Who am I? In the making Inspiration Reflection Final major project Competitions & Commissions Exhibitions Editorial Online Business The Future
My illustrative work celebrates the beauty, colours and textures of the natural world. Nature really drives my practice; the closer you look at nature the more you find, even the smallest organisms are beautiful. I use an array of mediums including collage and watercolour to reflect those textures. Mark making and colourful paintings are used within the initial stage of my practice, brought together through collage. I have a particular interest in the colourful and intricate style typically found in illustrated childrenâ€™s books. Outside of my drawing I really enjoy creative writing, so childrenâ€™s books are the perfect platform for my practice. Creating stories that are not only enjoyable for children but also morally challenge them to increase their learning and understanding.
The animal world is a key element within my work; after thoroughly studying how anthropomorphism helps children to learn and grow throughout my dissertation, I now realise they are a very helpful tool of getting children to engage with a story. Anthropomorphism creates space between the protagonist of the story and the child. Therefore if something tragic happens in the book, it doesnâ€™t upset the reader, but allows them to learn. Although this is a key reason for why my work centres around animals, I am also a huge animal lover which feeds my practice as I love drawing their many different forms.
â€œCollage is like a hall of mirrors. Every direction you look, you see something different and visually stimulating. Nita Leland
I make all the different elements of my work by hand; freely painting with bright colours using the brush stokes to create different textures and gradients. The first stages of my work is always a messy and erratic process, with paper spread all over the table, using my instinct to cut out shapes to form my images. My work starts off as large messy paintings and patterns, and is then reduced down to smaller intricate collages. Pattern with pattern is one of the key themes within my work; so the more you look at a piece there is always more to discover, just like nature. Once all the characters, plant life and landscape have been made, I scan every element in and do the final tweaks on the computer. Throughout the duration of my degree I have either worked completely by hand, or produced very digital rigid work, now finally I have found a happy medium between craft and the computer. I love the freedom of paint and collage, but am also a huge Photoshop fan, I am happy to say my work has found its place between them both.
As a child The Very Hungry Caterpillar was my favourite book, and now as an illustrator I still find it a huge inspiration within my practice. Like myself, Carle cuts and layers hand printed papers together to form colourful images. I believe his illustrations appeal to children so well because of the free collage style he uses. His over exaggerated colour scheme is always so bright and visually appealling for children. Children’s art is always so free with scribbles and paint; Carle layers these ‘scribbles’ into amazing characters. The reason his bright colour scheme works so well, is because of the vast amount of white space he uses- this is something I took on board for my Final Major Project. Carle tells tales to children that they enjoy but also learn from; this is one of the key skills I wish to posses as an illustrator. When you are illustrating for children you don’t just have to make it interesting for the kids, but also stimulating for the parents as well.
“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” C.S. Lewis
â€œThe unknown often brings fear with it. In my books I try to counteract this fear, to replace it with a positive message. I believe that children are naturally creative and eager to learn. I want to show them that learning is really both fascinating and fun.â€? Eric Carle
Jon Klassen is another great illustrator who inspired my practice; most famous for his book ‘I want my hat back’. His deadpan illustrations have a bit of a dark nature to them; he uses a very limited dull colour scheme and deals with concepts such a lying and murder in ‘I want my hat back’. He deals with these themes in such a subtle way it does not disturb children, but sets him apart from other children’s illustrators. This is something I want to work on within my own practice- howto deal with serious subject matters within children’s illustration. I want my books to have real meaning and moral substance as well as being visually appealing. Although some of his work is more digital, hand painted watercolour paper is cohesive throughout. When his work is digitalised, it still has real depth within it. I have previously struggled to create depth within my work, with some images looking a bit flat when transferred to the computer.
