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.

Creative Review: Inception

How can I do a final major project based on dreams without including the recent film Inception (2010)? This is a recent film based on the idea that ideas can be planted into someone’s mind through entering their dreams, where their subconscious shows through in the form of the objects around them. It’s a very interesting concept because it delves into the ideas of dreaming, how dreams work with the architecture and how consciousness and sub consciousness work together in sync to create a new world inside your head.

The scenes of the characters in the dream world filled me with awe. The idea that this world has been created be someone is one that you can relate to as a dreamer because things do just appear when you want them to, and you can bend the laws of physics to your will.

One of the issues the film also deals with is the idea of a paradox, something that I want to find a way of incorporating into my work. There’ssa scene in the film where the dreamer has created a set of stairs that look like they continuously go up, when really that is a feat that cannot be accomplished in real life architecture!

The only real problem with trying to take something from this film is that there is pretty much a linear narrative in the film, and in each dream. Even though they’re in a dream, the places still seems real, whereas in my work I want to also try and show that dreams are just flashes of places; memories, made up buildings, familiar versus unfamiliar, and that doesn’t happen so much in this film.

It is still, however, one of my favourite films, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Networking and Self-Promorion

After listening to a few veterans of the design world, and from what I’ve been working out myself, I’ve come to the conclusion that self-promotion and networking are two important factors of this lifestyle. After all, how are you going to generate a fan base or get commissioned if nobody out there knows that you even exist?

This theory has been proven to me in recent weeks. I have a twitter account that I now mainly use for Illustration-based posts, and I follow a lot of other Illustrators and designers on there. I’ve also made a facebook page, showcasing some of my work, and currently have over 120 “likes,” but I’m aiming on improving this over the next year.

What I like about these methods of networking is that you can find out what people like about your work, and it helps not only what you can improve upon, but it boosts your confidence as well. I’ve also has other designers asking for collaborations, which I was surprised about, but it’s something I’m planning on doing more of after uni finishes, so I’m flattered to have been asked.

The only types of promotion I have at the minute are my page, my site and my business cards, but I’m interested in other ways of making myself stand out from the crowd. I’m interested in creating a small-scale comic, or maybe a zine, to leave in places of interest. I also love the idea of using guerilla advertising as a form of self-promotion, and I’ve looked at how businesses come up with these ideas.

The one thing I still want to do though, and I haven’t yet, is to attend more social meetings with artists and talk about my work and theirs on a more personal level. It seems like a perfect way to meet new people and really get in there with the crowd, and this is definitely something I’m looking forward to doing in the future.

Website Development.

One professional aspect of becoming a designer/ illustrator is that you have to have people be able to find you and your work. The more obvious way of doing that in todays environment is via a website.

So I did a bit of research into what the best kind of website would be for me, and at first it baffled me so much! I’m not the best when it comes to the technical side of the internet, but eventually managed to sort myself out with a domain name for a couple of years. I toyed around with a few name ideas for a while, like “kylehartillustration” or kdjh-art” but inn the end I realized that this was defeating the function of my site. People want to be able to find me, if they have to look more than a couple of pages on Google they’d give up. So I went with the simple http://www.kylehart.co.uk, which opens me, up to be more than just an illustrator as well.

I also shopped around for what the best hosting site would be for my needs. I played around with a WIX site for a while before deciding that there wasn’t enough freedom, and when you click on my artwork it doesn’t show it to it’s full potential or size and I really thought it ruined the online viewing experience.

I also looked at 1and1.com to see if that would work, but I thought that with the templates it offered, every site looked more like a blog to me. I’d like a news section on my site but I didn’t want it looking like a blog, since I already have two!

The best site I found, as I’m sure many others would agree, was Cargo Collective. I settled on this one because it offered some good templates and I thought I’d find it easier to customize things after a little working out. I also thought that all an audience really wants when they go on a website is simplicity and easy usability, and you get that with cargo! 

