Exercises 1-4

Exercise 1 – Write a rationale

According to a Google search for ‘What is a rationale’,

“A rationale is when you are asked to give the reasoning or justification for an action or a choice you make. There is a focus on the ‘why’ in a rationale: why you chose to do something, study or focus on something. It is a set of statements of purpose and significance and often addresses a gap or a need.”

A further search adding ‘art’ to the end of the question yielded this:

“The Curatorial Rationale is similar to an artists’ statement but refers specifically to the work selected for this exhibition rather than the general artistic output. Writing the Rationale is part of the process of self- reflection, decision making, and of understanding of the relationship between artist and audience.”

What this tells me is that a rationale explains your reasons for the choices and decisions made during the creation of your work for your client.  It is important to be able to communicate it to your client so that they understand why you created what you did, or you can direct their attention to the areas ticking the brief and express how you met their request.

For the three briefs given, I chose to focus on the Sainsburys brief.  It was asking for a design for a bag and had clear criteria that must be adhered to for the design.  It had the clearest brief for me, and so I felt it would be easier to express a rationale behind a design for them.

For me, the rationale follows the design, so it would require me to process the brief and draw out ideas and get to a point where I find myself visualising a design for it.  A rationale for me, often comes after.  This is not necessarily an incorrect way of doing things, just something that feels more natural.

For example, the brief for Sainsburys is to create a design for their bag and choose from a range of three options for the focus.  I chose ‘Food and Health’. 

My rationale behind choosing this would be that the store is a well known and loved brand and people shop there to get the freshest food and to feed their family well.  As such, designs for the bag would comprise of a surface pattern in a symmetrical manner, using vector basics for fruit and vegetable shapes and using them to create a William Morris style pattern.  The rationale behind that would be that Morris was part of the Arts & Crafts movement where craftsmanship was appreciated and valued.  A shop that provides fresh food for its customers and considers themselves health conscious, would echo the same sentiment.  The designs for Morris & Co are natural and organic, so suit the transfer to food quite well.  I’d keep the design more vector based with minimal flourishes but bright colours that appear appetising and occur in nature.

Exercise 2 – Working Process

My working process:

How would you describe your creative working process?

I use the outline given in Unit 1 Illustration as a guide for my work.  It has helped me to stay focused during exercises and assignments.  For a brief given by a client, I would use this template to ensure that I’m moving through the sections in a linear manner and exploring the aspects needed to generate ideas and create designs. 

What stages do you go through? 

I’ll use the guide from Unit 1 to clarify the stages I go through.  Identifying the key words via a mind map or spider diagram helps to broaden the spectrum on ideas.  I respond to the keywords and see what comes up.  From there however, I might jump to research if the brief is more specific.  If not, I’ll choose a few responses to the keywords and go off and research these for ideas on what images get created or what way artists respond to it or if it is specific to a style, I’ll research that.

The ideas drawn up are often done on my iPad or in a sketchbook.  Most of the time they’re on the iPad as I use this when commuting.  It is far easier to use than a sketchbook and I’m guaranteed a source of light with it.

After drawing up some ideas, there might be a few that stand out to me.  If there is one, I’ll choose that and develop it.  If it is a brief for a client then I would only do a thumbnail version and maybe enlarge it for the client, giving them a choice of three and let them indicate which they’re happy to go with.

From there, I’d create the image in more detail and check that the image is approved before moving to colours.  Even in the colour stage changes can occur, so it’s important to get used to the idea of editing an image a lot before the final artwork is approved fully.

From the final approved edit, the file would be created, and the correct format dropped into a gdrive or dropbox for the client. 

How do you undertake research?

When it comes to research, I assign a few days or a period of a week, to collect as much information as possible.  I allow for ‘rabbit hole’ moments in this research as I often find it fascinating how interconnected aspects of artists and history can get.  It depends on the subject or brief for how this can happen.  I tend to use a variety of books I have, some online library research and then some general internet search.

How and when do you critique your work and what questions do you ask yourself?

At the thumbnail stage, if the client approves it, I’ll proceed with the idea.  From a recent comic book project, I try to ensure that I’m meeting the criteria for the script.  The number of panels, the position, the detail in the panel, these are important and key to the script.  If there is room to work the panel in a way that you feel is better than the original suggestion and the client has given room to do that, I’ll adjust it.  Sometimes during the project, I had drawn up a full page and found I wasn’t happy with it and how it sat in the whole comic.  I ripped it up and started again, and although this might be a scary option to some, I was happy to do it rather than try and salvage bits of it.  I knew a blank slate would enable me to explore other options and not be precious.

