Saturday, 21 March 2009
The YCN was established in 2001 to celebrate new talent in design and visual communication. An offshoot of the YCN is the YCN agency which looks for illustrators and designers for varied projects for clients. It was great to see their studio and talk to the directors, we were shown examples of illustrators working for the agency including Ben Jones, an ex student of Stockport College. We had the opportunity to show our portfolios to two women who advised us on the layout of our portfolios and our ideas. When it came to my turn I was pleased with their response as they commented on my Orange poster from the second year saying that it was an optimistic image which is what they look for. I was asked about the context of my images and the scale of them which I thought sounded promising. I mentioned my Ibook but unfortunately I didn't take it with me but I also said that my images could be seen in many formats and sizes frm A4 to the side of a building!
While in London I was able to see Richard Keenan, the art editor from Timeout magazine. I managed to find my way to the Timeout office on Tottenham Court road and waited for him in the lobby. I had expected to be called upstairs to his office but he came downstairs to see me and we spoke on the sofa.
After recovering from a very embarrassing coughing fit aided by a kindly offered glass of water from Keenan I began discussing my portfolio. I discussed the simplicity of my style combining a graphic approach with photographic elements and the ideas for my imagery.
He asked me how long I had been an Illustrator for and when I told him I was still studying he asked me why I was making appointments with art directors. I explained that I was trying to get a head start before I graduate as I really do want to be an Illustrator. He said to me it isn't going to be easy and it would be a challenge for me to which I said I feel confident about, he thought this was a positive response. While looking through my portfolio he commented that he liked my style and that it was similar to Otto Dettmer's whom he said he had commissioned in the past. I think it was a positive interview as Keenan asked me to email him a pdf of my latest work when I graduate.
Thursday, 19 March 2009
Initially it had looked like I wasn't going to meet Otto Dettmer as we had arranged an appointment prior to the London trip but he had to cancel. Which is why I was all the more thrilled when he suprised me on the Wednesday night by texting me to say we were back on! I was so nervous about meeting one of my all time heroes I did't have a clue what I was going to ask him. Nina is also a big fan of Otto's work too so between us we put our heads together.
It was interesting to see his studio and I remember thinking it wasn't as big as I'd expected. Looking on the walls I saw photocopies of collaged and screenprinted elements from past works so I gathered that he reuses things alot. What was interesting to see was the computer that he works on, it was a very old apple mac from the mid 1990s. His reasons for using it were the high rate of burglaries in the area and he didn't think anyone would want to steal it! But also I felt that he works organically, very simply with collage, screenprint and digital so alot of these new intricate digital techniques are irrelevant to him.
Dettmer has produced many self publicised books one of which I own but his newest book was out on his desk which I was immediately drawn too. He works with alot of white space but what was interesting was this book was different, they were full colour and compositionally his designs bled out of the page. I remember in one of my questionnaires he said he doesn't believe in sticking to a set style, ironically I think he does though becuase it is so recognisable as his but he isn't afraid to try new approaches.
We started to discuss clients that he has worked for such as The Guardian and he showed us a fold out page that he mails to people to promote himself. The page was full of illustrations all with the same two tone colour scheme which myself and Nina thought looked great. He showed us a few magazines with his illustrations in so it was great to see how his images marry with the text. I found him to be very modest as I said that I thought he had a good reputation in the industry as having contacted art directors for the London trip some of those mentioned Otto after noticing a similarity in approach with his, he said he didnt know about that.
Both myself and Nina showed Otto are portfolios, he distinguished a difference between them saying that Nina's style is appropriate to book cover design and my own is suitable for editorial. A common influence to both my own style and Otto's was Russian Constructivism and hes showed us this big book full of Constructivist images. He asked us to consider scale of images in our portfolios, he favoured some of our images being bigger so he see them more clearly.
He advised me to explore screenprint aswell, I said I wouldn't have the first clue about it, he responded by saying "Well why don't you get on with it then!" I thought that was amusing. As we were leaving Otto was saying about him promoting at a book fair in Leeds the next day so I got the impression that he travels all over to promote his books. I did want to go to it but unfortunately I couldn't. I really enjoyed chatting to Otto in his studio about my own work and his, I found him to be a very likeable person, Cheers Otto!
Damien Gascoigne's lecture was one I found very entertaining particularly as he started by talking about his family and saying that he originally came from Bradford. He was a confident speaker and I got the impression he really enjoyed talking to us.
He specialises in animation and went on to describe his everyday behaviour as a designer. He is always doing something and urged us to pick up a camera, collect things and doodle. Many of his characters emerge from nothing taken from everyday drawings of people in different situations. He even described a special occassion where he sat there and just drew people. Often he will notice things like light fittings and everyday objects which he feels have character, takes pictures of them and doodles on whatever he can find like newspapers. Gascoigne showed us a picture of a cup sticking out of a bin but rather humourously the cup hada face on it and he said it was calling out to him to animate it. What was comical was his very honest admission that he is obsessed with hair and went on to talk about his own students as he teaches at Kingston University. He showed us pictures of them and described there personalities, one in particularly wearing a toy car round his neck.
He described his animation as fine art animation and began describing a projected animation onto a polystyrene book for an exhibition which took 4 years to come to fruition.
Being creative is something you don't have to apologise for was a statement that really stuck in my mind from Gascoigne's lecture because it is so right. But his optimism was also paired with realism as he discussed the conditions of being an illustrator and animator. Sometimes you have a lot of work coming in but you have to be prepared for times when the work drys up. He mentioned his tough time last year having made 7 pitches for commercials not being successful with any of them.
Being a freelance animation director/illustrator is stressful from this point of view but he is happy to keep going and is exploring other avenues of animation like 3D animation with handrawn line, being taught by his own students. He went onto say that he loves working in a team. AS his talk drew to a close he mentioned that he was an illustrator for five years and then wanted to see his illustrations move with sound, im thinking along the same lines with my own work. Overall I found Damian Gascoigne to be a very interesting, entertaining and witty person.
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
One of the themes im working with for my newest illustration is "ladies first". I wanted to show this idea in a non smarmy way as we are living in an age of equality and it is an outdated notion that i think would be frowned upon by many women today especially feminists! I thought about running races as if getting to the door first which would give the illustration a competitive edge. I thought the best way to denote male and female is to use the symbols off a toilet door! However I felt it would communicate the wrong message and as it is an old tradition from an older generation I felt that old fashioned hats would denote this better.
One of my all time favourite movies is Goldfinger not just for the great plot but the introduction of the first gadget car that many classic James Bond films are famous for. The Aston Martin DB5 was equipped with machine guns, a bullet proof shield, oil slick and the passenger side ejector seat. For my latest illustration I am illustrating giving your seat up for the elderly. I thought a humurous approach is necessary and I remembered the scene in Goldfinger where James Bond ejects an intruder out of the roof and thought it would be good if I could bring this element in. So with this combined with the moral element of honouring the elderly I composed an old lady boarding a bus pressing a button ejecting a youth out of the roof. I think that the elderly generation are viewed as weaker and out of touch I like this illustration for the power that the little old lady holds.