Negotiated Projects

Little Brown Project

Beyond the Book
(the Outsiders)

I'm Tash, currently in my 3rd year at Stockport College studying a BA Hons in Illustration.
After all of that nonsense I'd love to become kind of concept artist, book illustrator (or, ideally, live off making journal comics about stupid things my girlfriend and I say).

College work
Summer project
Personal work
I wish I'd done this
1, 2, 3 Advice
Contacts with Industry
April 15th
3:58 PM

Hopes, Fears and Opportunities II

We had a group discussion on this before the end of last module, in which we were required to write a few ‘hopes, fears and opportunities’ on pieces of paper, which were then passed around randomly and read out. It was a good exercise to do—the anonymity was good, although I would have been okay doing it normally—but it was good to hear things from other people, and to see whether anyone shared my views.

Following this, I made a post in December highlighting my key views on this subject. My main fear was basically not having enough motivation to be able to finish my final year with a mark I’m happy with. I’m not sure something like that can ever be resolved, at the very least not so quickly—having had severe motivation problems for several years, it’s not something that I can easily fix. Saying that, Final Major Project has so far, fingers crossed, been okay. Not fantastic in terms of motivation, but I think it’s going/has gone better than usual. There have been periods when working has been near impossible, as always, but I’ve managed to keep a fairly steady pace, and hopefully the outcome will be something I’m proud of. I decided to have all my research in a physical book, printing as I find it, to make sure both the tutors and I don’t miss anything. It’s a lot nicer to quickly flick through a book than it is to have to trawl through folders on my laptop to find what I’m looking fore. Much more accessible.

My ‘opportunity’ was Wildcard. As this is an ongoing thing, it hasn’t changed much either, but it’s definitely developed since last year. We’re now focusing much more on t-shirt designs than badges, which is really fun, and it’s nice to know the process of setting designs up for print. Chloe and I are also in the process of creating our own brand, which Wildcard will then promote and sell products of. It’s not particularly stable in terms of a career, but I know I still have something to fall back on after I graduate, and regardless it’s nice to have something that relates to the industry I want to end up in! Seeing my designs on physical items is always a bonus, too.

My main hope was to develop a consistent style. Naturally this also isn’t something that can be fixed in a matter of months, but I’m trying not to worry about it so much. My portfolio review with Emma Reynolds was really helpful in several ways, but I think it was the parting word that stood out most to me—to not worry that graduating is the be-all-and-end-all, and it’s just the beginning of where my art will be. So eventually I’ll have something consistent that I’m happy with, and have a way of working that I enjoy above all others, and that will be my ‘style’.

Another hope was to get a table at conventions selling my art, but I can’t really do that until I graduate due to time and money constraints. It’s something I’m going to start looking into over the summer. I have some prints to sell; the next step will be the creation and printing of the comic.
Chloe and I have a table at a craft fair in Lincoln in May, where we’re going to sell some of my prints, along with some of our t-shirts and her photography prints.

We also help out Wildcard when they have a stall at a convention we’re attending. I’m not fantastic at that kind of customer interaction, it makes me really uncomfortable, but at least it’s good practise!


(Mike praying to the card reader gods)

2:31 PM

Research - The Art of Journey

Journey is a game I have yet to play (I really want to!), but the art is just gorgeous. There aren’t a whole lot of characters in it, which is useful to see because there aren’t all that many in my project. The use of line in the character sketches is awesome–very simplistic, but conveying everything it needs to.

The buildings and landscape drawings are magnificently detailed, which is something I majorly don’t have the skill for at this point in time–but it also contains drawings like the ones at the bottom, which have much thicker lines and less detail– the perspective is the main object in these drawings, rather than minute detail, which would be much more possible for me to try and do.

2:23 PM

Research - The Art of Disney’s Tangled

Just some good Chiaroscuro-esque examples. It’s a thing I would really like to introduce in some of the art for my project, it’s incredibly atmospheric and it definitely suits the post-apocalyptic subject matter.

It’d be nice to try some silhouette sketches, just to get a feel for the atmosphere and composition of some pieces.

2:04 PM

Research - Hyrule Historia

As one of my final outcomes will be a concept art book, I naturally headed towards that area in terms of research. Hyrule Historia is the only one I own that’s video game based, as opposed to animated film, and it’s really useful to look at.

A lot of the content is character based, which I always love. Things I have taken from it are: to draw different angles of characters; to use the same shot with different clothing/equipment; different character expressions; different angles/uses of equipment, and note-making. I’ll end up refreshing the notes in Photoshop as opposed to leaving them in my handwriting, which they currently are in my sketchbook, to make it look more polished.

