Dead little ditty. 

Breathe

Three years have finally come to an end, culminating in a huge (inevitable) amount of stress, a lot of alcohol and a bout of flu, but it's all over! I finished putting up most of my exhibition today, so the pressure is now more or less off, and it feels fantastic. I've rediscovered early nights and reading, and couldn't be happier. Saying that, I'm dreading results; I think when it comes down to it I just didn't tick enough boxes. I'd be super happy to pass with honours and get a 2:2, but I'm trying not to think about it too much.

Since the final hand in date I've been keeping myself busy! Paper-cutting still feels new to me and I suppose I'm a little worried that if I don't keep it up, that lovely flow that i've discovered with my work may just disappear. So, I've done a couple of pieces which I've been hankering to do for a while. I've become one of those people addicted to Instagram, but I don't regret it. The more people that see my work the better, surely, so what's wrong with that? And the occasional cat picture... I've been quite successful on the social networking front, and Instagram's just another outlet, and I've found it's been a fantastic source of inspiration and quite the ego boost. I've had a fair amount of interest in my paper-cuttings and made some  connections with others who work with paper, swapping scalpel recommendations and what-not! Here are a few bits and pieces I've been working on over the last two weeks or so...



This one's based upon the Russian story of Baba Yaga, and I shaped her into a Matryoshka doll shape to keep with the Russian feel. It's also fitting, as I always call Matryoshka dolls Babushka dolls, but that means 'old woman' and isn't their correct name, but Baba Yaga is definitely a Babushka.



This cutting got the best response of anything I've shared on Instagram yet! I suppose with the rise of craft and the 'vintage' aesthetic, something so simple as a pair of stork scissors was bound to be a bit of a winner. All freehand, and no planning. Paper-cutting has become easier than picking up a pencil these days, I love that cutting away creates something! If that even makes sense!


I bought a soldering iron / pyrography iron (?) / general burny - hot thing and tried my hand at pyrography. For a first go it's not too bad I guess, and I didn't set anything on fire! Cute and fun to do, but I don't imagine it'll make an appearance in the old portfolio!


And last but not least, two pieces I knocked out to frame my frames in my exhibition space! It'll be clearer when I get round to posting pictures of the finished space!

I've got a couple of exciting projects to be cracking on with, as well as just getting all the things I've been wanting to work on all semester out of my system! I don't know whether my choice of Final Major Project will have done so well getting me marks, but it's motivated me so much, and led me to discover a niche, filled by people who work with similar subject matter and I'm constantly coming up with new things I want to cut! But for now it's 10pm and I think I prefer 10pm bedtimes to angsty 2 am ones!

More soon.

Self-Evaluation

The last few months have been rather intense, however I feel as if I've really found a way of working that could become successful. Before this brief I had been very self-conscious of my work, and forever feeling displeased with what I'd created, knowing that it didn't reach the standards it ought to be. 


Though there was somewhat of a slow start to the FMP, it picked up dramatically after our trip to London and I feel I got into a real flow; sitting down and working has felt exciting again. Despite this, I am acutely aware that I've let myself down again with this brief. I've been so wrapped up in the excitement of finding a new style, that I have neglected areas which would boost my marks. A sketchbook for example. I haven't worked in one! There has been little to no sketching or planning with each paper-cutting as I've literally just put scalpel to paper, without drawing anything out and without detailing what i'm going to do. Initially with each piece I start with a silhouette and work inwards, working off the quality of the silhouette. In some ways I'm actually quite proud of this ability to create some of the pieces that I have, as I've been going along, but it's not going to tick all those boxes is it!? 


And yet, I know that I've spent all my time on this brief. But there's that niggling feeling that, because I haven't got a sketchbook to prove it, it's going to look like I haven't! While paper-cutting time seems to pass quite quickly, because I'm enjoying myself, but I'll look up and several hours have gone by. It is my discovery of this new style which has dictated the work. I become much more interested in churning out work, which, though aesthetically pleasing, isn't necessarily doing me any favours in the development of an idea. 


Plus, I spent more time on continually paper-cutting, than I did on the development of my little book; I got far to engrossed in the process, as opposed to the presentation of the work, and as a result I'm not happy with it, but it's my own fault! I'm painfully aware of this, and honestly, haven't high hopes for good marks from this brief. Despite this, I'm just so motivated to explore more of what I can produce in this way, that I'm not going to beat myself up about it too much. The degree is now, more or less over; but low marks and an unorthodox way of working doesn't mean I'm going to fail with regards to going out to find illustration work. It's all development, and I know now that if I want to produce better, then surely more development will secure that, as I'm only going to improve from here.


