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Intro Inspiration Abstraction Online presence Facebook Online shop Business card Visual Language Experimenting with media Construction iBoardSports show Commissions Keep on Truckinâ€™ Book Illustration Little i Framing and Presentation Bumf CV
INTRO Something which I have struggled with since starting BA Illustration was the idea that someday people will pay me to do something which I would happily do for free. I struggled to imagine myself as anything other than a student â€“ working to briefs and projects assigned by tutors and getting graded at the end. The past few months in particular, i have begun to see past the final deadline and graduation Iâ€™ve begun to see the potential of my practice. I have a peculiar way of thinking about things, and I feel that although I often find my work stressful, I use it as a way of organising my mind.
The Tricorn Centre, Portsmouth
I draw inspiration for my work from a number of places and people. I would say that architecture is one of my main sources of inspiration, particularly brutalist structures, although i’ll settle for anything big and industrial. I am inspired, particularly, by 1920’s - 1950’s European Design and Art movements. I chose to study the Bauhaus for my dissertation; I found their ideals and views on art and design similar to my 6
own. I recently visited the Kurt Schwitters exhibition at the Tate, it opened my eyes to the validity and success of collage as an art form. I’ve found the work of Wyndham Lewis and El Lissitzky really influencial in my practice, their use of abstraction represents what i love and appreciate about art.
I would say that abstract art has strongly influenced my practice over the years, my mum is an abstract artist, and has been all my life. I’ve always been fascinated by her paintings and the ideas behind abstract art. Since I began drawing I’ve always struggled with
confidence, I found sketching very difficult and often used alternative media to avoid having to draw. However throughout the last year or so I’ve sought to combine my interests in the aesthetics of abstract composition with my illustrative practice. 7
ONLINE PRESENCE I made my first illustration blog during my first year of uni, I now mainly use Tumblr and Cargo. This year I went all out and bought myself a proper domain and the web address www. danbeedesign.co.uk. I’ve found that not only are websites like this great for allowing others to view my work, they also really help me keep myself organised. If I find that I’m stuck in a rut or feel lost with my work (and this happens a lot), I use my website gallery to view all my work together, so that I am able to remember what I’m supposed to be doing!
I use cargo to host my main website. I use Tumblr for my blog.
To help link my websites together i’ve used the same colour schemes and headers for my website and blog.
www.danbeedesign.co.uk www.danbeedesign.tumblr.com www.facebook.com/danbeedesign www.dan-bee.squarespace.com www.danbeedesign.bigcartel.com
+ ONLINE PORTFOLIO During my meeting with Gina Cross, she said that although my physical portfolio was good, none of my websites worked as online portfolios as there was too much stuff on them. She suggested i create an online portfolio using squarespace. Its expensive, but it looks much more professional and its good to be able to show a client my best work without having to search for it in folders.
FACEBOOK Facebook has been a surprisingly useful tool in promoting my work and getting feedback. I have a facebook page for my illustration. Its great because pretty much everyone has facebook so I can show my work to a much wider audience.
I uploaded some hand drawn images and posted them on facebook. The next day, I received a message from someone who had seen my uploaded work. They said they really liked the style I had drawn them in and could she commission me to do a large illustration of a great white shark. I was able to do the commission that night, I photographed the print and sent it to her on facebook. She was really pleased with it so I ordered some postage tubes from amazon and sent it off with her, along with the invoice. 10
I was amazed at how easy it was to sell a print when somebody likes your work, I donâ€™t have an awful lot of confidence in my work so havenâ€™t put it into as many sales/exhibitions as I should have. I thought it might be an idea to set up some way of selling my work online.
ONLINE SHOP It took me a while to get round to making an online shop, i was expecting it to be much more complicated than it actually was. Initially, i was just using a seperate page on my cargo website listing all the prints i had for sale and giving my contact details. Iâ€™m now using bigcartel.com to sell my work, people can buy prints directly through the website and it looks much more professional.
I originally wanted to print my business cards myself, but i couldnt print them thick enough. After hours of trying to use vistaprint.com (only to find out that the final cost was a complete rip off) i ended up getting them printed at a printers in town. Not doing it oline/myself meant that i could discuss all the different printing options before hand. I went for a simple design on the face, in the same style as my website header. I chose the image on the back because its an attractive design, it looks good small and the content relates to my practice.
