Hello, my name’s Sophie, currently working under the label Sophie Lesin Art. I work predominantly in ink: wash, liners, nibs, sharpies, biros, or anything else really. I love to focus on the occult, horror and mythic. There’s something that’s still really inspiring and interesting about the mysticism of the past, and is still relevant in people’s lives today. That atmosphere is what I’m hoping to bring across in my work.

For my major project this year I will be developing certain playing cards in the hopes of completing a full deck in the future. I’m always captivated by the more ornate designs and beautiful backing illustrations, and am hoping to emulate that with my own work. Obviously, I want to incorporate my own styles and inspirations, and so will be illustrating neo-gothic pieces; inspired by religious art, master etchings and the macabre genres. I’m aiming to add enough of a twist that they are still recognisable as card suits, but unique enough to stand out in their own right with their own imagery.

My personal work does revolve around pop culture and film as well, featuring horror or sci-fi imagery. I also have a love for tattoo art, with traditional and neo-trad styles being the styles I lean more towards. It’s an avenue I definitely want to pursue, combining illustrations and subject matter I love with tattoo art. I can’t wait to see how my work evolves, I know it can change so much in the course of a year. So I’m excited to see the folio I end up with after this year.

30 Day Challenge

One of the first assessments for our drawing unit is a 30 day drawing challenge, which is super worthwhile but is tricky to complete. A couple of years back I completed a 365 challenge so I knew how annoying it is once you fall behind but it hasn’t stopped me. What I learnt back then and am currently learning now, is that these types of challenges are a great way to practice, and it forces you to actually do something. So by the end you can see the progress in your skills and how much your approach can change, even in a month! Although, the same thing can be a downside as well; sometimes you rush just to get something done and it’s not exactly your best work.

I wanted my drawings to have some sort of purpose and wanted to use it as an opportunity to further my skills in a style I don’t normally use, so I decided on white tonal drawings. Originally I was hoping to complete the entire 30 days with vanitas subject matter, but found out fairly quickly it might not take me the whole way through. So instead I moved on to still life in general, as well as general pieces which will assist with my major project, which means lots of hands!

I can see a lot of changes in the past 20 days, and as a series I don’t think the style is as united as it could be, but in a way, it shows how fluid an artist can be. Some have subtle tonal shifts and others are quite sharp, so I’m still trying to settle on a nice medium between the two. At the end of it though, I would have explored an unfamiliar medium and ended up with a few pieces I’m generally happy with.


We’ve already been to a handful of exhibitions this year which is fantastic, and something that I’m so grateful we’ll be doing more of this year. We started with the Hockney show at the NGV, ‘Current’, which was maybe not what I expected. I’ve seen some of Hockney’s work before – his pool paintings and ‘A Bigger Splash’ (1967), and his polaroid series – but this exhibition was entirely different. There was a major focus on his digital and iPad sketches, and while it is interesting to see behind the scenes processes of different artists, there was a bit too much emphasis placed on them. However, there were two pieces that I really loved: ‘Bigger Trees Near Warter’ (2007) and ‘The Four Seasons, Woldgate Woods’ (2010 – 2011), a video installation.

David Hockney, ‘Bigger Trees Near Warter’, 2007.

We visited three exhibitions the next week and they were all worthwhile. Two were at the Ian Potter Museum: ‘Sister Corita’s Summer of Love’, and ‘Don’t Be Too Polite: Posters and Activism’. Both were forms of political or resistant art, but of course with different approaches. Sister Corita Kent’s works were screenprints – bright, vibrant colours, with a subtle resistance message, and was more about empowering the self perhaps. A main difference between the two would be Kent’s religious messages in her works. A nun, Kent injected religious messages into her art, but themes were central, revolving around tolerance, anti-violence, and so on. Certain themes were central to the Poster exhibition as well.

Sister Corita Kent

The political poster exhibition were works from three Melbourne-based groups: Red Letter Community Workshop Inc. (1977 – 1991), Another Planet Posters (1985 – 1991), and ‘Red Planet Inc. (1992 – 2001) which the groups later combined to become. The works revolved around themes like anti-war, anti-violence, opposition to nuclear war and weaponry, Indigenous Reconciliation and women’s rights. Some were screenprints as well, but where Kent’s were open – spread right to the edges of the canvas – these were strict and set within boundaries – they had a meaning and were obvious about it. They were much more propaganda driven and brutally honest about their meaning. What a major takeaway from the exhibition was how relevant all of these themes are today. In over 20 odd years, we haven’t seen a solution to any of them. In fact, some – Indigenous rights and Reconciliation, asylum seekers and women’s rights in particular – are still being heatedly debated. In this sense these posters and messages are timeless.

Kath Walters, Nuclear War – not a Teddy Bears Picnic’, 1985.

The final exhibition we visited was ‘From her margins: A Renee Sutton retrospective’ held at the Dax Centre at Melbourne University. The exhibition hosted works of Renee Sutton, and other artists who are living with or lived with mental illnesses. It was a sobering experience, and I am grateful to the artists and families of artists who donated their works to be shown. Mental health is a taboo subject in our society and is often hidden, so it was powerful to see art which reflects people’s own experiences.


We’re a few weeks in now and studio spaces are all starting to come together. I’m really appreciating having a cubicle space of my own to work in and decorate and make my own. It makes it super easy to concentrate just on your piece and surround yourself with inspirational pieces and artists you admire. It was also really helpful in terms of finding inspiration and references for the major project – and a lot of fun as well – finding similar works and artists. I’ve been introduced to a lot more artists – contemporary and historical – and found a few new favourites.

