BA8: Bestiary

So, progress has been… slow.

Delving into the daunting world of the ever-so-important final project has been a tricky one and its taken me a long time to get back into the swing of image generation. I feel more than willing to generate work for clients or for my own personal use, that I can still do! But for some reason, the backdrop of university has been this cloud of ‘oh be careful Charli, that might not be right’ whenever I try to make anything. Its caused a major set back in the progress of BA8, as only now am I starting to feel confident in my project, my projects ideas and my own illustrations for it.

I had a group critique with Catrin and some peers the other week. I got some excellent feedback, reassuring me that my newest version of the Bestiary idea/proposal was a solid and successful one, and one I should continue with, which is good to know! The newest version has developed itself from the previous initial ideas, following on from the ‘looking at the least appealing creatures’ theme. But somehow this theme was getting a bit tiresome as it was, I was finding myself repeating the same vague idea over and over and not really feeling any interest or passion in it any longer. This hasn’t raised any concern about choosing the subject for the entirety of BA8, I’m still happy with the idea, but its just the finalised, narrowed down format and concept of the project which needed to be more defined.

I accidentally came across a possible new path for my project subject to take to definite it better. Whilst I was sketching some thumbnails in my sketchbook, I overlaid two line drawings of juxtaposing animals (one ‘cute’, one ‘ugly’). I realised that the two overlaid animals could work better if they were incredibly similar but treated incredibly differently. It reminded me of a collaboration project I found in my research for BA6 last year.

Some Pigeons Are More Equal Than Others  is a collaboration by Julius von Bismarck and Julian Charrière”… “The pigeons are painted, dressed with vibrant, nontoxic dyes, rendered and released back into the urban environments we all share and constitute by this sharing. While the paint is harmless to the health of the pigeons, it destabilizes the safety of our perceptions concerning the roles art, institutions, and urban species—including humans, when species meet in public space, the space of their rights and of our everyday lives.”



This then lead me to remember a couple of species of pigeon which took me by surprise when I first found out about them.

Nicobar-Pigeon-01The above photo is that of the Nicobar Pigeon, found on the Nicobar Islands. I considered the idea of contrasting this exotic and colourful variation of the pigeon with the common wood pigeon. If wood pigeons displayed the same colours and attractive aesthetics of the Nicobar pigeon, people would be far less likely to refer to them as ‘rats of the sky’. It is this huge impact that appearance has on the value placed on certain species that I wanted to draw attention to with BA8. By overlaying a wood pigeon with a Nicobar, I could potentially communicate to the audience how it is purely the outside visual impact of the animal which aids in defining their value and connotations. The animal itself is essentially the same; the anatomical structure, behaviour, scientific classification is either identical or incredibly similar across the two species. thus showing how it is not the animal but the appearance which is creating these negative reputations around ‘ugly’ animals.

This same affect can be applied to a range of species. My current task is finding exactly which ones have clear and relatable parallels for the audience to clearly see.

By focusing on this particular direction for this project, I can define the visuals I’m going to be experimenting with far easier than with the previous, rather vague, path I was following before. I can now also follow communicate my intentions and ideas to my audience in a more concise fashion. Previously I found explaining my intentions and ideas behind BA8 to tutors and peers was a bit of a tricky task. I often found myself struggling to put my project into words, despite knowing exactly what the idea was in my head and having a clear understanding of what I wanted to reflect to my audience. It was suggested by my tutors/peers than I find a more definitive subject to narrow down my ideas towards and, hopefully, this juxtaposing of similar species idea will provide exactly that.

I also feel that generating visual work will be far easier and more fun now that I know exactly what I want the images to do. Previously I was drawing a range of animals and subjects in a basic way with different materials and in different formats, hoping that an idea or pattern would emerge naturally. I’d had issues with forcing the idea and context too early in projects before, so this was an attempt to move away from this issue. But now that we’re a good few weeks into the project, a certain degree of urgency has pushed me into finding the context sooner rather than later, which is working well so far!

So now that I have a bit more of a direction for the project, I feel more confident about getting stuck into it and narrowing down my sights, rather than trying to stay as open to ideas and contexts as possible which can sometimes make working pretty difficult.
I’m now left with the task of finding which specific species to focus on and experimenting with the art style and format that the illustrations will take. I obviously know that I’ll be compiling them all into a book format to round off the project, but in the mean time I’m going to need to generate work outside this constraint to make sure I haven’t missed any ideas or materials which would work well for the subject. I’ve so far had some good luck with printing onto – the slightly overused material – tracing paper and laying this on top of other drawings. I plan to look more into colour and type at an earlier stage than I normally do as I try to move away from my bad habit of leaving these two to the last minute.

Hopefully this project can finally take a positive turn and I’ll be able to see development and progress quicker!


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