Portfolio Visit 2: Part 2

So the second half of my portfolio visit with Synergy Sheffield went slightly different to how I was expecting it to go! Taz had the idea to give me some more advice in actually selling ideas and pitching to clients, as that is what the future may hold for me.

As I had already told him that I had an interest in comics, my brief was to give them a 60 second pitch on a new direction for the next big Marvel comic. They gave me about ten minutes to plan my pitch an idea to them, which was really nerve-wracking because I’d been put entirely on the spot.

After I gave my pitch, in which I explained the art direction of the comic, the new characters, writing and themes, they asked me questions like what would I bring to the table, and what would make me stand out from the other applicants? I held my own and answered with some confidence, and they seemed impressed with what I had to offer.

Although it was only a quick workshop I felt like I learned loads, about handling myself under pressure, acting with more confidence and coming up with ideas on my feet better.

Finally, the guys wanted to know what project I was working on currently, so I showed them what I had done so far with my FMP, the original prints and some colour prints. I explained that the new direction was aiming to be a mix of all the good parts of my current portfolio and they seemed excited by the prospect of what might come. They told me that they see potential in the idea and as long as I worked hard for the next few weeks I’d be fine getting it all done, which made me feel better about my work.

The Synergy guys were awesome, and told me to keep in touch, so I will! They’re also interested in coming to the end of year show, so I will be aiming to please them with my final work and portfolio.

Business Cards

I’ve been waiting quite a while do my business cards because I think that the business card should be a reflection of who I am as a person and an creative person, so I was waiting until I had a suitable style. This came really late on for me and it still needs a lot of refining so I had to improvise when I got my cards. It’s not too bad though because I can always update the cards with my style later on!

For the illustrative side of the card I felt that I hadn’t created a stand alone image that represented me and my work yet either, so thought it would be fitting, and more exciting to include five different designs that the client could choose. I decided to use a selection of images I’d made for my FMP because of three main reasons; they were my most current work, they were the most visually exciting because of their texture, and I felt that the roughness of them represented me a little more than my cleaner work.

Another decision I made when designing the illustrative side was that instead of giving the cards a whole image it would be more fun to only include a cropped version of my work, so the client would be able to see the style and work out what it was, but not get a whole narrative. This, I thought, was a good idea because it would get them enticed, and maybe be more inclined to check out the picture on my website.

The information side of my card looks a lot more business like; I used a smaller Helvetica font, and I made It a more subtle grey as black would be too striking. I wanted them to remain warm to the client. I also used my title as Kyle Hart: Visual Artist and Illustrator as to assure the client that I am capable of more creative duties than just illustration.

Working with Type

With time running short it seems that the best idea was for me to use my images to create a set of posters, using some of my line drawings, my printed images, and some type. I didn’t want too much type, just enough to give a kind of added element to my narrative, so when it is added to the poster a story is told.

Exploring what type I should use was interesting though. I looked into Paul Davis work, and then David Shrigleys. My initial thoughts were that they had the same working styles, and the type they used was pretty much the same, but I was still unsure of how I was going to utilize this to my advantage. I mean, I couldn’t use type like that without justifying myself could I?

However, Gary gave me a quick crash course into both of the workings, and we looked at what made their type theirs! Also how they had looked into design (well, more Paul Davis) before applying it, and I realized that this wasn’t just their handwriting, these works were carefully planned pieces, and the type was just another element! Like mine was aiming to be!

I realized that Shrigley’s type was a little more all over the place than Davis’, but I thought that it would be good to keep the type a little refined. I noticed how David kept his type slightly italicized, all in capitals and boxed or underlined certain words, and I liked all of these ideas.

It took me a while to get my type the way I wanted it, and looking good, and I know I can improve on this in future projects. It took me a few attempts to keep my lines straight, as I was working too big at first, but this is definitely a style of type that works for me, shows my personality well and one that I want to indulge in in the future.

Printing Ideas!

