Society brief

June 9, 2008

After the Bodysuit project finished, I was really looking forward to doing some traditional narrative illustration. What came next however wasn’t this at all and it would also involve groupwork. Remembering how frustrating and slow groupwork had been the last time at college I wasn’t looking forward to it much a second time round, but the brief itself I found exciting at first. We were to create our own societies in our groups and then create manifestos for them. To start off with I did the research recomended on the brief and listned to Melvyn Bragg’s podcast on the Social contract, I made notes, got quite interested and got some books out of my local library.

However on getting together with my group, I found that they were not really interested as I was it seemed in the ways that people co-operated together, agreed on systems and made societies or how it happened historically. They seemed more interested in the society we could make as a group which would obviously be a much more smaller collective and how we would function. So I abandoned my quite technical research on Societies. In the group, the idea of making a parasytical society was agreed on first, in which we would spy on the other groups and subtly copy and adjust their own ideas. I quite liked this idea and we all agreed to casually ask our freinds in the other groups what their society would be. We made quite a detailed plan of who would ask who and agreed to gather as much information as we could to bring to our next meeting.

Unfortunately word soon spread across the course that there was a parasytical group and most people we asked became quite secretive. On our next group meeting we decided to abandon this idea, we still liked the idea of a parasitical society however and simply thought we’d be able to be adjust on who we were parasites. We didn’t think a parasitical society was wholly negative either, we discussed how in nature parasites could be benefecial to the creature whose resources they shared too, for example if they consumed their germs. We considered being parasites on the whole of society and ideas of recycling rubbish came up. We thought we could collect other people’s rubbish/raiding skips that they didn’t need anymore anyway and then making something from what we found into something that could be beneficial to Society again. However through consecutive meetings this idea too was soon discarded and much to my annoyance most of the rest of the group began thinking too abstarctly. In the end it was decided we would get other people draw their ideal worlds for us, and then reworking it into a sort of puzzle that people could put together themselves again into their own “chosen” society. We were all assigned different “components” of society or rather the world to get people to draw. The Categories were People, Flora and Fauna, Landscapes, Infrastructure, Food/Resources and Technology, natural and man-made combined. I was assigned Landscapes which I was quite happy with as I enjoy drawing landscapes usually but this felt lazy somehow asking other people to do the work for us even if the concept was interesting.  Also I wasn’t very happy with the simple and what felt to me as a childlake analysis of society that we had made, the evolution of living organisms, people and then societies is much more intricate and complex and we had condensed it all rather slavishly into one bubble of understanding. It was a “society” completely not based in reality, a fact I used in my Film that we would then have to go on to make about our societies in which I showed our society’s ultimate destruction. I made the film as an animation and in it reffered to the our group members as Gods who out of lazyness give their people the task of redesigning the world, I did this because we were basically asking people to draw parts of the existing world in a way that was ideal for them, not their ideal society. But I guess other group members who were doing people or infrastructure got to dwell more on the the societal elements of the world we were creating. Either way it was still too abstract and undefined, even our tutor saw that we were creating more of a game then a society but didn’t push us too far on the point because he knew how long it took us to agree on this.

During the Easter Holidays I got about 15 people or so to make drawings of landscapes for me (free of any evidence of people or animals as other group members were doing this- this was a rule that some people simply ignored) but most of my time I spent on creating a children’s book for the Macmillan book prize and writing my own book.


When we got back to college I got to enjoy the Society project again, because now we would be doing some work on the drawings ourselves, to neaten them up and make them presentable as part of the game which we finally decided would be as a collection of cards with slots in that could be constructed anyway the player/society maker wanted it. They were based on the Eden house of cards. As my images had quite a lot of different information on, my group members suggested I seperate the different elements in them for different images so the society maker would have more of a choice to what kind of backdrop he had to his society.  At first I was confused but then started to quite enjoy cutting apart the photocopied versions of my landscapes and putting together certain type of trees seperately or seperating clouds and sun from thelandscape or putting all the water together. At last it felt like I was doing some actual work! Then manipulating these new juxtapositions in Photoshop was even more enjoyable and seeing them blossom into actually really pleasing images that I would never have made without the prompt of this project. I believe my Photoshop skills improved with this project also!