April 13th
7:55 PM

Urban decay hunting!

Back at the stage when Mat and I were planning to collaborate, we went with a couple of others to Manchester to take photos of urban decay for reference and use within our work. We decided to wander around the old mill area of Manchester (starting on Old Mill Street, aptly named).

We walked around for a while, with the intention of maybe heading into a couple of places, but we ended up just taking exterior photos, and decided to maybe go back at a later date with better plans if we still needed to get interior shots.

We didn’t end up working together for FMP because it wouldn’t have really been viable ultimately, but this trip was definitely worth doing, as it got me some good atmospheric shots! Stuff I can draw from and stuff I can compile together to make some mockups for landscape/building composition ideas.

I also took some more close-up shots that would make nice textures, which I can apply to my work.

7:31 PM


When I’m visiting Chloe in Lincoln, I often go along with her to the shop (she works wednesdays). Usually I just get along with whatever design I’m working on for them at that point, but occasionally specific things need to be done, like this custom t-shirt design for a client. With simple text designs like this, it’s just designed up in the vector-based program and the heat press film is run through the vinyl cutter. Then everything but the text is weeded out, and the graphic is placed onto the t-shirt and run through the heat press.

Other more mundane things we’ve done include folding inserts into t-shirts and bagging them up, then packaging them ready to be sold in either the shop or at a convention (a lot has to be done around convention time. A lot). I’ve been driven incredibly close to insanity heat pressing bags for several straight hours. But, it’s gotta be done!

A few pictures from Midlands MCM Expo:

7:00 PM

Manchester Museum Visit

At the end of January, in the early stages of Final Major Project, we were taken to Manchester Museum to get some primary research. Photographs, observational drawings etc.

My project isn’t too focused on the things they have to offer there- taxidermied animals, the natural world, ancient relics and artefacts etc. But, as my project is something that could encompass any of these things, it was really useful to go there and see things that could potentially influence the content of my work.

I got several photos and sketches of taxidermied animals (kind of irrelevant to my project, but always fun to draw), and some photos of nice relics and weaponry that can be used as content for my book. It sparked a few nice ideas!

December 20th
1:46 AM

Portfolio Review #2

This time it’s from my guru Dom Byron, who I mentioned in the previous post! 

I really like her work, it has a really neat, polished, super-consistent style that’s instantly recognisable. It’s a nice mix of graphic-y and illustrate-y, very shape-based which is really handy to look at for me because I’d like to work like that more, and it’s especially useful to look at for this project, as I’m working with mostly flat colours and recognisable landmarks, so shape plays a major role. It has a lovely collagey cut-out look too, which I really like. I also like the fact that before she imports into Photoshop, she likes to work on squared or dotted paper, which is handy for spacing when it comes to drawing symmetrical shapes, a good tip!

Here is her review (I’ll intersperse it with my own comments instead of putting them at the end):

