David Shrigley at the Cornerhouse

One of the visits I’ve been on while I’ve been on my creative hiatus was David Shrigley’s exhibition at The Cornerhouse in Manchester. He coined his work into a book as well, titled “How Are You Feeling?”

To me, Shrigley has this kind of urgent, messy style, where getting his message across is perhaps more important than how the work looks. I like this idea that it doesn’t really matter if the drawing is basic, as long as you can tell what it is, then that’s fine. Its something I have long preoccupied myself with, striving to get a perfect picture when I don’t have a perfect style. I like messy, so why not stay messy?!

I think that the sheer volume Shrigley has to share motivates this urgency in the work. The exhibition was across two floors; the walls were literally covered with excerpts from the book, and there were even displays in the middle of the floor. He has a lot of messages, but sticks to a common theme, this instance being how people feel about common situations. I admire his work a lot because it reminds me of things I should be doing every day to keep myself thinking as a creative person; whatever ideas he has, he writes down, draws, explains, changes, and this is what I should be doing every day, on my break, before bed, when I’m having my breakfast. Otherwise how can one ever have enough work to showcase in this way. But its also relevant. It’s not random scribbles, each piece makes sense and ties into the next one. It is these kind of messages I want to show in my work as well.

Probably the most influential part of Shrigley’s work for me though is the type he uses. Everything, everything, is hand written, with respect! You will be able to easily tell that he has influenced me when you see my pieces, although they are very different. He keeps his messy, outlining, capitals, use of spacing inconsistent, whereas with my work I need to give myself some boundaries, so have only taken elements and explored my type from there.

Shrigley is currently one of my biggest influences so there might be a few more posts about him and some of his more recent work, but he is a constant reminder that I should care less about what others think but just do more more more (something my tutors always told me).


Hideout Festival

Last week I went to Hideout festival in Croatia. As well as having the best time ever, seeing some amazing DJ sets, soaking up the 30-degree heat and making some great new friends, I was actually working there. We had a body-painting stand in the middle of the festival, where four of us would give the customers whatever they wanted! I’d done it in Ibiza the year before so had an idea of what people asked for, and I took my portfolio with me to give the customers an idea of what we did. I’m still waiting for the rest of the pictures of my work to come through but here’s one I managed to salvage for now.

 I did the work for a company called Purple Paint, you can find them on Facebook and Instagram as purple.paint.us, and it was my first venture into painting in a place not in Ibiza. I’m hoping that as this was a trial as to work out if it would be successful in other places that I can expand and do more festivals and clubs over the next year.

Look Who's Back

Wow. My last post was over three years ago. A hell of a lot has happened to me in that time, highs and lows, all moulding me into the man I am today. Notable highlights have been moving into my own place in Manchester city centre, working a season in Ibiza and holding down 2 jobs, one of which I’m about to be promoted to team leader.

Over the past few years, since leaving university, I’ve always said I’d get back into the creative world eventually. But as is the case with most things, the longer you leave it the harder it is to reconnect. So by jump-starting this blog I aim to slowly re-establish what I have lost in my time away from creativity. Only time will tell if this experiment works out, but I feel like the time is right to stop procrastinating (I’m forever telling people I need a scanner before I start any pieces) and make time for myself (just because I work 50+ hours a week doesn’t mean I cant find a few hours while I’m watching TV or something to add a bit to this blog.

Now, when I was in Uni this blog was used to record what we’d been doing in terms of research and personal development. But mostly research. I think that by instead using it to include simple ideas I have in everyday life as well as looking at artists I will cover a wider spectrum of creativity, and building on it every day (alongside my sketchbook) I might just be able to get back into the mindset I’m looking for.

I’m about to start full time work on top of another job (excuses already) so for the first few weeks I will be doing 3/4 posts a week, but when we hit August my aim is for a post a day, whatever size that may be.

My posts will be quite varied, but I’ll keep them to certain categories (more for my own peace of mind, little boxes in my head and all that), which will include:
  •       Research (artists I like)
  •      Personal (things going on in my everyday life that may or may not be relevant to art but is a factor about me that is worth mentioning – for example, I’m trying to quit dairy)
  •      Creative Review (for when I watch a film, see a show etc. and want to analyse it)
  •     Development (this may not come for a while but will be about the transformation of my own work, something I am excited to start but nervous at the same time)
  •      Work (these will be finished pieces I want to evaluate)
  •      Body Paint (I am now also a body painter so will share my experience of that on here as its something I love doing and want to extend into a business eventually)
  •      Crit (A periodic look at what I have achieved, what I did right, what I would change, what to look for in the future. This will be, like the whole blog, more for my own benefit but might be a fun read)

By sticking to a formula like this I hope to get back into this world that I loved and lost, by being more motivated, by being the yes man I’ve always wanted to be, by not just thinking, but by doing.

Wish me luck!


Hopes, Fears and Opportunities.

Well the end is here and it’s time to once again reflect on myself, see how far I’ve come and think about what the future may hold for me. This post will be all about that.

I’m going to start with the obvious and say that I hope I pass the course. It’s been a long three years and a fast three years at the same time, and I’ve learned loads about the illustration world and myself, so it would be a shame t see all that go to waste and me not even pass. I hope I get above a 3rd, rather like last time, but I really have no idea what to expect this time round. I’m hoping that my dissertation went well as well because I had fun writing about something that I love.

I really hope that I stay in contact with most of the people I’ve met over the last few years here as well. They have some great work, and I know we can all help each other out in this industry, and I’m not asking for our class to become a huge collective or anything but for us to keep in regular contact and see how we’re all doing with our work would be a great way to keep us all motivated. Luckily, I’m the one in the class that can arrange meet up’s like that, and there are already a few nights on a month like that, so I think I can make that happen.

