THE BRIEF: Create a cushion design, with a maximum of 5 to submit. SPECIFICATIONS: • submit a max of 5 designs • voted on by members,top three most popular are the winners • a further 10 more winners will be picked by staff • winners will be stocked online & recieve a 20% profit Dana Davis - Extended Practice
Because the product needs to have quite a wide commercial appeal, i started out by thinking about current trends & things i could turn into motifs. Social media like instagram is always a good place for that kind of inspiration - I was most interested by things like plants, bugs, crystals & reptiles. Kind of naturalistic, but also with magic/supernatural connotations. Initially i developed on some of my sketchbook work which is more traditional, i really like the shapes you can make with snakes, good for a motif - so i developed on that a little more. I thought it was strong image, but at the same time i had also thought that this brief would be a good opportunity to showcase my pixel art. I reworked my ideas & came up with the designs on the right, which I was really happy with.
These are the four designs I submitted – two new, and three re-designed/ reworked from older pixel work I’d made in my free time. In the end I decided to scrap the traditional style design and just go with all pixel – I felt they were the strongest images so it made sense.
A couple of weeks after submitting I was quite surprised to receive an email from Ohh Deer stating that my ‘whatever who cares’ pillow had been chosen by staff as one of the winners. This meant that I’d get my cushion stocked online & receive the 20% profits – I was surprised because it wasn’t one of the designs I’d worked on specifically for the competition. It was a redesign of one of my older pixel mages that I’d submitted on the notion that it suited the tone of the company. So I suppose I was right about that, which says a lot about researching into the kind of products and pre-existing illustrators that already work and feature with Ohh Deer. Gemma Correll is an illustrator I admire that does a lot of work for them on a similar wave-length.
As part of the process I also got sent a sample which was nice, to hold a finished product like that in my hands was a good feeling. The thing that felt most important about the whole experience was it could have the potential to lead on to new things now that I’ve actually been recognised - I’d definitely feel more confident In approaching them with more work in the future. They run frequent competitions so I’m interested to see what’s potentially next.
The brief: The pixel art challenge is a self-directed mini brief I did with another pixel artist, known as BitmapDreams, who I initially got in contact with online via my tumblr art account a couple of years ago. The idea was to ask people/ followers to get involved & suggest themes to create pixel items around. Three themes were chosen, which were as follows • Mermaids Vanity • Space Restaurant • Forgotten souvenirs Then we both created on pixel item per theme, then posted the three outcomes for a second round of voting. This time it was to pick which theme should be expanded on into a larger ‘set’. It could have varied for each out us, so it didn’t necessarily mean we’d have to work on the same thing, but as it turned out ‘space restaurant’ came out as the overall winner for both of us. It wasn’t so much of a problem because the whole idea first came about because of the usual connotation that ‘all pixel art looks the same’ which is something people presume a lot. I feel like it’s an underrated media that’s often side-lined on the retro video game kind of aesthetic. We wanted to celebrate the variation & stylistic approaches you can have with pixel art – whilst seemingly responding to very similar criteria.
From the three themes given, I developed the concepts a little more through drawing various other addons & interpretations. My final three outcomes were • Creepy Kewpie – run down, forgotten funfair. Unsold toys & broken hearts • Mermaid Coral comb – incrusted. indulgent treasures & concurred seas • Virtual-Waiter Alien server – after a dystopia future, new beginnings, weird prospects, old habits. Space restaurant won by a mile, although I was hoping on Creepy Kewpie – I think I’ll still revisit that concept sometime. After getting the votes in I did some more drawing to solidify a few more ideas. I don’t usually spend so much time drawing on paper for my pixel items, usually it’s straight on screen (which is a similar process to be honest, rough line art, then cleaning up & colouring.) This brief pushed me to plan more, especially since the outcome was quite a large collection (set at around 10 items initially). So it worked to go through the multiple pen drawings, and then the digital drawings afterwards for more refining. I definitely saw the benefit of that.
originally GIFs - see blog for orifiral artwork !
So this is the whole set complete & together – 25 bits in total, though some larger & more detailed. I also cut this down into smaller sets when I posted my outcomes online (pixelins. tumblr.com) they were also gifs so it’s best to view them on my blog. In all it was a really fun project to take part in and I look forward to the next one. I like having that interaction where people can get involved in art/ stuff like this without necessarily being creative themselves. It gets people interested & invested in what you’re doing but it also opens up scope for new ideas and different ways of seeing things – which is always good.
