Monday, 27 July 2015

process: painting ziggy

i've had quite a lot of time on my hands since coming to stay with my dad in germany, so i thought i'd invest a good chunk of it into having a go at painting my little poodle, ziggy. as i mentioned in my last post, watercolours are a medium that i struggle with, and animal portraits are a subject i struggle with, so once again i attempted to tackle two weaknesses in one piece by painting ziggy using watercolour alone.

i've previously struggled to draw animals because of the denseness of their fur – representing something so 3d in 2d is difficult! – but i think this painting has helped my understanding of representing such vast texture in 2d. previously i've worried about every individual hair present on an animal, desperately attempting to portray the texture by mimicking each and every hair, but throughout this painting i learnt that you have to concentrate more on building layers of colour to achieve the desired texture. so, this time instead of focussing too much on small segments, i relaxed and loosely layered colours, creating patterns randomly that all built up to give an overall illusion of texture and fur, and i think it worked so much better than anything i've attempted previously.

i kept taking small breaks to allow the watercolour to dry (it's all too easy to ruin a piece with impatience – something i've learnt the hard way!) and made sure to snap process photos, simply because i think it's interesting to see my step by step process and evaluate how i worked and what was successful or unsuccessful. i also find it interesting to see how others work, so i thought documenting my step by step process could potentially be useful to others as well as myself – i hope you like!

if you'd like to see any of my work in real time, feel free to head over to my instagram for a nosey!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

my tragus & daith piercings

i was laying in bed a couple of weeks back at 2am when i couldn't sleep, and i decided on a whim that i was going to head to my local tattoo and piercing shop the next tuesday to go and get two piercings for the price of one. as i've exhausted my face, i thought the ears were the perfect place to go for. initially i was going to have my industrial and tragus piercings, but after reading about how long industrial piercings can take to heal i talked myself out of it and decided to go for my daith instead.

i had my piercings done at taattoo – the same place i had my septum pierced – and i was pierced by the same girl who was really friendly, chatty and put me at ease about the piercings, doing them swiftly and painlessly.

tragus piercing // after a chat with my piercer, i decided to have my tragus pierced last as apparently the daith can be quite a tricky piercing and so was probably going to hurt more, but in my experience it was the other way around. while neither of the piercings hurt (you can definitely feel it happening, but it's by no means uncomfortable,) my tragus was definitely the trickiest to do. i had quite a thick tragus so it took quite a bit of force for the needle to get through, and so i felt the needle go in, crunch a little, and then finally pop out of the other side. 

i know a lot of people with tragus piercings and they always talked about hearing a 'pop' as the needle goes through, but for me it was definitely more of a crumbling than a pop. the best way i can describe the sound is to compare it to when cleaning the inside of your ears with a cotton bud and there's a sort of crumbling sound, similar to the feeling of crumbling a digestive between your fingers. bit of an odd description, but that's what the process made me think of!

shortly after getting the piercing i went a little bit deaf in the same ear, feeling as though i'd been underwater and that ear had yet to 'pop', which was strange. my piercer reassured me that it was just because the blood had run to my ear and it should clear up pretty soon, and by the next morning after cleaning the piercing a couple of times it had. so if you're cool with temporary deafness in one ear, i'd say go for it.

daith piercing // as i mentioned i had my daith pierced first, and it was such a quick, painless procedure – if she hadn't have told me the jewellery was going in, i wouldn't have known she'd pierced it! after working myself up somewhat for this piercing to hurt, it was a nice surprise for it all to happen so quickly and painlessly. while i could feel my tragus piercing in my ear, i couldn't feel this piercing at all, and up to this day it's been absolutely no bother for me. i've found my tragus to be a little bit uncomfortable to sleep on, but i can sleep normally on my daith piercing with no discomfort, so i'd definitely say go for it if you've been considering this piercing!