Hendrick Goltzius, ‘Phaeton (from The Four Disgracers)’, 1588.

Moodboards are always a helpful exercise, not just with finding influencing subject matter, but also with being able to focus on useful or inspiring techniques. I’ve always loved the prints of Renaissance masters, and Goltzius is an artist I’ve started to delve more deeply into this year. His mark making and details are almost unparalleled. Hopefully this year I can start to use these influences to further develop my own work, and focus on making my marks more even and deliberate rather than shaky.

From a productive viewpoint, it definitely helps having an area to yourself to focus on. You’re able to pin references everywhere, spread out everything you need without disturbing anyone and just generally zone in on your work. With room to decorate I even have space to plants which I haven’t managed to kill yet, just burnt them. All in all, the best part about every artist having a space is walking into the room and being able to instantly see all of the different styles in the room. No two spaces look the same, even with similar topics, and you can easily distinguish each artists’ interests. It feels like such a welcoming environment with everyone interested to see what each other is up to and what their space looks like. Hopefully the curiosity in each other lasts the year! It makes for such a productive and enjoyable environment that I don’t feel you always get in the industry.

Studio space featuring a work-in-progress moodboard.
Studio shot featuring my poor plants.

Abbotsford and Tacit

We got to visit another few gallery spaces (really loving the excursions this year), this time they were more ‘entry level or artist run spaces. We started with C3 Contemporary Art Space at the Abbotsford Convent. It’s a really large gallery space, capable of holding around 6 different shows at once. What I really appreciated about the space was the variety of art exhibited; there was a range of mediums being displayed: photography, installation, sculpture and murals to name a few. It’s evident that the spaces, while curated, are not bound to a single theme, allowing different themes, messages and angles to be exhibited alongside each other. This is a result of how the gallery owners choose to run their space; each artist applies to be exhibited, yet they write their own application and plan their own show, which is then exhibited exactly the way they applied for.

My overall favourite show on display was ‘Spirit Work’ by Virginia Cummins. It’s a photographic series, all shot on vintage lo-fi film cameras. They read as dreamy, fantasy-like dreamscapes, enhanced by the large scale of the prints. From an aesthetic standpoint, they are absolutely beautiful to look at, and incredibly emotional. From a technical standpoint, they are also impressive. The vintage cameras Cummins was using, only had three aperture settings and a single shutter speed, which makes viewing the immense prints even more impressive. Furthermore, the fact they were all printed in the darkroom, not digitally, is even more awe-inducing.

Virginia Cummins, ‘Spirit Work’, various pieces.

Also at the Abbotsford Convent is the St. Heliers Street Gallery, exhibiting a show by Jennifer Whitten titled ‘Parallax’. It features beautiful works of oil on glass, that are viewed differently from either side, described by Whitten as ‘reverse painting’. On one side the images are raw, with visible brush marks and harsh tones, yet still a decipherable subject matter. On the reverse, they are smooth, delicate and subtle, an eerie replica. The technical skills required to complete such works – painting the lightest tones first, and being unable to paint over mistakes as they are still visible on the other side –  are paramount. The space itself also aided in the aesthetics of the pieces – simplistic, clean and uncluttered, and a visual representation of multiple realities in which the show was representing.

Jennifer Whitten, ‘Parallax’, various works.

Finally, we visited Tacit Contemporary Art, a curator-run gallery. Unlike C3 which is more artist-run, the shows are more guided by the director of the gallery, with the shows seeming to flow from one to the next. It’s interesting how the gallery programme works. There are 6 gallery spaces and 2 ‘project spaces’ – smaller spaces with the rent paid given to two charities: Happy School in Cambodia, and Peter Mac. All of the shows run on a tight 2 or 3 week block, all opening and closing at the same time. This gives the gallery space a sense of consistency. While at C3 artists are entitled to hang their own show, at Tacit the setting up of the show is done for the artists, again, to provide consistency between shows and the gallery itself. This ensures a neat space, with no over-cluttered walls. Furthermore, it erases the possibility of an artist hanging everything as we tend to become attached to our own work. This way, the curation is taken care of for us, and we won’t have the opportunity to clutter the space, or exhibit works that perhaps should have been left out. Overall, it was a great learning experience, and I’m very grateful for Keith the director, for taking the time to talk us through the ins and outs.

Kim Evans

This week we were lucky enough to have artist Kim Evans come and do a Q&A with us. I wasn’t familiar with her work before hand, but Con promised something special. What followed was an in-depth, helpful, inspiring and honest conversation with an experienced artist. It was so beneficial to have her relay her experience in the industry but also her life experience. She was so honest about her work and about how long pieces can take, and about self-doubt we all face was really refreshing. On one hand, it’s familiar because we all experience these things to an extent. We all feel behind, we all feel sometimes that our work isn’t good enough or that it won’t work out. On the other hand, it was so refreshing to feel because it isn’t really something many artists are that upfront about. We hear a lot of “fake it ’till you make it” which is true, but Kim was very in depth about her life and doubts that I haven’t always heard from people.

I couldn’t believe Kim brought all of her originals to show us, but I’m so glad she did because they were beautiful to look at. Her work is so intricately detailed, and on such a massive scale, it’s overwhelming to look at. Some of her pieces she said were still works in progress, and I couldn’t believe it because they already looked so amazingly detailed and refined. Although I admire Kim for her tenacity, not being willing to finish a project until it’s perfect in her eyes. I was also very grateful to Kim for talking us through each piece, even when they were obviously very emotional for her. It’s always hard anyway to talk about your art in front of people, but when it’s so personal it takes on another level of difficulty. So it was so very brave of her to talk through them all for us. One of them, ‘Ouroboros’, was my favourite of her works, and had such emotion behind it, which is definitely present in the piece.