Hi Tash

I’ve had a look at your folio and it’s looking smart so far!
Your work is looking strong already and I imagine will only get better as you get going on your FMP. 
The first two digital portraits are nicely done to a high standard and show you can capture the human form really well, I’m jealous!
Your two book covers are again nicely done, and its good to see them with the type on them to give them some context, and shows you can handle your own typography which is a plus.  (maybe get rid of the crop marks on the wind in the willows one though?)
Note to self: do that!
I really like your protest poster pieces. They have a lot of depth as well as nice use of lights and darks. The different colours and subtle changes you’ve used in the foregrounds and backgrounds of the doctors/house to show the different people in the same same situation works really well. It’s strong in both concept and execution.
I think the old character designs are good but not as strong as your other digital portraits. Are these old work or new versions of old work? I think people will have more confidence in you if your portfolio shows that your creating brand new work all the time, even if you have to pretend! So if they’re new character designs maybe just have them in as character designs? Don’t have to tell anyone you’ve reworked old designs! See what you think..
They were new revamps of old characters, thanks for bringing to my attention that ‘Old character designs’ could be read pretty ambiguously, I’ll make sure to change the wording and just put ‘character designs’!
Your maned wolf piece is again a really nice portrait and beautifully drawn. You’ve not put a title or description on that one though, add that in when you’ve got time!
Do this too. It’s always surprisingly stressful going through all the pieces and adding titles, logo etc, I guess one slipped through the net! 
Overall though I think your work is looking ace!
You’ve got a nice variety of stuff from editorial to books covers and alphabets which are all equally well executed which is good, showing you can work consistently well across media. You have got a couple of slightly different styles going on with the digital painted portraits and the more cartoon style alphabet and editorial illustrations etc., i don’t know if you have a particular favourite way of working?
If so I’d say stick to one and make loads of work in that way, because consistency of style can be really helpful when art directors see your work, just because they then know what they’ll get from you if you’re commissioned! if that makes sense..
I’d say the pieces in the folio that are mostly my preferred way of working are the second piece (the profile portrait) and the second-to-last (the previously mentioned character revamps). I also enjoyed doing the protest piece—the theme I enjoy drawing most has always been character-based stuff. I have just been told a lot that the alphabet piece is one of my strongest, and I agree, but it’s not a way of working, or outcome, that particularly interests me to make, so it’s kinda hard! I have pieces that are strong and pieces I personally like, but they are very different styles. I have a hard time with consistency and I haven’t found my ideal way of working, or a style I’m happy with yet, so hopefully by the time I get my degree I’ll be able to put something together that’s super consistent.
I don’t know what the tutors have advised, (Ian knows loads more than me obviously!) but from advice I’ve been given lately, having a really strong recognisable style is really helpful in making you stand out from the crowd. So whatever way you want to work or type of illustration you want to be doing in the future, the only way to make it a reality, is to find that one type of illustration you really want to do and make a tonne of work, explore it, promote it and don’t give up on it. And if you don’t know yet just keep exploring until you do. (I’m still doing this to some extent!)
If you just love working on different things though maybe think about tailoring your portfolio for different clients, e.g for children’s illustration, for portrait work etc.
I like this idea, of having a few different ‘sets’ of images for different clients, I think it will come in handy if I’m still struggling with consistency problems.
Presentation-wise, your pages are clean and well laid out too so no problems there. I dont know if your sending this pdf out to possible clients or its just a uni thing so far? If so I’d suggest putting in a title page with your name and contact details on so they don’t have to go looking back through emails to find who’s work it is etc. And maybe just test out your pdf on mac’s and pc’s to make sure its easy to open, it was probably just my mac being stupid but better to be safe than sorry!
So far they are just for college, but if at some point during the course I have to send it to potential clients (which I’m sure will happen) I will definitely add a title page and such. I need to play around with creating PDFs much more, so I get more confident with layout and such. And the opening problem was probably on my end, I’ll make sure to give it a tweak and see if I can export it again properly!

This was an awesome review with looots of info and feedback, it was really great to read through. And I’m always looking for ways to improve, and again, any feedback I get from someone in the industry feels really great. Thanks again Dom!

December 19th
11:50 AM

What does ‘illustration’ mean?

Illustration is used to illuminate, to make something clearer that might not be clear in a standalone form. It could also be used to show hidden meanings that might not come across without extra ‘illustration’.

it covers a wide range of subjects—not necessarily all within art, but it can cover, for example, story book illustrations, which are generally symbolic, as they have to capture the essence of a whole book in one image; and comic book art, which is opposite to this, in a way, as it has to be very literal and show exactly what is happening at any given moment.

It also covers things like posters and editorial work, as well as 3D making, painting, printing, digital art, traditional art, etc. It can be anything of any media, but the base idea of ‘illustration’ is that it must communicate a point or idea, and illuminate or clarify something, usually a body of text; in which case the main idea is that it must give you the general gist of the text, without having to read the whole body.

December 18th
8:32 PM

Portfolio Review #1

After having no reply from someone I contacted a little while ago (no blame placed, I left it way too late to contact people), I was given the idea to contact Dom Byron, my ‘guru’, and she was a life-saver. She agreed to look over my portfolio and ALSO gave me the names of some other gurus, that I could potentially get reviews from.

(I’ve attached the pieces I showed in the order I showed them, in the post prior to this one)

One of them was Rosie Wilman, whose work I remembered from second year, when we were shown examples of previous students’ animations, and I remember thinking it was really cute. Her work has a real sense of fun and imagination, which is something that’s really important to me in art.

She agreed to review my portfolio and got back to me super quickly when I sent it to her- luckily I got her reply agreeing to review my work about half an hour before I finished putting the PDF together, so she replied back with the review pretty quickly!

Here it is:

I love your work! The alphabet is my favourite! 
The order of it works very well too because you are starting and ending with a strong piece of work. Good mix of work showing that you can work with different projects for different age groups. Shows that you can draw humans and animals, realistic and cartoony and also shows that you can work with good colour pallets. 
All I’d say to improve it is to add more work because it’s fab! And maybe add a page that shows how you go from a sketch to the finished thing? Could help in the future with a possible client if they get to see what your rough work looks like. Is your rough work similar to the finished thing? If it is then it helps the client because they know that your rough work is a good reflection of what the finished thing will look like :)
In reply to her question about rough work being similar to the finished product (copy-pasted from my reply): 
My rough work is generally pretty similar to my finals, I have a really hard time doing rough thumbnails as I tend to add unecessary detail subconsciously, I would find it really hard to give a client something super rough! (to add: unless they specifically asked for that) but if that’s a good sign I’m happy with that!
Anyway, this was super helpful, and honestly a really nice feeling to get good feedback from somebody in the industry, especially someone whose work I really like!
Thanks again Rosie!
8:25 PM

Portfolio pieces, just to use as reference with regard to reading feedback from practitioners.