I’d been struggling with a way to get my images created for a good few weeks when Gary suggested that I look at making stencils and printing. I was a little unsure about this at first but then I thought, why not get stuck in and try something new out, what do I have to lose. T also made sense because a lot of people are more drawn to my printed work in my portfolio than the drawings.

I thought of a different way to make images with stencil instead, to try making the work a bit more “me”, and so far I think the technique has worked really well. It need refining in some areas, but after talking with Gary and Ian, I think that it’s still the drawing images to start with that’s the main problem, so I’ll focus more on that in the future.

My technique is quite fun, keeps me interested in several images at the same time and lets me be a bit freer with what I do. First I draw the image I want and then blow it up to make it easier for later. Next I draw around each element I want separate in the image and label each piece so I don’t get lost.

Following the drawing comes the cutting, where I make my stencils. This is the part where I try take my time, even though I’m quite impatient. However, I find this part quite therapeutic!

After that comes the fun part, where I get messy in the print room and use the stencils to create some textured shapes. I only use black ink, because at this stage colour isn’t important to me.

The next stage involves scanning in all of my shapes, selecting the best ones that work together and reassembling the image. As well as this I add the colour, and my image is complete.

Artist Research: Chad McCail

So when I went to my second portfolio visit with Synergy Sheffield I learned quite a lot, but when the guys had a look at my portfolio itself I was also directed to the work of Chad McCail.

Taz, one of the members, saw my portfolio and was drawn to the work I did for the Heinz Salad Cream advert, where I had line drawings with a lot of block and similar colours. He used McCail in his dissertation so showed me the similarities we have. I quite liked the fact that I was shown another artist that had a similar style to the one I used for the advert because I was at a time of low confidence when I was creating work like, that, so it ws actually a big confidence boost to see that other work like mine had interest/ was being commissioned!

However, I have moved on to a new style now anyway, but this kind of art and illustration is a good reference to come back to for the earlier stages of my work. The development of my images start off with a lot more drawing than printing, so McCail might be a guy to keep an eye on.

However, I think that McCail’s work, for me, is a bit too clean. There is a lot less personality than I have seen in a lot of other artists work recently, so it’s not the direction I really want to go in. It seems to be the kind of work one would see in an instruction manual, almost too robotic.

Final Major Project: Final Posters

I have some final pieces to hand in! I had to leave the whole book idea for marking, but that might still come later on for my show. I have ended up with a series of posters, half landscape, half portrait, depicting scenes of my dreams. They all include some printing technique, some type and some of them also have line drawings, all on an offset white background.

I have to say that after a good few weeks of me being confused with what I was doing, and then settling down on this idea, I am fairly happy with what I have achieved!

I like the fact that I have created a set of posters that represent my sub-conscious and still carry a narrative quality to them, yet seem so random. I’m hoping that my audience will get a kick out of the stories, whether they feel the fun in them or see the sadness in them (there’s a mix of both) and I’m hoping that my personality will show through.

I know that they could all do with some touching up, and a bit more care, and I was hoping to have a few more posters. However, I finally feel a lot more comfortable and confident creating images. I had a lot of fun coming up with the concept, and composing all of the elements, and I think that they’ve turned out ok.

In the future I’m gong to refine my type skills, because I loved learning about this and realize how much more there is to explore. I’m also going to add more elements to my work and focus on making sure my line drawings are better.

Portfolio Visit 2: Part 1

Recently I went to Sheffield for my second portfolio visit. It was with a collective called Synergy Sheffield, who are a group of six graduates from Sheffield Hallam University. The reason I chose to show my portfolio to a collective was because I was thinking about what might benefit me the most after I finished the course, and asking recent graduates who had successfully begun to establish themselves seemed like a good idea.

When I got there, I was welcomed by Paul and Taz of Synergy, and it was a very relaxed visit. I only expected to be there for about half an hour to talk about my portfolio, and ask a few questions about the collective after, but they very kindly gave me about three hours of their time!