I am happy though that I succeeded in doing the headdress, as it's something which i've been wanting to do for a long time, and I'd like to attempt to develop this side of my work, expanded into 3d pieces.


I've got so many plans for the exhibition, as that's what's going to be important, as that's what people will see; there's not going to be a huge number painted over my degree show, highlighting the exact mark I got, so I need to make sure that the work I put up and the way I present it, distracts from any disappointing numbers!

Hopes, Fears and Opportunities (2)

So, since my first Hopes, Fears and Opportunities post, which I wrote towards the end of the last module, pretty much every aspect that I addressed then, has done a complete U-turn. Last semester I was struggling a great deal to combine two ways of working, as well as struggling with accepting that one way was considerably stronger than the other, despite encouragement from both Ian and Gary to work more with paper.


It took an ill timed tutorial to drill it into my skull. I had seen the conversation coming, and anticipated the lack of enthusiasm for most of my work, though it didn't make hearing it any more comfortable. However, considering how much I'd enjoyed producing my Bee mobile, I essentially threw myself into focusing on the paper-cutting. As a result, I fear that that is exactly what my Final Major Project has become. I suppose instead of exploring my subject, I've ended up exploring what I can achieve with the cuttings. Despite some really amazing responses from the tutors (which made be so happy), I don't feel as if the project has seen much illustrating going on. I've hugely enjoyed working on the project, and done some work which I'm really very proud of, but on its own. When it's come to compiling a book I've absolutely hated it. And no matter what, the cuttings just don't look as striking scanned in and edited, as when they do on their own. So I'm fairly certain that's not going to boost my marks.


As in my first 'Hopes...' reflection, I'm still not entirely sure that Illustration is for me, and this has been reinforced by my lack of narrative within the FMP. The cuttings themselves have had great receptions, but I haven't made them with a narrative in mind, so they feel a little forced when put in the context of a book, but I'm not sure they'd have worked even if I had! I think this year, as we've essentially had free reign on our subject matter, I haven't produced anything with a solid narrative, attaching a great deal of pressure to the title 'illustrator'.


However, after my portfolio viewing with Art Director Peter Dyer, at Serpent's Tail while we were in London, I do feel my work could slot in quite neatly into the book cover department, as I feel i'm capable of producing a single image which encompasses a theme or idea which represents the whole.


Before we went down to London, I took the opportunity to hand in my notice at work, as I was well aware that I wasn't at all balancing my time during the previous module, and I wanted to be able to focus entirely on my FMP. It became clear, especially during the Easter holiday, that this was exactly the right thing to do as my productivity rose tremendously, and Gary was extremely pleased with the results. Sadly though, being able to focus entirely on producing work isn't going to be possible after I finish. 


Since last year I've been going back and forth and back some more over the idea of a PGCE, and I suppose it's something that could still be in the future, but it's not something I'm interested in yet. I'd like to have time to create work and hunt down commissions, rather than focusing on other peoples production of work, and I'd like to prove (if only to myself) that I am capable of doing so, regardless of whether this means getting commissions or becoming successful selling work online, etc. But of course, the idea of just stepping out of the degree and into, well, nothingness, is scary; the idea of going back to my part time job renting dvds and making it full time wasn't exactly appealing either, as I can see how easy it would be to just get sucked into doing that forever. I'm obviously not going to be able to find immediate success freelancing, and I don't imagine i'd miraculously find a full time creative job, so I set out with the intention of finding something that I'd still find stimulating and satisfying, while still allowing me to [attempt to] illustrate.


Luckily that wasn't exactly too hard. My mum had mentioned when I first went back to my old school, to assist in the art department, that a lot of the Learning Support department's staff were my age, and graduates without teaching qualifications, but looking to move onto PGCEs. Several of those staff members are leaving this year as they'll be going on to do their PGCEs in September, leaving the department short staffed, so I asked whether they'd have a place for me. Thankfully they were very pleased to have me, and so I've managed to get a contract for next year, as a learning support assistant, assisting the English department. I went in and shadowed the young gent who's currently in the position, and really enjoyed myself. In fact I can't wait, it'll actually be amazing to do something different!