The Negotiated Practice unit was key to defining who I was as an illustrator and how to establish a style. In previous years I would just produce A4 line drawings or watercolour pieces. After dabbling in the narrative, I realized I wanted to bring all my skills together and make a fully finished children’s book. I decided to illustrate an old folk tale called ‘The Indigo Jackal’ as it tackled serious subjects such as lying, anger and betrayal. This was a bit ambitious as it was my first time illustrating a whole narrative story, but it turned out to be a huge learning point in my practice. Looking back on ‘The Indigo Jackal’ the images do appear quite flat, you can tell that the layers were photoshopped and it lost its hand rendered edge. Now I know not to take the short route and jump straight onto the computer. Taking this further, an animation student approached me about animating the story line. He is currently working on bringing The Indigo jackal to life; I am so excited to see the finished collaboration. I learnt so much from Negotiated Practice, such as the importance of good printing and binding. Presentation is so important as an aspiring illustrator;
my work needs to be of the highest quality achievable to get into an already thriving industry. This project really helped me establish a style and give me the confidence to write my own novel to illustrate. I know understand my mistakes, but as an illustrator you just keep growing and growing. I never like any of my old work, because there is always room for improvement.
â€œWithout continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.â€? Benjamin Franklin
Final major project was an opportunity to really challenge myself to create the best book possible; it’s the final stretch before the professional world. So to test myself thoroughly I had to create a story that was completely my own. In the industry I may be asked to illustrate other peoples work, but I wanted to make something completly new while i had that time. The study of Insects has always been fascinating to me; I spent my time nose down in insect books, studying their structures and surrounding myself with nature. Eventually I created the story of ‘Steven’, which tells the story of a lonely bug on the search for his identity. I wanted to strip my style down and really concentrate on the handmade element of the collage. I have now a huge box of collaged animals and plant life residing in my lounge, from which I have now learnt the importance of keeping your work neat, safe and well presented. Once I had finished illustrating story, I realised the beginning pages I had created were not up to scratch, as my work has grown and progressed throughout.
The use of type throughout my book is a major thing to consider within my practice. As an illustrator I needed to establish my own typeface, as well as a consistent style. I looked into artists like Parra who used their type to fill the space in a creative way and drew inspiration from his work. I got the book professionally printed and perfect bound, so to achieve the highest quality. The book looked really professional, and it was great to see all my work come together. Merchandise was the next venture I wanted to achieve, I handcrafted a Steven plush toy to accompany the book. Taking this project further I would sell the merchandise along side the book for engage children even more with the story.
“Nature is my springboard. From her I get my initial impetus.” Milton Avery
I entered a competition on ‘Creative allies’ to design the logo for ‘The Electric Forest festival’, although I was unsuccessful in the competition I received a lot of positive feedback. It is also good experience for working with briefs. I plan to enter as many competitions as possible after graduation.
I decided to enter Steven into The Macmillan Prize; it was the perfect opportunity to get my book out there and seen by publishers. Although I might not win, it’s an opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up by any children’s book illustrator.
Recently I have been commissioned by many a friend or family member to create images of their pets. I have done eight so far, although it’s not something I would like to carry on further in my practice it has been a good way of fund raising .
Exhibitions are key to getting your work out there, they have been very successful and my work has been bought in each of them. I wish I had been involved with more exhibitions, but now after graduating I am going to be in as many as possible. Of course there is the AUB show and our own illustration exhibition in London, this is a massive opportunity to get my work seen. 2013 Silent auction The Arts University Bournemouth, Dorset 2012 Christmas exhibition Flirt cafĂŠ, Bournemouth 2011 Bespoke level 5 exhibition CafĂŠ Boscanova, Bournemouth
At the beginning of the year I decided to gain some experience in editorial illustration, to prepare myself for the professional world. I am a regular monthly Illustrator for Bournemouth Universityâ€™s â€˜Nerve Magazineâ€™, creating vibrant images to compliment the articles inside. This commissioned opportunity has helped me a lot, giving me experience with short deadlines and tackling subject matters out of my comfort area.
Another student magazine ‘Pebble’ got in contact with me to illustrate one of their issues. The piece would be drawn to accompany a poem by Daniel Wilkes, which was quite challenging for me. In the industry you will inevitably have commissions that will test you as an illustrator. So I accepted the challenge and tried something different; I had some fun with marbling inks and came up with a concept. Sometimes you have to get away from your work for a while and do something you enjoy, something completely unrelated will inspire you.
“Inspiration comes from doing.” Robert Genn
Website Having an online presence is key as an illustrator, my work has to be easily accessible and prominent online. I created the brand of â€˜Hillustrationâ€™ as it is easily searchable and Becky Hill is a very common name online. My website acts as an online portfolio of my work that any one can look at, it also have contact details for clients and links to my other online platforms.
