PaperPlay and the Art of Folding

E is for Explosion

The decisions were soon made, Sara used the Silver Bullet machine to practice on 220 gms paper,The idea was to find materials that would compliment the engraved image that was printed on fine Japanese paper. Sara tried a range of colours before it was decided to settle on a black folder with a red under layer. The discussion had as to what text should appear and where it would be placed led to the decision to simply label it E for Explosion. This title referred to the image but also gave it an instructional feel.on one hand it was obvious but the mood of the work called for a statement rather than a poetic or ambiguous piece of text.

Seeing the card folder develop and the design emerge really brought the work together.

Black card with E removed

Black card with E removed

Red paper with black type

Red paper with black type

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50 Years of Illustration: Review

50 years of Illustration cover

50 years of Illustration cover

50 Years of illustration (..is it really?)

I remember back in 2010 when the author, Lawrence Zeegen mentioned in passing that he had been in discussion with a publisher about a project covering illustration over the last half century. I must confess I was jealous, how wonderful to be able to have an excuse to catalogue all the great names and to re-evaluate who belonged in which era or grouping.

Fast forward to 2014 and several weeks ago the book itself hit the shelves, as they say in Publishing parlance and after several fruitless searches I came across a copy. In all fairness I had seen the publisher’s web page which allows you a brief dip in, so I knew the cover and several spreads, but I still wanted to see who had made the final selection. It had been made clear to me that the book was to have a global reach, so countries such as France, Japan and Germany would, alongside the US have representative inclusions. This makes complete sense given the global need for foreign co editions.

I could second guess who would have to be in the final selection. We knew Gerald Scarf would be there but why isn’t Ralph Steadman? Why for that matter isn’t Shirley Hughes, Posy Simmons, Peter Brookes or indeed David Gentleman, surely not careless omissions? There has to be a judicious and sometimes ruthless editing process and after all this is the author’s choice and selection.

Ok give me a go and who would I have liked to have seen included and who weren’t? I could say but I won’t, who I would like to see removed, lets just say some are very lucky to be there at all.

My choice, well Charles Keeping for one, perhaps George Adamson, Judith Kerr deserves her place and other renowned children’s illustrators. In some ways Childens Book illustrators get a raw deal, yes theres Quentin Blake, Raymond Briggs and Michael Foreman deservedly making it in but why no Janet Alberg or John Burningham or even Axel Schefler? It may just be possible to have a complete volume of artists who were never selected, like that alternative venture by frustrated artists the RA turned down, ‘Not the Royal Academy Show’?

Well that’s now said and done so lets talk about the book itself, I’ve tried as hard as I might but I still don’t like the cover, an illustration using a typographical image/pattern by Jeff Fisher, lets face it he’s done far better pieces and it’s a shame that this one looks so unremarkable. Again for a cover its difficult to choose one image and which illustrator could you justifiably elevate to that honour, you certainly wouldn’t want a collage of pictures nor a single iconic image such as Milton Glaser’s Bob Dylan? I would have liked to have seen the author himself design the cover, after all though he’s an illustrator and he’s not featured in the book but he still ought to merit a presence.

It’s interesting to see a range of comic artists included but if you’re going to show Crumb then Leo Baxendale should be in there, I’d also include Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby, they had a profound influence on modern culture.

The book offers a historical snapshot of the intervening decades and is very much an honest if in parts a questionable selection, Zeegen doesn’t flinch from including artists I would have avoided on aesthetic grounds and it would be hard not to argue with the first three decades covered. Its later on I have problems with the choice and order of the selection. Why does Joost Swarte appear in the nineties when his decade was surely the eighties? It’s certainly easier to cherry pick those from the past who are well established rather than try to select out of the more recent past, those who may merit a place.

I would recommend this book, its well documented and researched. The range of reproduced images in one volume is impressive but just don’t try and digest them all in one sitting.

6 Reasons to Study Visual Communication

Vis Comm student

Vis Comm Student

Six reasons we would recommend Visual Communication as the ideal course to study;

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1. Visual Communication offers the widest choice of specialist subjects under one collective course; Film and Animation, Graphic Communication, Illustration and Photography.

2. The current undergraduate course team is made up of specialist tutors and visiting professionals from Industry, meaning students are exposed to both well established pedagogic practice and industry up to date knowledge.

3. Every year students from all four specialist subjects are presented with Industry sponsored awards. Past sponsors include Trevor Beattie, Dave McKean and Vaughan Oliver.

4. The resources are first class and the Visual Communication course is now situated in a state of the art building. Within this new space are excellent Printmaking studios, Photographic darkrooms and spacious communal studios.

5. Students are well equipped and prepared for entering the ‘market place’. There are modules that are specially designed to allow breadth of knowledge and experience.

6. Visual Communication promotes inter-disciplinary practice, this means students are encouraged to work across the specialist areas so photographers collaborate with Graphic Designers, Illustrators with animators. Its the way forward and its already happening on the course.

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There are many destinations for graduating students, Publishing, Design groups, Photographic studios and Web Companies to name just a few areas of employment.

The Fine Art of Conversation 2

In an ongoing discussion I am looking at how conversation has become an intrinsic part of our teaching strategy in the School of Visual Communication at BCU. Every year we get a growing number of overseas students arriving from an increasing range of countries, China, India, Korea, Japan, Thailand to name just some from the Far East. These alongside European nations and those from North and South America make up a considerable part of our annual student cohort.

With this in mind its important to understand the benefits of clear communication and ways in which we can all deal with complex pedagogic debate. Staff in the School of Viscom have become particularly adept at recognising the benefits of clear visual language as a means to express ideas and thought processes. The development and use of the RVJ, the reflective visual journal has become an indispensable tool to follow and record ideas, often leading to fruitful and engaging conversation. The difficulties of communication can hinder academic development and whilst there are support services available, staff in Viscom have discovered that visual aides such as the RVJ have led to a faster and more ideally suited approach.

Learning and teaching ideas are developing all the time in the School and staff are actively engaged in more and more direct ways of dealing with visual teaching, The fine art of conversation continues unabated as we extend our means and methods to deal with language barriers.

Andrew Kulman looking at an RVJ

Andrew Kulman looking at an RVJ