University College Falmouth
I suppose the thing that influences my work the most is my memory of primary school art lessons. Aesthetically anyway. Whenever I walk past the children's art supplies section in supermarkets I get a little buzzed. Serious art shops don't do much for me; I just love the attitude to art everyone had in school. Art is something almost everybody enjoys but as you get older you get told that unless you can draw this thing in front of you really well, you should probably stop making stuff. My work was getting more and more photorealistic up until a few years ago. Then I realised I'd stopped enjoying making pictures and I needed to rediscover what I liked about creating. So now I rip coloured paper and I scribble really fast and I make a brightly coloured mess and it's my favourite work I've ever been making.
This project in particular really gave me an opportunity to utilise this energetic approach to mark making and reinvent something in my own personal way. I created a series of illustrations about the American Civil War, focusing mainly on the visual aspects of it all. I made various timelines, maps of the divided country, maps of battles, portraits of important military figures and weapons commonly used at the time. I chose this topic in particular because it seemed like something that had a very distinct aesthetic, providing a perfect opportunity for me to portray it through my eyes. I made the decision to make my illustrations incredibly bold and rich with colour to counteract that typical faded, weathered look that is usually found in any historical images. I kept looking at it as purely a war story without historical context. That’s something that interests me greatly, the mishmash of old and new. Looking at something that’s got all this baggage surrounding it, stripping it down to its bare nub and reinventing it.
I got the chance to try a few new things with this project. I hadn't done too many portraits before this and I also hadn't created a single map in my life until now. Now I think it seems crazy that I'd not properly tried these two things that are so useful in an illustrator's arsenal. I'm constantly developing my work and, being a second-year student, everything I do is a work in progress. My portfolio website recently went up but I keep noticing little tweaks I want to make and more work I want to add. But then that’s the only way to keep improving I guess. I don't think I'll ever reach a stage where I'm content with my work because there'll always be a way to improve and that’s what I love most about creativity.
Right now, in terms of work, I’m focusing on university. I’m trusting in my course structure to develop my work at a pace that’ll have me ready for the real illustration world by graduation (but hopefully sooner). We’ve started the half of the degree that lets us make our own projects, which means I’m starting to get a little preview of life after education. It’s good because I get to do a mixture of competition briefs, fake commissions and personal work. Trying to find the balance is the tricky thing I guess. I’ve also got a couple of internships coming up soon (one at Jelly London and one at The Artworks) that I'm doing to try and start building relationships with real industry professionals. I’m really excited about those because I think it can be all too easy to just go to university, get good grades and then, upon graduation, realise you’ve been dropped in a vast ocean that you have no idea how to navigate. I’m just trying to learn as much as possible about the industry I want to work in so that I can have the best chance of doing so.