This page is where I keep my summer project for University. I will explore the meaning of Illustration to me, as well as the experiences and encounters I’ve had over the past 3 months.
What is Illustration
This summer I feel that I’ve grown a lot as a person – I’ve spent the majority of it away from Liverpool (my home) which my poor parents weren’t happy about because my placid attitude matched with the concentrated amount of sense I speak is pretty much the rock which holds our family home together (and they miss their only son, of course). I’ve survived by going from field to field, exploring the world of festivals throughout England, after which I got to know the people of Leeds thanks to a friend, his housemates and their couch. I’ve met hundreds of incredible people and shared experiences and ideas which have fueled my creativity endlessly. I feel that life picked the perfect time for me to be introduced to festivals as this course is about engaging an audience, communicating to them and most importantly getting a response, which sums up the essence of festivals – getting involved in any way you can to make it the best experience for everyone.
To look at my personal meaning of Illustration in more depth, I feel that it engages through a combination of how the formal elements are used in the piece, the narrative, the audience’s taste, how they perceive the artwork and if they already have an opinion of the artist is through their previous work.
Illustration also communicates a message depending on what it depicts and how that is done, whether it tells a story, sets a scene or makes a statement. The huge scope within the field of Illustration means that a variety of artists can appreciate each others work for certain similarities as well as major differences, whilst constantly being inspired and motivated.
Most importantly for me, Illustration gets a response through the combination of how the audience is engaged and what the piece communicates. This pattern of thought will bring different ideas, emotions and inner-narratives to each person experiencing the work which is why I love Illustration and any creative medium: it takes one mind – influenced by many – to create something which will then go on the influence many – and so the cycle continues.
I was thrown in at the deep end for my first festival, having to walk for 10 hours with all of my camping gear to reach the Red Gate of Glastonbury Festival. Once inside I was awoken to a world of love, energy, music, art, complete free will, open interaction between good people, hand-to-mouth living and good vibes – I fell in love with the fields. In the festival I was introduced to Dr. Simpo whose comics remind me of a classic style similar to that of Beano and Dandy comics, except Simpo’s are based on more abstract characters and concepts who are to be enjoyed by all ages but is more suited to a slightly older audience (albeit of a lighthearted nature) in comparison to comics such as Dandy.
Dr. Simpo’s work contrasts black and white illustrations with colour to emphasise changes in energy or events within the story. He also tells a few stories in one comic so he’s able to explore and express a variety of characteristics and moods while staying within a constant theme. He also owns a joke shop in Brighton which again portrays the ethos he lives with, making the creation of his comics more fluid.
I’ve kept in touch and we’ve spoken of me selling some of his work online for him as he isn’t up to speed with technology.
One of the more recent festivals I visited was Field Trip in Ilkley. It was the debut of the festival and a good friend of mine knows the two men responsible for it so I got chatting to them about the whole production side of things and although practically it was a nightmare and they made a huge loss, it was possibly the best festival I’ve been to simply because of the vibe created there. The festival itself resembles a piece of art to me, as although the creators made a loss and the actual production wasn’t up to scratch due to circumstances out of their hands, they’re dying to do it all again next year because they want to create that atmosphere of creativity, love, experience and involvement for people, which is what art is for me.
If you can’t tell by now, the festival lifestyle has really took hold of me as it has shown me a better way of life which we need to adopt and adapt so we can live more productive and wholesome lives which benefit each other more than ourselves. They create an ecosystem with a sense of sustainability by making jobs for people through litter-picking and stewarding – which is essentially cleaning the earth and helping people out – among other things. The obvious downfall of these events is the amount of energy used which ideally could be replaced by renewable, clean energy sources in the future.
Michael Pawlyn has a TED Talk where he speaks of applying designs and methods used in nature to the technology we develop now which will create closed cycle systems – which utilise waste from any process – instead of linear ones which waste far too many resources and energy. This relates back to the organic lifestyle found in festivals and has driven my to create art in relation to that.
John Hardy is a man who’s created his own Green School in Bali where children from all over the world are given a holistic education by teachers from all over the world to create an environment where carbon footprints are obsolete (because the school is being taken off the grid by a solar energy company) as well as giving the children the right skills to live in harmony with their surroundings instead of destroying them.
Someone else who’s influenced me is Sir Ken Robinson who is an educationalist whose ideology focuses on reinventing the education system to become one which is constantly being reformed and refined to suit the children of that generation. I find that his ideas link well with the festival lifestyle as he wants to create an organic system rather than have rigid protocol which gets in the way of the task in hand – educating children. I’ve previously written a post about Sir Ken here.
All three of these great thinkers and doers have a few things in common, one of them being that they are focused on the broader scale of life, displays ideas which will better humankind through compassion, organic thinking and taking things back to basics, which is what the festival lifestyle is about.
My Own Work
I’ve been to 6 festivals in the space of 2 months and feel apart of the bigger picture, I’ve met some amazing people and some who would benefit my work by potentially selling the merchandise I’ve created and will create in the future. These t-shirt designs are aimed at people who do festivals properly – they relate to ways of life which are closer to the earth, bringing things back to basics.
A useful trick for keeping track of friends is to wear whistles so you’re able to find each other by blowing on the whistle in a certain pattern, then wait for your friend to reply, hence ‘Listen for the Whistle’. It’s a lot more reliable than a phone for close distance.
‘Tatting’ is basically picking up valuables from the fields after the festival has finished and people have abandoned their belongings, which is usually very worthwhile. With this design I’ve put a spin on the phrase ‘Living off the fat of the land’ and used a simplified landscape of some fields to fill the lettering which draws the relation to tatting closer.
This design is less exclusive as a simple play on the phrase ‘Good life’. Everybody at a festival knows what mud is, but not everyone really knows how to live the Mud Life.