BRIEF: Create a marketing campaign to promote the adoption of rescue dogs. SPECIFICATIONS: • Stick to branding guidelines ( the yellow provided) • Feature logo (little to no alterations) • No sad dogs, depict happy, energetic dogs • Preferably full body images When I first started this brief I was exited to get started. Again, the cause is something I’m passionate about – and I love dogs. I was aware that this brief was mainly aimed towards the more graphics type approach, the specifications predominately talked about photography and branding – which for me, isn’t usually my domain. A marketing campaign seemed like a big undertaking, but I had an approach that I thought would work for me. I planned on focusing more on marketing materials like posters, postcards etc and just making them illustrative & fun. In the end this project didn’t work out for me and i chose to move on from it, however i did produce lot’s of work to be proud of in the process.It was a case of unfortunate timing and mis-matched priorities, but i’m still glad of the time i put into it.
I did a lot of sketchbook work and generally study drawings struggling with this subject matter. I just found it difficult to keep to DogsTrust’s specifications. At this point I was starting to question if this was the right brief for me but I decided to carry on and develop my ideas a little further.
Around this time my own dog actually passed away, he’d been ill for a long while – lots of trips to the vets & bad situations - it was quite draining for me. On reflection I feel like this really played a part in my feeling towards my work at the time. It was odd working on a project like this with all that going on in my own personal life. It wasn’t enjoyable or pleasant anymore. When I look at my work now I can see potential, I think I produced a lot of good images. Perhaps my approach wasn’t right for the brief deliverables but i think as far as developing concept and character I can see some of these bigger images even sitting in my portfolio.
It seems overly dramatic but it was just difficult for me over those few months and I wasn’t happy. Simply put, it didn’t work out, I was a bit jaded by it all. At this point I made the decision to move on from this brief, and I’m still glad I did because it enabled me to work on projects that I really did enjoy and explore topics and ideas that would benefit me in my future pursuits. I think I just find it hard to give-in and be defeated - Which is what it felt like at the time. Overall it was a good experience and I’ve learnt more about my own practice along the way – mainly what doesn’t work.
BRIEF: Create a 25mm badge to promote and celebrate international woman’s day 2018. Four designs will be chosen & sold in a badge pack alongside an exhibition of student work - all proceeds go to the charity women together. KEY THEMES: • The official slogan “press for progress” • Inclusivity • Women (clearly) • Gender Parity I wanted to do this brief because it’s a good cause & I’m interested in applying my illustration to products. It was also a quick turn over brief which I believe work well for my style of working. I started by listing my key themes, sketching out some ideas. There weren’t many specifications with this brief, so it was actually pretty open to interpretation. Personally, I felt like there’d probably be a lot of non-specific aesthetically pleasing submissions, so I decided my best chance would be to do my research and make sure there was that obvious link with the international woman’s day branding. That’s why I chose to reference logos & use the official slogans.
These are some of the designs I developed into colour – I submitted the four highlighted, but I was a bit unsure about them to be honest. I Just didn’t think they reflected my personal illustration, and I struggled with the size requirements a lot. I’ve never worked on something that’s print size was so tiny, my main difficulty was having it informative but legible. On reflection, how well they were perceived wasn’t going to be judged on whether or not it was ‘my style’, so perhaps I was a bit over critical of that. The point was that they got the message across! Because I was a bit frustrated by it, after I submitted I actually continued to develop the ideas a bit more – that’s when I came up with the yellow design which is still my preferred image. I wish I’d have been able to submit that one on time that’s just the way it is working with tight deadlines so it’s a lesson learnt more than anything, hard lines.
I was pleasantly surprised to be told that two of my designs had been chosen to feature in the 25mm badge set. I didn’t expect to get chosen because of the previous problems I’d mentioned about being unsure how they’d translate on such a small scale but It turns out they were fine. I think the success was down to the fact that they both very specific to the day. One had the hashtag & slogan, whilst the other features the branded logo. It was pretty cool to get featured like that and see a finished product. And it was also good to know the proceeds went to charity. It boosted my confidence a bit in the sense that I initially doubted myself over them, the payback was very rewarding.