all in all, the experience of these two piercings has been really positive. the piercings themselves were bearable, and the after care has been fine. i clean my piercings morning and night with boiling water and sea salt, and they seem to be doing great. my daith hasn't been any bother at all, but my tragus is sometimes a little bit messy on a morning. my piercer said my tragus piercing might 'dribble' for a while, and i now completely know what she means. through the night i sleep on my tragus piercing a bit, and the pressure causes it to bleed a little, which means a lovely crusty ear on a morning. after a clean up however the piercing is fine, and gives me no bother throughout the day. now it's just a case of keeping up the aftercare until they've comfortably healed!

after a couple of really great experiences with my piercer, i've decided that once these piercings have healed and i've found myself a job and have a steady source of income, i'm going to go back and have a couple of collarbone dermal piercings. dermal piercings have always looked terrifying to me, but after a reassuring chat with my piercer and three really great piercings, i definitely trust her to do a great job of dermal piercings, too. if you're local to barnsley and want great quality piercings at affordable prices, i'd definitely recommend heading into taattoo and having a chat with the girls – they're lovely. if i've learnt anything from this and my septum experience, it's that piercings really don't hurt enough to get worked up about them, and also that i have a really unattractive side profile – who knew?!

i also thought i'd share a quick selfie update to show that i've recently had the ends of my hair lightened. it can often be a little difficult to see in dull lighting, but when in the right lighting you can see that my ends are now a sort of warm honey colour and i love it. that's all for now!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

pinker than shepherd's delight

i sat down with my watercolours today and i had a bloody good time. throughout my course i never really had the time available to sit and pour hours into getting to grips with the medium, and if you happen to have followed me over the last three years you'll have noticed a trend in me pulling out my paints every summer and attempting a portrait. i find it oddly exciting and relaxing to just sit and paint 'properly', so for me it's kind of cathartic to sit down in the summer at the end of a busy academic year and just pour some time into something that yields no reward, but just brings me a little bit of joy.

if you follow me you'll probably also notice a trend in me forever drawing myself, and i think it's because there's never any fear of offending myself with my interpretations. today i attempted to paint marina and the diamonds, and i can't say i did her much justice. colour and technique wise i'm pretty pleased with how this turned out, but as ever, i can never get faces right when it comes to drawing someone. i suppose it's all just practice, though.

watercolours are a medium that i have a love/hate relationship with and i'm also not great at working with colour, so i thought i'd challenge myself to paint something all in watercolour with a somewhat unusual colour palette. marina's photography for her froot album uses neon lighting to highlight her which yields some pretty stunning results, so i decided to give recreating it a go. 

i love the colours. because of the neon lights, i was pushed to really look for the colours in the image as opposed to just using typical skin colours, and i found i really had fun using oranges, pinks and blues to pick out all of her features. heck, i'm even happy with how i painted the hair, and that's a first for me. as i said, it's a shame that the drawing itself doesn't bare a close resemblance to marina, but i think other than that i didn't do too badly today. i'm thinking i might challenge myself to do a few oddly coloured portraits while i stay with my dad in germany over the next couple of weeks, but as ever, we'll see!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

well, i did it...

i'll *officially* be graduating from university in november with a first class degree in graphic design. i've pretty much known it since receiving my final module results about a month ago, but it was nice to have the confirmation written out in front of me on screen. over the last month i've spent a lot of time thinking about my degree and what i think having a first class degree means for me, and here's why i'm a tad underwhelmed by it...

year three has been my weakest year results wise. while all my marks were above 70, i failed to achieve any module mark as high as my strongest marks from first and second year. i know, i know, third year's a lot harder than your first and second, but for a creative subject where you have no markers of progression, i've always thought module marks were a good way of estimating it, so obviously it's a bit disappointing this year to not have 'bet my best' as i did in second year. it's silly, i know. throughout my life i've always found things to bully myself over academically, complaining about my a because i knew i could've achieved an a*. this time around it's been odd to feel disappointed with my mark, because grades wise, i couldn't have achieved any higher, but in terms of personal bests, i didn't quite make the mark this time. it's a silly way of thinking, but i've had a bit of a hard time coming to terms with the fact that i've achieved all i can regardless of that fact.

