Some Drawings for More Stories

I’ve been working on a few drawings to go in the  Children & Young Adult Fiction Anthology for this year’s MA Creative Writing graduates at Bath Spa University. The Anthology’s titled Where the Wild Words Are and displays cheeky snippets ad extracts from each of the novels written by this years Graduates. I was lucky enough to devise illustrations for three of the stories, all of which are Young Adult extracts with a darker tone.

I wanted to depict the extracts given without preventing any imaginative interpretation on the part of the reader, avoiding visual repetitions of the, already very powerful, writing. Instead I teased out familiar motifs and visuals from the written extract and assembled them to make suggestions about the rest of the story, encouraging further interest in the rest of the book. Although somewhat literal in conjunction with the text, the images are intended as conceptual signifiers of the direction of the story.

Although I felt the inclusion of the characters was important, I tried not to give too much visual information away here either, either abstracting their faces or simply turning them away so that they’re not fully visible and recognisable.

After all, I don’t want to remove the readers ability to make visual interpretations, reading is about imagining! Plus I don’t see why I should be the one to do all the work.

So here’s what I got. Three pictures, for three stories by three, remarkably talented writers.

OtherWorld

Written by Lucinda Murray

A tale in which a dark, magical undercurrent lurks beneath an urban city. The extract reveals the moment this world awakens from it's long dormancy.
A tale in which a dark, magical undercurrent lurks beneath an urban city. The extract reveals the moment this world awakens from it’s long dormancy.   

 

Trev

Written by Val Mote

A teenage boy witnesses a murder, yet is unable to confess to what he has seen. The extract details the strict rules of gangdom in an urban school and the necessity to keep your head down and your hood up.
A contemporary teenager witnesses a murder, yet is unable to confess to what he has seen. The extract details the strict rules of gangdom in an urban school and the necessity to keep your mouth shut and your hood up.

 

The Light in Our Hands

Written by Sarah Waterstone

A fantasy dystopian love story set in a war in the near future, the extract details the moment at which the protagonist is caught in the attack that changes her life and the world.
A fantasy dystopian love story set in a war in the near future. The extract details the split second moment at which the protagonist is caught in the attack that changes both her life and the world.

The Anthology goes to print sometime over the next few months and contains a plethora of talent and imagination from the students of the MA. The extracts and synopses for these, as well as many, many others had an enormous amount to offer and I hope my interpretations of their work are as valued by the authors as their stories were by me.

Look forward to it all put together now!

The Ambiguity Project: Look What You Made!!

It took a while and it was stressful and incomprehensibly confusing at times but, the concluding chapter of the Ambiguity Project has finally been written. And I figure, as it was all your hard work that made it, it’s only really fair that I offer you the chance to  a little gander.Maps in Their Slip Case

All those broad and insightful answers you sent, emailed, told and wrote to me have been gradually forming this project for a while now. The character portraits they formed have taken on a number of attributes and aspirations and finally, in your deciding of the concluding question, you’ve shaped their journeys towards aspiration progression and digression.

As a result, the pieces have evolved from character portraits into the format of maps.

W: Positive Extrovert

X: Positive IntrovertY: Negative IntrovertZ: Negative Extrovert

The pieces as a whole communicate the desires, aspirations, fears, limits and goals of each character, based on the desires, aspirations, fears, limits and goals of every person that took part. map3

map10

The representations of map elements are extensions of your resulting answers, transforming the images into something of an artistically representative psychological landscape in which forests, desserts, mountains and rivers must be bridged and navigated as the theoretical characters endevour to achieve.

As the maps can be folded in any number of ways, new compositions and sequences are formed out of the ambiguous collage imagery, introducing the possibility of narrative-based interpretation and multiple routes through the artwork.

Based on your final answers and your choice to answer with positivity or negativity, I adapted the likely-hood of the journey’s success using the environmental features.

At times, rivers will be bridged or shattered, allowing navigation around the barriers so that the illustrations of goals can be accessed. At others, the folding will introduce increased forests and confusing, representing the journey becoming harder.map12

map17Basically, these are four artworks that beg to be played with and explored. Fold ’em up however you wish to reveal multiple artworks and new possibilities for stories.

