Slide 1 - Introduction.
Today I’d like to share with you a short overview of my origins as a creative, the process of creating my own identity and the experience I’ve gained over the past few months regarding external jobs and client work. I’ll also touch on the direction I would like to go in after leaving university and where I’d like my work to take me in the future.
Slide 2 - Origins.
I did a lot of reading as child, and one of my earliest inspirations would have to be the old comics that were hanging around the house – including the likes of Asterix, the Adventures of Tintin and Calvin and Hobbes. What drew me into these books were not only the images and their strong sense of style but their ability to portray emotion, action, adventure and wit.
Slide 3 - Origins
Whether it was Tintin flying a plane through a storm or Calvin constructing a graphic scene with snowmen - they held charm for me as a child and now, years on, when I read them that charm is still there, even if my understanding of them has changed. These books, I think, played a crucial part in my awareness particularly of narrative and story, and are perhaps what led me towards the realms of illustration later on.
Slide 4 (Illustration)
Aside from comics or graphic novels, I simply found enjoyment in books through imagining the imagery they described. I loved to immerse myself in a different world, even if it was not strictly fictitious. What was it about a story or a single image that drew me in? Eventually I began to write my own short stories, and shortly after that, to illustrate them, which is something I have always found rewarding and deeply satisfying.
Slide 5 (Illustration)
I, personally, consider myself an illustrator, and as such would like to naturally earn a living as one. This, of course, is much easier said than done, and while my long term goal is to become a freelance illustrator I’ve come to understand through looking into the experiences of other artists whom I’d admire, such as Abigail Larson and Chris Riddell, whose work is up on the slide here, that it’s something you gradually build up to…
Slide 6 (Illustrators and Concept Art)
… in essence, a personal, unique identity you manage to tailor and perfect over time, which will probably involve you doing jobs or work you don’t necessarily enjoy, but can really be crucial in terms of experience and learning. One thing I love about book illustrations in particular is how the individuality and personality of certain characters can be very strongly portrayed. For this reason I’ve also had a long time aspiration to eventually break into the world of concept art design for game and film.
Slide 7 (Concept Art)
Although a small leap from book illustration, it still carries in it the key concepts of character design and the stories behind them. Ever since I was young I’ve been a bit of a gamer, and increasingly I became interested in the artwork and concepts behind them – not only the involved process of character design, but also the rendering of scenes, atmosphere, mood and narrative, and the reasons for the changes that happened throughout the development of the game or film. One book that really made me look further into the field was ‘The Art of Alice: Madness Returns.’
Slide 8 (Personal Project)
A while ago I started a personal project which would require me to learn relevant techniques to the field of game art, which involves attempting to ‘document’ an imagined world through digital artwork, sketchbooks and even small handmade models, as if it the concepts really were being created for an official brief. As it is ongoing it allows me the chance to really consider everything in minute detail to let my creativity and interest in the subject of psychology and physical, representational manifestations of the mind run wild.
Slide 9 (Personal Project)
I am constantly noting down ideas and concepts to add to it, and it also requires that I research certain ways of working: how to edit and re-edit, narrowing down infinite ideas to ones that will actually work, applying these artistically and visually, and also asking others for feedback on what I create. In the future I’d be very interested in working for game design and illustration studios such as Massive Black, Black Tusk and Somnio Studios.
Slide 10 (Other Students)
I’ve never really been one to enjoy blowing my own trumpet and so the entire notion of creating an identity that would eventually attract possible clients or employers and get people seeing my work did startle me in the beginning. But what really helped me to tackle my own doubt about my work was chatting with a third year student, Rebecca Bagley, and also following her art page on facebook, where she regularly posts work and projects. Just seeing someone else who was around the same age as myself actually promoting themselves helped to allay my fears and inspired me to really make a start on developing the beginnings of a web presence.
Slide 11 (Personal Work and Style)
My own work really is centred in the world of fantasy and fiction although I also enjoy observational drawing. I’m particularly interested in strange fantastical creatures, anatomy, machinery and really anything slightly dark, imaginary or sublime. My style is detailed, often with a hand-drawn feel to it, and I try to be accurate with my work but also attempt to add personal flair to. In regards to developing a logo I felt it needed to mirror all these things, but feel sophisticated and professional at the same time.