B R I E F : Create a 27x27 cm piece of artwork of one of the musicians in the infamous 27 club. The artwork is open to interpretation but must be respectful due to the sensitive nature. All work submitted will be presented to a panel of judges, with the shortlisted pieces being displayed in the exhibition and used within a small publication. Along with the submission a short rational will need to be accompanying. This brief caught my attention due to the subject matter, I checked out the list and decided to go with the iconic Kurt Cobain. I was always a Nirvana fan, especially in my teens and it reminded me of that to revisit it. I knew Kurt Cobain would probably be among the most popular to submit but I just wanted to make something based on my own personal perceptions & experiences so for me it was a pretty straight forward decision.
I wanted to play on the idea of being an icon, sort of reminiscent of some kind of religious shrine that sprigs to mind with these kinds of musical legends. Especially in relation to the whole teen rock idol glorification. As I mentioned before me and my friends were really into this kind of thing as teenagers â€“ all the posters on the walls and so on. I looked at biblical poses & referencing angel wings with the in utero cover, but I also started to think about the more sensitive side of suicide and mental health which really influenced my decision making from that point on.
When i think of Kurt Cobain i personally always think of a particular series of paparazzi photos i saw when I was still in high school. The photos were of him, Courtney love and their daughter - They looked so rock’n’roll & grungy and cool but then there’s just this baby on her hip, could have been any one’s kid, and if you look longer you see Kurt Cobain got the little baby bottle in his hand. it’s an odd image, kind of juxtaposition i suppose. At the same time I feel like it’s a true reflection of that whole ‘celebrity icon’ role and their relationship being in the public eye like that. Those photos became my main inspiration for this submunition. To be honest it’s quite sad looking at them because at the end of the day it’s a family photo, it can’t be forgotten that Kurt Cobain did commit suicide - it’s the 27 club, and a lot of the people on that either ended their own lives of fell victim to that life style. Kurt Cobain was this great, talented, shining star or an icon and he should be celebrated for that along with his musical legacy, but he was also still a human being, just a person like everyone else. I think it’s also important to remember that, and to also think about the people that were around him at that point - most prominently his daughter. I always thought it must be odd that he’s such a teen angst figure head. I mean i instantly get the image of some 15 year old girl lighting a black candle and crying eyeliner tears at a kerrang mag poster shrine. It must have been odd for his family, his daughter who grew up around all that - it seems really isolating and kind of side lining for them. So that was the idea behind the composition. Mental health, depression, anxiety and general mental well-being is such a relevant topic today, and it’s something a lot of musicians are faced with. I think it’s important not to shy away from and not to forget the impacts and repercussions.
I ended up with two alternate versions of my image in the end. Not too different, the one I submitted was the one in red. I liked both for different reasons to be honest so it was 50-50. I when with red based on the fact it was the most stand out of the two, and that’s what most people suggested I go with. I was pleased with both outcomes so it was quite a difficult decision, I still don’t know if I made the right choice, but considering the images are getting judged it’s always going to come down to personal taste anyway – on reflection I should have just submitted both.
Circus of insanity/ Sir Curse is a small local student band. They asked me if I could make some album artwork for them which included 3 singles based around story concepts about a girl whoâ€™s the main character throughout the music. One I did before the start of the year and two I worked on during this module
The single covers were the first commissions i did for them, after that they also asked me to create a large scale illustration that would serve as a backdrop projection when they did gigâ€™s and performances. The concept for that was that it was set down the bottom of a well, with various objects, items and visual queues in the scene. I liked working on these briefs because they were always very specific in what they wanted from me - it was more about just bringing their ideas to life. The challenge with it was that because it was so specific i had to get everything down to the last detail. This involved lotâ€™s of back and forth conversations & alterations along along the way. It was also tricky sometimes dealing with a large number of people to please and who wanted to have their own inputs. Again this was solved ithe lots of feedback points and discussion.
Quite a while after the first commissions the band decided to change their image a little – they came up with a new name – Sir Curse, and wanted a new logo to go with it. Previously I’d discussed how they could apply the artwork I’d already done for them to things like merch and t-shirts. And they came back to me with one of the mock’s I’d produced for that – which was something I quickly edited from one of the singles. They asked if they could use it as a logo and if I’d rework it and illustrate their new name to go with it. This was one of the final outcomes for that, previously the logo they’d had made was a bit fussy, so they wanted something more simplified and clear to read. Graphics aren’t really my forte but this was more illustrative, so I felt comfortable working on it.
