Image Harvest Bookbinding Paper Engineering Letterpress Workshop Laser Cutting Sewing Workshop Self-Publishing Workshop Art Market Sketchbook Project
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Words on Wheels Stop-Motion Hand Lettering Workshop Pattern Making Self Directed Project
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Hello! I’m Jasjyot. Pronounciation: Jus-jyot (jyot rhyming with ‘boat’). I’m an illustrator from Delhi, India. I studied animation as part of my undergraduate diploma from National Institute of Design, India. After that, I worked as a freelance illustrator in various capacities with leading fashion houses, lifestyle brands, magazines, publishers and indie comic book firms. Over the course of my professional experience, I fancied becoming a student again. There was so much to be learnt and client work left me feeling stagnant and drained. I made it through graduate school admissions, and if I did go, it would be my first time ever out of the country. After tonnes of contemplation, I took a deep breath and made the decision to come to MICA’s MFA in Illustration Practice. What would be in store for me? With an open mind, I landed in Baltimore. And what a wonderful journey this was going to be! This publication follows my journey through first year of grad school starting from Fall 2015 to Spring 2016.
For our first assignment, we were asked to work on ten ideas/ themes, out of which we would develop one and display it as part of a show. This sounded great in theory, because I could do whatever I wanted. But since we got no specific brief, it left me absolutely clueless. And since they had to be finished pieces to be put in a show, the pressure was on from day one. I looked through existing themes in my work, and themes I immediately gravitated towards but had not done anything with. Some ideas were more visual, and lent themselves clearly to an object or final form; some more conceptual that needed much more fleshing out. It was great to see how I created a pool of ideas I could revisit in the future. After feedback from group critique, the one I finally decided to take forward was Sneaker Porn, focussed on my love for sneakers. The form of the project developed from a set of postcards to a zine with personal stories about these sneakers. One week had already gone by, and we finally realised it would be best to have the final pieces as three posters. Each poster would include hand lettering, an illustration of the shoe and a small comic narrative based on my association with the respective sneaker. The process of working on the posters was itself challenging in the given time frame. And we had to give time to make them ready for installation. After sleepless nights of struggling with foam core, an X-acto knife and helping everyone install for the final show. This course was ultimately a lot more than exploring ideas. I was a challenge in precision, time management and teamwork. Finally the show was up, and it was time to pat ourselves on the back for making it through the first step, and getting ready for the next one.
The process of working on the posters was itself challenging in the given time frame. And we had to give time to make them ready for installation. Sleepless nights were spent struggling with foam core, an X-acto knife and helping everyone install for the final show. Along with the three posters that were part of my exhibit, I also made promotional postcards as giveaways for the show. It was a great feeling to see them fly off the stands, and that the display was well recieved.
This course was ultimately a lot more than exploring ideas. I was a challenge in precision, time management and teamwork. Finally the show was up, and it was time to pat ourselves on the back for making it through the first step, and getting ready for the next one.
For this workshop, I was interested in using a single sheet of paper and folding it in a way so that the small form unfolds into a much bigger picture or narrative. I experimented in various ways I could cut a single sheet and fold it in different ways to change the architecture of the book. I wanted a dramatic change in scale from the beginning to the end, and be able to navigate the reader through the book in an engaging manner. The project became a small zine about the act of looking at myself in the mirror and a gnawing sense of self-doubt and manic self-hatred. It also tied in how I saw my own body, and my perceived body image. I drew out a rough plan of which images I wanted to include, and sketched them out in progression. Then I drew out the final drawings with a dark pencil, and manually added hues of fluorescent highlighter to draw attention to some parts of the printed zine. This piece made me relook at myself and my work in a way I had never explored before, and being able to share it with my classmates felt cathartic.
I had always loved pop-up books. Me and my mother would fish for pop-up books from discount sections at book fairs and open each spread ecstatically as a new world emerged out of each page. However, I knew nothing about creating pop-ups myself, so I entered the project feeling a heady mix of nervousness and excitement. On working through simple pop-up demos, I felt lost in terms of how I would ever turn it into something like the kind of pop-ups I loved. I was quickly able to work out one of the techniques from the demo to create an environment. I wanted to use the pop-up element to give a sense of intimate space around a character. I did a quick paper mockup of how I wanted the pop up to look, piecing together all the different elements and adding rough details. Then I drew out the final drawings on the light table and cut them out to finally paste them onto the pop up window. The process was so much fun, and the module was a pleasant surprise.
When we were asked to set up our files for the letterpress workshop, none of us really knew how the artwork was going to finally become prints. I worked on a small set of my brushpen drawings and I was interested to see how some of that hand-done bush texture would translate through the printing process, if at all. So when the polymer plates of our artwork arrived, the confusion grew, because most of us were not aware of the process of letterpress printing. Once the demo started, we all got extremely excited about getting to use the letterpress equipment which we learned was extremely rare. For me, making the prints felt therapeutic and it was exciting to create multiples of my artwork on different papers and textures. The hand drawn brush texture came through inspite of scaling down the artwork quite a bit. I was extremely happy with the results, and was definitely charged to create more work using this printmaking technique.
When we were asked to work on a reaction piece using laser cutting as a technique, I was not really excited about it. The workshop felt disorganised, and the staff at the lab being unhelpful contributed to my disinterest in it. I did not feel particularly motivated to create a reaction piece using this technique and It became a challenge to find something that would make a few pieces of machine cute masonite feel personal to my experiences and work practice. I loved playing with jigsaws as a kid. I could spend hours trying to piece together an elaborate image, and would only stop when I was done. I remember seeing a small handheld mirror in my motherâ€™s dressing area, it was old and one could barely see through the mirror because it had become dirty. But it felt precious. I had come so far from these experiences, and I felt like they represented a part of my fragmented childhood I could never piece together. So I decided to use that mirror as a form to create a melting, nebulous jigsaw of how I imagined myself looking through the mirror. Since laser cutting felt very inorganic as a process to me, I created an assymetrical form that felt more organic and personal. Similar to the bookbinding workshop, this process became an exercise in looking within myself and reflections. It was a set of themes I was unknowingly using to understand myself better, and I wanted to take them forward and utilise them in my personal practice.
This was a workshop I was absolutely clueless about. I had never used a sewing machine before and was worried if I would be able to learn it in the amount of time we had. Once the demo started, I made one disastrous stitch after another till the flat fabric had become a rouched-up mess resembling my hope in ever being able to get past this workshop. I took extra time after class to sit on the machine and get accustomed to it. I drew some simple shapes on some plain muslin cloth, and tried to retrace the path with the sewing machine. A few hours later, I was able to navigate the fabric to a fairly decent degree. Once I had these little stitched shapes, I started to draw on the fabric directly. On the front was a woman and roses at the back, with â€˜Summer Loveâ€™ lettered at the bottom. These impromptu drawings seemed like a way to extend my sketchbook artwork and have them exist as art plushes. So I stitched a bigger piece of muslin fabric in a nebulous shape, and then drew the artwork on it with fabric markers. After stuffing it with polyester fiber, I hand-finished it to seal the final edge. This workshop helped me believe in myself a little more, and made me want to go further with sewing and making plushes. I would soon realise this would be helpful for a much bigger project at the end of the semester.
When this project came along I felt burnt out of ideas. Most of my work till now felt more informed by personal experiences and body image. So when we were asked to work on a set of three small zines rendered each in only two colours, made from a 8.5 x 11 inches sheet of paper, I looked at it as an opportunity to do something silly and fun. I had already been working on a series of illustrations themed â€˜Fashion is Strangeâ€™ on my social media, which also happened to be one of my ideas for Image Harvest. I thought it would be fun to take it further and look at high fashion imagery as a clichĂŠ and poke fun at it by having the featured models say frivolous and absolutely ridiculous things. I stuck to three main categories: strange eyewear, strange shoes and strange headgear. I wanted the artwork on each spread to overlap so it all looked like a seamless image when opened up. On the other side, there was a singular image which could be used as a poster.
I had a blast working on this project, and working out little details in artworks for the different spreads in the zines. This project felt like a breather, inspite of the extremely tight deadlines. I looked at this as an opportunity for me to connect with my previous work in a completely fresh way.
For this project, we were asked to create a product under a brand name in an edition of 25. The product was to be used for sale for the annual MICA event, Art Market. I was taking a digital print and pattern fiber elective, and had access to the college resources for printing digitally on textiles. So I wanted to use that to create something that would integrate my illustrative practice and create fun products. Over the past few years, body image and self love as themes have become very dear to me. It has almost become my mission statement to promote an idea of positive body image in a world where everyone is flawless and comfort is always at hand. Being away from my home made me miss little things back in my bedroom in India. One of them was my plushy toy shark that I hug at night. There are so many plushy toys catered to children, but none specific to adults. I wanted to create cuddly plushy toys for all people as a way of something that gives people comfort, and puts a smile on their faces. So I proposed adult themed plushies as my product, with two sub categories: one of big, happy nude women and the other consisting of cuddly leather daddies. After I got positive feedback from everyone, â€˜Plushies For Non-Kidsâ€™ was ready to become a reality. As part of Plushies for Non Kids, I created two minicollections of digitally printed cotton fabric plushies. Big is Beautiful and Daddy <3 each had plushies with three characters, four each in number. With the plushies came a digitally printed artwork with a Big is Beautiful / Daddy <3 pattern design, from which these characters were originally taken.
I draw a lot of big women who love who they are and are comfortable with their bodies. Big is Beautiful was a theme I had been exploring in a lot of my work. And I wanted to take it forward by creating happy big women characters who are at complete peace with themselves and embrace their bodies. Making them as plushy toys gave me an opportunity to have these characters exist in a 3 dimensional space, which was a new and exciting direction for my work.
I love taking something that is considered uncomfortable or taboo, and injecting it in a form or visual that makes it palatable. Daddy <3 started with my fascination with the visual culture of â€˜leather daddiesâ€™. Considered a perversion and not likely to be seen in peopleâ€™s living rooms, putting leather daddy characters on plushies seemed like an ironic, fun idea to me. It made them something one could cuddle with and gave me an opportunity for that interaction with something taboo possible, in a fun and endearing way.
The process was extremely challenging and tedious. After I got the steamed digitally printed fabric, I had to wash it in a bath with fixative, and rinse the fabric multiple times so that the product could be washable. After that, I ironed each of them and drew a seam allowance on the reverse side of the fabric, so I knew where I would sew. In all of this process, there was one little problem I was dreading, I was still not confident in using a sewing machine, especially for products that would have to be sold. I managed to sew the fabric labels that would be stitched within the plushies, and got help from a friend who helped me sew the plushies themselves. After an entire day of stuffing them with polyfil, it was time to finish the plushes by hand. I looked up a tutorial online, and began working with little hope. Soon, I was able to maintain a clean stitch, and I finished all of the 25 pieces overnight.
I attached the tags with the printed pattern and washing instructions on each piece and Plushies For Non Kids was ready! It was so thrilling to have created a product from concept to completion. I got great response from people, which makes me want to turn this into a project with a much larger scope.
This was an exciting collaborative project where I could see how my work interacted with all of my classmates. I worked on the sketchbooks in an intuitive manner, and it was a relief to be able to sit with classmates and chat while we drew in each otherâ€™s sketchbooks. Everyoneâ€™s ability to interpret themes differently was refreshing to watch, and it was great to see people try out different mediums and techniques. It was great to look back at the spreads and see the variety of styles in my own work when I let myself work in a loose manner. It is definitely something I learnt to do this semester.
This was a project that felt like familiar territory. I had worked on commissioned work in my industry experience that had to do with illustrating text and poetry. So this course seemed like it would be a fun exercise to get back to that practice. When we got the poems, I sketched out my first reactions to the pieces, and was called out for drawing things in my natural illustrative style, since it did not feel exciting enough for this project. This posed a challenge I did not see coming, and now I had to work on doing things differently. The time frame for this assignment seemed way more than I was used to from the previous semester, which left room to question every single line I drew. I found this a big challenge. I decided to change the technique for my first illustration and worked on a linocut illustration. It helped me look at lines and shapes differently. For the second illustration, which seemed the simplest, I had nothing in mind till the last day. I pushed myself to work on a digital illustration where nothing looked like the way I normally draw. And it resonated with people. It definitely taught me to not take things for granted and to keep pushing my visual style into newer directions.
You feel the wind blowing it is coming softly down you feel it rushing through your cheeks but still blowing softly somehow the air is nice you and your husband come then your daughters and their twins but you stay calm and mindful safe it feels like nobody is there.
59 ILLUSTRATION & DESIGN: JASJYOT SINGH HANS / MICA MFA IN ILLUSTRATION PRACTICE ’17
I did my undergraduate study in animation, but had not gotten back to the practice for over five years. So getting back to the process felt like seeing a ghost I had run away from a long time ago. We were paired in teams of two, and I realised that me and my batchmateâ€™s styles did not match at all. A few drawing exercises helped us loosen up, and we began to conceptualise for our final project. After coming up with many, many ideas individually and rejecting all of them we felt it would be best to start with something we both felt happy with. The answer was simple. FOOD. We decided it would be great to make a little stop motion on a food fight. And not just food being thrown around, but food literally fighting against each other in a wrestling match! Excited, we bought a couple of potatoes, broccoli, some fries and coloured paper. I cut out little superpowers out of paper that we would use for the animation. As we started, adjusting lights was a struggle. Once we got the right amount of lighting, we started animating.
It was a refreshing feeling to actually get back to a practice I had abandoned. It felt surprisingly familiar, and the process seemed fun. The most challenging part was to inject personality into the vegetables, and make the characters believable. Frame after frame, as we breathed life into them, Food Fight! was born. We took a couple of intercut shots, and it was time for me to edit and do the sound design. In all, the film came out great, and it was reflective of all the hard work put into it. Iâ€™ve always found it difficult to work when I donâ€™t have complete control over the outcome. Through this project, my biggest takeaway was to work in a team and create a collaborative labour of love.
Iâ€™ve always enjoyed hand lettering, and it has been in important part of my personal illustration work. So I was excited about the project. I was interested in working on a an illustrative typeface which referenced neon lettering. I stepped into it not knowing exactly what the outcome would be, or how I would go about rendering it. In trying to make sense of the assignment, I misinterpreted the brief and lost a lot of time. This left me with little to no time to work on my final submission. So I followed my pencil renderings to carve out a clean path for the type to flow, and used a digital glow to give it a neon effect. The little shadows on the neon tube bends had to be worked manually to lend a more 3D look to the typeface, which was the most tedious part.
I wanted to use this typeface to create a logo for a gay stip club called The Big Opening. When I worked on the logotype, I realised the way each letter linked to the next may not always be the same, and I would hence have to keep tweaking the alphabet depending on the text and create more alternatives for each letter. After working on just the type and the first round of feedback, I created a more developed signage design. This workshop made me relook at letters in a different way. My biggest takeaway was how letters attach themselves with each other in words, and figuring out alternatives in linkages for my design.
Having had some experience with pattern design in the previous semester, I was excited about this module. I felt comfortable with the technicality of creating patterns, but I was sure there was more coming our way. The brief came from a professional print design studio, where we had to create a cohesive collection of patterns consisting of three different designs with varying complexity. The hero print, secondary print and the co-ordinate print were to be designed in decreasing order of complexity, along with a mood board for the collection. I was looking at some designersâ€™ work that I found fresh and quirky. My fashion and apparel references included Moschino, Jeremy Scott, Peter Jensen, Miuniku and Walter Van Beirendonck. A lot of these designers used everyday objects in their print designs in a playful way. I wanted to play up the drama of my prints by using something common in an unusual way, to be used as patterns for apparel. I was also interested by the old Windows 3-D screensavers and how they filled up a blank space and conveyed an idea of space. So I started thinking of everyday objects that could swivel in and out of a space to make for a fun pattern. I finally decided to use unravelling paper tissues, paper towel rolls and toilet paper rolls as motifs for my collection. I was also interested in making some of them resemble traditional textile patterns such as checks, chevron and polka dot. In this workshop, I was able to work on patterns in a way any professional studio would. It also familiarised me with the way patterns are created, used and bought by various clients in the industry, which was a great insight.
For my self directed project, I wanted to work on a project that was deeply personal to me. I wanted to create personal narrative comics, and use stories of growing up and what shaped me as an individual. These comics would also be about me getting used to my own body and sexuality. I wanted to get back to a lot of the work I did in the first semester, the themes I explored in some of those projects and make them directly relevant to my experiences and be able to tell those stories. This project would also serve as groundwork for a possible project, much larger in scope, that may turn into my thesis. I started looking at personal narratives and comics from various artists. During this process, I noticed I was more drawn to ones that used humour in their storytelling. A lot of this humour came from being able to make fun of oneself, and I wanted to use that in my stories to address my relationships with different people, even if they seemed tragic at the time of their occurrence. Since this was a deeply personal project, and I had to make sure I was able to get out all the stories that had been brewing in my head. So I spent a major part of the initial process writing down little stories I remembered. I started penning down stories about my family and friends. Eve some stupid little stories that were just based on day-to-day events. At first, even the thought of reading them to myself seemed difficult. On sharing these stories and reading them out loud to my classmates, I was able to quickly realise the strengths and weaknesses in some of the descriptions. The process of being able to share some of these stories felt liberating and cathartic.
The next step was being able to instinctively break the stories down in panels as a comic sequence. Since I wanted them to be humorous in some way, the stories lent themselves naturally to a more toony style. Use of dialogue and active speech made the comic feel less of a voice over, something that seemed like a problem when I wrote the stories. These rough comic pages simply carry the pulse of my stories. I understand that getting to the final stage will require a lot more tweaking and revision, both in terms of writing as well as visual representation.
My father being a sportsperson all his life and coaching boys into becoming sportsmen had little to no effect on me. There I was, screeching markers on my sketchbooks (which we then called ‘art files’) and asking for a new set of pens every other week. It didn’t help that I have always been fat too. Every time I met my father’s friends, they’d look at me, smirk and pass a remark they’d think was either funny or clever . Let me take this moment to also tell you that in India, if someone thinks there’s something that they feel may not be right about you, THEY WILL TELL IT TO YOU. TO YOUR FACE. IN FRONT OF YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND PETS AND NEIGHBOURS. IN THE MOST BLATANT AND POLITICALLY INCORRECT WAY EVER.
And then they will continue to NOT MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS BUT MAKE IT A MISSION TO ALWAYS BE UP YOUR ASS. That’s just the way it be. Welcome to life. ‘Oh, so your son doesn’t play cricket?’ *smirking* ‘Hey, why don’t you take him also out for a run?’ ‘Hey there kid, you should also play cricket like your dad!’ ‘You should exercise. This isn’t good.’ “AND YOU SHOULD MIND YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS AND GET OUT OF MY FACE.” So well, for a family with a cricketer in the house, we were pretty hopeless. My mum would make my dad change the channel during the world cup sometimes, to watch her soaps. *close up panel of a dramatic TV Soap* *shudder: 3 frame close up*
Through this project, I began working on something I havenâ€™t been able to for over three years. It made me finally come out with my stories. I was able to look at personal narrative as something that I could use to tell my story and share it with people. I would definitely take the seeds of this project and utilise them for a much bigger project, where I can see these stories in their final form.
My first year at MICA has been such a wonderful rollercoaster. I was far from everything and everyone that was familiar, which has been difficult but also liberating. I felt stagnant in my work when I came here, and this program has been just what I expected and more. In the past one year, Iâ€™ve grown so much not only in my work but as a person. I never thought I would be able to push past my own notions of what I do. I was encouraged and shaken into trying something new every step of the way. I feel more confident in my voice and I canâ€™t wait to tell my stories in newer, more exciting ways. For my thesis year, I would love to take forward my self directed project and finally be able to express myself through personal narrative.
I owe my progress in the past year to so many wonderful people. Thank you Kimberly Hall, for all your guidance through the first year, for keeping us in shape and letting us know when we were falling short. The inimitable Whitney Sherman, thank you so much for leading a wonderful program and whipping everyone into action! Thanks to Jose Villarrubia for always leading me to the right stuff to read; Aaron McIntosh for opening up a new world and helping me see it in a new, fabulous way. Special thanks to all my seniors and peers at MICA Illustration Practice, you all keep me insane in the best way possible. Thank you Parveer, for being. And making everything here seem easy. Lastly, the biggest thanks to Maa and Papa, for always believing in me, it would have not been possible without all your care and support and nagging. Devika, and the two ever-so-quickly-growing devils, your smiling faces give me life.