Introductory Media! Portfolio and Business Cards

As part of our graduating module, we have been asked to produce some “introductory media”, which is basically promotional material. These include things like business cards, zines, postcards and whatever you can think of. There are many creative ways to produce work that can be used to self promote, and can include anything from posters and paper-craft figures to fortune cookies and personalized sweets.

For this module we were asked to produce five promotional materials of sorts, an illustrated CV and a portfolio. I have a digital portfolio/CV that I created on a website called carbonmade.com, which you can view here.ย But I have also put this link in my about section of this blog. It was also suggested to us to produce a printed portfolio and CV as well, so I created a printed portfolio that was a little different. I decided to produce a small zine portfolio with my contact details on so I could hand out a preview of my work with all my contact details on it to people. I thought this was a good idea because in this day and age people aren’t as likely to carry around a portfolio folder with them, and personally I’m not a fan of putting my work in ugly plastic sleeves. Something such as a small zine I could easily keep a few on me for the right occasion, and I don’t always have to rely on technology to be able to present some of my work to people. Also something this simple and cheap to produce means I wont have to spend too much money reproducing them when I want to update my work.

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Portfolio Zine Printout

Producing a high quality business card was a high priority for me. Over the years I myself have collected a bunch of different business cards which has been a great source of inspiration. I particularly love the thick layered card ones that has a layer of colored card wedged in the middle, but unfortunately I have a pretty tight budget so wont be able to produce something so fancy, but I will definitely keep that in mind down the line.

What I particularly liked from the cards that I have seen is the combination of using hand drawn typography and simple type. Personally I’m not a fan of using digital text with my work, but I’m also not particularly great at typography, so it took a bit of practice to get something that I liked the look of.

My first try of making some simple business cards were these:

I wanted to keep things simple and sort of elegant, and I used some ink textures from my sketchbook, where I was experimenting with India ink and a dry brush. I prefer to use a warm off-white colored paper when I produce prints, so I used that same idea for the card. I’m happy with how these look, but I was unsure if they reflected my current work well, so I made a new design that was more colorful and incorporated my use of lino-cut and digital color that I have recently been really getting into.

I thought it would be fun to have some stickers, (because honestly who docent love stickers), so I created three stickers to match this card. I took small parts of the larger illustration to make them, and used the same colors to match. (These images are square now, but the final stickers will be circles.)

I do have another version of the fire, but overall I think I prefer the one with the darker background. However I do love the simplicity of it. Here it is if you were wondering what it looked like:

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Please check out my portfolio website at nimillustration.carbonmade.com!

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Cider Labels Inspired by Folk Tales

Near the beginning of the semester module we were offered the chance to contribute towards a live brief. The brief was to produce 6 labels forย  co-fermented craft cider company, where the ciders were named after various folk and fairy tales. “Telling a story” was a priority for these images. I thought I should try my hand at producing some labels because I love the topic. The target audience for this cider were craft beer drinkers, young adults aged about 18-30 years old, and the artwork must NOT appeal to children in any way, even if they are illustrations inspired by fairy tales.

This project took a lot of brainstorming to get any ideas that I was happy with, and even though I’m pretty happy with the images I’ve produced, I still don’t think I quite hit the criteria of telling a story.

I decided to create these images using lino cuts, but I wanted to add color and typography. I’m never happy with any digital font I can find to match well with my work, so for these illustrations I experimented a lot with hand written typography. I personally struggle quite a bit with this but its good to get some practice in.

I know these sketchbook pages don’t look like much, but I did eventually use a number seven and the text “ravens” for my “7 Ravens” image, and the yellow pen text with “Run Rabbit, Run” was used as well. One thing that I have definitely learnt from this little project is that I definitely need more practice with not just creating hand drawn text, but with incorporating that text gracefully with images I’ve created.

It took a lot of trial and error and experimenting to get the images right in Photoshop. While I was happy with the colour choice I had chosen, I realized that I had made the mistake of using the wrong tone of colour for the wrong things.

If I was going to use these images for cider labels, and the images weren’t going to be especially large, the text just was not going to show up like this. It was a simple fix though, and all I had to do were swap the colours round and they read clear enough, even when the images were relatively small.

The apple tree image was a different problem. I wanted the text to be properly incorporated within the branches of the tree, so I used my graphics tablet to write the words by hand. I’m still not 100% happy with the result but I got it to the best of my ability. I tried out many different brush textures, but decided to go with a thin brush that I could write scribbly text with, because I thought it reflected well with the thin and pointy branches.

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Overall, I have learnt a lot from creating these three images, and am fairly happy with the outcomes.

Final Major Project: “The Horned Women”

After some tutor feedback, I’ve decided to go ahead and create some large illustrations made up of many smaller illustrations, akin to something like Alice Puttello, or possibly Jonny Hannah. Both artists use folk art as a big source of inspiration, and both of them have different ways of bringing it in to contemporary illustration that I admire.

