Listening to Alexis Deacon

Listening to Alexis Deacon

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born in New York this award-winning illustrator and writer loves storytelling

“I always knew I was going to be in illustrator because sharing and trying to communicate was so important to me. understanding of the stories help us to do that”

Alexis’s number one tip for writers: “start as close to the end as possible”

Alexis read some of his stories to us and took us on a very cleaver memory trail which turn out to be completely made up. Why? To teach us in his own words… “imagination and forgotten memories, like my best friend being a chocolate rabbit are boundless sources of stories and images.” Alexis encourages us to live our imagination out and play with our own imaginary friends in our heads

We transport imagination through line drawing and image making.  “make it as real to you as you can and thoughts can be shared. draw and draw all your life children do this without being told as we get older we stop drawing and stop imagining but true illustrators don’t, so keep going nothing you do is a waste.”

Alexis went to art college at Brighton he found it hard to make drawings for other people thus he tells us his first book – monster zoo- was a big learning curve.

Watching a couple of Slow Norris’s one day gave him great pleasure and started his imagination going. “the two were just wondering towards each other down the same rope. They met in the middle had a staring contest, they both made a face and went the other way. This one moment inspired my first published book – Slow Norris” Alexis advise us to take moment like these and let your imagination go wild if you find it entertaining the chances are it will engage your reader too.

What is illustration? He asked us then answered “It is universal communication. The face is universal and universally understood. looking at the face we filter out other things and we see just the expression we only need simple values to tell this story. we are hardwired to understand expression from an early age. You need to keep that in your mind when you produce your character’s form on to the page.  just like the face gestures transporter and give us information too. Learn to love gestures as the context is strong. this gives you a good story and an expansive narrative from these simple ingredients of image.”

Alexis closing advise to us who are studying illustration this year – “By illustrating you give your story to someone else so you need to leave enough space for the reader to imagine too”

  
 

Oxford: The Ashmolean Museum

The present Ashmolean was created in 1908 by combining two ancient Oxford institutions: the University Art Collection and the original Ashmolean Museum.

The collections span the civilisations of east and west, charting the aspirations of humankind from the Neolithic era to the present day. Among its treasures are the world’s largest collection of Raphael drawings, the most important collection of pre-Dynastic Egyptian material in Europe, the only great Minoan collection in Britain, the finest Anglo-Saxon collections outside the British Museum and the foremost collection of modern Chinese art in the Western world.

The Ashmolean is also a teaching and research department of the University of Oxford, providing research and publications of the highest standard in the academic fields of art history, archaeology and history.

Refurbished in 2009, the way that the collections are displayed in the new galleries & enjoyed by the public became the driving force behind the transformation. The galleries are interlinked by one big theme, Crossing Cultures, Crossing Time. This encourages visitors to make new connections between the collections of the Ashmolean. Adding 39 new galleries to the original 1845 Cockerell Building, the Ashmolean’s new wing was designed by award-winning architect Rick Mather.

The Art class and I needed more than the few hours we had to full apriciate the vast collections. However we had a brilliant adventure exploring art history from around the world.

LE GUN @ Worcester University

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We were so lucky to get invited to join third year illustration students at Worcester University in working on a collaborative 20ft (!) piece with artists from LE GUN.

The illustration collective LE GUN was founded by Neal Fox, Chris Bianchi, Bill Bragg, Robert Rubbish, Matthew Appleton, Alex Wright and Stephanie von Reiswitz. The graduates of Royal College of Art produce a magazine and work on commissioned projects. They recently had a hugely successful installation and prints for an exhibition opening at London’s V&A Museum.

We were guided into a new and strange world by Neal and Robert the theme was following on from their exhibition about Mexican dream creatures called Alebrije.

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While I worked away I was able to ask Neal Fox a couple of questions:

Q, What inspired you to become a collective?

“Well we knew we wanted to become a magazine when we saw the New York mag RAW and we were coming to the end of our studies four of us were mixing regularly with other graphics’ students and we just bound together. We came up with the long black and white collaborative when we were raising money for the Mag idea. We had these parties with the walls coved in paper that people could doddle on and say what they want. It was so popular we realised we had hit on something.”

Q, Don’t you ever fall out or struggle with seven different minds pulling a project?

He shakes his head amused at the question “No, not really, for a start we are well practiced at living with each other’s passions. Also we talk about it lots before we start. We always start with developing a story or fictional history to the exhibitions so everyone knows where the theme is going and then we trust each other. It has not failed before and we enjoy it.”

Meeting Hunt Emerson

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Currently Hunt is a freelance comic book illustrator and often works for the Beano on the characters Little Plum and Ratz. He lives and works in Birmingham so he really is a local success story.

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He has been acclaimed as one of the 75 European Masters of Cartooning of the 20th Century by the Centre Nationale de la Bande Dessinee et de l’Image, and has won many other international awards.

The Emerson graphic novels Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Casanova’s Last Stand and other adaptations of classic novels and tales have been successfully sold in numerous countries, and translated into several different languages.

Hunt Emerson’s strips and illustrations are regularly seen in the pages of Fortean Times, a magazine of occult and unexplained phenomena. Also his pornographically humorous Firkin The Cat (written by Tym Manley) has appeared in hundreds of Fiesta magazines.