Then, obviously, cause I can’t let things lie, I wanted to make a slip case to contain them.

The project dictated that it needed to have a binding jacket, so, as my results had extended out of the original book format intended, I used it as an excuse to design and display the cover.

I knew the artworks were complex and involving, so did not want to drown this in the cover design. Instead I opted for a simple, systematic looking result, inspired by the design of 1970’s psychological textbooks. I wanted the notions of progression towards goals to be represented by the idea of making your way from A to B, and knew that the suggestion of maps had to be present, hence the light inclusion of the forest elements, which doubles up nicely as directional arrows.

mapcover1mapBack

There’s a very real possibility that I did forgot to spell check.

If you find anything, do me a favour and just keep it to yourself okay?

Anyway, another project down.

Thank you so much to everyone that helped, I really hope that you appreciate the results.

Cheers

B

The Ambiguity Project: Layer Three

We are now 3/4 of the way through the journey that is the Ambiguity Project. Thanks so much for getting involved, it’s been great to have so many people interested in helping out and I really hope you’ve been enjoying the results.

Another question asked, another layer formed, the collages and (as a result) the characters are really taking shape now, so here’s what we have so far:

I asked you, WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST PRIORITY?

W: Positive Extrovert. Their priorities are to have fun and enjoy the moment, burying their head in the sand to some extent when faced with problems.
W: Positive Extrovert. Their priorities are to have fun and enjoy the moment, burying their head in the sand to some extent when faced with problems. Small term goals, like keeping their feet warm are fine, but larger questions remain ignored.
X: A positive Introvert. Their priorities are to work towards achieving love and happiness. Reflective and self questioning they're not afraid to make changes to get to their goals.
X: A positive Introvert. Their priorities are to work towards achieving love, fun and happiness. Reflective and self questioning they’re not afraid to make changes to get to their goals.
Y: Negative introvert. They prioritise happiness and making an impact on the world but suffer low confidence. They worry life will pass them by having not achieved their goals.
Y: Negative introvert. They prioritise happiness and making an impact on the world but suffer low confidence. They worry life will pass them by having not achieved their goals.
Z: Negative extrovert. They prioritise their family and the welfare of others yet begrudge this fact. They feel held back by their sense of responsibility yet do nothing to change their scenario.
Z: Negative extrovert. They prioritise their family and the welfare of others yet begrudge this fact. They feel held back by their sense of responsibility yet do nothing to change their scenario.

So, for our final concluding layer, I would like to put it to you people to answer ONE of the following two questions:

DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL SUCCESS?

DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL FAILURE?

The Ambiguity Project Layer TWO!

Okay so the project is underway and the collages are beginning to evolve. For those a wee bit lost, a full description is here.

So far, here’s how we’re looking:

W
W: Positive Extrovert; Would change: Taking life at home for granted; having more time; their blinds; their bum and better coffee made at Uni
X
X: Positive Introvert; Would Change: Last Night, would make people nicer to each other; would make others smile more; being a sloth.
Y
Y: Negative introvert; Would Change: Their future, Time to pass slower, more hours in the day, The speed of passing time, How long it took to decide what they wanted to do.
Z
Z: Negative Extrovert; Would change: The frequency other people think of others; summer all year round, their wardrobe, finance, change narcissism to compassion

Most of the answers worked pretty well together as a lot of them were about time and the passing of it. What was fun, was making these similar answers fit with the positive, negative character types as defined previously.

CROP
“I’d like more time.”
"I'd like more hours in the day and for time to pass slower" "I regret how long it took me to decide what I wanted to do"
“I’d like more hours in the day and for time to pass slower”
“I regret how long it took me to decide what I wanted to do”

A thousand thank you’s to all of you getting into the spirit and lending your answers.

So, the next question that will form the next stage:

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST PRIORITY?

I look forward to getting your answers, either on here, twitter or direct to me at bagley.becky@gmail.com

The Ambiguity Project

I’ve started a thing.

I asked a control group of people (mainly third year university students at the University of Bath Spa…go figure…) three simple yet remarkably ambiguous questions for them to answer as they wished.