Kim Evans, ‘Ouroboros’, 2015

Festival of Photography

The NGV is currently showing a collection of shows under the Festival of Photography, and there are some great artists on offer. There were a few solo exhibits spread through out – the William Eggleston show in particular was great – but the Contemporary Photography show was my favourite displayed. There was such a wide range of artists and styles on display, and made for an interesting and enjoyable viewing experience. From landscape, to compositional pieces no two artists works looked the same, while also evoking different ideas.

Thomas Jorion’s pieces on display depicted abandoned and forgotten habitats of urbanisation. His pieces were emotive and fascinating, depicting scenes of decay, with objects lying exactly where they were left decades ago. While there is a sense of beauty and stillness in the images – there wouldn’t be such a fascination with abandoned photography if there wasn’t – there is also some shame attached to these images, and those like it. There are countless abandoned spaces, where nature has been cleared for our purposes and hasn’t been able to fully reclaim since. Moreover, it is also an eery peek into the future of habitats we longer frequent, and empty spaces. A look into the future we, as individuals, won’t be around to see.

IMG_6795 copy
Thomas Jorion, ‘Toyo’, 2009

Among others there were interesting compositional pieces, such as Zoë Croggon’s collage-like photographs in her Tenebrae show. Each image is a beautifully abstract composition of various and found photographs. From afar they produce seamless unique scenery, like futuristic architectural landscapes. The monochromatic or limited colour palettes aid in this imagery. While different in subject matter, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle’s ‘Iceberg’ series also utilises photographic mediums to depict abstract compositions. In this series, nature and technology are presented together, with an aim to depict the effects of climate change. Not only are they are the images unique in their kaleidoscope-like composition, but they are also unique in the combination of scientific mediums and landscapes.

Zoë Croggon, ‘Warm Dark’ and ‘Eros and Thanatos’, 2016
Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, ‘Iceberg’ series, 2010

Project Update!

Well things maybe haven’t been running as smoothly – or quickly –  as I had hoped, but I’m just telling myself I haven’t fallen too far behind. At least there were a few learning points arisen from starting (and restarting) my first card. More often than not these were technical problems. As an artist I know the type and style of work I want to be producing, and how I want my projects to look. However sometimes, technically, you need a bit of catching up to do. And what better place to do it than here.

From the start I’ve said I want to emulate the styles of the printmaking masters, which hasn’t changed. I’ve just hit a big learning curve with a few sessions with Warren. The absolute first thing I learned was to make sure the line drawing was 100% perfect, and this took some time for the first card, as I drew the tonal lines on in graphite first to make sure my hatching follows the direction of form. It’s always scary when you ink your first line, but after a bit of the wobbles I got into a rhythm of inking which was coming out well. The first major roadblock I hit was the fabric. After a week and a bit of debating and testing out lace imagery, I decided on fabric to stop wasting time but it still isn’t easy. Not when your nib explodes either. What I ended up with was panicked, messy lines that were all over the place and nothing like the neat fabric in the prints I was emulating. As I eventually want to sell the originals I didn’t really want to go back in with acrylic or white-out like Neil’s suggestion, which is probably going to hurt me in the long run not taking advice. But I decided to start again.

I try not to think of the first attempt as a failure, because it just allowed me to hone in on things that weren’t quite right in the first place. The symbol on the crown was too small, parts of the hand were too blotchy etc. So at least the second attempt came out much cleaner. There were a lot of details that were quite small in the first attempt that especially, once shrunk to the size of a card, were going to get lost. I also realised the need for different sized nibs as well as liners to have enough variety to get as much detail in there as possible.

‘Queen of Hearts’, ink on watercolour paper, 2017

I’m happy with the certain things, for instance I think the composition works well and to use the traditional playing card layout was the right choice. But again the fabric is just giving me trouble. I think what I’m having most trouble with is to illustrate the curvature of the fabric properly, again, without making the hatching too messy. The lines have to be clean and spaced evenly, so it’s going to be tricky until I get the hang of it. I also was set on doing monochromatic illustrations, but if so, I think there needs to be even more detail as there are just some empty spots.

All in all, I think I’ve spent a little too much time on this one already, and I think it’s at a point where I can leave it and start moving forward on others, and maybe come back to it  when my skills have improved and I can fix some of the mistakes.

Industry Forum – 26th April

I was really pleased to know that there would be another industry forum this year, it was really helpful last year to have different artists and industry personnel speak about their experiences and field questions from us. It was set up a little different this year, with a Q&A session set up afterwards which is great, and a viewing of the staff show Anthology. Having two speakers as representatives of agencies was really beneficial. There’s always questions or doubts surrounding agencies, and if it’s worth it, so it makes sense to have the heads of two prominent agencies to speak about their experience and how their agencies work.

Toby’s session about Just Another Agency was super helpful and insightful, as was Justine’s. We got to learn firsthand how an agency is run and what they look for in potential artists – not only from the head of, but from a represented artist as well. It was great to see them field questions with one another, and to hear both of their perspectives. With Just Another Agency, it seems that more often than not, they scout artists rather than have artists apply. While this presents some air of prestige, it does seem a little tricky for emerging or even established artists who are searching for representation. Nevertheless, there was some good advice regarding social media, time management (with some good app advice), saving and pricing, and general freelance advice. Richard of Illustrators Australia also gave another in-depth talk, representing another alternative. With Illustrators Australia, there is the option for a student membership which is beneficial for emerging artists, especially as you’re eligible for the year after you graduate as well. At $93.50, it may be a bit of an excess expense, if for example you factor in creative cloud subscriptions and the like. But I think it would be better to trial an agency or representative for that price and gauge how beneficial it is, rather than to pay full membership price and realise that it doesn’t work for you.