Tom (a group member) then made a template for our cards on Illustrator and I cut up my images again to fit in seperate pieces onto the cards so the society maker could have more fun putting them together and choose to put two or three different landscapes together. None of the rest of the group cut up their images as far and I think this is a great dissapointment and takes away the choice that they were so obsessed with in the beggining from the person that will then go on to make their “society” from our images.

The difficult part from then was finishing everything on time, printing, cutting up and spray mounting the cards and scalping in their slots- which took the longest. And I ended up yet again rushing to finish as I’d underestimated the time and also had to wait for procrastinated group decisions on everything. The cards were our visual manifesto and there were over 32 so I guess we did good in that we went over the minimum and pulled ourselves more or less together as a group towards the end. But I still think the idea could have been thought through further. I also then enjoyed going on to make the animation about our society, the first image above is a frame from the anmation.


 This is one frame from my Animation and it shows the cards building up only to fall down in the end.


The conclusion of the “Needs” brief

June 8, 2008

The Needs part of the Author project finished with the tutors asking us to design, make and wear a full body suit that would let us have access to the needs each of us listed for ourselves. Most people were not happy with this project, me included. Because of this I ended up leaving doing the costume until only a few days before the deadline. I regret not making something more oroginal but as my needs were observing, recording and learning, the only extensions that I felt I needed for making this easier were practical things like a strap-on desk for drawing and long pockets. I could have considered creating more arms for easier drawing/writing and like the tutors wanted, to really change the form of my body to answer the needs.

However I was more interested with the human body as it was and adding on gadgets to make day to day existance easier. I think this is because with any project, I tend to take quite a literal approach and for me to add extra arms would be to suspend belief and reality and just pretend, when I really actually wanted to make something that made drawing, observing and writing easy and practical to do in any situation or environment. And this is why I decided not to also make wings for my costme (in my crit we established that travelling is also a need of mine although it is connected with the need to learn.)  Had I been better at sewing I believe I may have achieved a suit that getting my needs in would be easier in! I miscalculated the amount of fabric and needed and the garment ended up being tight and uncomfortable at the legs. 

Otherwise I am quite happy with certain parts of my suit, the strap-on drawing desk for example did actually make drawing easier when standing up or walking as I tried it out on the day of the crit and at home the night before. The front sokets for pencils and pens were also very useful and much easier and quicker to access then they would be normally. And the sew on “rucksack” at the back is useful for the same reasons of easy and quick access without fuss or loss of time. Also only just yesterday I added to the suit a longer skirt  as I had intended to have to begin with before I miscalculated the amount of fabric. And as well it now being more of an extended “bodysuit” it also has a few more useful pockets, made especially long for my biggest paintbrushes.

Bodysuit sketch

This is the original sketch. And these are the examples of me using my suit.

 Drawing deskCamera Helmet\Sketcbook pocket

Pic 1: Using the drawing desk/apron

Pic 2: Using my Camerca “glasses”, the part of my costume that worked the least. The glasses I made out of Papier Mache and they were quite strong but the weight of the camera that I put into one of the lenses (for easier recording) was just too heavy for them to take and they kept falling down. Even the papier mache hat it was strapped on didn’t hold it in place properly; for a few moments maybe. I was able to take a picture while wearing them though!

Pic 3: Using the sewed on “rucksack”. The downfall though was that it was not as easy to reach as other pockets.

Pic 4: Taking out my sketchbook out of its sketchbook pouch! Right under the drawing desk for even easier convenience!

And below the final finished garment, now with Paintbrush pockets, which I think would be even more useful and easiest to reach if you sat to draw or paint for example and the pockets were just conveniently around your legs!  All in all I found the project much more enjoyable then I expected and offcourse it did stretch my thinking and possibly improved my sewing skills but also I couldn’t wait for more traditional Ilustration projects.