i think more than anything this feeling of disappointment is probably rooted in my discontentedness with my portfolio. while i can reflect back on my first year work and see that i've made tonnes of progress over the last couple of years, i'm still not sure that my work's reached a level yet that i'm happy with, or that i think is worthy of a 'first class degree'. but that's the thing with creative degrees, isn't it? i don't think they ever actually reflect the overall quality of your work, but rather the effort you put into achieving it. my tutor said at the end of the year that he doesn't believe in grades, and i'm totally with him on it. i'm graduating with a first class degree, but i really don't think that my work itself is first class. my attitude, commitment and perseverance throughout my course has been first class, of course, but that doesn't change the fact that my work itself is still probably sub par, and because of that, it all feels a bit cheap.

with all that said, i think i can still take a step back and say that i'm probably being a bit too harsh on myself. it's fine to not be where i want to be, heck, who knows that i ever will be! for me, the end of university signifies the beginning of my journey as a creative, not the end, so there's nothing wrong with me being at a point where me and my work are still naive and need building upon, because that's what's expected of you as a graduate. you've been taught the basics, and now you're shipped out into the real world to start applying your skills, and that's where the real lessons are learnt and progress is made (or at least i hope it is!)

while university hasn't left me with the groundbreaking portfolio i may have hoped it would have, it has left me with a completely new outlook on life, creativity and the creative industries, and i'm not sure i should have ever expected anything more from it. i'm a completely different person now at the end of my studies compared to who i was at the beginning, and if that doesn't signify progression, then i don't know what does.

to conclude, of course i'm happy with my degree. i'm happy with my time at university, the lessons i've learnt from it, and surprisingly, even some of the work i created while i was there. i'm hoping my first class degree will now act as a stepping stone to something better, a foot in the door to the career that i hope to pursue. i don't know everything (i was never going to,) and my work isn't fantastic (i shouldn't have expected it to have been,) but with the qualities that i believe my degree has brought out in me, i'm hoping that i can carry on progressing until i reach a point that i'm happy with as a 'creative' individual. 

here's to being a graduate, i guess!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

saturday scribbles

my saturday scribbles posts are becoming so frequently belated now that they may as well be sunday scribbles. 

this week has evidently been mostly dinosaur themed, and i've also been getting back into working with my watercolours as we took a bit of a break since new blood prep started last month. i want to really utilise my sketchbook more nowadays and just do more loose, unplanned doodling, but i've really found that my inspiration's running low nowadays. here's to hoping some inspiration smacks me in the face some time soon!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

london | d&ad new blood exhibition 2015

well, i did it. i became the person i never thought i'd be: a person who loves london.

leaving london on friday (however relieved i was to finally be resting my poor, tired feet) definitely brought with it a few feelings of sadness, and i suppose that's how i now know that it's where i see my future. i love the hustle and bustle, the fact that everyone has somewhere to be, the diversity, the excitement, the sheer amount of things there are to do, the fact that everyone heads to the pub after work, everything. ok, perhaps not everything, but london definitely has an atmosphere and a vibe unlike anything that i've know while living in barnsley and middlesbrough over the last decade. it's ever changing, it's exciting, and i can't wait to one day live there and soak it up in all its glory. actually, i'm not sure what the hell i'll do if i don't end up there.

all odes to london aside, i thought i'd discuss my time there and talk through what i got up to every day. we arrived in london last monday at about 3.45pm and made our way to our accommodation in dalston (which was fabulous by the way, i'd definitely recommend airbnb!) before heading to revolution in america square to meet up as a group of 17 for food and cocktails before new blood started on the tuesday. many a mojito was consumed, and after that we walked down to the thames for a slow stroll as the sun went down. it was a chilled out, relaxing evening that in no way, shape or form represented how the rest of the week would pan out.