Finally, while her medium is not especially relevant to my practice, Sarah’s presentation was an interesting presentation about artistic practice and exhibiting. While I aim to work as an illustrator, I still want to be showing in exhibitions frequently, and Sarah discussing grants and the like might be beneficial to me. On top of everything else, her work is stunning and especially beautiful to look at. Even if someone is not working in my field, I am always interested in artists to follow and shows to attend, as being exposed to any art is a good thing.

Sarah Tomasetti, The Snowline, 2012

The Anthology show was a great way to end the day. While I’ve seen some staff’s work in classes or presentations, I’ve never had the chance to see everyone’s displayed alongside one another. Even better was having each artist talk through the piece they were exhibiting, which obviously you don’t always get at an exhibition. Kirsten’s project was especially interesting, as was the process behind it. It’s interesting how technology and fine art were used together, when frequently, more and more artists are opposed to such. It’s always beautiful to hear the stories behind Con’s Tales of Cyprus pieces. While each piece beautiful and vintage inspired, I think the stories behind them really make them individual and unique pieces. And Neil’s work is always fun to look at, and I really admire how he thinks of new and innovative methods of animation. I totally forgot the name of his animation piece, but it was definitely groovy. It’s a shame I can’t upload a video, it definitely has his sense of fun.

Project Update – 5th May

After the first card had some ups and downs, I was happy to have my second attempt go relatively smoothly. It was a great idea to sketch ideas for most of the cards in the beginning as there’s already a springboard to work off of. The idea is to stay a couple ahead of where you’re up to at the very least, so you’re not ready to start and drawing a blank for a composition or idea. My initial sketches are very rough and scratchy, basically enough to get a concept down, with enough detail or annotations in there to give me something to work off at a later time.

sketchbook pages, concepts for King of Hearts.

Here are the pages I used to bounce ideas off for my King of Hearts card. I find it really helpful to annotate my ideas as well, to fully flesh out what I have down so I don’t forget, and to problem solve anything that’s not quite working yet. When I’m ready I move to an A3 page and fully flesh out a cohesive concept with my sketchbook nearby. I don’t use references at this point, I just get down what I want the body to look like for instance, hand positions, clothing etc. Once I’m happy with it, I take some reference shots so I get exactly what I’m looking for, then draw out a proper line drawing, with final clothing and facial references.

For now I haven’t quite figured out a quicker or easier way to do it, but to achieve the traditional playing card composition, I scan the line drawing in and do a quick flip to see what it’s going to look like. It also quickly shows what parts of the drawing are skewed or uneven – sometimes I have a habit of drawing up to the right slightly, so a liquify will help get things back into proportion and where they should be. It ends up looking something like this:

king hearts plan
King of Hearts composition plan

With this card in particular it became apparent that there was a problem with the centre of the composition. I was happy with the sword motif though, so I needed to find another way to fix the problem, which ended up being more armour texture. There was even more tweaking to be done – to make lines match up with one another, make the crowns even and so on – before the final line drawing could be started. Once that’s done, there’s the matter of transferring it to the watercolour paper, either by light box or tracing paper. This time, the inking went fairly smoothly apart from a few marks which had to be removed digitally. I’m quickly seeing that maybe I won’t be able to present all of them as originals. Apart from mistakes, there’s the issue of cutting in highlights which Neil was telling me about before. I was happy though that the chainmail texture came out decent, as did the steel texture. Although, like with anything, there’s still room for more work and improvement. Like with the Queen card, once I’m more proficient with pen and ink and the engraving style, I can revisit them to improve them.

‘King of Hearts‘, ink on watercolour paper, 2017

Homage – 18th May

The most recent brief to undertake in drawing was a homage project – to emulate the style and characteristics of an artist you are inspired by. The only limiting factor being the artist of course had to work in the field of drawing. Something I realised about myself is that I am seriously lacking in knowledge of well-known ink artists. I would’ve loved to expand my ink skills and try new approaches and be introduced to new ink wash artists, but in the end, I set about trying to study Dürer’s brush drawings. I know I probably couldn’t have picked anybody harder, but it was still beneficial studying his works closely and trying to decipher what methods or mediums he used. With Louise’s guidance I started exploring the relationship between wet and dry mediums, and try and incorporate different styles of Dürer’s drawing into the one piece. These are two of the main works that were influencing this project.

In some instances he uses chalk or charcoal, and in others he uses ink or gouache, so it was an interesting experience to utilise these different mediums which aren’t usually worked together. Usually dry media is applied on top so it won’t activate under a wash, but after experimenting I couldn’t really get charcoal to blend well on top of ink. But after using light washes and slowly building up tone with charcoal, I was able to darken the wash enough to create different tones. I could also use the charcoal for fine detail on top of the wash, especially on the features of the face. Another challenge was picking a medium to use for highlights. I’m not especially versed in gouache, so wanted to stay away from it if possible, and I found white charcoal or conté was quite dull on top of ink. I tried testing white ink, and while it took a few layers to achieve the same vividness as gouache, it still was quite visible on top of the other layers. An easier way is to keep the highlight areas clean, although on toned paper it would still take some layers. This turned out better for me I think, as it gave me more control over how bright I wanted them to be, and it doesn’t spread as much as gouache does.

