Glamour and the Grotesque – constellation reflective post

A reflection on what I have learnt from the study group Glamour and the Grotesque and Constellation as a whole.


In this study group I have learnt a lot about materials and their connotations. I have learnt that different materials convey different concepts and that materials have ‘cultural CVs’ which can have a massive impact on the overall meaning of a piece. This knowledge has encouraged me to consider the materials that I use within my work with more care. I have also learnt that you can contradict yourself within your work, you can convey two different concepts through the use of materials, forms and objects. Again this has encouraged me to consider the materials that I use, the forms that I create and the objects that I select more carefully as everything has connotations that I may or may not want to imply through my work. In a piece that I made for an editorial project I was more aware of the materials and colours that I chose and the forms that I used as the image was for an article about a sensitive topic and I wanted to convey that sensitivity through my work.

This study group has also allowed me to consider how different mediums can convey the same messages and concepts, for example, we have looked at how the grotesque can be portrayed through clothing, artwork and photography. I have learnt about the importance of tactility and design in relation to the body and how these things can have a huge impact on how someone interprets a piece and what they take from it. I have learnt about liminality and how things can shape-shift through meanings, motifs, physical changes and how people perceive something. I am now able to consider all of these concepts when creating my work, I am now more selective of materials as each material has its own connotations, I consider the objects that I choose to include in my work as different objects hold different meanings. I also think about how I can contradict myself and how multiple meanings can be conveyed through the things that I choose to create and include.

I have also learnt how to analyse my work and others effectively in this study group. Through the concepts we have discussed I am now able to identify them in pieces of work, allowing me to think of certain materials and forms in a way I had not considered before. I can now analyse a piece of work by picking out concepts and annotations and then backing this analysis up by finding theories from academic writers.

I have learnt about how artists can be cross-disciplinary in order to convey messages, for example as an Illustrator I can use materials in a collage in order to convey concepts or create three-dimensional objects and forms to use within my work.

This study group has made me more aware of the motifs that I can include within my work, and that there is a process of selecting and discarding in which I can specifically select concepts and connotations to include or discard in my work.

The concepts that we have discussed surrounding femininity have allowed me to look at images in a different way, It is now apparent to me how castration anxiety and the phallic woman is a common theme in art and everyday things such as advertising.  


My working process has changed since last year, I have taken more time to analyse my chosen images that I used for my most recent essay. I found it easier to start my planning earlier and to repeatedly go back to the analysis with fresh eyes in order to see more within an image. This also enabled me to add more to my analysis by discovering new concepts and ideas through theories which I could see applied to the images I was looking at. To improve upon my last essay I needed to do more independent research into theories that I could use to backup my analysis. I was sort of successful at doing this but I occasionally found this process difficult when looking for quotations from books  which I could use to support my argument. I found some books which related to the topics that I explored didn’t have anything that I could use to support what I was stating in my essay. This wouldn’t have been an issue if I had had more time to do this, but as I only had a few weeks to write my essay this became a problem as the process of looking through books for relevant information was time consuming. I should have also managed my time better as I found it difficult to do this essay and stay on top of my field project work at the same time.

I found the process of planning the essay using the columns analysis just as effective as last time, I find that it helps me to sort my thoughts effectively which then makes it easier to write my analysis is essay form. I think that the idea of looking at the bigger picture when writing a conclusion helped immensely, rather than re-writing what I had already said I was able to talk about my practice and how the meanings and concepts in the images really show how materials and forms can be used to convey meanings.

Constellation has taught me to be more mindful when considering the materials, forms, textures and objects that I want to include within my work as all of these elements have their own connotations and meanings. It has also taught me to question things and to be more inquisitive when looking at a piece of someone else’s work or my own. It has also taught me how new meanings can be created through the juxtapositions of materials and objects and the combinations that can me made from these features.

Penguin Book Project

A 2 week project where we had to produce some colour roughs for a book cover for the book Noughts and Crosses.

For this project I decided to focus on the simpleness and dynamism of cut out shapes and how they can be used to create a bold book cover. The idea for the cover was inspired in a workshop where we had to use cut outs to explore ideas and themes within the book in order to create a cover. This was an easy way to brainstorm ideas and to develop them. I really enjoyed this process as it allowed me to experiment with materials and shapes. The idea behind my design is simple, its meant to represent the contrast between the noughts and the crosses and the fact that in the book two characters reach out to each other from opposite backgrounds. I liked how in my original roughs the hands looked like something dripping and growing as well as a hand which I thought could represent the characters growth and their journeys in the book so I decided to stick with representing the hands with an organic and simple shape. I enjoyed experimenting with materials and processes in this project such as mono printing and collage. I also enjoyed experimenting with typography and how it can be incorporated into my work. I enjoyed learning about how book covers can be interpreted and how they can be used to communicate themes and ideas from a story. I think that researching successful book covers influenced my design and how I presented my ideas. I think that the way that I approached the project worked quite well, I started by using thumbnails to quickly jot down ideas, I then used paper cuts and collage to develop these ideas. Once I had decided on a successful idea for the cover I used more paper cuts and collage as well as mono printing to experiment with texture and composition. If I was to develop my work I would like to experiment more with mono printing and screen printing to bring more texture into my work. I also think that screen printing could be an interesting way to develop the typography on my designs.