Further work developed from the Berlin Trip

April 13, 2008

For the end of term party we had to make a zine of the work we produced in Berlin and as well as including the work in my previous post into the zine, I also wanted to incorporate some of the photos I took and to explore further the circle thread I began with at the beggining of the trip. I put the circle photos throgh photoshop as I had done with the other images and began to really set apart the circle from the rest of the image in various different ways. I mainly used the lasso and magic wand tool to select the circle and then played around with the saturation, brightness and contrast of both the circle and the background  by switching the selection. This ended up being really good photoshop practice because in the end I didn’t use the photos in my zine as I had limited pages I could print in full colour and also the modernity of the photos just didn’t seem to fit with the traditional methods of the sketches.


The faces in the Memory Void part of the Jewish Museum that I’d mentioned in the previous post.

Camberwell trip to Berlin

April 13, 2008

View of the TV tower    

About 50 of us or so from the whole course went on the Berlin trip at the end of February. There wasn’t a specific set brief apart from to record Berlin however we liked, be it drawing, photography or collecting and trying to find a common thread running through the city to I suppose give more focus to the work being produced. Other then that, the tutors didn’t really have a set plan for where to visit either and me and my freinds pretty much set our own plan around the city. We covered a lot on foot and I really felt like I really saw and experienced the city this time properly. I have been once before on a school history trip and much of the “sightseeing” done on that trip was through the window of a coach. And even though I would have liked the tutors to show a bit more initiative, I really enjoyed the freedom I had this time round to roam free in the city.

     I began just photographing and with this I focused more on the bright colours predominant in Berlin and different shapes (narrowing this down particularly to circles) but once I started drawing my focus shifted more the the architecture. Still even through this I think the thread remained with the colours, especially a specific yellow which we all noticed everywhere. Berlin, I already knew was quite a modern city with much of it being left destroyed after WW2 and this time I really felt it, in the centre they seem to disregard any rules for their buildings they are modern, slick and juxtaposed and the public spaces really seem considered and really work. Out of the centre, the post-war blocks of flats are specked with bright colours and the city really seems intent on being happy and forgetting its divided history.

Here are some of the buildings that I recorded in Berlin. The jewish museum I didn’t use any colour for but it was mainly grey and quite colourless unlike a lot of the other modern buildings in Berlin. And inside it is designed to the same effect, the most thought-provoking and interesting part of the museum are the floors that explore the holocaust, with  recordings of what happened to hundereds of Jewish families along with their personal photographs and objects that belonged to them (ei a violin, a sewing machine, a typewriter). Then there is the holocaust tower, a dark, stony grey, unheated room with a high ceiling and just one slit of natural light. The voices from outside are muffled and it felt very eerie to be inside, I was at first even afraid to go inside and then to close the large heavy door, a corner of the room was completely dark but I knew someone was walking towards me, but I didn’t know who. It turned out to be one of my tutors but the room had already taken its effect. It was a very hostile and quite unhuman environment and I think conveyed something of what it felt like to be a holocaust victim. As did the Garden of exiles with its large grey domineering high stone towers. The architecture inside and out was used to an amazing probing effect.

Peter Rosenbaum and his violina rubbing of one of the \

This is an old people’s home that I decided to draw because of its seductively happy bright yellow colour and used a fluroscent pen (even though it is not completely accurate to the original colour) to underline the contrast again between that yellow and the grey drab soviet apartment block- feel of the rest of the building which I just did in pencil. The red parts were done on felt tip and colour pencil.

 Here are some of the photos I took going along with the thread of the colour yellow.

Here is an example of the modern and inventive architecture that I kept seeing in Berlin but unlike other european citiies where the modern buildings are just glassy and gleaming, it is still tinged with bright colours. This building was just opposite  the raised green space I mentioned earlier. The different shapes of the building interested me and getting its basic outlines and the persepectives was the most difficult part, adding the colour with my new pencil that has for different colours in the led, was in contrast pure enjoyment. I wasn’t however too interested in making an aesthetically pleasing drawing and was more interested in understanding the structure of the building and thats why I think the drawing produced isn’t particularly evocative or striking.

Other work I made in Berlin was a portrat of my freind Cait and two small pen sketches of a dancing crowd while out clubbing which has to be the one of the stragest environments I have tried to draw in. I had to draw very quickly because of the constant movement and because of that I think the sketches had turned very lively and energetic.