tuesday saw us all up and at the old spitalfields market for 8am ready to set up, and by 1pm we were all exhausted, starving and (thankfully!) finished. me, being the total airhead that i am, completely forgot to take any photos at any point from tuesday to thursday, regardless of me taking my camera out with me with the intention of doing so, so i've had to make do with stealing the above image from teeser's blog. will i ever learn? probably not.

after set up i went out to meet my dad who happened to be in london too, and was treated to yet more cocktails at las iguanas, which is pretty much the best chain restaurant i've ever eaten at. after satisfying our stomachs, we headed out to camden for a couple of hours and had a mooch around the market before i had to head back to new blood ready for the private view. the private view was hot, i was sweaty and nervous as i showed up alone for half an hour, and by the end of the three hours my ankles were ready to give in, so i headed home for a shower and bed in preparation for my turn of manning the stall on wednesday.

having rested my feet and my nerves, on wednesday we were up early again for a new blood talk with betc london about the secret to achieving happiness. the talk's conclusion was that working in advertising is the secret to happiness, and while i disagreed with that fact, the talk was entertaining and enjoyable regardless.

after the talk i headed back to our stall to man it until 4pm, and much to my delight i'd been left a business card from a creative director at a publishing house, so it's fair to say all the stress of the set up and private view had been well worth it. after standing around for a few hours chatting with industry members and other students, i met up with my dad again and explored shoreditch for a while, going for yet more food and cocktails (what better way to spend an evening?!)

while we were up early again for another new blood talk (this time with google) on thursday, it was a much more relaxed, chilled out day. the talk itself once again cemented why i have issues with advertising and why i find its ethics (or lack thereof) problematic, but it is interesting to hear from different creatives and understand how they work, what gets them ticking, and where the industry is heading to next, so nothing was wasted.

after the talk, i headed to oxford street with one objective: to spend all of my money in the new three storey lush store, and it's fair to say that i achieved it. the whole vibe of the store was fantastic; it was well laid out, had fabulous new products, and to top it off all of the staff were so friendly, chatty and helpful and made for a great shopping experience. honestly, i can't wait until the next time i visit, both for more products that i intend to pick up and for the conversations i know i'll have with the staff. lush is an absolutely fabulous brand, and i've no doubt it's one i'll remain loyal to throughout my life.

all lush gushing aside, thursday also saw me and my coursemate, ashley, attend the creative conscience awards ceremony. it was a night of wine, snacks and networking, and me and ashley were pleased to leave with a bronze award for our orbit & yourbit project. after heading home to drop off our awards, we headed out to the d&ad afterparty in shoreditch and ended up staying out until 3am, which was great at the time, but not so much at 7am the next morning when we had to be up and ready for stall take down...

after taking the stall down on the friday (which was mostly done by the time i arrived, thankfully!) we headed out to the breakfast club for some late breakfast, and i've got to admit that i was a little disappointed with it – but if you never try, you'll never know! after that i made my way to south kensington to meet a couple of friends for a mooch around the natural history museum, which was completely overrun with groups of school children. normally that would be fine, but when you're exhausted, slightly hungover, and the weather's approaching 30 degrees, it's all a bit too much, so we headed back to our accommodation and chilled out for a few hours before making our way to king's cross for our train home.

to conclude, london was exciting, exhausting and aspirational. while i definitely didn't have enough time over the 5 days to sit down and rest my feet, it's definitely got me excited and looking forward to what my future could potentially be. i'm hoping that things could fall into place over the next couple of months as i hopefully hear back about jobs that i've applied for, but if they don't, i'm definitely determined now to make sure that it happens, whether it's 2 months or 2 years down the line. 

if i've learnt anything on my course, it's that graduating isn't easy. it requires a lot of autonomy, persistence and a positive outlook, and i'm going to try my hardest to possess all three of those qualities over the coming months to ensure that i stay focussed and on track towards a life i'd like to live. they say nothing worthwhile comes easily, so i'm prepared to be putting in now until i get something back out of it. here's to the future. 