VISUAL LANGUAGE +DEVELOPING A STYLE Something which I’ve really struggled with is the idea of having a style. I never really felt like I had a particular style, my work tended to change media fairly randomly depending on what the project was. During the first year or so this was a real issue for me, especially as some people in our group already had a distinctive style to their work, I would compare my work with theirs which is never a good idea. Throughout level six in particular, I have come to appreciate my work for what it is, the fact that I’ve never really stuck to a specific style has allowed me to experiment with different methods and media. I’ve also managed to supress my tendencies to compare my work with others and trust my own opinions more, creating images that I think are good, instead of focusing on what other people will think of them. This is a discipline I am still struggling with, but it has allowed me to feel a personal link to my work. I think I will always be tough on myself when it comes to my own work, but I think this is something that will keep me going when I leave uni.
My ‘style’ is influenced by my interest in modernist and abstract art. Throughout my degree ive explored the ways in which my personal visual preferences can be applied to illustration. My style, as I see it, is based on aesthetics and visual composition. My work explores space and balance within an image, representation through abstract forms, constructing and assembling an image. I have found that due to the abstract nature of my illustration people cannot always read my work until they know the context. 14
+’DYSLEXIC HANDS’ Up until the beginning of level six, I had a few issues with crating images by hand. I used to explain to people that I had ‘dyslexic hands’, I was clumsy and always preferred making images digitally, imitating handmade characteristics on Photoshop. I have experimented a lot with my own abilities particularly in the final project, on the advice of Marcus Oakley, I developed and incorporated hand rendering abilities – ending up with a series of hand made, unedited collage images. They are all imperfect in one way or another, but it gives them so much more character than if I had created them digitally.
+EXPERIMENTING WITH MEDIA My illustrative practice is much broader in terms of media since I began working by hand again. I feel confident with my abilities to design and edit and create work digitally using both photoshop and illustrator, but now confident im my abilities at rendering by hand as well particularly collage and screen printing. Over the last few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time in the screen printing room making images and I’ve really enjoyed it, this is definitely something that I am going to keep developing, I think it’s aesthetics really suit the content of my work. +COLOUR SCHEMES Something that people often comment on when they view my work is that they like the way I use colour. I find this a bit surprising as the colour schemes that I develop normally relate to the medium I’m working with. When I started my degree, I was wary of using colour in my images and tended to stick to good old black and white. I think that as my artistic interests developed, I was influenced more and more by the colour schemes of different artistic movements. In particular the bleak, industrial colour schemes of constructivist and modernist art and design. 16
As my practice has developed, the idea of constructing an image from elements rather than rendering entirely by hand has become a strong preference in the way i work. Iâ€™ve never been very proud of my drawing ability, i find that i work best when i create the elements of an image first, then arrange and compose them afterwards. This became clear through my digital work, but even more so in my paper collage images. I think the idea of construction works well with the content and easthetic of my work.
“You can do anything, but you can’t do everything” Hayley Potter
iBOARDSPORTS SHOW During level six I was involved in an a show at the ‘iBoardsports’ shop in Bournemouth. It was organised via facebook by an ex-aub student who worked there, she contacted us to get involved. We had a large space in the downstairs part of the shop and she created promotional material to try and draw people in. My illustration of a pigeon was sold on the first day but I didn’t sell anything else. Still, the pigeon image was one of my favourites and I like the idea that someone else saw it and liked it enough to buy it.
+ LOGO DESIGN
In December, 2012, I was asked to design a logo for the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability, a London based charity. They needed a logo designed for a new exclusive benefactors group they were starting called ‘The Nightingale Club’. It was a small commission but I learnt a lot about working with clients and making changes to the work – communicating through email. When I was offered the commission I had just learnt the basics of adobe Illustrator so it gave me a great opportunity to use it. I learnt how to produce a vector design, 22
how to manipulate font so that it wraps around a shape. There were some issues with pixilation due to not saving in the right format but we worked it out eventualy. I was really pleased with the end result and they seemed happy with it. They paid me £70 for the job but as it was a charity I would have quite happily done it for free. Making an invoice was a new experience, but not as difficult as I thought it would be.
+ LEARNING FROM BAD EXPERIENCES Unfortunately not all the commissioned work I have done so far has been as successful. During level 5 I got involved in producing some promotional material for a group of students organizing an event involving a famous Russian warship docking in London. I agreed to work for free on the notion that the work would ‘boost my portfolio’. They didn’t really seem to know what they wanted and I spent hours trying to work to their specifications. I wasn’t very proud of the work when it was done but they said it was what they wanted. I waited to hear back from them but never did. In they end they had got some graphics agency to design it for them, I emailed them but they never replied. I wasted a lot of hours on that job but it taught me to be wary of working for free. 24
+ SKATEBOARDS I also got involved in designing skateboards for a local skateboarding company called ‘NPNG’. I love skateboarding and designing skateboards sounded ideal, people have often said that my illustrations would make good board graphics. I put a lot of hours into the job but the people in charge were pretty hard to get hold of and they didn’t really know what they wanted. In the end they went with one of their own designs, but it wasn’t very good. I kept emailing them designs for a while but eventually decided that if I was going to work for free I want to at least be able to get feedback from the client. 25
Keep on truckinâ€™ Definition : To continue or persist, regardless of circumstances or set backs; to keep trying or striving.
