With my illustration work throughout the three years, I’ve always felt like I’ve been trying to fit to a certain mould, always worrying about style, marks and what other people think. I didn’t feel like I’d developed enough of a ‘style’ as I’d wanted to by this point in my degree. However I felt that this project was the perfect opportunity to indulge myself researching and experimenting with my favourite processes and art styles without the stress of ‘competing’ with others on my course doing the same brief. Initially I struggled with it being so open but once I’d settled into a loose brief, I really enjoyed experimenting with no set end in sight.
The project developed quickly past the initial Cheltenham Illustration competition, and I’m glad I didn’t feel obliged to push my work to fit into their constraints for the competition. I wanted to try to get used to trusting my own judgements about my work and decisions on where to go with my project, so that when I finish I’ll have more confidence within the reasonings behind my outcomes.
I started looking into folklore and the more mysterious and curious sides of stories and imagery, and this was definitely a highlight of this project for me. These are all things I’m interested in outside of college work and it was great to be able to bring it into my creative process and feed off of things I’m already inspired by. I really wanted to create pieces that were approachable but still had that air of mystery around them. All my research definitely helped in leading me to create my finals but I did put a lot of pressure on myself and ended up doing so much research that I actually started to lose my own personality within my work, just trying to fit in with everything else. But I pushed through any struggles I encountered and I’m really pleased with the overall decision making and outcomes I have achieved.
However, I don’t think I quite managed to get that atmosphere I desired in my final pieces though maybe due to time constraints. I also think that decision of not creating my own characters was possibly what contributed to the loss of that curious atmosphere I desired. But that decision was not one that I opted for lightly. The work of Studio Ghibli and the Moomin stories bring these strange creatures to children as approachable and friendly, but I didn’t feel I had enough experience creating characters or characterising objects, so was unsure whether I would be able to pull it off, and obviously as my final project I was wary of going into new territory so late. Also as a big fan of horrors and thrillers, in more realistic work, I often feel that once the creature is shown to the audience, you lose a lot of the excitement and anticipation that keeps you interested in the story. Especially if it’s not how you imagined it to be. This idea is even shared by the highly popular filmmaker JJ Abrams, so its clearly an idea that works well to keep interest.
There were a lot of different routes that this project could have taken me, but I’m really pleased with where I’ve ended up. Though it didn’t go where I would have wanted throughout a lot of the project, I feel I’ve learnt a lot more about myself and my working process. I have played with creating textures and then adapting them on photoshop before, but not to this extent. Having Ian Murray come in and talk to us about his similar process was great and I really learnt a lot from him and his techniques and tips. When creating digital work I always feel it looks flat and unattractive, but adding textures helped turn very simple constructions into a more developed and complete piece, the textures gave it a more handmade quality which I feel is more connectable for the audience. As this process is still fairly new to me I definitely have a lot more experimentation to continue with but this project has really helped me define my creative process and give me more confidence within my own decision making.
I maintained a really good work ethic throughout this project and it has really paid off with the amount I have to show and have learnt throughout. However its deceiving how long it will take to create a lot of the stuff on Photoshop, so I am a little disappointed with the small amount of time I spent on my final images in comparison to experimentation, but I really don’t think this isn’t a project I could finish and be completely satisfied with in this small amount of time, purely because of the vast possibilities surrounding folklore itself. If I had more time I would push myself into a more narrative direction and perhaps write my own story surrounding this small village I’ve created in the woods, using the research I have about all the folklore creatures and their personalities. This is something I will continue after university and develop into a more rounded collection of work.
Overall I am really pleased with my project as a whole.