First we had a conversation about what they did and how they survived in the world after they graduated. They noted that keeping in touch with your fellow classmates was a great way to keep yourself in the design world, and networking was paramount. They also said that there were people who had graduated who hadn’t done very well in terms of getting their work out, and that was mainly due to the fact that they simply weren’t bothered. It takes effort and care to get yourself known, and you have to enjoy what you do if you want to be successful.

Then I showed them my portfolio, which I was slightly nervous about. I decided that I would be perfectly honest with them instead of selling myself, and after they had looked through I told them how my confidence was quite low. Paul said that this was quite apparent in the work, and assured me that I had nothing to worry about, but that the work in my portfolio was quite good.  He also said that I had to make sure that I kept myself absorbed in other artists work to keep my work informed.

Artist Research: Martin Haake

Another illustrator that the tutors directed me to when I started my new printing technique for my final major project was Martin Haake.

Now here is an illustrator I really like. He uses colour and texture to achieve his shapes, rather than using line, and this is the transition I’m trying to make in my work at the moment, because I rely far too heavily on using outlines. His shapes are really strong and striking though, whereas in my work it’s a little harder to work out where the shape should end, which I’m not sure if I like yet.

I’ve also noticed that where he does line, they are to make patterns and more interesting shapes than to inform the audience, so I think that I should take on board the idea that line can be used for more than just the one use.

Haake uses composition in an inspiring way as well (for me anyway). He includes a lot more elements in his work than I am at the minute but in the future I want to get into adding more and more elements to my work to make it more interesting, so here is a guy I want to be keeping an eye on.

One final thing that I enjoy about Haake’s work is that not everything is perfectly drawn out, there is collage, and type, and they are designed and composed well but… they just have more personality than I see in a lot more digital artists work, and I really like that because I like the idea that an illustration is part concept, part narrative but also part of the artists personality.

Drawing Techniques

During the course of the final major project one thing that I have been having trouble with is my drawing skills. I just don’t know where I’ve been going with my drawing lately and it’s one of the factors that have dampened my confidence, so I’ve been avoiding doing drawing.

This was ok for a little while because it meant I could focus on printing, but there came to a time where obviously just printing wasn’t going to be enough. I needed to draw to give my images more detail, and there needed to be more elements, otherwise I wouldn’t be showing any narrative.

Ian and Gary have both said that they can see something in my more sketchy drawings, that they have some kind of raw quality to them that I need to bring out, but when I try I seem to be hitting a brick wall. I try clean up my drawings for the final pieces, which makes them lose their quality.

To overcome this problem I’ve left the pan alone when doing some of my drawing and moved back to some kind of drawing I did in my first year, and that’s working with ink. It makes me a lot loosed and fluid, and it helps me vary my lines a bit, and I think that this is starting to show in my final work. However, I know that this is only the beginning of my improvements.

When I carry on with work, I think that something I need to take into consideration is that working with different media when I draw can give surprising and fun results, and I should start projects by just draw draw drawing more to see what I can come up with!

Artist Research: Calef Brown

With the beginning of my printing style beginning to take shape I was introduced to Calef Brown by the tutors. The reason they advised me to take a look at his work was so I could take note of how he uses shape to portray things, figures in particular.

Right now in my drawing and printing I’ve been quite careless with how I show a certain shape in relation to the rest of the picture. It might make sense when I look at it because I know what it is, but as a stand alone element, nobody else would have the foggiest!

In Browns work I can see that although the shapes aren’t realistic of real life shapes, he simplifies them so that the audience gets a very clear picture of what the object/ feature is. Sometimes there’s even just the slightest bit of detail to enhance this. When he wants a nose, he’ll show a nose, whereas on the last print I made, I wanted a nose, and kind of made a block in the space where a nose would be in the hopes that the audience would be able to work it out.

I quite like the face that the tutors showed me Browns work as it’s not something that I would normally look at, but it’s a style I should explore more if I want to continue with my printing. He places all his elements in the right places, and exaggerates some things but to the extent that you know what he wants to express. He also has a great colour palette, where the colours are quite surreal but not too vibrant, so you can take in the image with ease.