(You can find Alice Puttello’s site here.)

(You can find Johnny Hannah’s site here.)

I had lots of little visual ideas for “The Horned Women”, but was struggling massivly putting everything together into one big idea. There was a problem with all my thumbnails and things so far; there wasn’t any obvious or strong narrative going on. It was just a lot of little things put together. So to help myself out I went back and looked again at other illustrators work to see what they were doing right and I was doing wrong.

This is where I had an “ah-ha!” moment. I had nearly forgotten about the small drawing I did of the two witches approaching the house, and looking at Alice Puttellos illustrations, I could see how I could put these ideas I had floating around in to a working composition. In this thumbnail here, I have the witches arriving at the house in the middle, surrounded by the objects and things the mistress uses to break the spell. So here I could combine the two ideas to have something like a complete idea that can visualize two parts of the story. I’ve finally settled on an illustrative plan that I’m happy enough to attempt to go ahead with.

 

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Final Major Project: Work in Progress!

 

So for my final major project I have decided to get on and create some illustrations for a couple of folk tales/fairy tales and such. I did want to find local folk tales but have had trouble trying to locate them, so instead I have been selecting some story’s from my book of “Celtic fairy tales” by Joseph Jacobs. One of these such story’s I have selected is called “The Horned Women” which is about an invasion of twelve witches taking over a woman’s home to make spells and do their business. Whats especially peculiar about these witches is that they all have horns protruding from them, with the first witch with only one and the twelfth with twelve.

I’ve been brainstorming how to go about illustrating this story, and have considered doing it for a children’s book, or a graphic novel, or even making it into a simple zine. Unsure which path to go down, I’ve been doodling ideas for how to visualize scenes and the witches themselves to see what works. Its honestly been a process of throwing things at a wall to see what sticks. I have also discovered my old dip pen, and have been practicing drawing and writing with it a bit. I think the old fashioned look and the spindly lines/marks it produces can create some interesting atmosphere. I think the look of it is quite appropriate for an old Celtic folk tale.

I struggle with drawing figures so I worked around this by drawing the witches as vague and mysterious as possible. I kinda like how they look, but I think they still need some development to get right. Maybe going a bit simpler again would work?

I really liked my small drawing of the two witches/mysterious figures arriving at the cottage door, so I decided to try and redo this idea. I used a postcard sized piece of watercolor paper to draw on, because I wanted to see what dry inky textures would work. There are a lot of mistakes in this little drawing, but I learnt a lot from doing it. I love how atmospheric the inky textures look, but I need to learn how to control the brush better so I don’t make a royal mess of it. I think this kind of illustration technique is more appropriate for things like Folio Books rather than children’s books, maybe that’s the direction I should take this work?

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Ink drawing experiment; the witches knocking at the door.

 

Lisbon Trip!

I recently went on a trip to the beautiful city Lisbon with the college. Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal, and I had never been there before, and had never been on holiday without family before so didn’t really know what to expect, but I had heard nothing but good things about Lisbon. I had a (mostly) great time but the highlights of the trip was getting to go to the aquarium, which was one of the biggest in Europe, and getting to meet the teacher and author, Ed Hooks. His enthusiasm for animation is endless, and almost makes me want to get back in to it. Either way I can relate to his love for the medium, even if I don’t make it myself.

Lisbon is the second oldest city in Europe, after Athens, which makes for a very interesting city to explore, although very confusing at times. Getting lost is just part of the fun, and in doing so I came across some beautiful back alleyways, churches and streets. This day of exploring these streets was the main inspiration for my illustration.

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While I was in Lisbon I collected some leaflets that were appealing to me visually, and from these I took some inspiration for the colors I chose. I played with a couple ideas, including some aquarium doodles, before settling on illustrating the streets and houses of Lisbon, and the way they seem to pile and layer on top of each other.

My initial thumbnail developed in to some experimental sketches, and I really loved how the simple composition of just a handful of houses turned out, so decided to try and redraw and refine that idea again on the next page. I did have this other, more ambitious idea of doing a large illustration of lots of buildings and landmarks, illustrated almost like a pattern design. I never really went that far with this idea because of how time consuming and tedious I thought it might be, but who knows I still might come back to it.

As an artist I should really push myself to try new things, so I decided to try something out with my favorite sketch I did from my sketchbook. I haven’t got nearly as much experience with Photoshop as I should have and have been wanting to try out using it for adding colour to my illustrations for a while, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity.

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It took a while, but I managed to figure out a way to do it with my limited knowledge and memory of Photoshop. I’m mostly pretty happy with how it turned out, but maybe its not quite as clean as I would’ve liked it to be. I still cant decide entirely which colour pallet I like the most out of the two I’ve played with. I think the I’m possibly leaning more towards the red/orange/bluey-green one from the two, because I feel the colours represent the city better, with the red rooftops.