I'm pleased that I managed to set things in motion so early in the year, as it's made me feel much more secure knowing that it's not something I'm going to have to try to organise post-deadline. It's there. It's something I know I'm going get enjoyment from; I know that I'm going to come home tired, but much more satisfied than if I was stuck in a crap job that didn't even remotely interest me. Plus, it's that bit more experience that may make getting onto a PGCE a bit easier, should that be the path I eventually take. Though who knows. If anyone would like to give me a couple of dozen thousand pounds I'd rather like to go do Jewellery and Silversmithing at Sheffield Hallam. No? Fair enough.


While the job I have lined up may not be a creative one, I'm so very much looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to using my brain differently! I have felt like my ideas have been kind of clouded throughout the entire degree, indeed since starting, I've stopped working in a sketchbook regularly, and honestly, I only get really enthusiastic about my non-uni related projects, not that I have had time to do any. The degree has been all encompassing, and I'm so tired of that. I'm looking forward to looking forward to creating and making! Really appreciating the time that I get to do so, and making sure that I do, rather than wishing I didn't have to. I have no fear that, perhaps after a teensy break, I will make the most of my available time to illustrate, and I can feel all that motivation bubbling under the surface of all the pressures of the degree and the feeling of being constantly judged on every. single. thing. I can't wait to just do my own thing (that's that stubborn whiney Laura talking again, sorry).


I have made some amazing friends during the course of the degree, and I will undoubtedly miss the fun of the studio environment, though for social reasons, rather than how the environment affects my production. I don't get nearly as much done in the studio as I do at home. I'm forever being drawn out of my head, into the external goings on, and I just can't work like that. I have heaps of fun, and I always come home happy. But unproductive. I suppose that will make the transition from working in a studio to working at home easier, as I won't miss it in the sense that it improves my work. I will greatly miss seeing good friends so frequently, and I sincerely hope I won't do what i've done with other friends from college and high school, and lose touch, especially as it's been lovely having a group of creative - minded friends who enjoy talking about artsy things.


As soon as the degree work is handed in and I've had a week of catching up on sleep, I'm planning on setting up an Etsy shop, as since I got my super precious Iphone (yes, I've become one of those people, believe me, I'm not proud) and Instagram, I've had a few people contacting me asking if I'm selling the work I've been posting, so I think I need to make the most of such a good response and set up that outlet. As well as that I'm looking forward to getting a few bits and pieces which will help with my little jewellery making schemes ( which I've rabbited on about in previous posts) and we'll see if I can apply more of my work into that context.


I'm also determined, considering I'll be working full-time, to find an agent before Christmas, so that there will be someone out there, helping me with the promotional stuff etc. Whether I'll succeed in knabbing one, I don't know, but it's something I'd like to aim towards, as it'll keep me motivated to improve my work, to make it more appealing to an agency. 


I'll be doing my best to make the most of any opportunities that come my way, and hopefully make a few on my own. I can't say I'm particularly fearful of anything. In the big picture I think I'm just going to take things as they come, and try not to put too much pressure on myself with the label of 'Illustrator', because I don't know if that's what I am yet. Doing a degree in Illustration certainly doesn't magically make me one, and I think it's going to take a good few years of blood, sweat and tears before I'll feel comfortable calling myself an illustrator. Things like contracts and invoices and all the chaotic financial stuff will stress me out if and when they arise, if and when I get work! Until then I see no point in stressing about things like that when I haven't even come across them yet; you learn as you go, and nothing's as hard as it seems. Plus I'm sick to death of panicking and getting stress heartburn over deadlines and marks...which i'm paying for. 


I think I'm past worrying about marks, because my marks in uni haven't dictated how people recieve my work; that's not what they're seeing. They either like it or they don't! I'm aware that I haven't dotted all my i's and crossed all my t's over the last three years, and that my marks are incredibly average, but I know that I have put all my time and effort into my work, and if that's still not getting me a first, then what the hell is the point in angsting over it! I was talking to my dad the other day about the fact that I was worried that I wasn't more stressed, and I couldn't work out why! But I've realised that I've put as much of myself as I can into the work that i've done this project, and yet I know that it still won't be good enough to achieve a first; a 2:1 would be lovely too, but I'm honestly not holding my breath. And that realisation, that it's out of my control has been quite liberating


1888+ words. Still reading? Well done and commiserations if you are. 
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