Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Baba Yaga And The Wolf - Tin Can Forest

I found this book titled 'Baba Yaga and The Wolf' by Tin Can Forest and found it really useful to see how someone else had interpreted Baba Yaga. Although not necessarily my way of working, the illustrations throughout this book are wonderful and sit well within a narrative field. It's also useful to see what context Baba Yaga sits in to different people, I wish I had the money to be able to buy this book so i could have a read and get a better feel for it and the story it tells.

I don't really think that I want to make a book of sorts, but I feel that maybe looking at some of the stories Baba Yaga features in would help me develop a better understanding of this mysterious character, so this is something I will be looking into at a further date. It is also interesting to read about what the imagery is influenced by and how these different influences have shaped the way this book has come together.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Baba Yaga's Hut - Development

The most striking thing about Baba Yaga has to be the hut on chicken legs that she resides in. This is one of the things that drew me in about this character and I feel that it's going to be interesting to try and create an image based around her mythical house. There are different interpretations of her house, some say that the windows to the hut are eyes, others say the hut is surrounded by a fence made from flaming human skulls.


Stories say that her hut can be found in a clearing in the forest, standing on its chicken legs and screaming until you utter a phrase that brings it to a halt and settle on the ground. I'm trying to develop the image to make it seem as if the hut is in the middle of a forest, towering above the trees, to place more importance on the hut and also to allow people to focus on that part of the imagery first. I think I'm going to lino cut my final images as they'll give a textured, authentic feel to the imagery which I think will enhance my illustrations.

Cut Paper and Shape are Saving My Ass

I've been working with cut paper and shape a little bit and it's really helping me understand how to work with shape. I've mostly stuck to using line to create my illustrations before and it's because when i'm drawing and sketching thats all I can really make sense of. If I try understand a line drawing in terms of shape it confuses me a little. BUT, using cut paper to create shapes and the adding detail to them is helping me understand how working with shape could enhance my work. I've been creating some motifs of the three pairs of hands that do Baba Yaga's bidding using this method of image-making and I'm really enjoying the direction their heading in.

Initial Sketches

I've started sketching a few initial ideas in my sketchbook. I'm really interested in how to work with the image of Baba Yaga's hut but also how I can convey the ambiguity of this mysterious character. Baba Yaga is described as being both of force of good and evil, sometimes helping those that come to her and sometimes harming those that appear at her door. I've been trying to make her look more like a wise old woman, whilst still incorporating some of her legendary traits such as her long nose and her skeletal appearance. She is both someone to be feared and respected so I feel like that needs to be conveyed within my work.

I've also been trying to work on the appearance of her hut, this is proving tricky and I can't quite figure out how to get the chicken legs to look right and how to position them as if they are attached to the hut. Another thing I've been playing around with is the idea of the three spectral hands that appear from thin air to do her bidding. I feel that there's opportunity to experiment with composition with this imagery but I'm not entirely sure what to do yet.

Baba Yaga - The Slavic Witch

- supernatural being (or one of three sisters of the same name) who appears as a deformed/ferocious looking witch

- also known as Baba Yaga Bony Legs due to her skeletal appearance (although she has an appetite for eating people) 

- she travels around in a mortar and pushes herself along the forest floor with a pestle, she can also fly in the mortar and use the pestle to push herself through the sky. She uses a silver birch broom to sweep away any traces of her

- skeletal appearance, iron teeth and a nose so long that it touches the ceiling when she sleeps

- lives in a hut deep in the forest on her own 

- her hut has a personality of it's own and can move around on its giant chicken-legs, usually spinning around as it moves for the forest, or stands with its back to the visitor, all the while emitting blood-curdling screeches

- it will only come to a halt when the visitor says a special incantation ("turn your back to the forest and your front to me"). When it stops it turns to face the visitor and lowers itself to the floor, throwing open the door with a  loud crash 

- the house is surrounded by a fence made of human bones and skulls with flaming eye sockets to illuminate the darkness

- rules over the elements and has three faithful servants; the white horseman (dawn), the red horseman (the sun), the black horseman (the night)

- her other servants include three pairs of disembodied hands that appear out of thin air to do her bidding. She calls them 'my soul friends' and 'friends of my bosom'

- male counterpart is Koshchey the Deathless

Further Research into Starting Points

I've been really struggling with trying to figure out what it is that I want to base this module around. I feel like I've been thinking a little too much about it and getting myself wound up about finding the 'perfect' theme/concept to run with.

