Women With Autism Personal Exploration Brief Extended Practice 603 Alex Patrick
The Brief I set this brief myself for my personal exploration part of 603 and I set myself quite the challenge. I wanted to do something related to Autism and how there is a lack of truthful representation surrounding Autistic people and a lot of people still believe silly stereotypes that have been around for ages. I wanted to put my own spin on it and get to know a couple of real life fellow High Functioning Autistic people and illustrate them. The first part of this brief was to make a poster advertising the project to people in the hopes I would find some willing Autistic people that wanted to be a part of my project. I wanted them to approach me as it felt wrong me asking directly as I didnâ€™t want to make anyone feel pressured at all. For my brief, I wanted to make at least 4 A3 digital portraits of Autistic people in my newfound hand drawn combined with digital collage style.
My Research To begin my research, I scoured the internet for other art projects around Autism to get an idea of what was already out there and maybe gain inspiration. Surprisingly I found barely anything, and when I did I felt some of the information and the ideas were wrong and even offensive in some cases. After getting an idea of what I definitely didn’t want to do, I set to work on making my poster. I made it bright, colourful and fun so people would hopefully see it and want to read! I tried to keep it as short and simple as possible so the information didn’t feel too overwhelming. It was easy to make to poster and knowing what to/what not to put on it as I am Autistic myself so this part was pretty simple. Researching Autism wasn’t something I needed to do as I have spent nearly my whole time at University up until last February when I was diagnosed researching Autism and I have an extensive knowledge on the subject, which made this project a lot easier. I think it would have been more challenging if I weren't autistic too.
Gaining Interestâ€Ś After posting the poster on my Instagram account, I didnâ€™t expect much of a reacting. At this time I had around 300 followers and knew about one other Autistic person on there. I was immensely surprised and overwhelmed when I had over 100 message requests after half an hour! I had to take a moment as I questioned whether I still wanted to do this, as the amount of people who wanted to be involved made me feel quite nervous. As well as nervous, I felt happy and proud of my idea as so many other Autistic people messaged me wanting to be a part of it and they nearly all said how it was a great idea and that they knew Iâ€™d represent the Autistic community well. So, the pressure was on. After a while, I replied to each and every message and thanked them for their help and for offering to volunteer and I started to select my four people to draw.
Rough Ideas Something that happened as I selected people to draw and changed my entire project, slightly. I realised that almost everyone who had gotten in touch with me about the project was female, and everyone I had selected was female. At this point I decided that it would be a great idea to make the focus of my topic more specific and change it to Women With Autism. I think doing this was a really good thing because there is even less representation of women with Autism and there is barely anything about Autistic women. After all of this, I finally got to the practical side of my project and started drawing. I decided the best way to start was by drawing each of the girls, including myself, Iâ€™m not entirely sure why, but I wanted to be included somehow.
Developments Throughout this project I encountered lots of developments. From changing the focus of it, to my ideas for the illustrations altogether. Originally, I was going to make very personal pieces based on the mini interviews I conducted with the girls and take bits of their personalities and interests to form an image. I tried this in my sketchbook and really didn’t like it at all. I jest felt that they looked too ‘obvious’ and I’m not sure, they just didn’t seem ‘right’ to me. They looked a bit like something I would have done as an A-Level piece so I ended up opting for something more simple. Within my sketchbook I had done mini portraits for some of the girls and teamed them with pieces of scrap paper that I had been using for mark making and made little back drops with them. I really liked the textures and colours teamed with the sketchy faces of the portraits and decided that this might be my best idea yet. So I scanned all the portraits and made some more pieces of paper with paint marks on, using the interviews to select the perfect colour for each girl. On Photoshop, I collaged them together and added digital bits and finally felt satisfied, apart from one thing, they looked a bit rushed. At this stage, I had a million other things to do and had to make do and do them to the best of my ability with the time I had left.
After Thoughts After this project, I can safely say that I didn’t enjoy doing it as much as I thought I would. I thought I would feel proud of the work I made and would want to share it but in reality, I don’t. The main reason I didn’t enjoy it was because I felt like there was a lot of pressure to make work that the girls who's portraits I was drawing would like and would think was good and this made me feel very stressed and made it hard to enjoy making anything for this project. I do like the final outcomes and I’m happy that I explored mark making as this was something new to me and I think it’s good that I managed to incorporate this new way of working into my final pieces. I think that they would have been a lot better had I not had many other things to work on at the same time and I could have spent more time on each portrait. I think doing this has taught me that maybe I don’t want to be someone who other people come to and ask for work, and rather someone who makes work for themselves and sells it if other people like it too, as the pressure of getting it right and it being something the person wanting it likes too is just a bit too much for me.