Overall, while I definitely think I could’ve achieved a result that looks more like Dürer’s works, I’m still fairly happy with the result. I’m not sure how I feel about it looking a bit too contemporary, I achieved practice in highlights which I use rarely if at all. At the end of it all, I ended up with a piece that I’m happy with, and explored some new skills and techniques. On top of that, as a portrait, I feel it’s fairly accurate, of course with some mistakes – any line in the wrong place changes the likeness. Overall, no project is a wasted one, and it just makes me want to develop my ink wash skills more, and find a balance between ink and charcoal, which I hope to  experiment with in my newest drawing project in a self-directed brief.

Project Update – 30th May

There’s been a bit of back and forth with my output of my creative product. Namely, I’m really struggling to find a balance between my natural style and line weight, and what’s necessary for reproduction. Luckily the King reproduced quite nicely, with only minimal touch-ups required. The Queen, while I was fairly happy with the way it turned out on paper, is not reproducing well at all. The lines are just too fine and close to come out clearly at such a smaller scale. So I did another version of the card, and simplified it quite a bit so it will scale successfully.

‘Queen of Hearts’, ink on watercolour paper, 2017

While i’m not unhappy with the way it came out, there’s a lot of guesswork involved which by this stage, I was hoping I’d be over. Another factor is original size: I’ve been completing the works A3 as I like to work bigger, and secondly, I want the originals to be works of art in their own right. It would be easier to complete the works A4, and there’d be less guesswork involved, but sizing down too much would make them less usable in a folio setting. I’ll be testing the Ace of Hearts card on A4 and see how well it scales down as a test, before I do the other royal cards. If possible, I don’t want to go any lower than A4; half the reason I chose to do this extra year is to finalise a body of work that reflects me as an artist. While I can display smaller works as uncut card sheets, there wouldn’t be a whole lot of body to my folio. But on the other hand, I don’t want to simplify them too much, as there would really be no need to do them at that scale anyway. Furthermore, I’m scared they’ll stray too far from the delicate linework I envisioned at the start for this project, into more of a graphic quality.

I did also finish the Jack card which again, scaled down well. With both the Jack and the Queen I went up a nib size just a fraction for the outlines and some features, so they won’t get lost scaling down. I’m quite happy with the composition of the Jack piece overall, and I think it definitely has the most playing card quality out of the three. Where I’m at now, I’m happy with these cards looking the way they do. But if the A4 test goes well, I might have to do an extra test with the Jack and Queen cards, and see if it is possible to put any extra fine line details in. Dead on Paper produces amazingly beautiful card decks with intricate details, so it is definitely possible to achieve. A major difference is the printer used of course, but if they are working at a smaller scale to achieve their details then it is worth a try to achieve it with mine.

Van Gogh Exhibition – 25th May

I can’t believe I forgot to add in our excursion to the Van Gogh show. As someone who has never seen his works up close before, it really was an eye-opening experience. I’ll admit I wasn’t fully versed in his works, and he wasn’t someone I immediately thought of when thinking of my favourite artists. But this show definitely changed my mind. I think there’s something about seeing the actual brushstrokes on a painting, and that feeling can’t be replicated in any other way.

It’s always fun trying to navigate around a crowd and the show was packed, but in a way, it’s nice to see so many people interested in art and if they weren’t, we probably wouldn’t be getting these types of shows at our galleries. If anything though, I’d love to go and visit again in hopefully a calmer setting. There were some pieces I just didn’t expect from the show and of course some favourites like A wheatfield, with cypresses or his Self-portrait. It was also interesting to see his influences and examples of his print collection. Its great when artists are upfront about who their influencers are, and Van Gogh was especially interested in Japanese prints, which were one of the first things you see when you walk in. I also thought it was great of the show to include them in, because there are some in the audience who perhaps wouldn’t have seen those works if they weren’t there. And to juxtapose them with his works to see similarities in Van Gogh’s pieces was a nice touch.

Semester Recap – 20th June

Semester 1 was incredibly busy, with things really speeding up in Term 2. There were plenty of ups and downs with my project, but overall I’m happy that I got all of the planning, tests and fails out of the way this semester, so I can hopefully steamroll ahead in Semester 2. I have most of the card plans done, and have figured out the technique and scale that I’ll be using, so fingers crossed, it should be easier next term.

What I was most struggling with was the relationship between technique and scale. I think it was because I was being quite stubborn with how I wanted them to look and how I wanted to present them (as A3), but the scaling down was not working in a way that highlighted the detail. What I ended up with was something clear, but something that was looking more different than what I set out to achieve to begin with. I decided to try an A4 size and see how well they scaled down.

First Ace of Hearts card next to scale test

Immediately you can see that they keep much more detail when they scale down, so I can keep that engraving quality rather than something more like a woodblock. A4 is still a size suitable for exhibiting or prints, so really I didn’t have to budge that much. I’m glad I listened to Neil’s suggestion to scale as I was starting to get really unhappy with the work I was producing and losing a little bit of focus. The next test was to do one of the royal cards which are much more detailed and see what they look like on a smaller page. I started the spades suit, and on another note, I’m pleased with how my compositions and designs are developing. I think this one is one of the stronger ones I’ve produced, and I feel like I’m more confident in the concept and what I want to achieve.

