This lecture talked about encouraging us to reflect on our own practice, why are we doing the things we are doing and how can we improve our practice? It explained the importance of contextualizing your work so that it has a role in the world around you, what makes your work important and useful to the outside world? We looked at a range of artists in this lecture, most of which i had come across before in second year but we delved more into their professional and personal practices and how/ why they create the work they do.

We were also shown this diagram:

Research + History + studio projects + visual culture….. this leads to idea generation and then it leads to becoming hopefully a Thinking Practitioner

i think it explains how to become a “thinking practitioner” and a thinking practitioner is not someone who creates for the sake of creating, but someone who creates with a purpose and an influence based on research and current debates in both art and design, but also the whole world around them. This makes their work accessible and purposeful and gives it more than an aesthetic quality. We had been informed of this concept of a thinking practitioner in year two, but this year it holds even more precedence because when applying for jobs, i think the phrase below that i thought of sums up why i find this such an important way of working.

It is not enough to create and expect the world to understand why, you must be able to speak confidently and knowledgeably about your own practice and the practices of those who have influenced you, and why. If you know why you are doing what you are doing and where its place in the world is you can inform others in a much more understandable way. 

During this lecture we were informed about how this will link to our FMP, and how my FMP should have a critical and contextual rationale behind it. I should be expanding my research areas and look into current debates within my discipline, but others too because i like to cross disciplines and take inspiration from all types of creator. I can do this by reading articles from respectable art journals, or articles in other areas that i think would have some influence on my work. Going to exhibitions and talks to expand my knowledge on current themes in illustration/ art and design. I also think i could be talking to current creatives in the industry, like asking them questions about their practice and how they contextualize their work, because i think its better to have primary research that comes from those you aspire to be like one day because it will influence my work in the direction i want my career to take.

Things i can do to contextualize my work:

  • look at relevant books and journals ( such as Varoom, Juxtapoz and one i’ve recently discovered thats created in Brighton, called “wrap magazine”)
  • Visit exhibitions and talks, such as the talks at Somerset house and also TED talks online have proved interesting and have been shown in previous lectures
  • Approach existing creatives and ask them about their practice, inspiration and why they work the way they do. I am also interested in collaborating with existing creatives and fellow students because it will expand my knowledge of other areas of the creative industry.
  • Think about the context of my work in terms of , where does it fit in with the world? why am i doing it? is it something that is involved in current debates?

We looked at several artists during this lecture, some of which i found interesting but all spoke about the context of their work in a way that made it accessible. My favorite artist from this talk was:


Nendo is a Japanese artist, in all honesty throughout my university education i have been most interested and influenced by the works of Japanese Creators, they come from a country so diverse from our own where technology is constantly growing but they still retain their rich cultural history. Take the huge cultural contrast that is Tokyo, i visited it this summer and i was amazing by how you can walk down one street and see skyscrapers, big screens showing advertisements, controversial “maid cafes” and then a tranquil shinto shrine tucked in the middle, still retaining its importance in a constantly changing technological society. Nendo was trained as an architect, which he says may explain why he looks at the city of Tokyo in terms of its flatness and its architectural landscape. He now though prides himself on being flexible, trying anything that comes to his mind and using a wide range of materials. In this piece below he was interested in a plastic called “smash” and how he could use light to manipulate its effect, he used a glass blowing technique on it which was incredibly inventive and shows the freedom his work encompasses, he even called the material “free form clay”.  I’ve noticed he uses alot of light in his work, i like how he combines the natural and technological in his installation pieces, and even when he uses artificial methods of lighting he breaths a life into his work that gives you a moment of shock and awe. This is what Nendo says he does within his work and i have to agree with him. nendo

Giving people a small ” ! ” moment.

There are so many small ” ! ” moments hidden in our everyday.
But we don’t recognize them.
and even when we do recognize them,we tend to unconsciously reset our
minds and forget what we’ve seen.
But we believe these small ” ! ” moments are what make our days so
interesting, so rich.
That’s why we want to reconstitute the everyday by collecting and
reshaping them into something that’s easy to understand.
We’d like the people who’ve encountered nendo’s designs to feel these
small ” ! ” moments intuitively.
That’s nendo’s job.

This is Nendo’s “mission statement” as it were, its his concept and how contextualizes his work is through story telling. I like the idea of story telling within my work, as an illustrator it is my goal to use imagery to make a story or a concept more understandable, more alive and give it an atmosphere that words alone cannot create.

Other artists/ designers/ creators we looked at during this lecture:

DJ Spooky: DJ Spooky spoke about technology and how new software is allowing everyone to gain skills in the music industry, but not everyone is developing those skills and doing something creative and innovative with them. He spoke about the Avant Garde, and how its been used a visual language for a long time and now everyone is gaining skills in art, but they need to be focused on and honed and experimented with otherwise we risk alot of imitations. He spoke with such passion about digital literacy and the language of technology, and whilst i didn’t find his work that inspiring to my own ( he’s recently written a book too!) its his passion that i found inspiring. Its true that we are now in a world where technology allows everyone to be creative, and i think this is an amazing thing that this world of creativity has become so easily accessible, but i agree with him that it should encourage imitation, but rather experimentation and freedom and imagination. So i will recall his passion in hope that my own passion will grow to his level, and along with that my understanding of artistic language.

Linder Sterling: Linder sterling i had heard of from a previous lecture last year, her montage works and conceptual and controversial in some ways, but very simple and accessible. I like that she found this style of working by constantly changing what she did, and although this is not work that requires a great amount of technical skill, it requires a strong understanding and a goal of what you want to achieve contextually. She used topics of women and feminism in her work that then moved into long performance pieces where she challenged people to “get bored” her concepts were new and unheard of and that made her interesting, because i’ve learned that its not just your technical skill that makes you memorable, its why you put so much passion into what you do that counts. I am normally a huge fan of technically amazing work, that shows effort and skill and passion all at once, but sometimes i find i let why i do things slip off the radar and become less important than the finished piece and this year i aim to find a way to do both sides of the spectrum, create work i am technically proud of, but make sure that it holds contextual value and importance and showcases my passion on a conceptual level.

Max Hattler: We watched an animation created by Max Hattler who is a visual artist, who created this animation using flags of the world in a political sense. His animation was quite different to anything i have previously seen and its somewhat trance like, because the patterns remind me of a kaleidoscope, but a political  kaleidoscope called “stop the show” referencing international relations and arms trade. It was commissioned by Amnesty International in 2009 and Max uses historical ideas in the animation of each flag that relates to that country. He could be an interesting one to look further at for the animation brief. 

And last but certainly not least we looked briefly at “Little Big Books”:

Little big books is a book about illustrating for children’s books, i may actually order this because i am interested in illustrating for children 🙂 In the lecture they spoke about how even when technology moves on, picture books for children will always have a place and be a huge industry, this makes me happy because i’d hate to see us become a nation that only relied upon technology, i feel with children’s books you can utilize ways of allowing children to use all of their senses as opposed to just sight, and hearing if they are being read to. Because children’s books can be textured and used for touching and improving motor skills by having sections that fold out and pop out.  And what i loved about this section of the talk was that it acknowledged that this area of creativity didn’t necessarily have to be politically motivated because they are enjoyable to just look at, children’s books are timeless.

Adults read the words, but children will see the pictures first

I think this is true, because children enter the imaginary world that the picture creates, and then they shape the story around that. I think as an illustrator this would encourage me to be even more creative and forward thinking with my work, because i want to create these worlds for children to allow their minds to wander freely in. Whilst an adult reads the story to them, new stories are being created by the child influenced by the imagery.



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