Thinking more long term, I really hope that my work continues to evolve and progress at the pace that it’s done over the past couple of months. I’ve finally become comfortable with a way of working that I feel reflects me as a person, and I can see ways that I can improve on my pieces already, so it will be fun to grow in that way.

As an optimistic person anyway, I’m mainly just hoping that whatever the future holds, I’m a happy person, and I bring fun to those around me. I don’t want to make too many plans because I like the spontaneous side of not knowing what might happen next, so I don’t want to say “I hope I land a great illustration job” because that kind of hope makes me feel tied down.

Once again, my fears are reflected in my hope in the way that they are opposite; I fear i’m going to end the course with a fail, fear of losing contact with everyone (that would be lonely wouldn’t it!), fear I’ll get stuck in a rut with my work (never going to happen) and I have a real fear of being unhappy.

My fear of walking into the real world and being unhappy is something I’ve been trying to work on already; I’ve been struggling with depression this year and been seeing a counselor to not much effect, but I’ve really been working on myself in preparation for when I leave, so hopefully the transition will be smoother. My unhappy states got me in a lot of bad spots with my uni work and with my job, and even cut me off from my friends and family so I guess I’m worried that when all of the stress is off I might sink back into that, and it’s somewhere I never want to be again.

On a more business level, I fear that my work wont reach the world, and that it wont be… not recognized…  maybe that my work wont be understood by the audience I’m aiming for it to reach. However, I’ll just be able to utilize the knowledge I’ve learned at university so I can’t see that being too much of a problem.

One more fear that I assume a few people have is that I’m going to leave uni, get a full time job (damn you recession and all that) and be stuck in it for years whilst trying o save money, and then never having time to practice my illustration, and that I will eventually leave it behind! I’ve always had the cunning plan to juggle one or two part-time jobs and then my freelance work anyway though, and I remember a talk I went to once, and the designer actually said that it was a good idea. So I’m hoping to stick to that, but we all know how quickly the tide can change.

Finally, my opportunities. I’ve been weighing my opportunities up for a while deciding what I should do with myself, and I realize that there is so much to explore. I want to go travelling still, and I think going abroad for a bit to clear my head would be a good idea for me. When I come back I have the opportunity to go back to York, where I’m sure I can easily fit back in, or stay in Manchester, which I love, and is saturated with art.

I’ve also had the opportunity to meet so many people in Manchester, and networking and keeping in touch is going to open so many doors not just for me but for all of us. The course has given me the opportunity to become better not only at illustration, but designing, writing, drawing, computer skills, animation, etc. It has opened doors to many other creative worlds and I’m thankful for that. It has also helped me get to know people that can help me in each field, so wherever I go in the creative world in the future there will be someone I can rely on to help me.

Big Illustration Party: Contracts

The final podcast in the recent series that we were set to listen to was based around the act of drawing up contracts when you’re in the Illustration business. It was a real eye- opener for me to see how much more business there is than I originally thought, and showed me that the sooner I establish myself professionally the easier it will be to get my foot in the door when I’m let out into the real world.

Going over the basics in a nutshell, the presenters advised one to draw up a standardized contract that can be easily edited to meet yours and whichever clients needs, and it would definitely get changed as you learn about the ins and outs of the business anyway.

They gave great advice, like that if a client doesn’t like the idea of a contract, it’s probably not a client you want to be working with anyway, which makes sense to me! They also advised that we add a kill fee, which is a fee you would get if you get cancelled before you’ve finished your commission, and a late payment fee, which should be up to 5% of the project salary.

Other things that were touched upon (and that taught me lots) was how to charge companies for different types of projects, for example if the product you were illustrating for is a billboard, it is acceptable to charge more then for a once-run newspaper editorial, because of the audience seeing it and because of buy-outs.

Licensing of your work was another thing that was spoken about. They said to specify in the contract who had the rights to the final outcome and for how long, and that if you didn’t establish if it was a work for hire piece of not there could be trouble on the horizon, because you might not even be able to use the piece for your portfolio! This shocked me a bit, but I guess that’s just the way the business world works!


Personal Development

Doing a degree at university for me is all about development, as a creator but also as a person. I feel that while I have shown my skills in Illustration and design in the classroom, maybe not always to the top of my potential, a lot of people have yet to see how I have developed over the last few years, especially in my final year. It is also something that I need to evaluate myself.

The third year of the course has really tested me in many ways. I think this is the year that I’ve changed the most, and I have learned a lot about myself and the people around me. I know that this is going to be an ongoing thing, because as the environment changes, and as I change, I will inject this into my work.

My FMP was about dreams, and I chose this subject matter because it was an attempt to communicate my subconscious to the world. Since I have trouble communicating with people I thought that it would be a good starting point for me to show an audience what I’m like.

I’m finally finished with burning the candle at both ends, so to speak, where my social life hinders my working life. It has come a little later than it might for most, but I guess it just took me a little longer to realize that I can’t do everything I want at the same time. I need to rest sometimes.

I’ve been through a lot of low points this year as well. My best friend died right at the beginning of the year, and I dealt with that in a bad way, and then when I started battling with my depression, it took a long time for me to ask for help. I should have used the negativity in this in a creative way but I used it destructively. However, this has been the year I’ve been broken and learning to rebuild, something I’ve never had to do before.

I’m using this post to basically highlight the fact that a great many factors are involved in assessing yourself whatever you go through, but there comes a time when you need to use your experiences in the past for the better, and channel yourself into being a stronger person.