 The portrait of my freind however does not look completely like her but there is a little resemblance and I always think it is good practice to do potraits from lige especially for me as I have difficulty in caprturing people exactly, doing this with a pen that can’t be rubbed out also always proves an extra challenge.

Finally on the last day I also made sketches as we took a river boat tour. I used pencil and an ink pen and I am glad the boat had to return us to the same place again because on the way back seeing the same sights I was able to go over parts I had not finished or clarify over the pencil with my pen. I am quite pleased with the results. I like the way I’ve layered all the sights together as I saw them and although it is overcrowded I like this effect of a busy and bustling city. On the tour we went through quite a lot of old parts of town and at first I was fascinated by the different and ornate lamposts but as the boat went on I interspersed these with some more well known sights but concentrating more on their shapes and outlines then depicting what they actually were. 

Views of Berlin by boat.

All in all I really enjoyed the trip to Berlin and it provided me with an opportunity to do the journal-keeping  way of working that I really enjoyed doing on the club brief when I went round the reservoir with the birdwatchers. Having the commitment to keep up that sort of way of working and drawing all the time is still something I have to work on though.

Beggining Units 3 and 4

April 12, 2008

I haven’t written on this blog for a while so would like to catch up! Since the Journal project, we have began the “Author” part of the course and so far I haven’t been happy with the projects set, I thought we’d be able to start on some traditional narrative illustration but I guess they still think we’re not ready and to quote the brief, they are still looking for us to “develop mechanisms for the generation of ideas/concepts” The first was part of this brief was not too bad, we had to make/gather imagery that described “our world” thinking about the relationships we have and how we make sense of the society around us and its hierachies etc etc and then from this define and isolate our “primary needs for survival” which went beyond food, drink and shelter. I felt we’d already done this before with the Object and Universe briefs and also when we first started on the course and had to bring ephemera that had some sort of significance to us, all these briefs were concerned either with collecting or with quite a personal analysis of the world. I hadn’t expected this from an Illustration course as I had done a Fine Art Foundation the year before and it felt too alike, with this preoccupation with self and “inner meaning”. But I appreciated they really wanted us to maybe analyse or extend our ideas and working methods. I began the project by collecting a photo of myself for each year of my life (I had seen something similar done in one of the exhibitions that had come into Camberwell College) and then writing something significant that had happened in history in that year. I liked the strange juxtaposition between the baby photos and the official looking writing to the side of political goings on but at the same time, this was my way of analysing and describing the society around me and how actual bigger wider politics affected my life, for example how the perestroika era in Russia caused my parents to emigrate. 

First page of my timelineSecond page of the TimelineThe third page of my TimelineThe fourth page of my timelineUnfortunately the image quality is not very good because I had trouble with my computer and have had to use another one that doesn’t have Adobe Illustrator installed onto it and so the images don’t show up on it. These are scanned in versions of pages I’d already done on the computer.  Anyway this timeline actually took me longer to put together then I’d expected, finding suitable photos and trying to figure out their exact year date wasn’t too hard, what was more difficult was researching for relevant historical information for each year that  made a direct impact on my life and I ended up adding to this bigger global events and events that I took an interest in knowing about which may have not yet shown a direct impact on my day to day life. Overall I am quite pleased with it and only wish that it could have been more succint and more interalated with the events.  Also in analysing society and hierachies and the “environments [I] inhabit” I drew a large diagram of how the cliques in my class were arranged and for personal relationships I made a family tree. The brief also stated that I “think about the personal objects” I “use that are critical to your physical/psychological wellbeing” With this I collected objects that were nearly always with me, keys, money, debit card etc that I clearly needed everyday, then objects that were mostly at home but because of what they provided in terms of hygiene and looking nice were still important ei hairbrush, toothbrush, tooth paste and then obviously objects that I use for my craft such as a pen, pencil, scissors and a paintbrush. I made use of the access dates to use the etching facillities, I made a photocopy of these objects and then used the photocopy to make a sketch of them onto the metal. At first I was just getting back into etching which I had done a lot of last year and getting used to the Camberwell facilities and making lots of prints just to experiment. But then I started using others colours and after making a straight print with red ink and blue ink, I made one with both, the red was at the top because at the top I realised were the objects I needed the most for my day to day existance and survival such as the debit card (money to get food/drink) and keys (shelter), and objects essential to my “emotional well being” such as the pen (to draw, write, work) and mobile (contact with others). The blue ink was at the bottom as there were the objects I needed much less such as my toothbrush and hairbrush.  So the red was meant to be a symbol for higher importance as it is usually a colour used to show heat, important announcements and stronger feelings whereas blue is used to show coldness and appathy.  It is good that most of the objects fell quite well into place into this diagram as I had sketched them out beforehand without considering how I placed them unless unconsciously. There are a few objects out of place though, the paintbrush is too low down and so is a coin but the I suppose I do need the money itself just the things it can provide me with.