Queen of Spades line drawing plan and final line drawing

I feel like I’m developing clothing and accessories more towards something that is still recognisable, but not too detailed that they’ll get lost at a smaller scale. I worked with Warren on this card to strengthen my tones, which was a lot of playing on photoshop and printing tests to see where it needed to be. I think at a smaller scale it was also easier to keep things in proportion, and things like fabric weren’t such a huge task. I ended up going back in the Ace of Hearts card as well to increase the contrast so it doesn’t look so one-dimensional. Seeing these two cards as they are has helped solidify the final product, and I’m excited to redo the first cards I completed to match the set.

One thing I’ve noticed this term, is for every problem you solve you find something else to fix. Seeing these two cards side by side, it was really obvious that I needed some sort of font or tabling system to ensure the letters are the same size and in the same positions. The plan was to create a Blackletter key and numerical system and just ink them on water colour paper that I could trace on to each card as I got up to it. Neil however, found a really great online program that allows you to upload your own fonts. Which, if it works how I’m hoping, I can just add all the lettering in on photoshop either at the end, or as I finish each card. Luckily, it seems to be an easy fix, and something that was quick and fun to create some lettering and numbers to use.

Lettering key and sheet for online program.

I ended the semester on a good note for my major project, and I’d say the same for my other subjects too. Sometimes it gets a bit stressful when you have different projects due at similar times, but overall, I was pretty grateful that I had other work to do to take a break from the major project. I think if I had to do the same thing all year long, I’d get bored and irritable with it. For me especially, because my project is quite narrow in what I can do, I found it beneficial that I could try different things and mediums in drawing and theory classes, and hopefully, finish the year with a folio that is diverse. The projects I completed – like the narrative, 30 days and self-directed briefs – were still similar in genre but quite different in presentation. This blog as well, is a good technique to gather your thoughts and problem solve, and is so much better than writing something no one is going to see. Overall, the semester was productive, enjoyable and different. The excursions are a great addition, the Van Gogh show especially was a treat. Now I’m just really optimistic and excited for Semester Two.

Semester Two: Gallery Hunting – 20th July

Semester Two is starting out to be super busy from the get-go, with the Midway Show starting in the second week that needs planning, designing and hanging. But we also started the term off with some gallery hunting around Collingwood. We visited three galleries which seem to be very kind to illustration, starting with Off The Kerb. It’s a very nicely sized and laid out space, which seemed open to customisation and various art pieces. The foyer was exhibiting a launch for Badlands clothing line, and was a really great example of marketing and exhibiting. The space held samples for a reasonable amount of shirt designs, fashion photography and a mural which was highly visible from the outside. They feature simple, tattoo inspired artwork, lending itself to print or clothing. Another interesting idea were postcard collaborations: they seemed to be collaborating with local artists who provided designs based on what the label encapsulates. This is a great opportunity for artists who can be introduced to an entirely new audience, as well as the brand itself who now has more creative and unique interpretations of their brand.


Badlands Brand, mural

There were another four exhibits showing as well, featuring REPOST by Clare Hampshire, a modern take on the vanitas genre. Done in a traditional paint style, her work blends standard vanitas imagery – skulls or decaying flowers – with more contemporary themes, such as technology and consumerism sculpture. Her work is beautifully rendered, and set out in a neat and simple way, and proved to be popular among audiences as well.

REPOST, Clare Hampshire, 2017

The next stop was Backwoods Gallery, exhibiting a major solo show from Stephen Ives. The pieces displayed a wide range of mediums, from sculpture to ink to graphite, and all done beautifully. It was a concept show, merging childhood nostalgia with modern turmoil and threats of war. Overall, how he utilised the space, and the amount of works on display is a fantastic example of a solo show, which happened to be one of three. His technique in particular is wonderful, and the layout of the show, while featuring many works, was not cluttered at all. His multiple sculptures display an immense attention to detail. The gallery itself is in a unique space, at the end of an alley tucked in between a screenprinting studio and a bar, and covered in street art. I’m glad we made the stop here, as it’s a unique space to follow and visit more often.

Finally, we paid a visit to the new Jacky Winter Lamington Drive gallery space, which now offers a bigger exhibition area than before. It’s always worth a visit to the agency, as they’re probably one of the most well-known illustration agencies, and lucky enough for us to be in our backyard. Alma Ayon’s Contemplación was showing, and it was nice to see abstract works being displayed.  Her minimal work perfectly suited the space, and was yet another example of hanging and designing a show. Furthermore, what I particularly like about Lamington Drive is the small print shop they have set up, where audiences can purchase prints not only of the show, but from other artists on the Jacky Winter roster. It would be fantastic to be represented by an agency that has their own gallery space, and is always looking to introduce your work to wider audiences.

Contemplación, Alma Ayon

Midway & FLUX – 11th August

The Midway show was a really great way to start off the new semester, even if a little stressful. It was a good opportunity to see the work you’ve completed so far in an exhibition setting, which can give you ideas about sizing and content. Furthermore, it was also an introduction to the roles and tasks for the end of year show. I tried my hand at curating, a bit nervously because I had never done it before, but it went great and was really enjoyable! With last year’s Illustre show, we didn’t really have a say on placement or where each artist’s work was going, so it was interesting to be on the other side of that conversation. It was also a challenge working around the constraints of the gallery space. The A-Space is an interesting environment, it has unique features that can work quite well in an exhibition setting.

Midway show, lower and upper levels.