Mappa Mundi Project

A project where we had to create a metaphorical map that described something other than a place.

mappa mundi.jpgFor this project I decided to develop one of my previous ideas. I chose to use my idea of an ant hill replacing a brain with the ants carrying information all over the body as the basis for this project. I thought that this idea would work well as a metaphorical map as it could be seen as informative but at the same time the idea is quite playful. I started this project by drawing the head and shoulders with the ant hill and using watercolour and collage. I also tried drawing a basic human form with the ants running across it to try and communicate the idea of them carrying information to different parts of the body. However, my simplistic human form didn’t work quite well as I imagined the images to look more like traditional scientific diagrams of the body with the ants running about inside. I then decided to use diagrams from the 19th century as a base from my work which I then added the ants and in some cases colour to. This idea was party influenced by Kanitta Meechubet who uses similar imagery in her work. I thought this use of collage would also be helpful as this project was short and I wouldn’t have time to recreate similar images in such detail myself. I collected diagrams of different body parts  and added the ants using pen and watercolour. I also added colour to some of the black and white images using gouache. I found one diagram that worked well for the head and another that worked well for the torso. I then combined them to form one image using Photoshop. I think that the final outcome is effective to communicate my idea as it looks like a scientific diagram but at the same time it is metaphorical because of the ants. If I had had more time I would have liked to have tried drawing the complex diagram of the different parts of the body myself. I think that the ants could also be made more clear so that they are more obvious but I quite like how they slowly reveal themselves and in turn the viewer slowly comes to understand the idea of the image.

Editorial Project Summary

A short summary of The Editorial Project in which we had to choose two articles and produce an illustration in response to each of them.

I have enjoyed this project as I have been able to explore a new type of visual language that I haven’t worked with before although I have found the project challenging because of the fast pace that is required for this type of work. I have enjoyed playing with materials in this project and experimenting with collage. This has given a new dimension to my illustrations which has helped to portray messages and ideas through them which is an important aspect of this project. This project has also allowed me to learn about the way in which I work and that my practice relies heavily on experimenting with materials and making them an important part of the images that I produce.

final imageFor my first article the image that I produced was a direct response to the article. I picked up on certain aspects of the feature and decided to illustrate them, making the link between the image and the article clear. I tried to include aspects of the whole article but I think that I failed to include the idea of the article being about online dating as well as disability. However, I feel that my image is quite empathetic and sensitive in communicating the themes of the article. I also think that the use of collage adds a certain charm to the image.

finished 4

For the second article I chose to take a less direct approach. I decided to portray the theme of the article rather than actual events or discoveries discussed within it. I decided to convey the theme and main idea of the article, which is the fact that people enjoy frightening themselves, in a fun and light-hearted way. I chose loud and interesting textures to fashion the haunted dolls house. I think this combination of materials gives the image charm allows it to communicate in a quirky, playful way. I think this works well with the article as it adds some interest to the serious article.

Editorial Illustration – Project 1

My final illustration for an Editorial Project where we had to select an article and produce an image for it.

final image.jpgThis Illustration is the final outcome for a project where we had to select an article from The New York Times Opinion Pages. The article I chose was titled Playing the Online Dating Game, in a Wheelchair, written by Emily Ladau. The article was about her experiences of online dating and it explained how she found people tended to focus on her disability and her wheelchair rather than focusing on her as a person. I illustrated this by using a wheelchair with a small doll on it to show that some people focus on her wheelchair and not on her. I chose to use a doll to represent the author as I think that it symbolises how some of the people treated her when they learnt about her disability, as some dismissed her and rejected her, not treating her with respect.

Illustrating The Mind

A short project where we had to illustrate the mind.

One of the tasks in our one day workshop was to illustrate how we see the mind. We had to do this either using a diagram, visual metaphor or narrative metaphor. My original idea was to illustrate the connections in the mind using literal pathways. I did some sketches of this but I don’t think that they worked that well. I then decided to draw two images of a person with an ant hill instead of a brain. I chose to do this as it works as a sort of metaphor for how electrical impulses carry information to and from the brain, but in this image the electrical impulses are ants and the brain is the ant hill which is controlled by the queen.

10 Creative Guidelines

10 creative rules to inspire a positive work ethic for my second year at university.

rules blueThe first task of my second year at uni was to create 10 creative guidelines that would inspire a good work ethic for the year. I came up with these 10 by looking at the way that I work and thinking about the things that I could improve upon. The rules are meant to be motivational and inspiring. The second rule, be self disciplined and don’t procrastinate, comes from me sometimes finding it difficult to start new projects and almost being reluctant to work. The fifth rule is about having materials ready to work with and being ready to start making and creating. The ninth rule is just a reminder to not get behind on my blog and to ensure that I am updating it regularly. I will put these rules up where I will be working in order to encourage and motivate me and help me attain a positive work ethic for the rest of the year.