as her art was extremely fluid and expressive. I loved the quirky characters she has illustrated, there's a great sense of fun about them.

On another floor at were a collection of studios and agencies that had each brought a selection of artists, illustrators and designers' work. One that I really liked was Tom Frost who was with 'Soma'. He had a gorgeous collection of prints on display which included a group of animal stamps. The frame with an otter, rabbit, deer, squirrel, badger and fox was my favourite. The outline of the stamp and the simple patterns and shapes on the animals really made the piece stand out in my mind. I love the symmetry of the illustrations and also the muted colour tone - it really lends itself well to the subject matter.

Overall Pick Me Up was a great event and it was so inspiring to walk round and be surrounded by all that amazing work. I'd love to go back next year when I had more time to look at everything properly! I love the fact it was designers and illustrators under one roof, there was such a multitude of styles which made it really interesting and quirky.