Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Kate Slater's response

"In what direction do you see your work heading in, in the future?

Hopefully more children's books, even if I'm 50 before I'm able to do them full time! In the mean time I suppose I'll see what springs up in between. I can't imagine changing my style drastically, but I suppose it could easily happen as I've only just begun. I've also just started working with schools (promoting Magpie's Treasure, mainly) and have really enjoyed it so far, so that's something I'd like to do more of if possible.

Also would it be possible to display this information onto my blog?

Yes of course! I'm just going to go back over the answers and make sure I've not said anything too stupid...."

Kate Slater's response

 "How long do you usually spend on a piece of work?

The illustrations for Magpie's Treasure took about 5 months, although I worked on other projects at the same time. The illustrations I recently did for the Guardian I had one day for roughs, and one for finished artwork - so I didn't get much sleep! It varies incredibly!

Do you have help with the photography in your work? Or do you do all the photography yourself?

I do the photography myself - when I graduated I suddenly realised I'd have to be able to do it, and since then it's been a huge learning curve. Lots of (preferably natural) light and a steady camera is probably my best advice.

When you reach an 'artist block', how do you deal with this problem?

I suppose I plough on if it's a commission and hope to get through it, if it's when I have less work on I try and take some time out, even if it's just an afternoon at a gallery.

When you are faced with really tight deadlines, how do you manage your time?

I make enormous lists. And cross things off. I hate it when I do something that wasn't on my list because I feel cheated out of the crossing off part! I think as a freelancer you have to accept that sometimes you'll have to work solidly with no time off, and others you'll sit waiting for an email to ping."

Kate Slater's response

"Hi Gemma,

I'm soooooo sorry this has taken such a ridiculously long time!
Hope it helps :)

Kate x

What types of things are you inspired by? Are you inspired by literature?

Yes, I'm inspired by nature (that always sounds silly, but growing up on a farm in the middle of the countryside has definitely had an effect!) and books I read, going to the theatre, poetry...

What designers or illustrators do you look at for inspiration?

John Burningham, Isabelle Arsenault, Janet Ahlberg, Nathalie Choux, Lizzy Stewart, Natascha Rosenburg, Sarah Dyer, Sophie Foster ...

What would be the perfect job opportunity?

I'd love to be able to do children's books full time! Hopefully one day...

How do you start a piece of work? Do you sketch everything out first? Or experiment with different papers to create an image straight away?

If it's for a client I have to do rough first so I do draw first, but if it's personal work (for example the Yorkshire Sculpture Park birds) I'm more likely to work with paper straight away. I love finding exactly the right texture for something, unfortunately I have so many mounds of magazines and papers this can take a considerable amount of time...

How do you adapt your style of work from producing work for adult viewers to children viewers?

Not a lot really! I suppose it varies more with content and composition than the actual style. I think I'm veering slightly more towards children's illustration in general, and work I do for adults often involves text! I do enjoy the mixture though."

Kate Slater's response

 "Show content Always show content from stockportnorth@printing.com
Hello Gemma,

Thank you for your enquiry about or calendars.

We can definitely print from your own designs, we can even provided you with a template for the dates etc so can just insert your own images.

Our minimum quantity is 250 and the smallest size we do is A5 (which opens out to A4 size when hung up).

For more info and prices have a look here http://www.printing.com/personalised-calendars and when you're ready to order, you'd like a quote or any more info, please just let me know!

Kind Regards,"

Quotes for artefact

I have looked on Vistaprint and I can get 50 desk calenders for £92.24, Full colour and I can upload my own design and fonts etc. This also includes the binding as well.



Buisness Card Design

James and The Giant Peach designs

final Images for my negoiated project

photograph's of Ellie Glovers work at the Shadowplay Symposium

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Kate slater's (illustrator) reply to my email...

Really glad Kate has replied to email, looking forward to the anwsers she might give provide to the questions I asked her!

"Hi Gemma,

Just a quick email to say I'm not ignoring your questions - just had a busy few days! Thanks for getting in touch and I'll try and answer your questions over the next couple of days.

