So a handful of friends and I decided to make a pretty thing.
You know, cause we’re in third year and have nothing better to do or anything…
But it seems a shame not to make use of the ace University facilities available to us while we’re lucky enough to be here. Especially given that they are, available FOR FREE (3 grand a year free anyway. Well, it’s better than 9.) so we gathered together a little proposal to send out to our fellow image makers on the course.
We wanted to make a collaborative work of illustrations and imagery based on the brief we set. A short, publication that showcases the talent that Bath Spa is about to unleash on the world. We decided to keep it simple, keep it open to interpretation and keep it relevant.
And what could be more relevant than the present? So we asked people to volunteer a simple image in two colours (black and blue) based on their own, personal response to the Right Here, Right Now. We wanted to keep it simple so could spend a bit of time reproducing on the dual-colour Risograph printer in our studio. A cheap and cheerful zine that captures the very essence of 2014’s graduation image makers.
So here’s my design. My personal Right Here, Right Now: A third year on the brink of graduation:
Unfortunately, the project took something of an acceleration which leaves me unable to currently show you the finished product. Turns out, our tutors thought it was a kind of neat project too, so encouraged us to put a wiggle on and get it done in line with a second year study trip to New York so they could take it with them to drop in on US professionals and studios. This is, obviously pretty cool, but it meant we had to finish it in under a week. We managed to get the kindly artwork donations of 12 classmates so it’s a tight little compendium, but the styles are all really varied and I think it looks ace overall. We literally got done binding it with minutes to spare before handing it over to be whisked away over the atlantic, but we’re well in line to produce a few more so photographic evidence will be kicking about soon with any luck.
Ok now, I want you o stand up, turn around and get out, and the rest of us can appreciate how disgusting they are via the means of my little zine, Bears: Don’t Like ’em! This came about last Easter, and since then has been a consistently strong seller at arts fairs and conventions, to men, women and bear haters everywhere. And actually, one or two intrigued bear lovers too.
Having witnessed it’s popularity, I thought I’d bring it to life with a little splash of colour and returned to my usual haunt, the print rooms, to create these three sets of limited edition screen prints from the zine.
And a fox in a tie. That one was really just for giggles though.
And thus begins the mammoth job that is the catch up posts from the past term. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but life definitely got frighteningly busy over the past 3 months and, as a result, my little interweb based snippets of work became a little sparse. For those of you that noticed and, more to the point, those of you that cared, I apologise for this, get on my little, metaphorical, digital knees and beg your forgiveness.
You know, in the spirit of Christmas and all that.
Not that I have any Seasonal based works for you, because I’VE BEEN BUSY. So Uni work it is.
So let’s kick start with a bit of printmaking shall we? For no other reason than it makes me happy. And I’m in charge.
The brief was…well just that. Very simply to create a screen printed poster selling our favorite fast food restaurant.
This is all very well and good, except I happen to be a proud, longstanding member of the societal subculture of “students who cook” and, therefore have something of an aversion to fast food. Actually, that’s putting it quite lightly. What I mean is, generally and on the whole, I really bloody hate it.
“Not to worry!” My tutor insisted, “You may employ a use of irony!”
So I did. I employed a use of irony. Actually, I employed a really bloody heavy use of irony and drew, what probably turned out to be the single, most disturbing thing that’s ever been dredged from the depths of my skull, in the name of promoting Yicken, a Chinese take out back where I grew up. You know the kind: greasy walls, tiled floors, an inescapable use of that classic yellow and red colour scheme that desperately attempts to suggest some element of culture.
Actually, if I’m entirely honest, as far as nasty Chinese’s go, Yicken isn’t the worst. It just happens to have a heinously playful name that I thought might be handy in the creation of the poster.
There it is. A vile, possibility regarding the identification of the mystery meat found in that greasy tub of yours.
So, having had a good ol’ rant at the state of my print that was my exhibition piece, let’s now focus on how great our Exhibition actually was.
