Art Schooled: Chapter 4
Welcome back to Art Schooled, my blog series all about my time studying illustration at DJCAD in Dundee. I haven’t updated the series since the very beginning of 2019 so there is quite a bit to catch you up on. For this bumper edition of Art Schooled, I am going to split my highlights up into 2 categories - things I have loved and things I have made. Let’s start with some things I have been loving so far this year…
Headless Greg is 3!
On the 20th of February this year, this little website turned the grand old age of 3. Since launching in 2016, Headless Greg has changed quite a bit. It launched as a platform for me to share the work of others and has evolved into a space which is mainly for me to share my own creations. If I am being really honest, until recently, I don’t think I was ever really happy with what Headless Greg was. It always felt a bit confused or like it was copying something else. Now however, I finally feel like this site is unique to me. The site as a whole is now mostly for housing my illustration portfolio whilst this little blog, Headless Happenings, acts an a little extra space for me to share my process and inspirations. It may have taken me a while, but I am finally happy with Headless Greg and excited to see where he goes next!
You might notice that the blog is a bit lacking in content recently. In fact, there have only been a few new posts so far this year. Whilst this wasn’t a conscious decision, it also isn’t one I am stressing over. Recently, I have just been focusing on other things like making my own illustration work. With blogging and social media too, I often beat myself up if I don’t post for a while but all this does is make it harder to get back to it when you do have the time. “Slow blogging” is what they call it when you basically just post if and when you fancy and I have discovered that is what works best for me right now. After a bit of quiet time, I am feeling excited to get properly back into writing. And I will soon have a very long Summer in which I will have lots of time to do just that so watch this space!
Illustration by Rebecca Smith
International Women’s Day
As ever, I was really impressed by the creative communities efforts to mark International Women’s Day this year. In particularly, I loved Creative Boom’s week-long series of articles celebrating creative women leading up to IWD. The past couple of years, I have marked IWD with blog posts - including list of female bloggers and female illustrators - but this year I decided to switch things up. Instead of a blog post, I shared my the work of some of my favourite females over on Instagram stories which is now on my @headlesshappenings highlights. Being honest, this only felt like a token effort to show my support and I wish I had done more to mark the important day. However, the entire idea of IWD is that everyday should be international women’s day. I will be putting more effort on celebrating creative women on the blog and delve into some of the other topics which this year’s celebrations sparked just as soon as I have more time to dedicate to blogging soon.
I have always been much more in to TV than film but recently I have been making an effort to go to the cinema. I’ve also been trying to work my way through the long list of older films that everyone is outraged I haven’t seen. Pretty Woman and Chicago have been a few of the classics I have finally got around to watching (and admittedly loved) whilst The Favourite has been my favourite of the new releases. Olivia Coleman is in my opinion one the best actresses out there so I always expected her to be amazing but I was more surprised by Emma Stone’s incredible performance. It might not be for everyone (a man got up and left half way through when I was in the cinema seeing it) but I personally loved every dark, hilarious and unexpected moment of The Favourite.
So Many TV Shows
Originally I was going to give each of the great TV shows I have been watching it’s own little paragraph but there were simply too many. This series is supposed to focus on art school not TV so I will keep all of my recommendations short and sweet. If you are looking for a very good but very confusing show about bent coppers then watch Line of Duty. If you are looking for an insanely glamorous, emotional and completely unique drama then watch Pose. If you are looking for a show that reminds you how awkward both being a teenager and discovering your sexuality can be then watch Sex Education. And if you are just a human being with a sense of humour then watch Fleabag - I challenge anyone not to laugh at it.
Now onto the things I have made so far this year. I have been working on a variety of projects this past wee while both in an out of art school…
James The Gentle Giant
This semester at art school, my illustration class has taken on 2 main projects. The first was a group exhibition for which we all had to create a piece of work inspired by Dundee University’s archives. We were each given a box from the archives which we had free rein to take inspiration from in any way we chose. My box was about James Cox who was a business man in the early 1800s and, along with his brothers, owned The Camperdown Works which was at one point in time the largest jute mill in Europe. James also had a hand in building Cox Stack and Dundee’s Tay railway bridge so I took inspiration from his many architectural achievements to make a graphic-inspired magnetic puzzle to display at the exhibition. I am going to do a whole blog post about the process of creating it but above is a little sneak peak at my original digital plans for the puzzle.
I also got to create a poster for the group show which we titled “Unboxed”. For the poster, I took inspiration from how organised and exact every inch of the archives felt to come up with a clean, graphical design. The items within each of the boxes - which include rulers, pick axes, books and bones - are actually what some of my classmates found in their own boxes. Once we had the design, my friend Alice Prentice and I printed an edition of the posters with the university’s Risograph printer. During the printing process, I fell a little bit in love with Risograph and it is definitely something I want to play with more in future.
Who Does The Moon Talk To?
Our other big project this semester was to create a children’s book. The open brief allowed us to base our book on anything we wanted to I chose to dive in to an idea I had been mulling over for a while. “Who Does The Moon Talk To?” is about a moon who is very grumpy as he never gets to sleep because it is always night time somewhere so he is always needed. The book follows cranky Mr. Moon around the world as he is increasingly rude to some undeserving nocturnal animals. The project is still a work in progress and I will share more when I am finished but for now here is a little look at one of the daft characters the moon takes his sleep deprivation out on. I’ll by updating my instagram soon with more sneak peaks so give @headlessgreg a wee follow to see it first.
In March, I also took part in an exciting print project inspired by the World War One’s 100th anniversary this year. A group of my class got the chance to work together with Lateral North on the project. We were each given a different story about someone who took part in the war and asked to created an edition of prints inspired by it. A few of us also got to go down to the DCA in Dundee to screen print our designs. I’m not going to share my final piece just yet but above is one of the layers I screen printed and I will be sharing the final piece over on my instagram soon.
This semester I also completed a module at university all about creative business. Over the semester, we learnt all about everything from the Business Model Canvas to the scary financial side of business. As part of the module, we were spilt into groups and each had to come up with a different business idea to pitch to the class. My group came up with the idea of Dawdle - a slow fashion brand which aimed to fight fast fashion through collaboration. As part of the project we created some collaborative drawings to print on old clothing. The design above was created by Jagoda Sadowska, Fraser Roberson, Nicole McLaughlin, Lola Knibb, Iain Smith, Matthew Gow, Mairi Isla and myself. You are probably sick of reading this but I think I will delve into some of the stuff I learnt in this project in a separate post too.
A Brand New Portfolio
The biggest thing I have created this year has been my new illustration portfolio. Towards the end of 2018, I finally started to feel like I was building up enough work that I was properly happy with to put together a decent portfolio. I have now curated it into a simple, sleek portfolio and made it the focus of headlessgreg.com. This year I want to focus on working as an illustrator and having a portfolio I am genuinely proud of is an important first step. Now all I need to do is share it with the right people and hopefully get some work. Do feel free to have a look yourself and get in touch if you are interested in collaborating on a project.
I really enjoy reading little life update posts like this and I hope you do too. It’s always helpful to take a moment to look back over the last wee while and take stock of the good things that have happened. Art Schooled encourages me to do just as well as lay out plans for the next wee while. I only have a few weeks until my final hand in of 3rd year so I will be back after that for another Art Schooled update.