Art Schooled: Chapter 3

Welcome to a bumper edition of Art Schooled - my (supposedly) monthly column all about my creative adventures whilst studying Illustration at DJCAD in Dundee. Since the last instalment, art school has been pretty busy so I haven’t had a chance to give a proper update. The good things about that is that I have lots to share!

As I am rounding up a few months this time, I thought I would split this chapter of Art Schooled in to 3 sections - things I’ve loved, things I have learnt and things I’ve illustrated. Let’s start with the latter shall we. Here is a bunch of stuff I’ve made recently…


Teddy’s Activity Book

In the last chapter of Art Schooled, I mentioned I was working on an illustration for an activity book for children who have experienced trauma. The book was a collaborative project between the illustrations students at DJCAD, Police Scotland and Children 1st. The final book launched a few weeks ago and I am very pleased to say one of my illustrations was chosen to be in it! The final book has had such a lovely reaction and I feel so proud to have been part of such a positive and worthwhile project.



Our second project was much more simple and open. We had to create one, square image on the theme of “chaos”. The brief was a live competition run by Tapirulan. As you’d expect, the open theme inspired a variety of responses including comments on Brexit, comedic dog walking prints and drawings of Trump on a toilet. I took inspiration from the brief itself which mentioned how chaotic feeling uninspired can feel. Splitting up my square into panels, I created a one-page comic. Whilst the ginger boy’s story is definitely over, I feel like the slight disturbing little brain’s isn't. Maybe one day I’ll extend the comic or even turn it into a little animation.


A Tree For Kiran

Our next brief was also pretty open. We were challenged to create an 8 page book inspired by an article about trees. Being completely honest, this wasn't a project which got me excited straight away. The thought of reading a bunch of articles about trees didn't fill me with joy but the it ended up turning into my favourite project of the semester. I found an article about a man who planted a tree in memory of his daughter and, in doing so, kickstarted a cultural revolution which changed the lives of the women in his village forever. I will be sharing more on this project (and everything I have created this semester) in a separate blog post very soon.


The Undiscovered Landscape

This semester, I’ve also been studying an extra module titled “The Undiscovered Landscape”. We had a whole list of choices of things to learn about alongside our major this term and I chose landscape as scenery is something I often treat as an after-thought. By challenging myself to focus less on characters and objects, I have developed a way of capturing surroundings in my own style. I can already see the effects of my landscape studies trickling over into my illustration work and am excited to share what I created both in and out of the module soon. 


Howl’s Moving Castle

Each year both the 3rd and 4th years at DJCAD enter a collaborative competition run by the House Of Illustration and the Folio Society. The annual challenge asks creatives to illustrate images for inside and the cover of a book. This year the title was Howl’s Moving Castle, a magical story set mainly in an impossible castle which houses an unconventional family of misfits. Above is a still from the movie - which we were all banned from watching by our lecturers incase it influenced our work - as I am not allowed to share my own submissions yet but I will as soon as I can.


This year I completed my very first Inktober! The inky drawing challenge is something I considered doing for many years and I am so glad I finally did. Sharing my work online and creating a perfect grid is something I definitely overthink so it was fun to make myself just create something silly every day. You can see the results of the project and read about my Inktober experience in a big old blog post I wrote about it all here. And you can follow @headlessgreg for more creative updates. 

Next up is the least design-focused category - things I’ve loved. From emotional animations on YouTube to books celebrating LGBT history, I have consumed a lot of great stuff this Winter. Here are a few of my favourites…


Anxious by Hazel Hayes

The discussion online surrounding mental health has grown massively over the past couple of years. On YouTube for example, there is an endless stream of videos showing different perspectives on mental health. I have watched several of these but by the far the one I have related to most has been Hazel Hayes recent release. Simply titled “anxious”, the short animation is inspired by Hazel’s own experiences, so many of which I relate to massively. Created in collaboration with animators Mary Gouldsbrough and Neirin Best, the brilliant piece of work is only 5 minutes long and definitely worth a watch.


There She Goes

My latest TV obsession comes in the form of a new British comedy drama called There She Goes which stars David Tennant and Jessica Hynes as the parents of a severely mentally disabled child. It might not sound like a humorous premise but the shows is brilliantly written and acted that it manages to switch between hilariously sweet and deeply emotional moments in a heartbeat. I’m no television critic but I think this show deserves lots of praise and awards. The first series is all on BBC iplayer, go watch it!


Studio 54 For Halloween 

I am not usually a bit Halloween fan but this year was very different. There was a special Studio 54 themed night on in a club in Glasgow where I am from so I travelled through from Dundee to go with all of my oldest friends. After dawning all the fur, flares, sequins and sunglasses we could find, we headed out to celebrate the spooky holiday in disco style. My costume ended up including a blonde wig which made me resemble a cross between Andy Warhol and Donald Trump (both actually attended Studio 54 but I would definitely rather be Andy). Dancing to I Will Survive with that, sunglasses and a fur coat on really did feel like living my  best life and it was for sure my best Halloween yet. 