A gigantic congratulations to everyone who just completed Year One of Graphic Communication at Bathspa University! As the exhibition wasn’t graded, not everyone felt it was necessary to submit any work, but for those of us that did I think it was a brilliant compendium of different approaches that boasted, not only a lot of talent, but a lot of ideas and conceptual wealth.
As the brief was SO very open (1912…that’s it) there was naturally a very large selection of works on display. Everything from publications to prints to animations to textiles. And the varying ways in which people chose to take the brief was also wonderfully broad. I’ll document here now some of my favourite works as well as some of the less crap photos I managed to take with my very limited photography skills. This is far from everything that was on show, but I’ll try to use what I’ve got to communicate quite what an enormous range of work was on display.
Obviously, a lot of people chose to make use of the print rooms once the third year rush had ended. But to my surprise this didn’t just manifest itself in screen printing, which tends to be the most popular. There was a whole lot of linocuts too, all on different topics and with different strengths. It made for a really great display of variation, as well as assuring me that I’m not the only one with a fondess for printmaking!
I’m also relieved to say that, while it definitely wasn’t up to my standard, people still seemed interested in my Bram Stoker print. It received very nice comments from one or two onlookers too, and while I still was disappointed by the result, hearing nice words did pick me up a lot I must confess!
There was also a lot to be said for the ways in which people were using the printmaking. David’s piece was a real stroke of time-consuming ingenuity, in which he screen printed his photographic images in CYMK. This produced a full spectrum of colour, in the same way it does through your inkjet printer, but done via screen printing. It’s turned out looking completely amazing, although I will say, he nearly killed himself doing it. The boy has real dedication to his art and I can’t express my respect for him highly enough. He never would have stood for a shitty print like mine, let me tell you!
Ah the digital print, or Giclee as they’re known to those who want lots of money for it, but don’t want to have to put in the same level of effort required of you in direct contact printmaking. Don’t let that sound like a put down though, there were some beautiful images made and printed in the exhibition, and I and many others would be proud to own them, and would be even prouder to have done them!
There’s a common misconception that in order to be considered graphics, something must have been made via the computer. Allow my classmates to put this one to rest.
My favourite. The books and zines. This is only the tiniest example of what was on show, they ranged from professionally printed newspapers and information packs about pig racing, to hand bound print collections, narratives about personal responses to the brief and themed dot to dot books. It was quite an impressive array!
And Macs. All Art schools have them, and like a pair of perky boobs on spring break, they love getting them out. This exhibition was no exception, it was Macs galore, and all bursting with newly created animations, films and videos.
Well you know me, I love a good stall. And I made sure I wheedled one into this exhibition too! Luckily, everyone else got involved too and brought along prints and books and anything else they’d made in the year. All together, it made for a pretty impressive display of work. Well done us!
So yeah, all in all a great event really that received some really complimentary comments from those that went. I would like to say a huge thank you to three people in particular: Tom Goldsworthy, Carl Godfrey and Ciara Caldwell-Cleave who were in charge of all the publicity and organising of the event. They completely made it what it was, went out of their way to make display animations, organise free beer, made cakes and 1912 ice cubes (made sense at the time) as well as compiling little free compilations of all of the work on display for us to take home, which really was a lovely little touch. Yeah okay, their cheekiness may have got us in trouble with the second years a little bit, but hey, what’s a bit of casual rivalry amongst years eh? Antics like that is totally what this institutionalised education is all about, and the long and short of it is that they made the event.
Cheers guys, I hope since then you’ve had a good old relax, put your feet up and cracked open a cold one.
I’m back with a new post! Yes I know it’s terribly late, I am oh-so-sorry, but you see, there was a dragon.
Not buying it?
Yeah well that’s because it’s a lie. There was no dragon, I’ve just been rubbish (again) and have failed at bringing you any kind of news in favour of sleeping. However, those lazy days are now gone! Banished! And I hereby solemnly swear to be much, much better at this blog fandango. Frealz.