I've been doing some research into things that I actually find interesting and that I want to learn more about and draw more from. I had a quick look at urban myths/legends which kind of trailed off into looking at superstitions and then haunted locations. As interesting as this was I wasn't 100% that any of these topics might be for me so I moved onto looking at witches which is something that I've been interested in in the past and feel that I'd enjoy drawing around.

The research I did at first was quite broad and I was struggling to pin down whether I wanted to look at the historical witch hunts and focus on the kind of creepy/gory details that come from that time or wether I wanted to look at white witches/medicine women and try and work with them. I was almost certain that I didn't want to look into mythological/legendary witches because I don't usually work with things that aren't based in some kind of truth and fact.

But then I stumbled upon Baba Yaga, a witch from Slavic folklore. After reading a bit about her and looking at old stories about her I've decided that this is definitely something that I'm quite interested in. For me Baba Yaga embodies both the creepy/spooky element of witches that I was interested in and also the white witches/medicine women that I was interested in, as in stories she can either be a good or bad character. I feel there'll be a lot of imagery to work with in this project and am looking forward to finding out more about Baba Yaga and her history.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

The Batsford Prize - Change of Plan

I originally stated that I was going to produce a screen print for this competition but after having the submission briefing for responsive, I really don't see the point. We don't actually hand anything physical in for marking, it's all digital and blog based so I think I'm just going to submit my work for this brief as a digital file rather than a photographed print.

It might seem a bit lazy or like a bit of a cop out but honestly I don't have the money to be buying fancy paper and binder and all that and I definitely don't have the time to be spending ages in the print room trying to get this right. I think my image will need a few tweaks if I submit it as a digital image, like a bit of texture adding too it maybe but that's okay! I'm still happy with my final design and my reasoning behind it!

Friday, 24 March 2017

Submission Boards and Proof of Submission

As part of our submission to YCN, we had to create a set of design boards to submit. My partner mostly worked on putting the design boards together as this was part of his responsibility within the group. His skills in type and layout are a lot stronger than mine and I feel that he best knows how to lay things out in order to maximise the impact of the imagery and also to make the work we've produced look more professional. We discussed design board content beforehand and he showed me what he'd produced afterwards and it was something we were both happy with. All that we had to do then was submit. Below is our proof of submission.

I am happy that this brief is over with now, I've enjoyed working collaboratively more than I thought I would and I can see how working across disciplines can improve my practice and also broaden my contacts. I didn't enjoy the brief as much as I thought I would and I think this is because towards the end I was just bored of it. I feel that if I enter a competition like YCN again I need to make sure i'm really engaged with the brief and I'm choosing it for reasons that are important to me. 

Quick Brief - Ohhdeer Go Card Or Go Home

 Because of my poor time planning and lack of organisation, I didn't have the time to enter the UK Greetings competition on YCN. HOWEVER, Ohhdeer are in the process of having their annual greetings card competition so I decided to try my luck with that. To be honest, I think the ohhdeer competition is bit more suited to me, UK Greetings seemed very serious and professional, which I am not. You can upload up to 4 entries but I've just done one for now and they can be either portrait, landscape or square. The brief also said that they were looking at valentines and mothers day cards for next year but were also open to any kind of greetings card.

