Analysing my present and past work and what direction I want my visual language to take.
Reviewing my past work and how it’s developed
When reviewing my practice since studying art at A level to into my final year of studying illustration, I can pick out common themes in the two, even though my method and style of work has changed and developed a lot in my opinion.
I enjoy giving movement to what I draw, whether that’s through line work or colour. Throughout my A level art course two methods I rigidly used frequently was acrylic paint (a lot of landscape painting) and fluid line drawings using black art pens.
(Above and below) Work from from sixth form.
Bottom right and left) Work from foundation studies.
When I reflect that work I feel as if I was focusing heavily on making it ‘realistic’ and not developing an individual style and language.
During my foundation studies I still heavily gravitated towards these methods but had more of an opportunity to work and experiment with different medias. I remember feeling more inspired to experiment with ways of working (even if they failed) because I was surrounded by so many different types of work and exciting new methods to try.
Two methods that heavily featured in my work then that is still a big part of my visual language now is street style photography and fashion illustration and Japanese culture, art and graphic design. Both of my main projects in my foundation year were based on these two topics and when I reflect on my recent work I see features of those embedded into my visual language. (e.g when I draw figures I focus on natural movement and posture, a dominant feature in street style photography.)
Since coming to university, I’ve become more of a ‘digital illustrator’. I’ve focused a lot on becoming acquainting myself with photoshop and feeling confident being able to create digital work that I’m happy and satisfied with.
When reflecting on my work in first year I’m not happy with it, however I see it as an integral part of what my work is now. It was an experimental phase, I’d never used photoshop or digital software before coming to uni but this phase resulted in me finding a way of working that I love and a way of working efficiently. When I look back at my first digital based projects in uni I feel proud as I really pushed myself to improve; like making my lines smoother and cleaner and watching tutorials on creating certain effects on photoshop etc.
(Top) First digital illustration i ever did.
(Bottom) Most recent digital piece.
By following many artists on Instagram, like Poppy Crew, Haley Tippmann, Jacqueline Colley and Camille De Cussac ( to mention a few), I feel like they’ve had a big impact on developing my visual language.
Effecting small things in my work like colour palettes, textures, composition and general ideas, inspiring me to create work that’s out of my comfort zone, like using and including
perspective in my work. It’s also made me put a lot of effort in creating a visually pleasing online portfolio on instagram, making me question what content I enjoy seeing from other illustrators such as insight into their practice and work and trying to show that process on my page.
(Top left) Jacqueline Colley prints
(Top right) Illustration by Camille De Cussac
(Bottom image) Illustration by Haley Tippmann
When creating work, my main motivation is to give life and feeling to every narrative in my work and everything I create. Whether that’s using a light, bright colour palette that emits a ‘feel good’ effect on an individual or focusing on intimate moments in a narrative to give depth to a story or concept. One thing I love doing to do this is focus on hands or lighting in a room. One of our lecturers and illustrator Jon Mcnaught does this a lot in his work and I think it’s really effective in giving his work an edge and
When reflecting on past work and briefs, my two favourite were ‘A visual essay’ and ‘Narrative and sequence’. These two projects were a year apart but I felt as if I gained the most artistically from them. For the ‘visual essay’ brief I really pushed myself, I was curating work for a charity art fair for ‘Coppafeel’ as well as incorporating the ethos of the charity and research into breast cancer into creating a publication on a breast cancer survivors story. I found out how important research is into successfully fulfilling a brief and really pushed myself to work digitally, and learned how to work fast and up to a deadline. In my opinion this was a turning
point in my work, by selling my work at the charity art fair I also got to see what sort of work and product sells best but it was also very rewarding getting feedback from people face to face and taking that knowledge into future projects and being mindful of them when creating work.
The ‘Narrative and sequence’ brief made me realise how important diligent planning is and made me mindful of the fact I should constantly be questioning the reasoning behind every small detail in my work; composition, colour, the use of panels and text. Similar to the visual essay brief, it reinforced the
(Above) Example of a print i made for the charity art fair
importance of research, it proved very useful when getting feedback and targets on my work, and is key when trying to convey my ideas to others without having any visual example of my ideas.
The brief I learnt the most from was ‘poetic science’. It was a print making based brief and made me step away from the mentality of everything being perfect and finished from the get go and to let go and experiment with different processes.
Left and top right) Work from my Narrative and sequence brief.
During this brief I found out how much enjoy screen printing and really got stuck in with adjusting to working physically. I loved the gratification of seeing the end product after a day of printing and loved the outcome of the prints and it’s definitely something I want to do more in future.
In future I’d like to continue working digitally and learning new digital skills like developing gifs, creating s
mall animations and getting to grips with other digital programmes like pro-create, which I recently bought and really enjoy using.
In terms of visual language, I’d love to develop creating an atmosphere in my work; focusing on small details in a narrative, like composition, surroundings etc. Recently I’ve been developing creating little ‘room scenes’ and turning them into subtle moving gifs. I usually have a heavy focus on figures in my work but in the future I think emphasising the backdrop and surroundings in my work will bring more character and detail to my work which upon reflection is the thing that is missing.