 Through the imagery I’d made and collated throughout for the brief I was able to identify my “needs” as stated in the brief which apart from my primary needs was recording and learning. And I am glad I did the back up work for it because when we came to discuss what we had collected in our tutor groups I found that many people started from their needs straight away and brought in objects that they thought demonstrated them when it clearly says in the brief to define your needs AFTER you’ve got an “encyclopaedic range of material”.

Considerations on my project after reading the reply by Craig Thompson

February 4, 2008

Craig Thompson has replied to my comment on his blog at  !

This is what I originally wrote on his blog last month:

  1. January 7th, 2008 at 4:30 pm


I am an Illustartion student in London and I am going to reference you in an essay, I was wondering if I could maybe answer you a few questions for me, in particular about Carnet de voyage. For example, on your website, you say that it is more on-the-spot then your other carefully constructed books but just how on-the-spot was it? How much of the imagery in the novel was actually done on site? Or was most of it developed from on site sketches into more final ink drawings? And if a lot of the ink drawings were done straight from life, were they then pieced together digitally on the computer to give the travelogue more of a structure and profesionalism? The reason I am asking is because our whole project has been about making drawings from life in peopled situations? And I was also wondering how you capture a scenery that is constantly moving (all those bustling Morrocan streets for example) without the use of photographs? Is it a matter of filling in gaps with imagination and focusing on different aspects individually?
Ok well I would be very grateful if you could answer my questions, thank you for your attention and a Happy New Year!
Best Regards,

 I was originally going to use his answers in my essay but unfortunately I only left a week between contacting him and the deadline for the essay but still I’m really glad he answered and this really does give me a better idea of how he worked during the time he kept his travelogue and gives me more consideration for my own journal keeping. I didn’t consider before that I could make still make drawings on site and then afterwards arrange them into a more presentable ‘comic’ form to make it more fluent and presentable. It didn’t even occur to me to keep two sketchbooks, one for drawing on site and the other for planning the eventual presentation like Thompson did. So his answer to me will perhaps serve to inform me for further projects. Also just thinking about how he said he’d spend hours getting sunburnt and harrassed by locals drawing the architecture, I think there’s something to be said for getting the best results when you put the most time and effort into something, certainly my most productive and experimentative days were ones I spent at the reservoir on my own sitting for hours getting cold, creating imagery and I’m sure if I had devoted more time to keeping a journal in the US, I would have produced far more coherent imagery but as it was I spent more time with my family.

Welsh Harp birds

February 4, 2008

Another photocopy with Carnet And here’s just an example of the kind of stylised way of dating a journal I was trying to emanate. Again from Craig Thompson.photocopy from Craig Thompson’s Carnet

Continuation of evaluating pages in reporter project sketchbook

February 4, 2008

IlyaDean sleepingCarnet du Voyage, page 8A day in Washington DCThe still life of the boots I feel are one of the most successful pages in the sketchbook, they have much more the look of a visiual journal and I think I have arranged image and text together quite well with the typography aspects finally coming together well to join the final outlook of the pages together. Also because it was a still life, I was able to work at my usual pace and therefore the image has more detail, neatness and proffesionalism. Having said that however, I actually did not spend very long doing it, certainly not over an hour so therefore I am quite pleased with the results as I think I am finally learning how to work quicker.