I started off with a quick sketch that I refined and then scanned into Photoshop. I've recently started braving photoshop bit more and have purchased some of the Kyle Webster brush sets. I decided to create my image using these and also gave using a Wacom tablet a go for the first time! This is kind of a big thing for me considering how terrified I was of using anything digital at the start of the year. 

I've submitted my entry now, I'm pretty sure that the winner is just chosen by the people behind Ohhdeer but there's also an option for people to vote for different designs so I've posted the link around on Facebook/Instagram a bit so that people can vote if they want. I don't think this really influences who wins or anything but it's at least worth a shot! I've mocked up my card design as well, more for the sake of the presentation boards that we need to do for the end of this module but it looks kind of professional so maybe mock-ups are something I should be considering a bit more, especially for 505. 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Illustration Friday - Weapon

The word I chose for this week was 'Weapon'. I chose this because it's a subject matter that I'm not used to drawing around and I wanted to step out of my comfort zone a little bit. I usually work around nature and natural form so drawing something that was more rigid and had more of a definite structure was new to me. Saying that, I really enjoyed it and I'm really pleased with my outcome. Out of all of the Illustration Friday responses I've done, this is one that I'm most proud of. I think this is going to be the last Illustration Friday response that I do, it's getting towards the end of the year and I feel that I need to be focusing my efforts on completing other briefs and modules and feel that I've pushed Illustration Friday as far as I need to at this moment in time. 

Friday, 17 March 2017

Final Outcomes

These are the final outcomes we have produced for the brief. I'm personally quite happy with how it's turned out overall. I see the benefit of working with a Graphic Design student. I don't think I'd have been able to complete the brief to a good enough standard just using my own skill set, for example, I don't really understand how things should be layed out and what considerations you have to take to create a landing page so it's been good to have someone else to work with who fully understands that aspect of the brief.  Overall the design is cohesive with the image that The Grown Up Chocolate Company already have. We haven't strayed to far from their standard branding but have managed to create a unique and playful outcome that portrays our interpretation of the brief. 
Our next step is to create the design boards and then submit to YCN. 

Friday, 10 March 2017

Final Illustrations and Application of Pattern

This is the final set of motifs that I've created for the brief. I'm pleased with how they've turned out, although they're quite simple I feel that they can still communicate the fun, playful message behind The Grown Up Chocolate Company. My next task after editing these images was to apply them to the outer sleeve template provided in the Project Pack for this brief. This took quite a while to figure out as I had to make sure I was leaving space for the logo, ingredients and some other mandatory logo's that the brief specified had to be on the outer sleeve. 

I'm happy with how the application of my images has turned out. I feel that keeping the background white was a good decision so as not to make the image over-crowded or bit too busy. I found it hard to work to the size that was asked of me. I didn't realise how small the box was but I feel that I've used the space effectively to create something that fits the brief to a good standard. I've sent my partner the design over, he's really happy with how it's turned out but just wants to make a few tweaks to some of the logo placement and sizing. I'm happy that I'm working with someone that understands more about the design aspect to a brief like this, I feel like his input will definitely improve our submission. My next task is to send my illustrations and the box over to my partner. He will then start to finalise the work he's been doing on the landing page and we can then start to put together our design boards ready for submission. 

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Imagery Development

After meeting with my partner again and going through my ideas, we've decided to go ahead with following the route of cut paper and looking at how we can use simple motifs of the different ingredients to create a fun, playful pattern that can be applied to both the box and the landing page.

I started out with some simple roughs in my sketchbook. I then sent these over to my collaborative partner and he seemed to like the direction I was heading in. I decided to use cut paper to create some shape-based motifs that were easy to move around and edit on photoshop. I'm really enjoying working with cut paper at the minute and I feel that it's the easiest way for me to work with shape. When I'm drawing things, I can only understand it in terms of the lines that are down on the page, but when I translate that into cut paper, it's easier for me to identify the different shapes that are used to create the overall image. 

