Final Major Project: Initial Thoughts

So I’ve come to the end of an era, and with the start of the new year will come the start of a new project: the Final Major Project. This, as I understand, is where the majority of my end of year marks will come from (hence the name I guess) so it would be a good idea to get this one right.

I’ve been racking my brains when I have a spare minute or so, or when I’m drifting off to sleep, thinking about what I might be able to work on for the last part of my education. I’ve not come up with anything definitive at all, but I’ve decided that the only thing I can really do (with me being one of the people in the class with a less focused style) is get guidance from my tutors. In the meantime, however, I can explore my strengths and weaknesses in order to find some sort of theme.

One idea I’ve had for a while is to invent some of my own characters (say, a robot, a chicken and a talking lamp, for example) and incorporate them into my world of illustrations. I think that this would work best with one of my greatest influences: comics. So this is a strong way forward for me. I’d also be interested in doing some BIG work, like a mural, and I want to finally try my hand at getting some t-shirts made. So incorporating all of these aspects would make my year more enjoyable.

However, I’m sure the tutors have seen students come in with ideas all the time and still not have anywhere to put them to good use, and I do think that this could easily happen to me, so I’m looking forward to the time when these ideas take better shape.

Creative Review-- Film: Black Swan

While I finally thought that I’d settled on doing the Little White Lies competition brief, I’d still not actually seen any of the five films that they wanted illustrating! So I set about watching Black Swan, as I’ve been wanting to see it since it came out anyway.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan is a film about a ballet dancer who is pretty much a perfectionist. She wins the lead in “Swan Lake,” but whilst she is the perfect candidate for the White Swan, she isn’t free or impulsive enough to play the Black Swan. The harder she tries to fulfill both parts, the more unhinged she becomes.

When the film first opened up I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it. I mean, ballet? But I was interested to find out what was going on the more the story progressed. What I found most interesting was how the pressure and play were affecting her psychologically. Her failed dancer mother smothered her. Her trainer pushed her extremely hard. Her colleagues resented her. Then she thought her new friend was trying to take over her. Splitting her life between the Black and White Swan had fractured her mind, and it was interesting to be part of the audience and be confused as to whether we were seeing things that were just in her head or was it really happening?

There were some really good subtle effects added, which were enhanced by some great camera shots. These were especially beautiful when the dancing was going on, but on the other end of the spectrum a more handheld approach came in useful for giving us that sense of unease and claustrophobia.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the film, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in psychological thrillers. Don’t let the ballet put you off, it barely has anything to do with the film in general anyway!

Portfolio Visit-- Thoughtful

Today I headed down to design company “Thoughtful” to show off my portfolio for the first time ever! After giving us a helpful and portfolio-inspiring talk the previous week, Stuart, who is part of the company agreed to let me come visit.

Before my appointment I have to admit I was really nervous. It was my first time showing this portfolio to anybody outside the classroom; in fact, after I’d made quite a few changes in the morning concerning the layout and presentation, Stuart was the first to see this version. So for me this meeting was a kind of personal test of how well I’d accomplished so far in the year.

After brief introductions, I put the nerves to the back of my mind and presented, keeping in mind all of the advice Stuart mentioned in his talk. He made some great comments about my work, both on what aspects he liked and what he’d like to see more of. I was happy to hear that he was a fan of my developing style and would like to see what the future holds as he could tell I was still growing. He also mentioned that he could see a commercial aspect to my work, was fantastic to hear! We looked through each piece and I talked him through each piece, which I found was a lot easier than I thought it would have been for some reason.

On a portfolio-inspecting level, he liked that I’d kept it simple. He liked that I’d cropped my work and added it to the bottom of each page with a small description, to which I could then elaborate. Advice he gave me (which I have avidly taken on board) was to maybe make an introduction page instead of sticking an image there, and that it would be good to see more of my work in context; spread it out more to give it all room and let it speak for itself!

Thanks Stuart!

Creative Review-- The Hunger Games

I hadn’t read a fictional book in a very long time, until recently that is. I’d noticed a lot of hype about a film coming out next year called “The Hunger Games” and it seems to have attracted a pretty big fan-base already. So I did a little research, found out that it was the first in a series of books, and began reading.

One negative before I get to the good stuff: this was the first time I’d ever read a book on my mac, and not held it physically. I didn’t like that aspect, and maybe it needs a little getting used to but I think it might have dampened my reading experience a bit.

