Wednesday, 9 November 2011

"But isn't that your job?"

Thursday 3rd November 10 am 2011

Third years from illustration and Graphics witnessed the force of nature that is Craig Oldham last Thursday, as he came in to talk to students about his experiences of art directing illustrators whilst working at Music design agency in Manchester.

Craig based his presentation "But isn't that your job?" around his experience with illustrators through six projects that Music have commissioned at which illustration has been central to the success of the design.

Firstly Craig introduced the Big Four poster series. A job Music work on with Manchester City Football Club. In this quote Craig explains the raison d'etre behind the choice of imagery and the decision to work with illustrators.

A match isn’t just a match, it’s an event, not to be missed. It’s a unique experience more likened to a gig than game of football that you simply have to be a part of and that gets talked about for weeks—especially the games against the so-called Big Four: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United.

To celebrate and promote each of the Big Four Events (as in games) Music created gig-esque posters, and had them fly-postered around Manchester, to generate a feeling of excitement and distinction for each individual game that celebrated the players that had distinct and unique relationships with both clubs. Here are the results:

Manchester United illustration: Shepard Fairey

Liverpool illustrator: Todd Slater

Chelsea illustrator: Michael Gillette

Arsenal illustrator:

Craig then went on to talk us through two other recent projects with extensive use of illustration:

Chester Zoo Identity illustrator: Adam Hayes

Identity and way finding for Faith School in Hull

Throughout the examples Craig drew out lessons learnt through the projects not only by himself but also the illustrators involved. Below I’ve tried to capture these as accurately and succinctly as possible:

· Don’t second guess the client: Don’t try to give them what you ‘think’ they want just give them what you do naturally and skillfully.

· Does your work pass the Mum Test, ie if you show the work to your mum will she get it? If not its probably bobbins.

· Passion – Be passionate about what you do –its infectious- it shows in your work and it increases your chances of being commissioned.

· Have an opinion, a voice, something to say. Talk to the client, suggest alternatives don’t be too passive.

· Designers change their minds……..all the time……prepare for change! Try to accommodate it graciously.

· Designers and art directors aren’t the enemy, we are all in this together.

· Designers prefer lots of quick roughs or scamps early on in a project to reassure them your going in the right direction.

· Illustrators need to market themselves better, it’s hard to find them sometimes!

· Often illustrators will be asked to do something similar to a previous job …….’can you do it the same as that one but in blue?’ The choice is yours if the money is good …maybe, but don’t get in a rut.

· Illustrators are harder to work with than photographers, but easier to work with than writers!

· Designers love working with illustrators because it’s more exciting and unpredictable than working with photographers.

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