I started my journal project because I was feeling a bit lost after deciding to stop working on the DogsTrust brief. I felt like I needed a breath of fresh air and ideas, and a way of getting back to myself and back into what I really enjoy doing and making. I thought back to previous summer journals I’d done in the past and how much they inspired me and kept me going, and it seemed like a really obvious step to take. I differentiate this journal from my sketchbook because for me a sketchbook Is brief driven, where as my journal is about experimentation and being free with subject, topic and media. It’s been a big help in dragging myself out of this creative low. As a result, it’s also lead to me making things outside of the pages too which was the idea from the start. Even once I’m done with a journal it serves the purpose of being an inspiration catalogue for other projects and brief’s I’m working on, whether it’s pixel art, a certain style of technique or even just a colour pallet.
Another topic that spawned from my journal has been a fascination with deer and stag, thereâ€™s something about them that I just love drawing. These are some of the images born from my journal.
With the drag queen brief I originally set out to make it a larger part brief, more of a weekly thing â€“ but as I progressed with it I realised that as an idea it was more suited to being something that was part of my journal where I experimented and played around with stuff. It fit nicely with the premise of that. These are some of the images I produced regarding the topic. I stuck to a portrait format, focusing on character and exaggerations. The drag queenâ€™s have all been contestants on RuPaulâ€™s Drag race which is a popular show I watch religiously. I was just inspired by the drama & the costumes and the exaggerated personalities in general and I also wanted to work on my illustrative skills depicting people.
Throughout other briefs I’ve been working on my pixel art mostly in the background. I’ve ran a tumblr blog ( pixelins.tumblr. com) for about 5 year now ( back when I was still learning how to make pixel art & I was really bad at it) and I try to make something new every week or so to post online. My following gradually got bigger & bigger and i gradually got better and more skilled along the way – I find making pixel art really relaxing. My blog is kind or a stress reliever, I just make whatever I feel like making and share it for other people to enjoy, which is why I feel like it intertwines a lot with my journal projects because it’s basically creative play. I haven’t always had pixel art at the forefront of my practice for a number of reasons, mainly being that it’s not something that can be translated into every brief, and I was also worried for a while that it’d take over my main practice and become less enjoyable for me. Gradually over this year in extended practice I’ve been able to find the right balance and in cooperate more of my pixel work into my own chosen briefs which has been enlightening.
Pixel positivity has been a mini brief I set myself to create pixel’s around a theme so I can be a little more focused with my outcomes. Simply, positivity is my theme. Right now I’m onto week four, I’ve been producing and posting them on a weekly basis. This is something I’m going to continue with after graduation, so I haven’t set myself any cap or anything, it’s more a matter of how many I’ve completed by the time of submission. I didn’t want to be too restrictive with my choice of theme because I think that would defeat the purpose of being an explorative outlet, like my journal. The purpose has always been to get ideas and thoughts out & I’d like to keep it that way. Each image is based around some kind of advice or message to promote various aspects of positive practices. Some have been GIFs, some have been singular images & my latest one’s actually more of a comic so it’s still managing to be quite varied which I’m happy about.
A year or so back someone commissioned me to create 10 pixel art designs that would be converted into cross-stitch patterns, I didn’t know much about cross-stitch so It was a new idea to me. I always thought I could give it a try because fundamentally it’s exactly the same process of drawing (each crossed stitch = one pixel) It’s a way of turning a piece of pixel art into a tactile product which I found really interesting. I didn’t actually do anything about it until recently when my friend started to get into it too, it caught my imagination again and I felt like a self-directed brief would be the perfect time to try and learn this new skill. So, I set myself the challenge of converting some of my pixel art pieces into cross-stitch patches.
I had a few mis-haps and some learning curves with it but it’s pretty easy to get the hang of once you’re into it. It is a very time-consuming process, which I underestimated to start with. The lucky space cat patch is quite large & it took me about 40 hours to complete. I love the result though – I’m planning to attach the finished patches to some kind of apparel (maybe a denim jacket or a bag?) and I think it’ll look really good for an end of year show piece. Thinking about where I could take this in the future, I think it’s a nice product if I were to sell any of my creations as patches. I could even look at creating more professional patterns to sell to people willing to stitch the designs themselves. I did a bit of research to see what’s around at the minute and people are selling modern crossstitch patterns online (stores like etsy) but there’s not a great selection. A lot of people have also contacted me though my blog before asking If they could convert my art themselves to stitch, which tells me I’m probably missing a trick by not doing selling patterns. It’s definitely something to consider! In the mean time I’m going to keep it up.