Photograph by Neenu Vimalkumar


One day of the year I have always loved is bonfire night. The smell of burning in the air and chorus of deafening bangs announce that Winter is finally here and I am always excited for it. Up until this year, I had only experienced Glasgow fireworks. I worried Dundee’s display would suffer in comparison but it was actually even better. I saw fireworks in colours I didn’t even know existed and the final few were set off in time the This Is Me from The Greatest Showman which made me extremely happy. 


Killing Eve

I know I am little late to the party on this one but Killing Eve is one of my new favourite shows. The drama tells the story of an assassin and the detective tasked with hunting her down - 2 brilliantly intelligent women who are equally obsessed with each other. Starring Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh and written by the amazingly talented Phoebe Waller-Bridge (if you haven’t seen Fleabag, you need to) it was always going to be a good show.

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Bohemian Rapsody

I haven’t actually seen that many movies in the cinema recently but one I did manage to catch was Bohemian Rapsody. The movie tells the story of the career and personal lives of the members of Queen, focusing on the band’s iconic front man Freddy Mercury. Rami Malek does an impressive job of bringing such an icon to life and the final sequence showing Live Aid is particularly brilliant. I've heard there have been complaints that the film wasn't gritty enough but I liked that it didn't focus so much on the more sensational parts of the story which everyone already knows but instead shows the emotions and circumstances which led up to them. 


50 Queers Who Changed The World

From one queer icon to 50 - my favourite book of the last few months is all about the people who shaped LGBT history. 50 Queers Who Changed The World tells the stories of a group of both famous and lesser-known personalities who, each in their own way, made the world a better, queerer place. From pop culture icons like Ru Paul and Ellen DeGeneres to historical figures including Viriginia Woolf and Frida Kahlo, the book contains a spectrum of inspiring life stories. In 2019, I want to make an effort to learn more about LGBT history and reading 50 Queers will be a great start.


Illustration by Mouni Feddag


Whilst Christmas time went unmarked here on the blog (which is very unusual for me), it definitely didn’t in my actual life. Christmas is always my favourite time of year and this festive season was no different. From decorating trees to wrapping presents, I loved every minute of the Christmas 2018 and am a little sad it is all over again for another year. The last couple of years I have done 12 days of blog posts in December so it was also nice to have more offline time. I’m back fully online now though and ready for a blog-filled 2019!

Some (although definitely not all) of the things which I have loved and illustrated in the last wee while have taught me a thing or 2. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learnt…


Revisiting Old Ideas Is A Good Idea

During my landscape module, I revisited an idea I had last year - making wonky animals with Xerox art. The final book I created for the module even uses a couple of the drawings I made last year. Whilst some might say this is cheating a little, I think it is okay to recycle creations. During the module, I turned a project which always felt unfinished but intriguing into a more realised concept which feels more complete aesthetically. I will share the whole project soon and I am now considering taking the idea even further.


Book Binding Is Fun

Japanese book binding is something I have wanted to learn how to do for a while now but I had always been a bit scared to because it looks so complicated. I ended up taking the plunge when making the landscape book and was surprised to find it is actually not as hard as it looks. And it’s actually kind of fun! It’s definitely something I want to practise more next semester and I might even try make my own sketchbooks.


I Want To Tell Real Stories

For what turned out to be my favourite project last semester, I created a book based on a true story about a man who planted a tree in memory of his daughter and, in doing so, kickstarted a cultural revolution. Looking back, I enjoyed this project the most because it was the most challenging. My work is often very playful and bold but this had to be far more sympathetic. Tackling a new tone was a challenge which I loved taking on and it has made me want to tell more real stories in future - including my own. I have never kickstarted a revolution but every one has a story to tell and I want to tell mine in my own words and illustrations.


Dundee Has A Whole Lot Of History

For our latest project - which we have to begin over our Christmas break - we have each to research something different from the Dundee archives. Until recently my entire knowledge of Dundee’s history has been based on a walking tour of the dark history of Dundee I went on a while ago. In case you wondered, there have been a lot of murders and even a train crash in the last few hundred years. For this project, I am looking at some slightly less gruesome subjects as I research the jute manufacturing industry and the process of archiving. I have only just begun (don’t worry, I still have a couple of weeks before I go back) so I will update you about what I find in the next chapter of Art Schooled.


Illustration by Cachete Jack

Wise Words From The AOI

There are a few things within this blog post which themselves deserve their own posts. None more so that the visit my uni class received from a representative of the AOI. The AOI, in case you didn’t know, is the Association Of Illustrators - an organisation dedicated to help and protect the business of creatives. Within the talk, she covered just about everything including you need to know to work in the creative industries including contracts, social media, website design, invoicing and so much more. I actually will be writing a full blog post on this soon partially just because I feel like I need to write all the wisdom she imparted down in case I forget it.  

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Drawing Just For Fun Is Important

My final update from the last couple of months is about something which I didn’t learn but instead remembered recently. My friend Lola invited myself and a bunch of other illustrator friend over for a night of care-free drawing. We created a pile of collaborative designs on random themes throughout the night. Creating just for the fun of it was something I - or any of us in fact - hadn't done for quite some time and it was nice to remember just how fun and therapeutic it is. I am already looking forward to the next drawing night and am planning on setting aside time for carefree creativity myself from now on too.

You are now fully updated on my life in and out the studio over the last few months. I will be back very soon with a blog post to round-up this year and set out some goals for the next one.