So here it goes. Last time I did a post, I was just about to embark on a big old silly printing experiment that did, in the true nature of experimentation, fail horrendously. Yes, you heard, printing finally turned on me. Screen Printing as well, that dirty dog. After all the nice things I said about it. Needless to say, it put me a little bit (a lot) down in the dumps, I don’t like doing bad work. Especially not bad prints.
But such is the nature of trying new things and not leaving yourself enough time to properly get to grips with it.
Basically what happened, was that I wanted to do a print for the End of Year Show, and my tutor talked me into doing it GIANT (A1), as opposed to the comfort zone of A6-A3 size range I tend to aim for, less than a week before the exhibition was due to open. Actually, now that I think about it, this is the same tutor who was to blame for the up-all-night-due-to-lack-of-preparation-2-page-comic shebang. Must investigate the possibility of a single-handed conspiracy against me there.
But I digress, “a big print…ha!” you may claim, “doesn’t sound like such a big deal to me!”
Well, metaphorical voice of imaginary rhetoric reader, you’re right, you wouldn’t think a big print WOULD be such a nightmare, however this one decided it would be due to the following limitations.
I only had one screen. This meant that, in order to achieve the 3 colour print I was aiming for, I had to only expose ONE layer onto the screen (due to time limitations) – the most complex one was naturally the best choice, but this meant the starting two had to be hand cut newsprint cut outs which I would have to use as stencils with the blank screen, then expose the 3rd layer on afterwards. I hate cutting newsprint. It’s delicate and awkward and a pain in the arse to transport. I especially hate cutting newsprint when the newsprint itself is bigger than A1 and I only have an A3 cutting mat and, due to the end-of-year-run-down-of-materials, comparatively blunt utensils.
I also couldn’t afford, due to the end-of-year-run-down-of-funds, to digitally scan and print my exposable design onto a giant acetate in order to expose it, so it had to be hand traced from the original sketch, using special ink (FROM A POT WITH A BRUSH! Not even pens) onto a cheaper, transparent, special-ink-from-a-pot friendly material. This ate one full day of my already very tight schedule.
Due to the size of the print and, by comparison, the size of me, I was encouraged not to print the organic way; hand+squeegie=lovely print, but instead to use THE ARM. Now this was really where my downfall lay. In theory, THE ARM is a great idea. It’s a bit mechanical arm that holds the big squeegees and spreads the ink over large surface areas my own little limbs would struggle to cover. All I had to do was push the handle of THE ARM along with the correct pressure to get a nice, flat, even coverage.
Unfortunately, as I only had, in the end, one day in which I could print, I didn’t really get the time necessary to be able to master the art of THE ARM. In fact, I think it’s fair to say I was actually pretty shit at it. I’m not sure if it was due to my size and weight (or lack thereof) but I just couldn’t seem to put enough pressure on the damn thing to get an even coverage of ink. I tried thousands of variants of amounts of ink, I tried adjusting the bed, adjusting the screen, the suction, I tried more paint in the mix, more solution, harder squeegees, softer squeegees, literally everything I could in the very limited timescale I had.
But in the end, with time ticking by, I had to just go for it. And 3 colours, 5 prints, about 60 newsprint tests and a grump to end all grumps later, was left with a pretty damn substandard print as a result.
As you can see, the colour is not at all flat and the black’s not come through at all clearly. I think had the lines been printed perfectly, it may have tied any issues with the stenciled colour together. Might even have looked better, given the grimy nature of the subject matter. But unfortunately the lines are just as problematic as the other two colours. Which really meant the image lost out in areas of detail like these.
The brief for the exhibition was 1912: Go make something! So I chose to focus on the death of Bram Stoker; author of Dracula, theatre owner and all-round pretty clever guy. From here, I subsequently, invented an “alternative reality” in which Dracula‘s success above all his other works was attributed to the fact that it was not from Stoker’s imagination, but based on true events. I wanted to suggest that his death in 1912, officially regarded as “a series of strokes” was actually caused via the paranormal attack of a vampire.