I think the lower and upper levels are a fantastic feature, and lets you play around artist groupings. We placed some of the fine artists who work larger upstairs, and Carrie’s work looks amazing from the bottom level. Midway was also extremely helpful as it’s the exact same space we’ll have the end of year show. So on a basic level it helped immensely as a trial run. We got to see how the space fills out, and what things need fixing. I noticed nobody wanted to pin their works, so where possible, we’ll need to have hanging tracks as the tabs didn’t quite work on all the walls. These things are easy enough to spot and to fix before the end of the year. I made a mistake in not framing my work, as even with bluetak and hanging tabs, they would fall. So I know definitely not to do that for the end of year.

On a more conceptual level, it was also helpful in seeing how your works look hung, and what needs to be changed. I was lucky I had larger works to hang, otherwise I would have a wall of A4 cards which would look very gridlike. Furthermore, I honestly wouldn’t be satisfied showing only those works, as it’s only part of my skill set, and I feel I have more that I want to develop and exhibit. Therefore I’ve made the decision to work on at least two different illustrations that will be displayed alongside the cards. Still a similar subject matter, but more realised illustrative works.

Final set up for Midway Show

While Midway branding isn’t necessarily a big deal, as the name is already locked in, the end of year show needed a name and a logo. The majority decided on FLUX, which I was very happy about. It’s short and bold and – meaning fluid or in motion – is a suitable name for a diverse group of artists with different goals and styles. From an illustrative standpoint, it would be hard to come up with an image which encapsulates it’s meaning. But, seeing as each Advanced Diploma graduate show is different, we’re not tied down by any tradition so to speak. I think a typographical design suits the 4 letters well, and may be something quite different than the years before us.

flux logo plan2
First FLUX concept design

This is the first concept I came up with for the logo, which was my favourite. The typeface is simple and bold, and really can have any image placed within. I chose floral as it has subtle shapes and colours which contrast well against the hard edges of the type. It also came out extremely well on a darker background. But theoretically, it could even work with artists’ work behind, and we could have a range of different logos for different posters. Personally though, I generally like to stick with one logo and have it uniform across all branding, but it may be nice to have different artists’ work highlighted.

flux square logo plan
Final FLUX concept

The majority decided upon this design however, mostly due to the square formatting, which can work interestingly as a poster or invite as is. It doesn’t work quite as well on a darker background though, but I think design lends itself to light, pastel compositions anyway. The imagery used is only a placeholder, so Isabelle, Madison and I are each going to develop a piece ourselves and choose one that best fits the design. Overall the concept works well, and is finally decided upon, so we can get started on promoting and moving forward with the show.

Collage – 24th August

I appreciate the different mediums we explore in theory class, as it’s an opportunity to take a vastly different approach to a topic I otherwise normally would have. Most recently we had to produce a collage – in particular a political piece which explores the phrase ‘No Way Out’, and takes some inspiration from the political collages of the 1920s. Collage is a medium that I appreciate and am definitely drawn to, but one I don’t have that much experience with. Researching the history of collage was helpful, as I’m more familiar with contemporary artists like Beth Hoeckel. The brutal pieces from Rodchenko or Heartfield are intense to look at, but naturally, I relate to more minimal pieces, like the works of Hannah Höch.

Hannah Höch, Made for a Party

I also came across some beautiful works by contemporary artists, who are more surreal and aesthetic in nature. For the assignment, while I wanted to convey a political message, it also has to be pleasing to the eye. I think collage as a medium is sometimes thought of as ‘easy’, but I think it’s difficult to use found mediums in a way that is pleasing, and also readable. I especially struggled with the found object aspect, as I’m a very big planner when it comes to my work, and obviously there’s only so much planning that goes into a collage. It all depends on what materials you find. Greg also wanted the majority to come from print mediums not digital, so that added another layer of difficulty.

For the theme ‘no way out’, I wanted to express the horrendous conditions asylum seekers are kept in on Manus and Nauru, all the while being subjected to intense isolation from family and friends, and the public as a whole in Australia. I think the majority of the conversation surrounding asylum seekers revolves around scare tactics from both sides of the government and conservative media, which makes it easier for the public to think of the people detained there as “others”. Very rarely are they spoken about as individuals or given names, unless there is a tragedy or death in the centres. Therefore, I wanted to utilise negative space as a human figure, to both demonstrate isolation and loneliness, but also how they are presented in the media.

Final collage, Untitled

FLUX branding – 30th August

There ended up being a little bit of a back and forth with the branding but we did cement a design that’s ready for use. Isabelle and I completed a botanical watercolour each, which at first was with the idea that either would be used as the backing for the logo. However, there was a concern that it didn’t really fit the entire student body as a whole, and I do tend to agree. Yet there’s also the reality that nothing would be suited to such a wide range of artists, but we decided a simple colour backdrop could work as well. I did the watercolour piece which I found to be good practice anyway so I don’t see it as a waste of time. And Isabelle’s piece came out really beautiful as well. I also did a quick watercolour wash with more pastel colours, and I’m really happy with the way it looks behind the template design. Marc also stepped up to do some concepts, with some photography of his paints, and they too looked great. As they were spontaneous paint splatters, they gave a different feel than what an intentional wash would. One of Marc’s designs was picked as a majority, and I’m glad for him as it looks beautiful, and I agree it does tend to suit a wider variety of artists.