The thumbnail picture at the far right above of is the next page in the journal. I think the repetitive portratuire gives it a narrative aspects and makes it quite journal-like. I’d tried to capture all the different moods of my baby cousin within ten minutes or so of me being around him in which he cried, had to be consoled, and was happy again. This was quite interesting and interactive and made me think of things Craig Thompson mentioned in his interviews (that I looked up whilst researching him for the essay) of what its like to draw something so personal to you and how when he draws a person from his past he remembers them all over again and how his life drawings of freinds are more to do with him expressing his relationship with them then just life drawing for practice’s sake in one of the online interviews I cited in the essay he says ‘I mean, these figure drawings [pointing to a sketchbook] are more about the process, probably, than the final drawing, and they’re as much about the relationship I have with the people I’m drawing as the process. With each one [person], I’m remembering them over again.’ , this was particularly true and poignant for me as I was seeing my cousin for the first time and had never drawn him before (I wonder if this come through?). Also when looking through Thompson’s Carnet du Voyage I couldn’t help but notice the similarities of page 8 and my own journal page not just because of the subject matter of children or even the composition of the page but because of this idea of trying to get across a mood, or a character or scene through multiple portraits and how important portraiture is to these kind of ‘visual journals’ as we interact with people so much just in our daily lives. Thompson has about 20 pages alltogether devoted just to portraits of people on his travels (again this is something I was unable to expand on in the essay) and likewise while I was with the birdwatchers I had to rely heavily on portraiture to record the things around me and as I was interacting with them so much I felt this particularly important for the project and an intergral part of thejournal-keeping process. On a practical level, I feel the hardest part was drawing such a small child, the youngest person I had drawn before from life was a 7 year old and I found that I didn’t know/understand enough about the facial measurements of babies to quite get it right, the baby kept looking a good few years older then he actualy was! The thumbnail furthest left is afurther page in which I devoted the whole page to making a portrait of one of my other cousins, trying to describe him through both drawing and writing, and the thumbnail next to it of my baby cousin again who I was obsessed with drawing, trying to get his features to look right, I like how in that image I incorporated the Zzzz as a symbol for his sleeping and used it both as a an image and text (I had trouble doing this at the beggining). All these pages apart from the boots, were done during my break to the US to visit family, a week after I had finished with the birdwathers but I felt I wanted to continue the joyrnal-keeping part of the project while I was away because I had enjoyed it so much. Still Life of a birdwatchers uniform

February 4, 2008

First day with the birdwatchers I just thought I’d upload some pages from my reporter project so I could maybe chart my development throughout and extend on some things that I would have otherwise added to the essay if we’d had a bigger wordcount. This the first day with the birdwatchers and the first page, I can see here that I’m still adjusting to drawing fast pace and don’t know yet how to disperse text and image together in a way that looks good, as I approached the reporter project as journal keeping and so in a sense the sketchbook is the ‘final piece’.

Here are the pages of my second meeting with them (the pages in between are of birds and scenery at the reservoir in which they birdwatch where I went to on my own until I could see them next). I’ve realised by this point that it could look more aesthtically pleasing and at least and try to attempt typography for the date, unfortunately it hasn’t hit me yet that in order for the whole thing to look ready to print (I mean the proffesional look of Craig Thompson’s Carnet du voyage which was an inspiration for the journal which was also done almost on site itself),  I have to treat all of the text as imagery in its own right and consider the composition of it alongside the inked portraits. I like the way I’ve set the scene though by drawing out the church hall first before I entered it, feels more like the travelogue and a graphic novel.

Second meeting with birdwatchers

First post- Time out editorial illustration

January 14, 2008

Time out IllustrationHere’s the final version that I sent to Time Out, but I still feel that it isn’t completely right, especially the colours which I applied quite thoughtfully and enjoyed bleeding in with the ink pen and sometimes out of the lines to get across the fluid feeling of storytelling (I loved the way Shukman described his novel in the article and the vivid imagery of it’s excerpets picked out by the article writer). Maybe the colours are not bright enough? I made them a little brighter in Photoshop but I didn’t want to overwork the image in Photoshop so I only made subtle changes.