These are the motifs that I've created as a base for the pattern that we will be creating. I don't think this will be a repeat pattern as such, but more just random placement to create an interesting composition on the small space that we have to work with. I will be scanning these into Photoshop and editing the colours and adding small amounts of texture. Me and my partner decided that it would be best for me to create the pattern that will be used on the outer-sleeve of the box and then I will send my files over to him so that he can apply them to the landing page that he is creating. 

Although we've separated the brief into different tasks for each person, we are still communicating, sharing ideas and giving each other feedback so that we can create an outcome that we are both happy with and that we both think fits the brief well. 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Batsford Prize - More Mockups

I got some feedback from people around the studio and from ben, most of it was conflicting from my own views BUT I think I've settled on what I want to do with this image. I'm going to get rid of the big snake around the outside, I don't feel like it works with the rest of my paper cut pieces and feel like it takes over the whole image. I'm also going to step back from using so much colour. This isn't how I enjoy working and after speaking to Ben I'm starting to realise that a lack of colour doesn't necessarily mean that a lack of effort has gone into making the image. I've done a few more roughs and mock ups and feel that I'm in a strong position now to start creating my final prints. I'm a lot happier with the composition overall and feel that it works well alongside my choice of colour.

The Batsford Prize - Mock Ups

Once I'd scanned my paper cut motifs into photoshop I started to bring together the composition and look at colour. I wanted to keep the colours quite natural and rustic in a way. I feel like the green one connects more to the idea of nature and the natural world whilst the peachy one is bit more rustic and tribal in a sense. I'm quite happy with how they're turning out but I'm really not sure about the colour choice and about wether the snake works well or not. I mocked another composition up and to me this seems stronger. I think I need to get some feed back from peers/tutors so I'm going to try and get some different opinions on everything before moving any further forward with this. 

The Batsford Prize - Paper Cut Animals

From my roughs and development sketches, I moved onto using paper cut methods to recreate my drawings. I usually really struggle to work with shape and have a tendency to lean towards using line as a way of making images. Through the paper cut process I feel that I've found a more effective way for me to work with shape and I'm really enjoying the aesthetic that comes along with paper cut techniques. I'm going to use these to start mocking up ideas for my final screen print and then I'll be able to print the positives out and get making my prints! 

The Batsford Prize - Roughs and Development

Ive started on some roughs for my idea and feel that they're coming along really well! I quite like the idea of having a snake circling my main image and think this is something that I'm going to take forward. I feel like it could be circling the wolves and having the snake around the whole image would help convey the idea of healing and re-birth. The only thing that worries me about this is that maybe the snake would take over from the rest of the image. I feel like once I've mocked it all up on photoshop I'll have a better idea of whats working and what isn't.

The Batsford Prize - Rationale

I intend to produce a 40 x 40cm won colour screen print based around the research I have done for this brief. I am going to incorporate the fable of The Two Wolves and the symbolism of the snake to produce an image which i think best reflects the relationship with our environment.

The fable of The Two Wolves teaches us to make a personal and a global choice about our relationship with and our attitude towards our environment. Our choices are to either continue to exploit and destroy our planet for our own personal gain and greed or to step back and become more respectful and understanding towards our environment and start to change and adapt our lifestyles to a way which is more environmentally friendly and give our environment a chance to heal. We are already well into the process of destroying our environment and this is something that we need to stop. To represent the idea of healing I will incorporate an image of a snake, which represents healing and rebirth. This is something that we need to allow our planet to do in order to preserve natural habitats and start to rebuild the environment we have already destroyed.

I'm really looking forward to producing prints for this. I feel like my concept is strong and well developed and am hoping that everything turns out well when I start printing my final image.

The Batsford Prize - Zuni Fetish

While I was looking at animal symbolism I stumbled about these little stone carvings called Zuni Fetishes. Fetishes are small stone carvings/objects that are believed to have magic powers. They are carried by an individual in the shape of different animals in order to bring to them to 'luck' or 'powers' that they believe that specific animal to have. I'm not really sure if this is something that I want to focus on too much but still found it really interesting that the connection to certain animals is so strong that people readily carry them about their person in order to bring them the luck and power of that specific animal.