Sunday, 28 June 2015

saturday scribbles (& a little update)

a belated saturday scribbles this sunday as yesterday i spent the day travelling, and then the evening reacquainting myself with alcohol in a strictly-night-out fashion (because since the end of my course i haven't enjoyed a night out, but i have enjoyed many a bottle of wine...)

as you probably know, these last three weeks i've been working all day, every day prepping our stall for the new blood exhibition, but in between i've been squeezing in any personal work i can, and this week i decided dinosaurs were a wholly necessary subject. i was a bit reluctant at first because i couldn't tell you the last time i'd drawn a dinosaur prior to this (which really is shameful due to how flippin' much i love the jurassic park films,) but surprisingly it all went very well, and i ended up with a couple of sketchbook pages that i'm pretty pleased with. 

i've said it before, but i tend to produce my best work with just a pencil, a rubber and a relaxed demeanour, and i think it once again rings true here. i'm dog sitting during july while my mum goes on holiday, and i fully intend to whack my pencils, paints and whatever else out and see what throwing colour at some dino doodles produces (hopefully something of use!) it's been strange being finished with my course and yet still not having enough free time on an evening to sit down with my sketchbook and paintbrushes, so i'm gonna make the most of those 10 days i've got scheduled out as dog sitting/me time.

i thought while i was here i'd share some snaps (albeit terrible ones) that i've taken of our process over the last three weeks and talk briefly about the experience. in three weeks we've designed, planned, curated and executed our exhibition stall, meaning that everything within the stall has been carefully considered; we drafted different layouts, went through rounds of shortlisting artwork to be displayed large scale, measured out how big the shelving we were making needed to be and how artefacts/portfolios would work on them, etc. etc. in short: the whole thing was a lot more difficult than i originally imagined.

in total, there are 17 of us exhibiting our work, and a team of 5 of us put the whole thing together. while it's been exhausting and stressful, it was nice to feel like an integral part of a design team, because none of us could have done it without each other. working on something like this has highlighted each of our strengths and weaknesses, and it's been useful to put those strengths and weaknesses to use throughout this 'project', and will no doubt be something i'll discuss in the future if i ever get around to landing myself an interview.

as well as planning out artwork and shelving, we also chose to create a catalogue to showcase everyone's work and a 'journey board' that discusses our fundraising process. a lot of courses have their exhibitions funded by the uni, but unfortunately ours isn't and we needed to raise at least £2,000 to make the whole thing a possibility. in total we raised £2,500 (which came in super handy because materials are expensive!) and we managed it through selling illustrated goods, having bake sales and setting up a kickstarter, mainly.

i ended up designing the journey board solo, and initially i was really uncomfortable with the idea of it. we intend to have the board at the front of the stall, and as a person who doesn't rate their design skills highly i was worried that i wouldn't be able to represent the course adequately. after a bit of roughing out and playing around, i soon found my feet and made something i was comfortable with by adding some hand lettering which i think gave the whole thing a bit more personality, and essentially made it feel a bit more like it was something that then belonged to me (visually, at least.) the group seemed to like the end result, so here's to hoping that it'll spark the attention of passers by, too!

the last three weeks have truly been exhausting, but i think they've also provided me with a really invaluable experience. we head down to london tomorrow before setting the stall up on tuesday, and i can't wait to see how the entire thing looks in the flesh as we couldn't properly mock it up within uni. i'm planning on taking my camera down with me, so expect some snaps from the coming week on my blog in the near future.

for now, i'm going to retreat to bed and watch a couple of hours of skins (i'm now onto season 3, if you were wondering) before getting some shut eye ready for loading the van up tomorrow at 9am. speak soon!