Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Portfolio Visits

Love Creative –

For 4 weeks I worked on a placement at Love Creative in Manchester, they are a design agency based in the Northern Quarter and they specialise in marketing and advertising.
The placement was a great experience for me as it gave me the opportunity to see how a design house works and a professional designer applies their trade. The workplace was inspiring, as it gave the employees endless amounts of research material and a relaxed and artistic environment to work in.
Whilst at Love Creative I assisted one of the designers on an Umbro project, the designer needed a hand written font for some photographs for an advertising campaign. I produced the text that sat on the photographs (much like Polaroid’s).
Although the advertising and marketing field isn’t something that a present interests me, I respect the work produced it was intelligent & visceral and it encouraged me to look more at the message in my work, and concentrate on the importance of the viewer.
Whilst spending time at Love Creative an illustrator that the company works with on a regular basis Deanna Halsall. Deanna went through my portfolio and gave me some good advice on who to contact and how to go about promoting myself within the arts sector. Her comments on my work where in the most positive and complementary, she said that I should keep the work fresh and ensure that I built a good contact list.

Billington Cartmell & Brave –

When the London trip was announced I arranged a portfolio visit with an illustrator named Tom Genower. Tom is an old friend who studied illustration but now works in a design house called Billington Cartmell in Fulham Broadway. I managed to arrange for myself and 9 other students to go to their offices for a group portfolio visit. Billington Cartmell are a design agency in the same vain as Love Creative, and we had Tom plus 3 art directors looking through our portfolios, plus a gentleman called Ross Breadmore whom works for Nixon McInnes (add website link); Nixon McInnes specialise in web based and new media design, advertising & consultancy.
The feedback for my work was positive, “strong imagery” and “a good understanding of space and colour”. The folks from Billington Cartmell advised me to continue in the way I was working but were also interested in seeing more design and advertising based work as they thought that the imagery could work well in that field. Ross suggested that I should get all this out on the net and start producing online magazines, blogs & websites and to contact people that I wouldn’t necessarily ever think of working with to expand my portfolio and comfort zone.

Faber & Faber –

The Faber & Faber was the most important visit for me in London as I am primarily interested in publishing work in illustration. To have the chance to speak with such an established company with a highly regarded reputation was fantastic.
We spoke to the art director and 2 designers about a couple of past and current projects that they had been working on; they took us through the different procedures on how they work with illustrators for book covers which I found supremely helpful as now I know what the process is for this kind of illustration work.
On looking through my portfolio they commented on how my work certainly suits an editorial context (which is what the majority of the work produced was made for), but the art director (Diane) preferred the ‘Fuck You Bill’ book and illustrations as she thought that they had more energy and really stood out from the other work. She said that she would look for this kind of illustration rather the editorial work to work with.

Big Orange Illustration –

Previously before the visit to Big Orange Illustration, an art collective has to me always been something that designers or graphic artists do, so it was fantastic to see a group of illustrators working in one environment. Although they were all working on their own projects, you could see that the interaction between them all benefitted their work. This is one of the main reasons that a few of us have now started our own collective (LoveCream), so we can bounce ideas off each, be inspired by each other and give each other a kick up the arse when it’s needed.
The portfolio viewing was conducted by Robin Highway-Bury who at the beginning said that he would look through the portfolios but not make any comment; Paul Davis came back from a meeting and although he did not look at the portfolios he did give us some valuable advice, “Whatever the job is, take it!” He said although you can be very precious of your work it’s important not be too secluded as work will pass you by. This is something that was repeated by Robin & Ulla Puggaard who said, “Just keep doing it and don’t give up”.

Shellsuit Zombie –

Shellsuit Zombie was a bold & brash design agency based in London and although there wasn’t a portfolio critic, the evening was fun and inventive.
The evening was a mixture of team building, games, singing & dancing with a mixture of relevant talks about getting started up in the industry.

Gillian Blease & Andrew Pavitt –

We went to the British Library to meet Gillian Blease & Andrew Pavitt, two freelance illustrators based in London. These portfolio visits were excellent and so informative about life as a freelance illustrator. I think especially from Gillian as she went into so much detail about how to look for work and how to present your work to different clients; she said that the majority of the time that clients will look at your website, so this has to be up to date at all times. Once they contact you with work then ask them which work in particular they enjoyed; this will then be your template for the images that you will send them.
Gillian & Andrew both said that you need to keep reminding people that you are still alive; send out postcards quarterly with new and relevant images on them, plus keep sending out emails and pdf portfolios jus to say hello. The work you put in will come back to you so do not give up.
On the portfolio critiques both Gillian & Andrew enjoyed my work, and both gave me pointers on individual illustrations plus the overall look and feel of the portfolio; they went into such detail as they said that most art directors would do the same to any new illustrators that they would try to hire. Andrew commented that my work was good and he could see a market, Gillian said, “You won’t have a problem getting work’.

Seven Kings High School, Ilford, Essex –

My last visit in London took me to Seven Kings High School in Ilford, I was invited down there to assist in an art lesson (secondary school) with a friend of mine (Paul Whithyman) who is an art teacher at the school.
This was something that I wanted to do as I have also been writing and presenting workshops in art galleries, museums & charitable organisations; but I wanted a bit more of experience at a traditional educational level.
The lesson went well and I got on well with the children, about 20 minutes before the end I talked the children through my portfolio and asked for comments. The comments ranged from, “Cool” to “What is it?”
It was an enjoyable experience even though it didn’t really give me any detailed
Feedback it was good to get an opinion from a group of viewers.

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