Best wishes,

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Contacting Eleanor Glover

"Dear Gemma
I'm really busy just now but I will answer your questions briefly.
If you want more detailed answers you are very welcome to phone me as chatting is easier and less effort than
composing written answers. The first two questions would, take too much time to answer now.
The answers below refer to shadow theatre.
Yes, I do use a professional photographer but also photograph my work as I make it.
Materials in the shadow performance are informal when at a rough stage and possibly less so as they develop.
I use cardboards, umbrella joints and very thin plywood. Some part are sewn on by drilling small holes and then wiring or using linen thread.
I also use doweling and plant sticks as handles.
The characters were cut either with a scalpel or on a fretsaw.
Before I make a piece of work I do a lot of drawing, both at a miniature scale and as informal story boards.
Everything is handmade.
I continue with a piece of work until it is finished which may take hours, weeks or months.
If I have an artist's block I try to put the work away and go for a walk round the block, alternatively I
may discuss it with a friend at work.
I think my work is heading more towards further experimentation with shadow theatre
and more drawing.
I hope this is a help, unfortunately I have only time to write these bare notes
however if you want to use them on your blog it's OK.
Best wishes

PS Please send me a few images of your own new work ( re. Tin Soldier) when you have time.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Deconstructing the castle. . .

I found this kit in hobby craft, the idea is to fix all the numbered pieces of wood together to construct the London Bridge and I decided that the tops of the towers looked very much like turrets off a castle, so I decided to deconstruct this London Bridge kit and make it into my own castle and because I wanted it to look more spooky I painted it black. This helped to make the silhouette stand out more against the colourful backgrounds and I was referencing this from Jan Pienkowski's work, as he has created a lot of silhouettes of castles in his work and I wanted to capture that magical quality that he has in his pieces in my own work.

Experimenting with metal. . .

This was me experimenting with metal and soldering together to create my 'tin soldier', i had never worked with these materials before and it was quite refreshing. Although I think he looks too much like a robot rather than a childrens toy soldier... but it was something to think about and I may even visit this again in the future.

My personal project images

I was really pleased with my feedback that I received from my tutor. Although I am aware that I need to make a few improvements to them. But overall i'm really pleased with the results and my way of working. I like the 3d mixed with the 2d aspects in them. And with some of the images for example the waterfall, I like how its a mystery as to how I constructed the image. I think I have answered my brief well but I think there could still be some improvements in this aspect, I need to put these images into some kind of context, whether its adding text from the story in the image or getting the images bound in a book but I am planning to look into this further.
I need to think more about the cropping of images and try to not overcrowd my images with too many of my models. I need to keep reminding myself that some images work well enough on their own for example the swan. Plus some of my images need to be 'airbrushed' or tidied up on Photoshop.
I did find a way of working that I thought was really effective and that was cutting out silhouettes for example, the fire or the waves and then making then stand up in layers as a set. It seems to add depth to the photographs and I like the shadows it casts I am especially pleased with the fire images and i am hoping to experiment more with this technique in the future.

Luise from Container Plus

Dear Gemma,

please find answers below.
I hope they are helpful.

Apologies again for late reply.

Best wishes,


On 19 May 2010, at 21:57, Gemma Beaven wrote:

Hello Luise!

I would love for you to answer my questions as they will definitely be still relevant. I would like to continue viewing your work and use you as inspiration for other projects as i study into my third year, so any advice or input would be much appreciated!

Many Thanks!


I was also wondering (if you do decide to reply) if i could possibly get your permission to show this email and your reply on my blog?

It's fine if you want to show it on your blog.

These are the questions I would really like to ask you:

What sort of things inspire your work? whether it's designers, illustrators, environments or themes?

Our work is inspired by things outside of the arena of illustration. Illustration is a medium and not content. All 3 of us read a lot of fiction, we all love immersive storytelling, so we try and create an atmosphere in our projects that takes you out of the everyday. Usually we start by having conversations - bouncing things backwards and forwards between each other. We pick up each other's threads. I might have seen something at an art gallery that links to some film Nicola has watched which in turn relates to some childhood memory of Patricia's. Between the three of us we can weave a web of ideas.

How would you describe your working method or style?

We combine illustration, photography, set design and performance to create immersive narrative pieces or environments.

How do you work so well as a team?

We listen to each other.
We understand each other's strengths and weaknesses.
We bring each other cake.

But the most important thing is listening.
There is no place for big egos in a group.

What project/client did you enjoy the most and has made you want to push your work even further?