Now, the good points. This is a very interesting story. There is a love story told over the series that you see the beginnings of in the first book (the only one I’ve read) but that part didn’t interest me too much. It was the world it was set in. Kind of like 1984 where everyone is controlled by government, they live in separate districts depending on profession, and every year to keep control of the districts the government introduces “The Hunger Games” where two teenagers from each of the 12 districts must fight in the arena, until there is one winner.

The storytelling is great; as I read it I can see the events unfold, I feel the main protagonists emotion, whether it be anger, confusion or love. There is a balance between action and interaction, a great cast with interesting personalities, and the underlying political messages that The Hunger Games is more than just a year long event in the arena is spread throughout the whole book.

Now I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series and can’t wait for the film!

Christmas Card Design

Our group has been beginning to think of ways that we can raise money so that we can have a stall at D&AD in London next year. Two great ideas came to mind at the meeting; since it was Christmas time, we could have a bake sale, and we could produce a set of Christmas cards to sell! So we split into two groups and set out to work.

Obviously, at this time of year though, we were all very busy and had deadlines approaching. So I got thinking, what might the audience want to see that would be easy for me to make, that they haven’t seen before (to generate a little more interest) and that I could do in a limited amount of colours so it could be screen printed?

I thought that my “Turk the Turtle” was quite a cute character that I’d used before in a previous project, so set about recycling him! I thought that there might be an audience for him, as animals are quite popular, and it’s not the typical animal you’d associate with Christmas. I “christmassed” it up by drawing a scene of him giving a present to a child turtle, and thought that to add colour, green would be perfect (relating to both of the themes) as a background so I could highlight the drawing.

Unfortunately, there were problems on the day of printing. We were supposed to start at ten, but we couldn’t get hold of the cards we were supposed to be printing on until half 12, by which time I was getting ready to go to a lecture! Then I had another prior arranged meeting, and work the next day, so there was no time for my idea to be produced! However, the other cards in my class did get made to a really high standard and they managed to get some sold, so our dreams of making it to D&AD aren’t over yet!

Tutorial with Gary and Ian

Last Monday I had a meeting with both of my tutors, Gary and Ian, so we could steer forward in the right direction for the negotiated project. I was actually pretty nervous for this crit (seems to be a running theme there) because my lack of attendance/ workload was sure to have them a little ticked off! However, once again I was second-guessing people and getting it all wrong!

So I took in what I had so far for my competition projects and my museum project to see what they had to say.

I started with a lone picture I had thrown together for my competition project, a portrait of Black Swan for the Little White Lies competition. It was quickly dismissed, and quite rightly, because after they pointed a few things out I realized it looked terrible! So instead I told them that I was already in talks with Richard from the moving image pathway where we were working on the Heinz brief. I didn’t have much to show them though because we’d only had initial talks.

Ian and Gary’s advice was (because there wasn’t much time left) to focus on one project, which was the museum project. I’d showed them a quick draft of the comic I I’m planning on making, which tells the story of how Anansi the trickster God got his storytelling abilities. However, they actually preferred my quick sketching to my final mock-up ideas, noticing that I’d refined the work far too much for the finished product. It helped me realize that while I was so focused on linear aspects, I’d not thought about shape much, which, they say, is a strength I should be working on.

Also, thinking of comics as a way forward was suggested, because my best work comes from narrative elements and I think I have a good eye for composition. In conclusion, the tutors helped me out loads and I’m glad I turned up for the meeting!

Creative Review-- Film

I want to share a film with people that might be a little more obscure than usual. I’ve not been to any of the creative review sessions yet but I think a lot of the films would have been heard of, whereas this might be less recognized.

Chung-King Express is a film made by Wong Kar Wai in 1994. This film was the beginning of the Chinese New Wave period. This basically means that before this film, the studios were all about creating the same generic films, and for China, this was Martial Arts films. This film explores Hong Kong in a different way. It was an art piece made by Wai while he was taking a break from filming the “generic” stuff, and turned out to be one of his best pieces.

The film is split in two, set around the same take-out joint in Hong Kong. The first story is about a cop who gets dumped by his girlfriend, only to fall in love with a woman at a bar. Unbeknown to him, she is a drug-dealer, and he never see’s her again after that night. The next is about a cop who has a secret love interest; the worker at the take-out accidentally ends up with his house keys and she sneaks in when he’s working and cleans for him.

These are stories with no stories. They just are. That’s kind of the cool quality that I like about them. There are no questions that need answering, it’s just life at that time. Wai films it with a great soundtrack and some colourful camera experimentation, and maybe there are some little hidden messages in there, but it’s entirely for the audience to interoperate it as to how they see fit!