Third year has really helped move my work on, I think mostly because I have had the opportunity to choose my own projects, so I was able to delve into areas that really interest me and I was able to work towards a specific genre or area of focus within the design industry. I think I have gained more of an understanding where my work is heading and what type of work I could possibly get commissioned for.
I think I am moving closer towards being a practiced illustrator but I know I still have a lot more grafting to do, to get myself at the stage where I can safely say ‘ I’m ready to venture into the design industry’. However the London trip gave me a lot of confidence and motivation. We were given the opportunity to speak to commissioning clients who were able to provide valuable feedback. In addition we had portfolio surgeries with highly respected illustrators/practitioners who were able to offer constructive criticism on our images and our overall presentation of the portfolio. If it wasn’t for the London trip I would still be pondering on whether my work is fully developed or ready for real life briefs. However I now know my work could get there if I applied some of the advice I was given while on this trip. I’ve realised I still have a lot more work to do, not only on my work but on my portfolio as well. After speaking to different people from the industry I think I have a better understanding of what commissioners want from a portfolio visit and what mind frame they have when viewing a portfolio (what it is they are looking for before they have seen it.)
My work seems to be moving forward in a sense that I’m now producing better quality models/sets. Although there is still room for improvement in the quality control, as sometimes my models can lack in quality, one of my assessments mentions that the making was, in some instances, more clumsy than charming. I will definitely be the first one to admit that this is true. However I think recently my making has improved and has mainly stayed on the charming side rather than the clumsy. Gillian Blease, an illustrator, mentioned that I could attend bookbinding / paper classes in order to develop and improve my skills, which I think is something I will consider as I’m really interested in seeing how other people approach these ways of creating.
I’d like to be at the comfortable stage where I can make effective decisions, this is one of the most important tools/qualities an illustrator needs, so they can assess for themselves when something is finished or if something is missing from the image. I need to consider space in an image a lot more and the effect this could have when used effectively with my detailed models. ‘Less is more’ as my tutor Ian Murray reminds me! I need to keep a constant reminder that space can be a very valuable tool or element to an image; it can compliment an image or give it that extra flourish that my work tends to miss sometimes. With my Final Major Project I have thought about a lot of these things and I think I have produced considerably better results/images because of these thoughts.
My Fears of finally entering the industry:
One of my biggest fears when leaving this course is not having all the specific facilities or equipment in order to produce high quality images. My method of working requires a good camera and lighting for the photography, which may cause some problems for the near future. I think investing in some of this equipment would probably be a wise choice. I have considered collaborating with a photographer but unfortunately I haven’t been so lucky as to meet someone who is willing or desires the same things. Not yet at least! I think this notion of collaboration seems to be the next step for practitioners in the design industry. It's seen as a way of producing twice as much work than you would do so on your own and in addition having that other person's opinion or input that could develop an idea or push your work to the next level.
Another fear is losing contact with fellow students and tutors. Going back to what I just mentioned, I think it’s important to get another person's opinion on your work. I think my work needs this in order for it to stay current and not turn stale. So avoiding isolation will be something to think about. A studio space with several other people working in there would be an excellent and its definitely on my wish list but there are alternative ways to keep up with trends and styles by attending galleries, shows or lectures.
Managing my time has always been an issue in the past, so that’s something that has been one of my concerns while on a real life brief. And not only that, working on several briefs at once I think I will find a struggle as my working method is quite slow, it's not as fast and reliable as I'd like it to be. I think recently I have improved on this, during my Final Major Project, as I’ve had a lot more time to experiment in the photography room and I’ve left enough time to get some great images because of this. I think perhaps my work is suited to larger projects that are given enough time. I’m certainly going to have to think of a solution as to how I could speed up my process for some commissions that will probably serve me better in the long run.
And finally self-promotion, I think this is the most vital skill an illustrator needs in order to be a competent, successful and thriving practitioner within the design industry. 'You can be amazing at what you do but if no one sees it then it’s a waste of talent.' This has been drummed into our ears a lot recently, which is understandable since it is obviously a huge factor in making it in this line of work. Getting your work out there is just as important as making imagery. I think this is one of my biggest fears (if not everyone else’s) but I think the best way to tackle this fear is to 'bite the bullet' and get out there and while I’m at it and build up a ‘thick skin’ for myself. Not everyone will like or take preference to my work and this is something I have to experience sooner rather than later so I can get past it.
This course has given me so many prospects for the future. I think the most helpful part was the trip to London, which was very thoughtfully set up by our tutors. I feel very lucky to have been a part of that opportunity as we were given enough guidance and confidence to visit different commissioning agencies and illustrators. Which really was a big ‘eye opener’ for me, as I got a better understanding as to what the industry expect from us illustrators and what we expect from them. I think approaching these companies was really the hardest part and now that I’ve been helped to overcome that I think I’m closer to tackling this kind of thing again myself. If I had attended any other university I don’t think I would have got as much help, advice or even input off the tutors as that which I have gained from choosing to study at Stockport College.
Hopefully with my newly found confidence and motivation I can now leave this course and take with me some great advice and pursue my own ambitions. I look forward to finding other opportunities that are out there and I think my main aims and ambitions lie in the publishing and advertising areas.