Twitter Twitter is a great way to interact with other people in the industry; you can hear about competitions, job opportunities or exhibitions as soon as they come out. It is a constant feed of news and inspiration. It also allows a less formal way to contact me as an illustrator.
Tumblr I use tumblr for a working progress blog; I put unfinished or experimental work up so people can get a more detailed update of my work. It is also a good way, to get you work reblogged and seen by other people. ther O I now have two finished children’s books up on Issuu, so they are accessible to the world. I also have a linkedin and behance profile, just so people are aware of me on every platform.
“If you don’t exist online, you don’t exist” Grace Barham
Shop I have started up a shop on Etsy as Iâ€™ve had many offers to buy my work, but no platfrom to sell it on. Etsy is a good site to use as lots of other creatives use it aswell, allowing a good database of clients. Over the summer I am going to concentrate on uploading lots of crafty things for people to buy; prints, cushions and my books.
The Indigo Jackal
Business cards Creating a eye catching business card is so important, as you need people to pick it up. I have printed out 100 cards and aim to leave one behind at every opportunity. I need to get my name as an illustrator out there, and this is just the start.
Stationary I plan to make personalized envelopes and letterheads to send to agencies, future clients and design magazines to exhibit my work. I will also make some bespoke envelopes with collage on them; sending something bespoke shows the time and effort you’ve put it to it, making it more special and less likely to get thrown away.
Publishers I have come out of this degree with two finished children’s books. Once I have found a cheaper method of printing, I plan to send ‘Steven’ out to different publishing houses all over the UK. I have already had interest from mothers and teachers who would like to buy it and read it to their children.
Concertina booklet I have made a concertina booklet showing my off my work and personality to send out to design agencies. It spells out ‘Hillustration with lots of different handmade characters. Hayley Potter mentored us with interesting ways to get your work out there, through decorative post. I believe its better to receive something physical than an online presentation of your work. I have a list of good agencies in the UK to send my work to; I plan to post the booklet along with a business card and personalized envelope over to every agency.
Portfolio My have made my portfolio interchangeable; it is a A3 customized (with vinyl) cardboard portfolio case with separate work printed on a high gsm of paper. Therefore allowing me to chop and change which work I take with me very easily for different situations. I also have my website acting as an online portfolio.
Organization One day I would love to go freelance with my Illustration, but itâ€™s a lot of work, which will build on my organization and finance skills. Guest lecturers and mentors have greatly helped be this year with understanding contracts, copyright issues and even keeping a record of your taxes. After I finish I need to be seriously motivated, pushing my work out into the creative industry. I make sure to read creative review every month, which always has business tips for new comers. Itâ€™s a lot to get your head around, but it is all new and exciting.
After graduation I’m sure I’ll become overwhelmed with the countless possibilities I face. But I have to be confident with my work; motivation can achieve anything. Over the summer I plan to do as many projects as possible for example, making more felt cushions to sell on my shop. I want to write another children’s book as I thoroughly enjoy doing it. At the same time I will send my work out to as many agencies as possible, and enter as many competitions as I can. I want to utilise the time I have left in Bournemouth, to collaborate with my friends and exhibit my work. We are in the mist of organizing an exhibition that involves different courses from AUB, to show the range of talent that third year has produced. I am so grateful for AUB, it gave my the chance to work alongside so many talented creative’s and gain graphics, fashion, photography and even model making experience.
Of course we have our end of year show to prepare for and our self funded Illustration show in London. I have been fund raising all year with exhibitions, sales throughout Bournemouth and private commissions . I plan to print off four large images from Steven for the display .Also we may have a book corner, so everyone can sit down and read the years various books and zines. Getting down to business, I plan to move to Brighton with a fellow Illustration graduate and create our own studio space. There is a particular agency in Brighton that I would love to work with, ‘Agency Rush’. I plan to send them bespoke work from myself and hopefully start life within the industry. We also plan to start a market stall selling our cards, cushions and lots of other hand made things. After I have gained some industry experience, I would like to apply for the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin Cambridge School of Art. It has been highly recommended and works very closely with the publishing industry, giving me more opportunities as a freelance illustrator. Over the course of the three years I feel my work has really grown and progressed; my practice has finally found its platform to stand upon within Illustration. I feel like my work has now found an appropriate purpose, and I know all I can do from hereon in is improve.