The Batsford Prize - Legends and Fables

I've spent a bit of time looking at Native American folklore and fables and have found some really interesting stuff! Initially I was looking for stories that related to the environment and our approach towards it but I found one that was a lot more interesting.
I've spent some time looking at a cherokee legend about Two Wolves

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
This fable teaches us about the power of choice, and how we can all make a personal decision to redirect negative thoughts and actions into positive ones if only we can recognise that we have the power to make that decision. 
I feel like this is a really great metaphor for our attitude towards the environment, we all have a personal choice and a global choice as to whether we continue to destroy and exploit our environment for our own personal greed or wether we take a step back and become more respectful and compassionate towards our environment in order to allow it to heal. I would really like to bring an element of this fable into my final image, I believe that in terms of our relationship with the environment we are now at a point where it is imperative that we make this choice for the benefit of our planet and in the long-term, ourselves. I also think i could start to bring some of the animal symbolism into this and I'd be really interested in incorporating an image of a snake into the print, as snakes typically represent healing and re-birth, something that our planet needs to do. 
My next steps will be to write up my rationale and then start to develop roughs and initial sketches. I'm feeling like this idea has a lot more context and more of a backstory behind it than my initial idea did. I also think it relates a lot more to the theme of 'interpreting nature' and 'our relationship with the environment' than just looking at endangered animals does, I feel like this way, I'm asking people to take a step back and look at their own choices and how they can make better decisions to better the condition of our environment and how we can make global choices that will benefit us all and also benefit the planet. 

The Batsford Prize - Animism and Native American Folklore

- the belief that all things have a spirit or soul, including animals, plants, rivers, mountains, stars, the moon and the sun.

Finding out about Animism led me onto looking at Native American culture and folklore, where animism plays a prominent part in their belief system and history. Throughout Native American folklore there is a lot of animal symbolism that are used in fables and legends across a whole load of different tribes. I noted down some common animals that pop up and what they generally symbolise.

Bear - courage, physical strength, leadership
Beaver - determination and strong will
Coyote - cunning trickster
Deer - gentleness, grace, survival 
Dog - loyalty
Eagle - divine spirit, creation, freedom
Fox - anticipation, observation, stealth
Lizard - conservation, self-protection
Raccoon - curiosity, adaptability, resourcefulness
Serpent - chaos, corruption, darkness
Squirrel - planning, the home
Snake - healing, re-birth 
Spider - creativity, weaver of the fabric of life
Turtle - good health, long life
Wolf - direction, leadership, embodies protection and destruction

I have a few little ideas floating around about how I could combine these symbolic animals into an image but at the minute i'm finding it's once again got a lack of context. I'm going to look into some folklore and fables and see how they can inform my images as well.

The Batsford Prize - Change of Idea

I've decided to change my idea, as happy as i was with the direction the endangered bird print was going, I just don't think it has much context and when thinking about our relationship with the environment, it goes a lot deeper than just endangered birds.
I think we've always had a relationship with our environment and animals, something that has been considered a lot more precious in the past than it is now. We used to hold  certain animals and the environment on some kind of pedestal, and they were respected through folklore and legends. In the modern day, especially in western culture this is no longer a part of our culture, or it's not as prominent as it once was. I think I'm going to research into folklore and how animals have previously been represented too us through folklore. Some starting points are:
- Folklore
- Native American
- Legends
- Connection
- Totems

The Batsford Prize - Bird Roughs

I've been sketching a few things up for my bird idea, but I'm not really too sure if I want to follow this through. I feel like there's a lack of context and that I'm taking quite a typical route. Also if I focus in on this one specific part of our relationship with nature, i'm completely missing a whole load of other things. I think I'd be better off trying to think of a way I can encompass our entire relationship with the environment in an image rather than just focusing down on one really specific thing.