Slide 12 (Logo and Identity)
In the end, I went with what could almost be an illustration in itself. It works quite well at different sizes – at smaller size the initials can still be seen clearly with a hint of decoration, and at larger sizes you get to see little details within the image, including the addition of a small, unidentified creature. I wanted to add a subtle sense of narrative to this logo, a hint of curiosity, fun – something that requires a closer look beyond first impressions.
Slide 13 (Online Presence)
I’ve made use of this logo several places online, including facebook, tumblr and instagram, where I go under the name Rowan Styles Illustration or Rowan Styles Art. I thought facebook would be a good place to begin as it’s a social place and anyone can send you a private message or request. Instagram also seemed important as I often take quick snapshots of things that I find interesting or that reIate to my own practise whilst out and about. I may also have the chance to set up a proper, official website over the summer break, and would like to look into starting to sell some of my work as prints or original pieces.
Slide 14 (Client Work and Experience)
During the course of the last few months I have also had the chance to work on a few external briefs, including the Forest of Imagination project and the development of an interactive web game for the Roman Baths, involving the discovery of the Beau Street Hoard. I have also been asked to help with creating the artwork for a geo-location app, which is a longer term project I hope to work more on over the coming months. Taking part in each has been an invaluable experience, and I feel I have really learnt a lot from being involved in work outside University:
Slide 15 (Client Work and Experience)
One key element to working collaboratively is clear and regular communication. This might seem obvious, but it was only through keeping in regular contact with the groups I was involved with that I remained up to date on meetings, get togethers, and what was required of me as an individual as well as a group. In addition, I found it was important to flag up any issues early on, rather than leaving them to be resolved later.
Slide 16 (Client Work and Experience)
If anything was unclear I made a point to say so, or ask for clarification on anything I did not understand. Several vital changes have occurred in both the larger projects I am working on and it was important to understand their implications. For example, the Forest of Imagination project decided to eventually move their event to the University campus grounds, and within the Roman Baths there was some confusion as to whether a game for the web or for a mobile app was required, until we arranged a meeting to discuss specifics.
Slide 17 (Small Pointer)
In addition to this, knowing what the client wants is crucial, but know that there is also room to make suggestions for how to improve a brief or initial pitch. The entire process is a collaborative effort, with input required from both sides. One thing I’ve definitely learnt is that neither the designer nor the client should remain isolated. It is important to constantly discuss ideas, proposals, and the work you produce as a designer. Many drafts are often involved before a finished piece is agreed on.
Slide 18 (Reflection)
Ultimately, engaging in client work has really opened my eyes to the scale of possibilities within the creative field. Upon starting out I was initially dead set on only doing illustrative work, or something that involved drawing to a large extent. Whilst I’d still like to undertake smaller, individual work for clients, I also feel more able to take part in bigger projects in teams or groups, ones perhaps where a multitude of skills are required, as I’ve seen each individual can learn not only out of undertaking the brief but also from one another during the creative process.
Slide 19 (Experience Gained)
To conclude, I feel this module, and really, the time spent researching the relevant areas of the industry and undertaking client work the last few months has helped to really build my awareness of applying art and design in the ‘real world’, and how I can bring something new to it with my own work. But most of all, actually taking the time and effort to look into web presences and a bit of self promotion has been a big confidence-booster.
Slide 20 (Conclusion)
I believe I can really do something with my work now – that I can get it out there, share it with others, and also strengthen my sense of identity by contributing to outside projects and further developing my own skills and knowledge. For me it’s a big step forward and it feels good to have reached this point. Thank you for listening.
Today I went to visit the site of Ripe Digital Ltd for a small tour of their facilities and to understand the processes involved in their work. This visit I found both helpful and interesting, and was very impressed by the high quality prints the company produced. I was able to get an idea of pricing, timescales, turn overs and it was simply reassuring to get to know in more detail a company I may work with again in the near future.
Personally I become very nervous when I have an upcoming presentation, and so it was interesting to learn about what body language can communicate whilst presenting. I am aware that I often communicate as a very ‘powerless’ and introverted person through my movements - fiddling my hands and rubbing my neck almost constantly.
Today in a tutorial session we watched a few fellow students present and analysed their body movements - the pros and cons of how they instinctually moved whilst talking, and also watched a video on the social psychology behind body language or non-verbal communication.
Some important points to remember: