Whimsy, Wishes â€ƒ and Wonder Expanding Dreams Beyond the Page
Joshua C. Heinsz
Whimsy, Wishes and Wonder
Expanding Dreams Beyond the Page
Joshua C. Heinsz
A special thank you to Whitney Sherman, Jaime Zollars and Rebecca Bradley for making this year so wonderful.
Table of Contents Introduction
Part 1: Fall
Letterpress Workshop Snow White and Rose Red Workshop Reactions Princess Primer Warm Wishes Art Market
Part 2: Spring
Hand Lettering Words on Wheels Birds and Fancy Things Made and Sold Stopmotion Animation Magical Girl Battle Royale
Part 3: Moving Forward
Introduction W hen the year began, I have to admit, I was still not entirely sure what the Illustration Practice MFA program was about. In fact, the idea I had in my own mind about the program was far from the actual mission that Whitney Sherman had in store for us. I could not be more grateful! Over the course of the last nine months, my personal definition of the word “illustration” has been deconstructed and reformed to an ever evolving term that umbrellas an endless array of ideas, executions and markets. Through many trials and errors, workshops, excersizes and experiments, I have seen both an improvement and refinement in my work, but even more exciting is the expansion of thought that has come hand in hand. No longer is illustration a term I associate solely with the idea of publication and print, but it is an expansive field in which embraces entrepeneurship. So throughout this book you will see my journey as I find a stronger voice and further avenues in which I am able to express it.
The year began with an introduction to Letterpress. As someone with no prior experience in printmaking, I was very thrilled at the chance to try my
hand at it. While the workshop itself was a blast, I have to admit that this unit was a flop for me. Being the very beginning of the semester, I was still short sighted in my approach. Additionally, though peaking my interest and appreciation for printmaking, I donâ€™t find this form to be the most effective for illustrators, particularly with my style of work.
â€ƒ For my imagery, I created linear, decorative drawings intended to be used as greeting or thank you cards. When designing them, I was unaware of the actual letterpress process, and unfortunately they were not usable as intended. They may have been a flop, but they were another stepping stone to furthering my understanding of illustration practice none the less.
Snow White and Rose Red When presented with the idea of “image reharvesting”, I was not the
only one who was left scratching my head in confusion. However, after the realization that the concept was perhaps being over-thought, I was able to find an appropriate solution to the assignment at hand. We were given the task of revisiting imagery or a concept of a former work and addressing it in a new light. As fairytales and artists who address them had been the primary influence of my own work to that point, I felt it only appropriate that I return to my depiction of a favorite story of mine: Snow White and Rose Red. My orginal illustration had been a standalone created as a mailer. With an opportunity to return to the subject matter, I decided to expand it to a full length children’s book adaptation with a 32 page dummy that would include three finished spreads. This was a semester long project that included numerous studies and storyboards before the creation of the three finished images in my go to media of the time: watercolor.
â€ƒ Childrenâ€™s publishing is an avenue that is definitely near and dear to my heart, so completing this project was an excellent excersize in creating a book dummy and how they are used in the market. Now having overcome the daunting task of completing my first ever thirty two page dummy, it has definitely removed any anxieties I might would have over such in the future. This project became a lesson in pacing, composition and technique, and an over all invaluable aspect of my first semester.
A dmittedly, the four workshops that were so much an integral part
of the first portion of the fall semester were not an aspect I particularly enjoyed. I understand the purpose of each was to expand our thinking beyond whataver current limitations we had placed on ourselves or our technique, and while I found other avenues in which to further my work, they did not stem from the workshops themselves, but more in the ideas that they promoted. â€ƒ Given the option to encorporate three aspects of either letterpress, sewing, book binding and paper engineering, I found myself heavily struggling to find a way in which to merge these ideas without it feeling forced. In the end, I decided my focus would be implementing my favorite of the workshops, paper engineering, to further my image reharvesting project. With this in mind, I encorporated printmaking, book binding and pop up imagery to create an art piece within the world I was depicting of Snow White and Rose Red.
A s I have stated, childrenâ€™s markets are very important to me. Publishing in particular is an area I have held interest in since I first decided that illustration
was the career path I wanted to follow when I was thirteen years old. With that in mind, I was absolutely ecstatic about our self publishing unit with Jaime Zollars. While self publishing had never before crossed my mind, with todayâ€™s markets and websites like kickstarter and tumblr, it is not only a viable option, but a potentially profitable one at that. While mainstream publishing house are still a target of mine, the concept and practice of self publishing a project was without a doubt one of the most invaluable aspects of the first year. When tasked with coming up with a story and a concept, it was very easy for my to look back to two aspects of my childhood that I still hold very close to my heart: princesses and manners. My concept from there was to develop my own etiquette book that would illustrate the southern belle charms that were ingrained in me as a child. Considering time and production, I decided rather than going with full spreads as I was doing for my reharvesting project, I would use spot illustrations with bright princess characters to emphasize my points.
â€ƒ While the book was not a critical success upon my fall review, it was absolutely a success on the market front. I sold out of two runs of the book with a wide margin of profit, and there continues to be a high demand for them despite the fact that they are no longer available. In printing and manufacturing them, I did make the decision the the self publishing book market is not an area I plan to enter aside from perhaps promotional materials for art directors. Self publishing other sorts of projects however is definitely on the table, and this workshop was extremely crucial in opening up this market to me.
A s my first winter in the upper east coast approached, so did my first ever
art market. Creating illustrated products was an entirely new venture for me, as many other occurances were in this past year, but Iâ€™m even more embarrassed to say that the prospect had never even crossed my mind prior to this point. I absolutely loved this project! Again, despite lacking enthusiasm from critics upon the end of the semester, this project was a huge commercial success for me and I sold out of all of my products. My aim was to create non-demonitional winter holiday images that could be applied to a variety of products. I very much considered marketability when creating this set, and it paid off. My series of watercolor animals in winter wear was applied to greeting card sets, bookmarks and prints, and all of which sold out between the physical art market and online sales. What was great about the imagery was that it could and can still be applied to a number of other sorts of merchandise and the project as a whole certainly peaked my interest in both licensing and generating my own artistâ€™s products for sale.
This was a unit I was initially really looking forward to, yet it turned out to be another that I think I may have fallen flat on my face during.
Lettering is definitely more challenging than it first seems, at least for myself. With no graphic design background, and naturally poor handwriting, I do feel as if I am at a bit of a disadvantage in this field. Despite my lack of success though, I do feel it is a topic I will continue to explore and hopefully improve upon in the future.
Words on Wheels
The most notable aspect of this unit was my shift from traditional to digital media as well as the shift of my focus in inspiration. Instead of
continuing to aspire to and admire the more traditionalist fairy tale paintings of Arthur Rackham and Trina Schart Hyman, I became drawn to a new style and era. â€ƒ While fairytales and princesses were two important aspects of my childhood, I realized that there were still several other aspects and appreciations of my youth that I could embrace and look to in my work. This brought upon my rekindled love of Mary Blair, mid-century modern illustration and animation outside of the Disney Studio (i.e. Hanna Barbera and Studio Ghibli). Naturally, this new source of inspiration led to a shift in my work in a number of ways. I believe this was the beginning of more graphic shapes in my drawings, more refined color palettes and many new avenues of marketability for my work.
Birds and Fancy Things
A side from my independant project, this was hands down my favorite unit of this semester. Both of our visiting artists for this project, Julia
Rothman and Caitlin Keegan, were phenomenal and extremely helpful, and licensing is an area Iâ€™ve had a lot of interest in but was never able to quite wrap my head around until this time. â€ƒ The main focus for this unit of course was pattern design. This was another new venture for me, and one that I absolutely fell in love with! I really took to Juliaâ€™s method of generating a bunch of imagery around a theme and then piecing it together to create a pattern afterward. After learning both tiling and half drop methods of creating patterns during our workshop, I emplowed both in my collection, and I look forward to continuing to employ and further explore both methods in the future.
When it came to designing my own unified collection, I developed a fun play on alliterations that later became my patterns under the umbrella “Birds and Fancy Things”. Each pattern illustrates an array of a particular species of bird accompanied by a “fany” object that begins with the same letter of the bird’s name. This included Parakeets and Parasols, Warblers and Watches, Hens and Hats, and Cockatoos and Candellabras. Initially there was to be a fifth with Owls and Ocarinas, but do to time constraints and unforeseeable circumstances, this was replaced with a complimentary pattern of seeds for Parakeets and Parasols. In addition to designing the patterns, we were also tasked with proposing their intended uses. Continuing my pursuit of children’s markets, my line was geared toward kids’ bedding and room decor. What is really great about these patterns is that the imagery within each can be tweaked and moved around to become functional on a wide variety of products.
Made and Sold
This week long workshop was indeed an intensive. What was really
great about it was the constant idea generating. Where it was successful in the time crunch to promote quick thinking however, I think it was flawed in allowing time for proper product completion. Since the program is about idea building and experimenting though, I would deem our week with Tomi Vollauschek a success! â€ƒ Part one of the workshop was to generate an eight and a half by eleven illustration to be sold as a print. I wanted to push beyond that though and proposed a far wider illustration that would contain sixteen various carousel animals and when folded together, would create an art object rather than solely a print. With the time alotted, four of the animals were brought to fruition to create a mock up of the potential product.
â€ƒ Part two of the workshop was the implementing of our original illustration onto a product. Since my illustrations for this unit were aimed at an even younger audience than usual, it was only fitting that my product selection reflected that. I chose to display my carousel animals on bibs with the intention of them being embroidered on the objects. The images could also lend themselves well to an entire line of baby products including bottles, diapers and blankets. â€ƒ Lastly, we were to simplify our imagery for one inch buttons to be sold for Tomiâ€™s shop. I decided this would be an excellent opportunity to push the graphic elements of the animals and create black and white silhouettes that would be easily readable in the one inch button format.
This was another unit of the year that held a heavy learning curve for me. Regardless of that however, I really enjoyed this workshop weekend with Melinda Beck. Animation has long been an interest of mine, and one in fact that I plan to pursue in the coming year. Stopmotion, however, is decidedly not the avenue for me. I think there are other methods that better behoove my style of illustration and storytelling. Despite that, I do still feel that this was an invaluable workshop and an excellent skill set to have in my pocket. The story I chose to tell was of a small ghost girl who comes upon a beautiful flower in the forest. Upon picking the flower, it dies and the girl weeps for all she touches becomes dead like her. When she opens her eyes though, her tears have brought to life a ghost flower in the other’s wake and she is able to pick and enjoy this one, much to her delight. The biggest issue I had here was timing. My lack of prior experience resulted in perhaps too few key frames in the beginning of my animation and resulted in a far too quick pace. Again, this year is about experimentation and growth though, and while this may have been a bit of a flop, I certainly gained much from this experience that I can also apply to other areas of animatioion.
Magical Girl Battle Royale I am thrilled to be wrapping up my first year at graduate school with
what is by far my favorite project to date. Continuing to look at other facets of my childhood for inspiration, I could not possibly skip over my love of magical girl animated shows and films. My longstanding favorite has been Sailor Moon since the age of eight, but many others have continued to sparked my imagination along the way. â€ƒ Another major source of inspiration over the past couple of years for me has also been The Hunger Games. My love for both of these areas sparked the idea a while back for my very own genre of a battle royale. â€ƒ Initially this project was intended for MOCCA as perhaps a zine or series of trading cards. However in designing them and considering my other areas of interest as well as how I might be able to further push this concept, my targeted end result has shifted.
â€ƒ My evolved intention has become to create a fully playable hybrid between a board game and a card game. I will be taking the childrenâ€™s markets class in the fall and between the summer and then, I plan to fully produce the project. With marketable characters and the right endorsements, I feel that this is a project that has the potential to continue to grow above and beyond my time here at MICA.
Over all, this year has been one incredible journey. I came into this
program far more unaware than I ever thought I was, and throughout my successes and failures, enjoyment and frustration, laughter and tears, I experienced growth. Illustration has come to mean so much more than imagery to decorate words, and I have found a new voice within myself. My interests within children’s markets and animation will continue, and I plan to develop a series of projects that relate to these areas, particularly in the visual development department, over the next year. I plan to continue exploring a more graphic way of visual problem solving, as well as expirementing further with digital media to create my finished illustrations. Illustration is a field that continues to expand, with new venues and markets being created every day. As I continue to refine my work and expand my methods of visual thinking, I look forward to evolving my role as a creator in the next year and all there after.