I love what I do, but it will always be a personal battle with myself, sometimes I go weeks without making a piece of work that I’m pleased with. Sometimes I’ll try too hard, or tell myself I’m not working hard enough. The important thing to remember is that this is how life works, all it takes is one good piece, one inspiring image, and you’re out of the rut. When I’m stuck in a rut I tell myself to just keep going, keep making work, stay positive – keep on truckin’.
I own hundreds of books, yet I’ve read barely any of them… it’s the covers that attracted me to them. I’ve always been a big fan of the classic minimalist penguin covers, since starting BA Illustration my interest in book covers developed past penguin, but my love of minimal design stayed with me.
I chose to do a project in level 5 designing a series of book jackets for George Orwell books. I loved the idea of having a whole story for inspiration. I also discovered a personal interest in dystopia novels after designing a cover for Orwell’s 1984. For my negotiated practice I struggled to create my own brief and eventually chose to create work for the folio society competition to illustrate Aldous Huxley’s dystopia classic ‘Brave New World’. The brief was to create three internal illustrations and a cover design. I discovered that I found desining covers much easier than actually selecting scenes from the book and illustrating them. However, I design V illustration 29
During level 5 we were given a project on narrative. I chose to make a childrens storybook about a fiction character getting lost in London. The project ave me an oppertunity to develop my photoshop abilities, but also the chance to write creatively, which i hadnâ€™t done for a long time. The book is available to view online and im in the process of writing another.
FRAMING AND PRESENTATION The way an image is arranged on a page can really change the way you view it. I learnt this during my final project when I started producing A5 collages. I wasn’t very pleased with way they looked on the paper, I tried to edit them but they looked better being the tactile originals. Because I didn’t edit them, I placed them in the centre of a white A3 sheet of paper. The white space around the collages made them look so much better! I don’t know why I had always assumed that the bigger an image is, the better it looks. Throughout the project i’ve been putting together a physical portfolio, up till recently i had been relying on my website and blog to give examples of my work. Framing my images within a page and making prints has helped me to see how my images can be sold and viewed out of context.
BUMF During level 5, I submitted some of my work to the student union and it got framed and hung in the arts bar. I don’t go to the arts bar much and I forgot that my work was on the walls there, but at the start of level 6 I got an email from the student body president saying he’d seen my work in the arts bar and wanted to include it in an issue of ‘Bumf’ AUB magazine. I emailed him the original images but I heard nothing back so I assumed they had
changed their mind. During the end of my final project, I picked up a copy of Bumf magazine in the canteen, to find one of my images had been published in the magazine. My work has also been showcased on their website. Seeing my work featured online and printed has really helped me to imagine myself as a professional illustrator, not just an illustration student.
Dan Bee 52 Green Road, Bournemouth, Dorset BH91EA 07825031545
The Nightingale Club
September 2010 â€“ June 2013
- Commission to design a logo for a London based charity.
Kruzenshtern May 2012 - Designing promotional material for Lon-
Arts University Bournemouth
Foundation Diploma in Art & Design
Working to a brief.
September 2009 â€“ may 2010
A-Levels Fine Art (A), Media Studies (C)
Arts University Bournemouth
don based event: Flyers, leaflets, posters etc.
September 2007 - June 2009
- InDesign -
March 2012 - Designing skateboard graphics and promotional material for a Bournemouth based Skateboard Company.
exhibitions Moon Tree Gallery exhibition February 2012 An eclectic illustration exhibition, featuring work by students from AUB, at the Moon Tree Gallery, Boscome.
iBoardSports exhibition November 2012 A collection of works by local artists and illustrators At the iBoardSports store in Bournemouth.
Dan Bee is a freelance illustrator currently living in Bournemouth. Combining elements of abstract art, modernist design and graphic illustration, Dan creates work both digitally and by hand, exploring the potential of space, composition, dimensions and form within contemporary illustration.
Professionalism is knowing how to do it, when to do it, and doing it. Frank Tyger