In other situations, I’ve asked myself:

  • Am I meeting the brief for the client?
  • Am I matching the keywords?
  • Is the image the size that is required?
  • How does it look printed? Does it match the screen?  Are the colours correct?
  • Have I got the information needed in the image?
  • Is it successful at communicating what it intends to?
  • Is my eye being drawn in to where it should be?
  • Am I distracted by anything?
  • How is my linework?

How do you manage your time?

For a project I’m usually quite good with my time management.  However, the last year I have found that the fallout from the pandemic has definitely impacted on my speed and ability to stick within a fast timeframe.  I’m much slower these days and I find that I can be very consistent and manage my time very well for certain parts but then that doesn’t translate to the next part of the unit for some reason.

For projects in the past, I’m aware of the time.  For the comic project I had a three-month timeframe to work within, had a lot of parts to complete for a twelve page comic and found that it took a lot of time and energy between working, but did it.  That was down to the way I managed my time and how I knew where I should be and what should be done.  A chart with goals and dates to meet them by, was extremely helpful.

More recently however, I’ve found that college work and keeping a balance with work, has been challenging.  Managing my time comes in waves, I’m finding that projects can be finished when my employment is going smoothly.  When it is busy and stressy, my college work gets impacted.  It is a constant balancing act.

Where are the sticking points?

Balancing my time between work and college and maintaining a sense of consistency with the hours given to both.  I have moments of being completely in charge and the balance is present and the consistency is there, and other times it isn’t.

Sticking points when I’m working for a client are what is the deadline and what is the final edit deadline, as sometimes the edits require more time than they have or they’re a bigger job than expected.  It’s important to keep clear communication on what expectations your client has and what can be done realistically.

What do you think are your strengths and where do you need to develop further?

I have a good working attitude and can meet the clients’ requirements based on my experience so far.  My strengths are in being able to communicate with a client and establish what it is they want.  My strengths in my work are that I can work in mixed media and am willing to try different styles.

Areas that I need to develop are a sense of consistency in my work as I feel that right now, I’m developing a variety of styles so that might be confusing for anyone visiting my Instagram for example.  I feel like I am still finding out what my style is, who I am as an artist.  I’m not very confident in my ability to push myself or approach clients.  The work I’ve received to date has been word of mouth and although that is fantastic, it is not very frequent work.  I’d love to build up my confidence and establish a more consistent approach to my art so that I’m producing work regularly and have a clear style aimed for a specific industry.

For example, I’m part of a surface pattern group that has a great range of women in it and they’re pushing their work and their designs.  I’m watching them develop and grow but feel that I’m not doing the same.  They’re clear in the designs their creating and it suits the industry.  There is an artist in the group who is using her paintings for patterns.  It definitely feels like the group have a better understanding of their art than I do.  I feel like I’m still in the ‘discovery’ phase, but I’m not!  So, I need to develop my confidence, develop a routine that is consistent and create a body of work to suit the industry I want to pursue further. 

What is the process of finishing your work?

My process so far has been quite linear and has a clear steps process.  I’ve worked with clients in the past so am familiar with the type of situations that can occur.  In some situations, I’ve had to edit a few times, and there comes a moment with the client where you have to draw a line with the number of edits you’re willing to do.  Having a convincing rationale behind your work is important as it can eliminate the potential for the client to ‘edit endlessly’.  Having a cut off option with edits, such as up to 2 or 3 edits and then the client is charged for further edits, can often eliminate these issues quickly.  It all depends on the project or job that you’re doing.

Exercise 3 – Presenting Yourself

At the moment, the work I’ve been doing from Illustration 1 and 2 have been posted on my website. They’re posted as a way to express my approach to the exercises for the course.  They’re not outlined in a portfolio manner and so don’t showcase my style in a way that a potential client in the future could peruse and get a sense of whether they’d like to hire me.

My Instagram account has been used for expressing my experiments and ideas for college.  I have an account for college which is a mix of styles and organic ideas, so it isn’t designed with a business or client in mind.  However, I did recently set up a new Instagram account for myself to promote my work in cards.  Here I post designs that are on cards sold through a company called ‘Thortful’.  It is something that I wanted to develop over the course of the year and start exploring designs with a clearer reference to surface patterns and botanical designs for cards.  It has been slow going with it.

A portfolio has been started to some degree online, but the reality is that the images that people see don’t give a super clear picture of what my actual style is.  The reason for this is probably because my voice is still emerging and I’m finding a vast number of styles are being expressed. 

This has resulted in my defining who I am as an Illustrator as being a challenge to me even with the exercises and assignments covered so far. 

With the thought of creating a balanced portfolio in mind, I’d like to explore a variety of options that my current body of work could cover.