Hunt was inspired to become a cartoonist by seeing the comics arriving from Chicago, “they were sort of Hippy comics, but I loved the stories and character” (Emerson, 2015) Hunt practised and practices drawing and developing bio’s for characters. He came to Birmingham as a fine art student and found work at Birmingham Arts Lab and Polytechnic running a small printing machine.  “In printing I saw a way that I could link earning a living with doing what I wanted to do; draw comics.  I spent six years working at the Birmingham Arts Lab, with the printing press there, doing design, layout, darkroom, and machine operating on a shoestring in hair-raising circumstances. It taught me a lot about production deadlines and the need to make quick design decisions.”(From Emerson’s web site: http://largecow.com/)

This lead to his first book ,Thunderdogs which had a unique twist at the time because it included 2D and 3D drawings. Followed by Calculus Cat and then City Mouth.

We asked Hunt for his top piece of advice for us about to start illustration at university. He smiles and says the key to being a comic book illustrator is to keep working. Take as many of the freelance job you can manage but don’t forget to develop your own style and work.

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Lee Bul @ the Ikon Gallery

Ikon presents the first UK solo show of works by Korean artist Lee Bul.

The college art group had a blast and commented on how detailed the sculptures were even thou they were on such a massive scale. there was something beautiful yet disjointed in the utopian project i thought. And was glad to find out that is exactly how Lee Bul wants you to feel. This was something i had to show my Dad.

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Being able to get up really close and even interact with Her sculptures was a real treat. I adore artist who allow us to be within or to get in tough with the art; providing both visual and sensual creative information. these artist you know are think about communicating to everyone as much of their mind as possible. My Dad is the reason that I did well in art so when his eyesight was permanently damaged I wondered if the days of us wondering around Art galleries and historical sites with the camera were at and end. Thankfully all it did was open up a new way of looking and finding art, nature and beauty. “Having a different set of artistic eyes.” he says.

So thank you Lee Bul we really enjoyed the day at your exhibition

Born in 1964, under the military dictatorship of South Korea, Lee Bul graduated in sculpture from Hongik University during the late 1980s. Her works became preoccupied with politics, delving into the many forms of idealism that permeate our civilisations, and from the beginning she created works that crossed genres and disciplines in provocative ways.

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The sculptures reflect utopian architectural schemes of the early twentieth century as well as images of totalitarianism from Lee Bul’s early experiences.

“Cyborg display” drew upon art history, critical theory, science fiction and popular imagination to explore anxieties arising out of dysfunctional technological advances, whilst simultaneously harking back to icons of classical sculpture.

Looking at Mark Hearld

Mark Hearld studied illustration at Glasgow School of Art and then completed an MA in Natural History Illustration at the Royal College of Art, London. His work is based on his observations of the natural world, influenced by mid twentieth century Neo-Romanticism and the gaiety of 1930s Modernism.

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Outside Your Window is a book of poems and writing for children by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Mark Hearld.  It is full of Mark’s lovely linocuts, lithographs and collage. Combining these medium gives a movement and life to the images and compliment the type of poems Nicola writes really well.

I hope to use this way of working to help me develop my own style and character in the images.

 

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I have attempted to illustrate the Sonnet 130 by William shakespeare, my favorite line being “black wire grows on her head.” getting the hang of working from light to dark tone was a challenge. You don’t think about it normally the fact we are used to starting with a white piece of paper then add color and dark to it. In lino printing we have to work backwards. yes and the words backwards too. You can laugh at me now because i totally forgot and nearly ruined a good hours work. oops

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Visiting BCU; Park Side Campus.

The new Park Side Campus next to millennium point was a fantastic building. It’s only a year old so it’s still all white and shiny.

We had an awesome tour around and got a look at all the nice new technology that was on offer to visual communication and Arts students.

So what did we think?

The Pros The Cons
New.

In the city centre.

Lots of up to date tech.

Good security.

Open and well-spaced class rooms.

Has an in house publishing company.

Students have had a competition success recently.

Well know Uni.

Near and very nice accommodation.

Good student social opportunity

“Easily could get lost and knowing me walk right into all this glass.”-S

Costly to commute too and stay in.

Many students, “would I get good support if I came here?” – S

“ bit over the top for me, sounds like high pressure and fast just from the walk round” –H

“city living cost more”-J

An in demand place for Art places requesting on average 270 UCAS points and a brilliant portfolio.

“love it just don’t think they’d take me” – H

“if you wana make movies this is the Uni, Good luck with getting in tho” -B

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Teresa Albor

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24 sculptures in 24 hours

As part of the Longbridge Lighting Festival artist Teresa Albor wanted to make an artistic statement about production and labouring linked to this area of Birmingham (UK) she used items that were all factory produced and used the gallery space that had once been the site of a car factory.

We observed her mid-morning speedily working away. I like the idea and power of the statement. The sculptures were not overly planned out and that became obvious in the quality of the way the items were put together. I would have liked to see more of the items she chose fused together somehow maybe with industrial tools, bolts or even spot welded. Even with the time restraints I think it was still possible to have improved.