For my Creative Enterprise project I chose to combine my art skills and love of children’s literature to create 7 unique illustrations that I could exhibit on a web page. I chose children’s literature because this is the area I would specifically like to work in when I graduate from University; I also find the characters more exciting and unpredictable than any other category. My main concern to start with would be picking out of copyright books, I had to be very careful when choosing the book I wanted to illustrate so as not to infringe on this.
I also needed to choose a digital form to exhibit my work on; this was an easy choice for me as I have been working on blogs and websites since the start of University and know my way around them. I decided to use WordPress as the base of my website. I also wanted to market myself through the use of social media, this would be a way for me to find my end users and traffic them through to my webpage. I chose to use twitter as this has been proved to be a far better marketing tool than Facebook. I had never used twitter before so this would also be a chance for me to learn a new marketing skill. The website is a crucial element to the project as it is the only way for my end users to see my work, it would need to be well laid out, easy to navigate and with high image quality.
Research and development
Before I started my project I decided to do as much research as possible into every aspect of the work I would be doing. I started with my planning portfolio which included making sure that I fit to a schedule. This would be a really important part of the project for me as ensuring I was using the time I had wisely would benefit the outcome of my project, this is mostly because drawing pictures can be incredibly time consuming and I would need to keep myself on track. Because twitter was new for me I needed to ensure that I knew what I was doing, I did some initial research into artists that were both established and new to see how often they tweeted and what they posted. (see page 2) This gave me a rough idea on how to start, what kind of profile I should have and what is appropriate. I decided that the best course of action for my project would be to keep twitter as professional as possible.
To gain better knowledge of how my website should look I checked out some new and established artists’ websites. (See page 5) I already knew that I would be including my illustrations as the main feature, but I had to decide what else would be expected of an artist’s website. Through my research I came to the conclusion that I should keep it very simple, with an about page, easy navigation and small captions that include the relevant quotes underneath each picture.(See Page 14)
One of the most important steps for me was picking the right children’s books to draw from; it needed to be something that inspired me.(See page 14) I needed to whittle my choices down to just 7, (See page 15) once I had done this I chose to re-read all the stories, not only to refresh my memory but to pick the scenes that I would eventually draw.
One of the defining moments of my project was when I decided that the art form I would paint with was watercolours. I chose watercolour because my illustration style is quite abstract and I can use different watercolour techniques to help express this. Once I had settled on this it essentially cemented the ideas for each picture in my mind and meant that I could get underway with drawing my illustrations. (See page 13) Watercolour is something I have used before however it has only been in recent years that I have dabbled with it. To use it to its full advantage I used YouTube tutorials to give myself any hints and tips that I had previously not known, I also arranged to visit a local art exhibition in Wiltshire.
In my project plan I gave myself a schedule to stick by for when each image would come out. This was the hardest part of my scheduling to adhere to as I was not very happy with some of the pictures I drew so I had to spend a very large amount of time drawing, re- drawing and sometimes all together scrapping my illustrations. This was the most frustrating part of my project as I knew that each image would have to be perfect and stand up to my own expectations of my work. Follow this link to see the full broken down processes of my drawings. My final images were from the books: Alice Through the Looking Glass, the Wizard of OZ, The Jungle Book, The Secret Garden, The Snow Queen and The Butterfly. The process of my drawing consisted of me reading the book through, picking the scenes that jumped out at me most and then sketching this out on paper. I needed to make sure that the drawings all fitted together to make it more attractive overall. I came to notice in other peoples’ watercolour drawings (See page 19) that their pictures were more effective the less background colours they used. I then based my own drawings on this finding by sketching and painting the main character/scene with a very minimal background, if any. I used the blank white background to my advantage to make the foreground image jump out.
Once I had the illustration finished I had to make sure that it looked good on the website. To begin with I took the photos of the pictures on my Iphone. However after my meeting with Mimi I decided that the quality just wasn’t clear enough. I borrowed a high powered hybrid camera and photographed all the images using daylight and a homemade white box to ensure the best quality. However once I uploaded these onto the website the quality was not up to scratch again as wordpress had made them blurry. Because of this I booked a one on one tutorial with Gavin Wilshen, a technical demonstrator at the University, to show me what was going wrong. He helped me resolve the issue and the website was then back on track.
The next problem I had with the website was the theme. I mentioned before that I needed to keep it simple and plain. I struggled at first with the themes and went through quite a few before I settled on the cubic theme, (See from pages 14 +) this theme allowed me to use larger images than most. I also chose it for its homepage layout; instead of scrolling down a continuous list of images it applied them into neatly styled boxes that gave a hint of the image before you clicked into the post to see the full sized image. This gave me an instant gallery.
Communicating with the Industry
I needed to make sure that I was using twitter as a good marketing tool. After talking with my guiding tutor I was told that I needed to use twitter more to my advantage and that re-tweeting and using Hash-tags appropriately would allow me to communicate with my end user better. I also needed to follow as many people in the industry as I could in the hope that it would broaden my own followers and up the traffic to my webpage. Eventually the more I used twitter the more views I got on my webpage, after even more discussion with my personal tutor I upped my game again.
Though I attempted to contact many people, Aaron Challice a local graphic designer was one of the only people to get back to me and answer my pre set questions. He was incredibly helpful and insightful giving me information about what is expected from an artist’s portfolio.
The Final Result
Overall I feel that the outcome of the illustrations and the website was successful, I now have a basis for the rest of my art and can use it as a portfolio to further my career. I would have enjoyed having more time to do as many illustrations as possible. I think that even though in the end I managed to use twitter to its full advantage, if I had done this from the start it would have allowed me to gain more attention for my project and led more people to view my webpage. One thing that I am very disappointed about is not being more successful contacting people in the children’s illustrative profession. Though my feedback from Aaron Challice was incredibly helpful and insightful, I still believe that if Parragon or NorthParade Publishers had allowed me to interview them or at least talk to them it would have been incredibly beneficial. However this is not wasted as I can continue the project outside of University and now have a steady marketing tool and webpage for it.
View Charlie Illustrates Live Webpage : https://charlieillustrates.wordpress.com/
View the full range of research for this project below: