Thursday, 27 October 2011

Get down to the Thought Bubble Festival, in Leeds, if you are interested sequential art in all its forms, including everything from superhero comics to independent and small-press artists and writers. Check out their website for details and ticket prices.

Cheltenham Illustration Awards

On 26th October, Gary and I attended the Cheltenham Illustration Awards at the Parabola Arts Centre, Cheltenham. This is in its 5th year and entries came from all over the world. The theme for submitting work was ‘Tree Time Tales’. To accompany the awards ceremony a group of illustrators where invited to speak at the event.

First up where two representatives from Biografiktion, Till Hafenbrak and Paul Paetzel who are part of this collective along with Ana Albero. Their name comes from the merging of the two words – biography and fiction. They explore the boundaries between fiction and truth.

They met while studying at the University of Arts in Berlin. They were taught by Henning Wegenbreth (whose apartment we went to last year in Berlin!).

They recognized similarities in their work and formed a group in 2008, while the were still studying. They saw the benefits of working together as this meant, sharing the workload, sharing costs, having bigger recognition, spending more time with friends and constant motivation and critique from one another.

They produce small print runs of limited edition hand-made books: 32 – 36 pages. They use a combination of screen printing and photocopying. The use limited colour palettes to bring cohesion to their different styles.

They create publications about well-know celebrities and fictional scenarios they encounter. Issues include invented stories about Reinhold Messner, Eddie Murphy and Abba.

They also produce publications of their solo work and spoke of all the considerations they have to make before they start:

1) How will the colour screen prints and black and white pages of the book affect the story?

2) Working out the plot as a diagram

3) Should the panels be classical, free-standing, mirror or round?

4) Does the type in the speech bubble have to be the same for different characters?

5) The format, number of pages and fold out cover.

They then discussed how they go about distributing their work. They have tried a variety of ways, including selling via bookstores but they take approx 40% commission, they turned up at a comic fair without having an exhibitors stand so improvised and made their own.

They have found the most success through attending comic fairs all over the world in Strasbourg Comic Fair, The Tokyo Art Book Fair, The Fumetto International Comic Fair in Lucerne Switzerland, The Angouleme Comic Festival and The Comica Festival in London. This builds interest then they sell via word of mouth and twitter via their online shop. It was very impressive how fairly fresh out of college they are and have been so pro-active.

Next it was the turn of Anne Howeson, artist, illustrator and tutor for many years at the RCA.

She has worked commercially for many years, different types of clients the UK and USA. She is now more focused on her own subject matters and self-initiated drawing projects. She is currently working on drawings about the regeneration of Kings Cross area near to where she lives.

She strongly believes the power that drawing has to unravel ideas. Even though we may not be aware of what out personal obsessions are, if one is to look back over their work from a number of years, themes will be apparent. Her own motivations would be people and landscapes.

Her early work was mostly triggered by remembering, every tiny detail of family life. She feels this work was her way of trying to make sense of herself. She describes herself as a very curious person who notices and questions things. Her advice to students would be that they are not always good at noticing what they do best, either because what they produced they find it too easy or it is not fashionable. She advocates trying not to please the public but to stick to what feels most interesting to you. Through persistence and self-belief something good will come of it.

Her work developed to explore more risqué themes such as prostitution. She observed red light areas in Paris and combined images from memory, imagination, photographs and imagination to make pictures. Starting points for images would be the questions she asked herself: what is going on in the room up there? The answer would lie in the next drawing she did.

She encourages to steal from others’ and not be ashamed to do so as long as you are aware that you are doing it then afterwards move on. She has taken direct inspiration from Balthaus & Edward Hopper.

Her risqué work meant that she became pigeon holed by clients and worked hard to reinvent her work through returning to drawing. Gardens and the outdoors became her next subject, where she explored structure and perspective.

Her move away from commercial work to finding her own subject matters has indeed brought a new interest in her work. She has exhibited the self-initiated work of the King’s Cross drawings in collaboration with the Museum of London. These drawing explore atmosphere, in-between spaces, the past, the present and future of the King Cross landscapes. This project shows how a personal dialogue of a subject can generate interest from others because it is done with passion.

The final speaker was Paul Gravett, comic fanatic, journalist and writer. His new book is out this month and is in the series of 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die. If you are a fan of Graphic Novels, Manga, British Comics, Crime & Horror Comics, then I recommend heading over to Paul’s website. He spoke with such enthusiam about the beginnings, history and current comic scene that I am now a convert. Highlights from his talk where interesting practice emerging from different cultures, women who make comics, censorship in the US post World War 2, strong issues brought to light through comics and graphic novels e.g Maus by Art Spiegelman (a survivors tale of the Holocaust) and the techniques of combining text and image to tell the story.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Manchester and Salford Illustrated

Local artists and illustrators entered a competition, Manchester & Salford Illustrated to raise funds and awareness for Manchester based charity, Wood Street Mission!

The brief was an open invitation to professional illustrators based in the Greater Manchester & Salford area to submit a piece for work based on a thing, person, group of people, place, building or anything else that iconically represents Manchester and/or Salford.

The exhibition will be held at 52 Princess Street, Manchester from October 27th to November 10th. With the talents of Stanley Chow, Barney Ibbotson, Guy McKinley, Si Scott, Chris Madden and Mark Mottershead - spot the graduates!

Limited edition prints will be on sale both at the exhibition and online. All money raised will go directly to help children living in poverty in Manchester & Salford.

Monday, 17 October 2011

A Journey Through Wonderland: Alice in Multimedia

This a free exhibition at the Portico Library in Manchester. It explores various visual interpretations of Alice in Wonderland works by Peter Blake, Mabel Lucie Atwell and Tove Jansson, as well as images from animated versions. There are also some special lectures. I will attend "Pictures as Parody" on 29th November. Tickets are only £7. See listings here.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Graphic Guru Event

Graphic Guru will take place this Monday (10th October) The event the mutant off spring of 'Drawn Free' (born last year) will see six ex-Stockport illustration graduates return to the nest to meet with our current 3rd year fledglings.
The event is an opportunity for the 3rd years to talk to the graduates, and seek advice and support.
An added bonus this year will be that our five graduates Rose, Ben, Chris, Nat and Liam and Pete (see links in the Alumni section to the right) have all kindly agreed to act as 'Gurus' for a small group of current third years. This means that through out the year they 3rd years will have a point of contact with someone already doing the job out there in the big wide world. They can call upon them, rather like 'phone a friend' if they need advice on a project, visiting clients, or the direction of their work.

Add into the mix the illustrators friends: tea and cakes and it should be a great couple of hours.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Illustration as Writing Symposium

I highly recommend this on November 3rd and 4th. I went to the event in Cardiff last year and came away feeling totally inspired and full of ideas. This year it is just down the road at MMU.

This is the 2nd International Illustration Research Symposium which looks to illustration as an expression of the ‘primary language of vision’ and aims to integrate its practices and philosophies, both historical and emerging. The event seeks to expand the theoretical and practical frameworks and nuances of this potent and far-reaching discipline.

Illustration and Writing will look at illustration as visual language, and reflect on the role of the image within, around and in place of writing. We hope to explore the ways that purposeful images can augment, clarify or problematise meaning in relation to text.