  • Card design
  • Sequential Art

Reviewing my Instagram Page – @therealsuperhilbo

From the page I can see that in the space of even one year, my approach has shifted and changed.  My work is clearer than it was before, and the work done for college has a coherency to it that wasn’t present in some of the work posted in 2020.

This is heartening, as I don’t reflect enough on the work completed and although I do my learning log for college, I’m often too eager to produce and post work.  The reflection process is extremely important, and I feel that for 2021 there was more of it done.

The work produced for the Unit 2 Illustration course is captured in some of the screenshots on the next page.  It’s interesting to see them in a collection, as it can be easier to see what jumps out at me.  There is clearly a lean towards sequential art and there are linocut pieces that I’m very happy with.  These tend to be the pieces that stand out for me so I will be including them in my portfolio.

I’ve noticed that I definitely like working in colour, and the Procreate tool is heavily used for a lot of the work that I’m currently doing.  It is used for sketching, colouring, and painting.  My iPad has definitely made it much easier to produce certain types of work.

What I definitely see is that caricatures are not for me, so I won’t be including these in any portfolio, and it is clear that it isn’t a line of work I’d pursue with my art.  My favourite piece is the loose sketch done with a partial colour of the sky.  It has an energy to it that I really like, so it does indicate to me that pencil sketches and light colours of open landscapes might be a direction to go in.

This Instagram account was started back in Christmas 2020, so my images were promoting my Christmas cards.  There were other images linking the cards so the colours were kept similar, but I can see from the way it progressed through the year that I started with a clear picture, but it got muddled towards the middle and latter end of the year.  There were some posts of nature and then some sketches, but these sketches were not made into cards.

I think that a full revamp of the account would help, with a focus on planning what to promote as a style.  If I created the account with a portfolio in mind, focus on botanical illustrations for cards, then I feel that would come across as more coherent and offer a clearer portfolio of work to potential clients.

However, for the purpose of this exercise, I’ll pick a number of pieces that would be suitable for a portfolio for myself at the current level of experience that I have.

Cards on Thortful – How would I describe them if asked?

  1. Christmas cards – a range of original designs featuring a cheeky robin character designed exclusively for the Thortful website.  The colours are soft and muted while the cheeky robin hops from ground to branch in the midst of a snowy backdrop.   It is a subtle Christmas cards and the focus is on fun and joyful celebration of the season.
  2. Valentine cards – a light-hearted and humorous range of original designs created for a happy occasion.  These bright and cheerful characters are designed to create a moment of playfulness and bring a smile to someone. 
  3. Mother’s Day card – a delicate floral design on a bright colour scheme to lift the spirits and let the words speak for themselves.
  4. Thank-you card – a monochrome pink design for a thoughtful way to express your thanks.

Overall, the cards are designed with a humour and playfulness in mind and are designed to bring joy to those that receive them.

Sequential art and comic – How would I describe these if asked?

This is a little more difficult if I’m honest, as the style is largely down to the project that is being worked on.  Right now, I feel that a lot of the colour schemes I go for are warm and secondary colour schemes.  There is a fresh quality to the work and then in the case of the script for Lady Lilian Spender, there is a sense of keeping the palette muted because it is a historically accurate graphic novel, but I had do that with notes of freshness to keep it relevant. 

Summer – this is self-directed project inspired by being and a single page sequential art piece capturing the balmy quality of a summer day during lockdown.  The artwork is kept joyous by the characterisation of the sun while the warm palette used is denoting the rising heat of the day.  This was created using paint and pencil on Procreate.

Artic; Alone – this is a self-directed project and a short story taken directly from screenshot references from the programme by the same name and follows one contestants experience trying to hunt for food.  The colours are kept in a semi-cool palette to denote the cold environment that she was in and has accents of rusty orange to denote the squirrel and contrast with the cold.  This was pencils, inks, and basic brushes in Procreate.

Lady Lilian Spender – this is a page from a graphic novel completed as part of a project for the Nerve Centre.  This page is without the lettering and captions to provide an idea on the layout and colour scheme used.  It was very much kept in tones of historical colours from the period, with the softer pinks attributed to the main character so that you can follow her on every page with ease.  This was pencil, inks on Bristol board and coloured in Procreate with pencils, basic brushes, and paints.

The Walk – this is a sequential art piece completed for college.  The images were taken from sketches done in my sketchbook while commuting.  The walk is being completed by a character of myself as imagined from my true version observing walkers from the bus.  The sketches were a combination of pencils and ink pen, transferred into Procreate for a monochrome colour effect.  Textures were added to provide contrast to the panels.