We really enjoyed working on the website for The Assembly Agency.
We were challenged as designers, as the client kept asking if there was a better way of doing it.
Because the deadline wasn't prohibitively tight we were forced to redo things a number of times - with a really strong result (we think).
We were also challenged technically. We worked with a programmer to build the site in flash, but we had to prepare all the assets and do some stopframe animation. To be able to do that we had to understand the whole process of web programming, which was initially hard.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email, as I've said i'm a MASSIVE fan of your work and i'd love to hear any input or advice you have as illustrators.

I look forward to your reply,

Best wishes

Gemma Beaven

Email to Container Plus

Dear Gemma,

I am sorry I didn't get back to you earlier.
Have I missed the dealine for the presentation?

If it is still relevant I could answer your questions tomorrow -
please let me know.

Once more - apologies!
Best wishes


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
+44 (0)20 7193 7849

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" 様々なクリエイティブ手段によってダークユーモアとウィットに富んだ
独自のストーリーを膨らませるアーティストチーム "
八代久里 Kuri Yashiro, Freelance Writer (Japan)
6 Elder Street
Second Floor
London UK E1 6BT
Luise Vormittag
+44 (0)7940 013 323
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On 1 May 2010, at 22:09, Gemma Beaven wrote:

Dear Luise,

My name is Gemma and I'm a student at Stockport college, currently studying illustration as a degree and I was wondering if I could ask a few questions about your work and how you, Nicola and Patricia work so well as a collaboration group?
I'm a massive fan of your work and I have a presentation on who inspires/influences me and I thought it would be a good idea to see what inspires your work?

I was also wondering (if you do decide to reply) if i could possibly get your permission to show this email and your reply on my blog?

These are the questions I would really like to ask you:

What sort of things inspire your work? whether it's designers, illustrators, environments or themes?

How would you describe your working method or style?

How do you work so well as a team?

What project/client did you enjoy the most and has made you want to push your work even further?

Thank you for taking the time to read my email, as I've said i'm a MASSIVE fan of your work and i'd love to hear any input or advice you have as illustrators.

I look forward to your reply,

Best wishes

Gemma Beaven

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Chinese lanterns

I have recently been looking at Chinese lanterns as inspiration for my new brief 'James And The Giant Peach". I was thinking of using this idea for making a 3-d peach so i could put a light inside it, so it looks like the peach is glowing . . .

Gaga Tree- A chinese collaborative

This is a pop up greetings card by a graphics/design collaborative called 'Gaga Tree'. The card includes an instruction booklet inside and shows you how you can turn the card into a decoration or ornament. This is also a great idea which i could use as inspiration for my artifact.

Rommy models

I have found these cute 3-D paper characters whilst searching for ideas on creating an artifact. The way the characters look as though they can be perched on a table, fireplace etc as an ornament is a really nice idea and perhaps i could consider this as a way of creating a toy.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

My friend Liz took this photograph for me, it was in a shop window in the 'Triangle' in  manchester. I love the scale in which these delicate swans have been made out of different colour paper, from looking at the image it looks very much like have been its been done from magazines. This image inspired me to create the swans from 'The Steadfast Tin Soldier' in this origami method. 

Monday, 8 November 2010

Alan McGowan

On day two of ' The Shadow Play' symposium. Alan McGowan, a highly skilled draughtsman, illustrator and teacher, spoke eloquently about his practice and showed the series of images that he produced in response to ‘Faust’ by Goethe. He attempted through his work to really connect with the text and show this emotion on paper. His large-scale figurative drawings are produced with charcoal. He likes to make his work ambiguous and open to interpretation. He explored the history of the meaning of shadows and the connection with negativity, evil and un-trust. This was illustrated by ‘The Simile of the Cave’ by Plato, the shadows symbolize what is false and that images can be mis-leading. He also showed the work of J.B Suvee ‘The Origin of the Painting’ which shows the shadow representing loss and sadness. He feels that illustration is always defined by its relatedness to something else e.g. a piece of text or an event. There is a link to Modernist ideas that text (clarity, reason, autonomy) is above image (ambiguity, suggestion). Like ‘The Simlie of the Cave’, he aims to communicate purely through image and express a sense of feeling, emotion and mood. Find out more about this and look beyond the aesthetic.