I chose to do it in the form of a single image narrative. This was actually a bit of a leap for me who is, as you may be aware from my other work (and if you’re not I think you’d better have a look in the shop don’t you?) predominantly a sequential art sort of gal. This whole, summarising in one image was quite the challenge, which is why it was so disappointing to have overcome one hurdle to fail at another.
Anyway, It’s big, it’s a print and you can see what it is, so in many ways, I achieved what I set out to. It’s just a shame the craft is so poor. But we live, we learn and sometimes, we screw up screen printing.
I think that’s definitely what Sinatra was singing about in That’s Life: Screen printing giant images of deceased writers.
This post will be an attempt to correct these wrong-doing by bringing you a little snippet of creativity from the life of University.
You know, that place I spend 80% of my time. The reason I live here. That one.
Doesn’t even involve photocopiers.
So, we’ve been working on two, comparatively short projects that, although required separate outcomes, held a common theme and were (presumably) designed to feed off of each other to an extent. In short, we started with an object that we were then to expand on and extend into an environment of our chosing. (There were many more restrictions than that, but we won’t get into that just now.)
Naturally, me being me, I chose a COMPLETELY terrifying wooden mask of a human face and, naturally, me being me, decided to create a completely terrifying wooden creature to wear it.
In a nutshell. Give or take a bit of research.
Our outcomes were to be a sequential narrative, for which we had to convey this sense of movement in 9 panels (something I think my all night comic-making-athon may have put me in good stead for), and a soundless animation of 15 seconds or more. Simples.
It’s been, for the most part, good fun. The Animation comes first in the saga of the weird Tree Creature. It’s jerky, it’s rushed, it’s wibbly and just generally a bit crap and so, totally not worth the amount of time sunk into it’s creation. But the more I watch those meager little 24 seconds, the more I love it. Like a really ugly kitten. Or a child who just can’t get his head around potty training.It’s my first ever start stop animation and so I feel I’m entitled to a bit of forgiving in terms of the craft. It’s made by my own fair hands and therefore, by default, I’ll love it always. If only as a milestone in my creative journey.
And even if it does leave a little poo on the proverbial carpet every time I watch it.
My static image sequence, while still rushed and far from perfect, had the advantage of being a practice I was familiar with. In an attempt to communicate this driving theme of the mask’s wooden texture, I made the (pretty foolish to be honest) decision to linocut my sequence in three colours which, due to the restrictions of the process and size of my lino, added a simple bleakness to the images and lost a lot of potential detail. As I’ve said, just a little too often about my work before, they’re not the greatest feat of printmaking known to man, but time played a restricting factor that forced the simplification of imagery down to the point to see here.
While I loathe to consider them a direct sequel to the animation (due to my own personal gripes regarding the film industry), they could be considered to continue the narrative previously explored, and therefore should really be seen second. You know, seeing as they were offered as a joint brief and all.
I might consider them a spin-off. Maybe.
Originally I’d planned to bind them into a concertina book, sandwiched between a hard front and back cover. I have two prints of each image, so it’s something I could still well do, but actually, in terms of the movement between image to image as a sequence, the simple grid of 9 works rather well. They break up well into columns of 3 and I think that adds a nice pace to the movement that could easily be lost in the transition into a bound document. There’s a certain stillness to the images that I’d worry would be compromised to an extent if they were to be viewed in one, continuous line. As much as I love books and book binding.
And I do.
So there’s a little taste of what a Bath Spa student has to offer. Wooden Creeps and wibbly frames. Top-Notch talent only in that school doncha know.
Bugger, I was hoping to keep this post short so my flatmate doesn’t laugh at the cyber-typing-diarohea from which I suffer, but I seem to have had another attack.