Overall this illustration was a great exercise in Photoshop, and I learnt a lot by doing it, and will experiment further with this method of adding colour to hand drawn images in the future because I’m quite happy with how this turned out.

(Final) Major Project: Ideas?

Recently I’ve been thinking and planning a project for the end of year show. This will be the final project I will likely do in educational circumstances, so its slightly intimidating. This will be the project that may help me get my foot in the door somewhere. I can hope so anyway, who really knows.
Thinking about what I wanna create for this project has got me thinking about what kind of illustrator I really wanna be. And to answer that, I currently really don’t know. But I do know that I love narrative illustration and storytelling, even if I’m not so good at it myself, and I wanna be able to build on my strong points and learn something new with this project.

Something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while is illustrating something kinda spooky. Like horror, and horror fantasy in particular. Ghost stories and the supernatural have always interested me since I was a kid, and books like Goosebumps were my favorite. I also used to have a book of a collection of ghost stories and horror stories for kids and even though I must’ve read it when i was about nine I still remember the creepy imagery I have of reading about the story of the monkeys paw, and another one about some un-dead Count. Traditional fairy tales and lore and legend of fairy and creatures were a big fascination of mine too, reading about creatures such as Babayaga or changelings. Sorta almost silly stuff I guess now, but I loved to scare myself as a kid. I was a bit of a reader when I was younger, and don’t really remember most of what I read about, and I most certainly don’t have any of those books anymore, unfortunately.

Since I loved all these tales so much when I was a kid, I am thinking about possibly illustrating a horror story aimed towards children. I’m unsure what age group to be honest. Possibly a good start would be the age I was when I was super in to all that stuff, which I think was about 8/9/10-ish. Another decision I need to make is what form of illustrative product I will make. I could go for a picture book, but again, what age group do I choose. Or I could create some sort of graphic novel/comic.

I’m also not really that much of a writer at all, so am taking a story to adapt and illustrate from local folklore. Possibly Herefordshire, or Gloucestershire. It might even be interesting to find a story from The Forest of Dean, where I grew up, but I feel like that will take some very determined digging and research. I’ve been told of a folklorist named Mary Ella Leather, who I need to do more research for. Her collection of folk tales is now out of print, unfortunately. So any copy I have found has been a bit out of my price range. Will have to visit Hereford library, who knows, they might have a copy.ย I want to be able to bring back some interest into local tales. These days they are difficult stories to find, but British history is full of storytelling.

Some visual influences for this project have been comic artist and writer Emily Carrol. (Her website here.) I have a copy of a collection of her stories “Through the Woods” I absolutely adore. She seems to have a knack for capturing the perfect feeling of dread in her illustrations. Below is a small example of her work, which is a personal comic inspired by the video game Fallout 4. Her other fallout 4 inspired comics can be found here. I Like this comic because of the cinematic timing, the slow zoom, and the cleaver use of tone to emphasize something hiding in the dark.

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Another artist I’ve been recommended to look at is Australian artist Shaun Tan. I particularly love his character designs he made in his book “The Singing Bones”. All the characters are inspired by tales from Brothers Grimm and are quite abstract and fun, and most importantly to me, not particularly human like. I struggle greatly with drawing people and faces, and new interesting approaches towards creating characters like this are always fun and inspiring to me. (Link for his website here.)

mother trudi s
ย โ€˜Oh, Mother Trudy, I was so petrified. I looked through theย window and didnโ€™t see you, but I saw the devil with a fiery head!โ€™

Hereford Courtyard Film Guide Competition!

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This is my submission for the Courtyard’s competition to create an image for their A5 film guide. This was one of the first proper goes I’ve had at producing an illustration in Photoshop. In the past I’ve mostly just used Photoshop to clean up or edit prints that I have done, or have only really used it in workshops at college.

For a change, I’m actually kinda proud of this one. For someone who spends a lot of time on my computer I don’t actually have much confidence at all with Photoshop and tend to be a bit old fashioned in my methods, but these days I’ll only be helping myself a great deal by getting to grips with it. Ultimately I still prefer to do my original drawings traditionally, and I have thought about colouring them digitally for a while. Mostly because it is easier, and I can play about with colours endlessly, and it took a while before I figured out the right colour combination.

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I’ve had the composition for this piece in my head for a while, just wanted to do something simple. At first my ideas were getting a bit too cluttered, so I just focused on the one item in the illustration. It is after-all for a guide cover and needs to have a simple and recognizable silhouette, something recognizable when its surrounded by other leaflets, and the top part especially needs to be noticeable since that’s the part you would see first if this leaflet was placed in a stand.

I think if there was one big thing I would change, it would be maybe moving the camera and everything further up on the page. I tired keeping rules of three in my mind but not sure if it all looks too far down the page. I was also keeping in mind the graphics Courtyard will overlay onto the image too. It’ll be interesting to see how it may possibly turn out as a final product (I hope).

Good luck to anyone else who entered it too! โค