7:24 PM

Video file of the animated version of one of my covers (I’m just going to animate one for now, as it’s the same concept for each of them and rendering and uploading takes a ridiculous amount of time).

Obviously you don’t get the loop with the video, so I’ve uploaded a gif here for your looping pleasure (give it a minute for it to go full circle before it runs smoothly). The gif was way too big to upload into this post, or onto tumblr in general.

December 17th
9:59 PM

Hopes, Fears, Opportunities

Since first year I have, naturally, acquired more fear about finishing my degree. I don’t have the safety net of another year anymore, and the thought of not having student loans and having to actually earn by making art is absolutely terrifying. Frankly that isn’t half as scary to me (right this moment, anyway) as not having the capacity to get a decent degree classification. Because I am perfectly aware I’m capable of getting a 1st, but my motivation issues unfortunately hinder that massively, and it’s not something I can control. It never has been, and it’s incredibly frustrating. And when people say that it’s wasted talent, it’s even more frustrating, because it’s said as if I’m not aware of it, and I’ve been aware of it for a very long time. So I guess my biggest fear is either failing, or ‘only just’ getting a pass, because of that. Or should I say, I think that would be my biggest regret.

Now for something less, for want of a better word, ‘depressing’.

Fortunately since first year the ‘hopes’ and ‘opportunities’ portion of it has also elevated. In second year I got hired to do design work for a small but popular apparel shop in Lincoln, which has since expanded its borders and has another branch in Sheffield. We’re encouraged to create our own brand, which we then design our own t-shirts (and if we like, hats, jumpers, even stuff like flesh plugs), as well as doing individual things for the shop itself. I haven’t had much chance to set up a brand yet, or make much headway in the way of designing, simply due to having very little time, but on the occasion I’m in Lincoln when Chloe is working the shop, I will do some designing there, and it’s been really fun so far. So, that could be considered a very good opportunity, because I know for a fact that regardless of what I get out of this course, I will be able to go into something promising. That’s by no means me saying I’m not going to make an effort with regards to degree, because I think it’s pretty clear from my ‘fears’ that I want to end up with good marks.

With regard to hopes— my main hope is that, obviously, I get somewhere with my art eventually; but before that my main hope, at this very moment, is to develop a style that is consistent. It frustrates me to no end to not be able to draw consistently, and I’m not sure that’s something that I will be able to do, but I’m going to try and work on exercises that will aid it. But, a solution to that, when I’m trying to get work, is to do what Dom suggested and tailor my portfolio depending on the client.
I hope to get stalls at conventions, after college has finished, print a comic and sell some prints, and see if that gets anywhere after a few goes. If anything, it will mean getting my business card out there, and that’s always something.

8:01 PM
Prototype cover for one of the Josie Dew books! got the idea off Ian to make the type more ‘shape-y’, to go along with the circle, as mentioned in a previous post. Although I have literally no concept of what looks good with type whatsoever, I’m okay with the outcome, and Ian seemed happy, so yay!
I also got feedback with regards to the colour of the text—it was originally all white, but then I was given the idea to use colours picked from the design, which simultaneously breaks up the text and ties it together with the image.
I still have to add her cycling silhouette, add the spine stuff and do the animated versions of each, but what are prototypes for?

Prototype cover for one of the Josie Dew books! got the idea off Ian to make the type more ‘shape-y’, to go along with the circle, as mentioned in a previous post. Although I have literally no concept of what looks good with type whatsoever, I’m okay with the outcome, and Ian seemed happy, so yay!

I also got feedback with regards to the colour of the text—it was originally all white, but then I was given the idea to use colours picked from the design, which simultaneously breaks up the text and ties it together with the image.

I still have to add her cycling silhouette, add the spine stuff and do the animated versions of each, but what are prototypes for?

December 13th
11:05 PM
Finished front ‘n’ back of my business card, website is very much a work in progress, so that should be utterly ignored for now.
Uploading this in case they don’t arrive in time, but they should do!

Finished front ‘n’ back of my business card, website is very much a work in progress, so that should be utterly ignored for now.

Uploading this in case they don’t arrive in time, but they should do!