At the end of each project, we’re required to write up a couple of pages about how the project went, what we learned and what we can improve. So I thought, instead of repeating myself by writing more reflective posts, I’ll just put my summary up on here!
I definitely feel like this project has been one of the only projects in my entire time on this course that I am truly proud of and happy to parade around for people to see.
I chose a subject which I’ve always felt very strongly about and because of this I was able to channel a much larger proportion of my energy and effort into it than I had done previously. Researching the subject was exciting, much like the research I conducted during BA7 (the project brief for BA7 was a build up to BA8 so the subject matter was very similar) and the main topics of the project allowed me to explore scientific illustration in a practical way, something I’d wanted to do since writing my dissertation on just that (“Scientific Illustration and its Significance in a World of Photography”, of which I hugely enjoyed writing).
I wrote about this interest in the ways science and illustration can merge extensively in my blog (charlivince.wordpress.com) since I found it very interesting to watch how my work seemed to improve and my projects expand into more audacious grounds when I chose a subject matter which is very science and/or statistics heavy. The mathematical and factual nature of the sciences contrasting with the sketchy and colourful aesthetic of my preferred illustrative style is something I really enjoy creating as well as seeing the end product. So for me, BA8 wasn’t just my favourite project so far but it was the most refreshing being the first time I could clearly see a potential ‘niche’ for my illustration to fit into.
But, like every project I’ve ever done, the start of it all was incredibly hard, BA8 more so than previous projects. The looming pressure of ‘this is the final project don’t mess it up’ seemed to dull my ability to think laterally and I found myself constantly falling short of what I can do if I put my mind to it during the initial stages of idea generation and experimentation. Luckily, peers and tutors picked up on this and pushed me in the right direction, helping me to take a more risks and feel more comfortable with the subject I chose. I gradually stopped focusing entirely on what sort of grade it could achieve and whether all the boxes were ticked and instead worked to my strengths and got fully absorbed into the project. From then on, the aesthetic of the project plateaued just in time for me to generate enough consistant work to form the final piece – the Ugly Bestiary book – and even enough time left over to mock up some cover designs for a potential sister series alongside the main book itself.
I found working on one long project much more productive and comfortable for me. The main issue I had during years one and two of this course was the brief length of each project; I had hardly any time to fully submerge myself in the subject matter and so the outcomes for the shorter projects lacked any depth or distinguishable originality. They seemed to be more time fillers rather than my own projects. I considered these issues when deciding to just focus on one project, I had previously considered doing another smaller project alongside it, a project focused on my day to day practice of drawing people, but it didn’t go anywhere and seemed to be this smaller, unnecessary thing getting in the way of the main show. Maybe I could have broken up the Bestiary project into smaller chunks, like the separation between the full bestiary and the ‘SLICE’ series I mocked up, this is definitely something to consider as a potential personal project after this one.
I did, however, have the opportunity to work on a collaboration project outside of the course, working with a student in Graphics on a branding project she had been set. She needed a series of moth illustrations in the same sketchy style I had been displaying on social networks/my website to work as an element of a range of bottle designs and promotional material. This accidentally fit in nicely with what I was doing with the bestiary, so it worked well as additional work outside of BA8 while not contrasting and conflicting with it too much.
I loved working on this collaboration, it was in the early to mid stages of BA8 so it was timed perfectly to re-enforce what a couple of tutors had said to be before hand; that my sketchy graphite based style shouldn’t be put aside and should be utilised to it’s full potential in my outcome. Drawing these moths over and over did remind me how much I love getting back to the basics and simply drawing. This and some experimentation with materials which didn’t go so well, set in stone the use of graphite in my bestiary.
The final outcome, the book and the SLICE series book designs, came out better than I could have ever expected. With little experience in book binding and no experience in hardback book binding, I was very worried that I’d aimed too high with a larger than A3 hardback book. But this was, fortunately, not the case! The book binding went perfectly, the hardcover functions exactly how I wanted it to and the end aesthetic mirrors my initial plans scarily accurately.
This project has definitely restored my faith in my practice. So many missed opportunities with previous projects and not-quite-there grades had disheartened me quite a bit, but this one has definitely washed over those. I plan to take this project further after graduation, with creating more illustrations to fill each of the SLICE series books and producing a couple more hard copies of the book itself. I’ve also started to arrange meetings with potential publishers to see how far I can take The Ugly Bestiary.