1. WHAT DO YOU GET UP FOR IN THE MORNING?

2. WHAT ARE YOUR LIMITATIONS?

3. WHAT IS YOUR GOAL

 

I received a lot, a lot of varied answers. These results have now formed the first stage of a set of four collaged images to represent a set of character sheets.

So Far our cast consists of W,X,Y and Z: An extrovert positive character, and introvert positive character, and introvert negative character and an extrovert negative character; each one captured in an abstract collage.

They look like this:

W: Positive Extrovert
W: Positive Extrovert
X: Positive Introvert
X: Positive Introvert
Y: Negative introvert
Y: Negative introvert
Z: Negative Extrovert
Z: Negative Extrovert

Every day or so I’ll be asking a new, ambiguous question. Each answer I receive will be randomly attributed to each character and represented on their collage, forming further details and fleshing out the set until they become formed characters in the form of abstract collages.

The idea is, my control over the growth of these characters and development of the images is diminished and YOUR (yes, that’s right, YOU) will directly influence the artwork. Each stage will be posted right here so you can keep an eye on your handywork.

So, the Next question is:

WHAT ONE THING WOULD YOU CHANGE?

Submit answers either in the comments box, or email me at bagley.becky@gmail.com.

You can also tell me via twitter, all answers are welcome.

Let’s get this show on the road!

B

 

 

 

 

Illustrating Science: The joy of pseudo diagrams (fig. 2)

This is Lucy.

Lucy's feedback

And this is Carl.

Carl's Brain

They like to do things. Things like moving. They’re especially good at intentional moving, unconsciously.

This was Lucy, once.

Lucy's egg legThen I got my hands on her.

And This is Proprioception.

(A project from last Christmas.)

This is Proprioception

propbook5

Inspired by the ingenuity of the pseudo-educational comedy, Look Around You, Proprioception was a mock 70’s educational manual in which I took a real life bit of, really damn interesting, biology and explained it using entirely non scientific methods. Because I am an illustrator, so cutting things up makes more sense to me than the deeply fascinating intricacies of real life biology.

FeedbackThe pseudo diagrams were designed to portray the importance of this fascinatingly vital sixth sense, so inherent in our bodies most people have never even considered a life without it (and in fact there are only 6 known cases of people having a complete lack. This is a really cool video about one man’s battle.)

The “text book” had fold out elements to reveal new tasks that got people thinking about the impact of Proprioception in their own life.

Opening page 1Opening page 2I wanted to draw people’s attention to it’s vitality to our functioning everyday and used tasks and design choices to create a style reminiscent of an 70’s school textbook/instruction manual with a playful, modern twist.

Carl dancingProprioception allows us to understand our own body’s position in relation to itself without consciously considering where each limb is. It’s why when you close your eyes, you know where both your hands are. It’s super neat and super vital and I wanted people to understand that fact using simple collage techniques and fun imagery to demonstrate the incomprehensible struggle that would be living without it.

Plus it gave me an excuse to cut up my friends faces for a few months.

Seriously, I was picking Carls head out of my carpet for weeks.

Illustrating science: The joy of pseudo diagrams (fig 1)

Hands up if you want to learn a totally amazing fact?What about something entirely controversial?

Or even just utterly trivial?

And who wants to learn them through the medium of…TYPOGRAPHY!? …no?

Well if you raised your hands to any of them you are a fool, because I can’t see you and that was very clearly a rhetorical request. So you can sit down, behave and have all three.

This was a short uni brief: 3 posters to work as a set and detail three facts that fit the above criteria.

The conception of the carbon that makes up all living things.
The atoms that form most of your body’s cells were created in the explosion of a star.
The lifespan of our cells, built from this carbon.
The maximum number of times your body’s cells can multiply and divide before they deteriorate and die.
The life form that housed the carbon is gone, yet the atoms continue.
In reality, the afterlife is nothing more than the continued existence of atoms after the death of the cell they once formed.

So here they are, three posters about the passage of time and our simple, biological place in it. An amazing beginning to the journey of carbon atoms, a trivial definition of our cells’ lifespan and the true, if not hard to swallow fact that we are nothing more beautiful than a temporary home for ongoing carbon.
Some may see this as a dark concept. I think it’s an utterly beautiful one, although the project itself is not one of my favourites.

Still, either way it’s all pretty interesting