Official FLUX logo, Marc’s concept digitally repainted by Anna

Term Recap – 6th September

This term has completely flown by, and I can’t even really keep track of what I’ve done. Most of the time this term was spent on class projects or FLUX, and I think progress on my major project has suffered greatly. Although, I also think it was a little bit of a mental block as well. This term I had to answer some big questions about my art practice, how I see my work and where I want to take it. The end of the course is fast approaching, and so I’d rather be asking myself these questions now while I have a community of artists and mentors to talk to rather than go through it on my own. I don’t think the cards were a bad idea, it is helpful to have one brief to follow the whole year so you aren’t stuck thinking about what next to do. Although I feel having a very narrow technique to follow as well is what is giving me trouble, creatively and practically. At the beginning I was tossing up doing playing cards or select tarot cards; but I feel to design tarot cards effectively, you obviously need to have an in-depth understanding of the meaning and symbolism, which I don’t think I’m there yet. Therefore I went with playing cards, and while I am happy with how they are turning out, I feel like I could be showing much more of what I’m capable of than I currently am.

jack spades
Jack of Spades, I’ve become pretty confident with chainmail and armour, would like to incorporate similar details into all the cards.

I started thinking about my practice more after completing Greg’s assignments. I think it’s absolutely beneficial for us to have exposure to different art forms and techniques, as you don’t just learn something new, but it provides a refresher and break away from your main project as well. The typography and collage assignments allowed me to use different mediums and subject matters, and I was able to play with colour which I had barely done all year. For the typography assignment, I chose pine tree cells as my subject, and had so much fun illustrating them and identifying the different colours and shapes in each one. It was also a different approach technically, as I had to be so patient and work slowly to depict the different cell structures accurately. The collage assignment allowed me to think politically and inject a different type of meaning in my work, as well as use found materials which can be a challenge. Yet ultimately, it was the artist talk project which really forced me to sit down and think about what my art practice means and overall, I’m not entirely happy with where I am at the moment. I think I have so  much more in me to explore which up until now I was actively pushing against.

For the way forward I’m thinking back to Louise’s class and the self-directed project we did. I enjoyed experimenting and mixing mediums, and Louise was a great mentor in suggesting artists to look at and different techniques to try. I know I only have one term left, but I’m hoping to follow in this direction. I’m not abandoning the cards, and am hoping to knock out a few more over the upcoming breaks. For now though, they’re on the back-burner in order for me to loosen up and get creative again. I’ve developed a few studies that allow me to explore different imagery and try to combine the different styles I have. I’m also practicing reductive drawing as I find it to be quite emotive and atmospheric, and a challenge technically speaking. Over the break I also went to develop pen and ink techniques that are not as rigid as engraving style line work.

This term and year really, I’ve found the blog and journal to be a great help, as they really do serve as spaces to problem solve and air concerns. Sometimes it helps just to write the problems out and work your way to a conclusion. Greg’s artist talk was also beneficial this way. I thought a lot of people were really honest with their work and approaches, and while getting feedback or critiques can be scary, it’s a big help especially coming from people you respect and who want you to improve.

Finally, just checking in briefly on the library mural Zanin and I were approached to complete. The library recently had a wall converted to a chalkboard, and wanted something joyous and beautiful to be completed. It wouldn’t be a permanent fixture, but I think Maggie said it would be up for around 6 months. Zanin is obviously amazing at typography, so we decided on a botanical/typography design. It’s still in the early stages, but we have just gotten the initial sketch approved so I’m in the process of completing the refined line drawing. I’m so excited to be doing this as a) I’ve never done such a large scale work before and I’m excited to see how my style translates onto a large canvas, and b) it’s a perfect experience with a real client, going back and forth with design ideas. Probably most of the commissions I’ve done have been pretty one sided, as either portrait commissions or similar, so it’s good to get practice with a client who – while flexible – is still active in the decision making. I have to thank Warren and Kirsten for suggesting us for the role, as we’re both super excited to get started!

Work-in-progress line drawing with Zanin’s finalised typography

Artist Mentor – 19th September

Over the course of the term I was thinking about who I could approach as an artist mentor, and who would be able to give me the best advice for my art practice. There were a couple of artists who I follow and work I admire, in particular Lucy Hardie and Annita Maslov. I am inspired by both of their technique and subject matter, and incredible work ethic. There are some similarities between the two – they are both proficient in ink and stippling, and their works can contain similar themes and imagery. Annita Maslov is an illustrator and tattoo artist working in Melbourne, and Lucy Hardie is an artist also based in Melbourne. Both artists exhibit their work in group or solo shows.

Both of these artists would have been extremely beneficial, and I am pursuing a career in the tattoo industry. However, my current stage in my practice has me wanting to explore different mediums and the relationship with combining them on the same surface. Lucy’s works are delicate, atmospheric, astounding in detail and are beautifully composed. Furthermore, by following her work I can also see how she experiments with oil, composition, light and so on. The limited palette she explores in her work is especially inspiring to me, as I am exploring different ways to incorporate colour into my pieces.

She works in a studio space in Abbotsford, but I thought it would be way more polite to email rather than approach her at a private studio space. A couple of weeks ago Con helped me write up a brief letter to approach curators and the like, asking for a meeting. I used this template to write a brief email explaining who I was and the course and asked if we could have a quick chat, either by email or in person. While in person is a great way to have a discussion, I understand that artists can be busy and with email at least both sides can take their time in responding. Lucy was nice enough to respond and preferred email to have time to think about her answers.

I tried to base my questions about what I’ve been unsure about regarding my work and career path, and also researching interviews with Lucy to find more of an insight into her practice. Particularly, I wanted to get advice on experimenting with different mediums, compositions, inspiration and self-doubt, and exhibiting. Over reading her responses I found some things were similar to what I was experiencing – especially surrounding artist and technique inspiration – and it gave me the confidence in knowing that I was on the right track, and just to be patient in each piece and in my career as an artist in general. There’s no rush to find a personal style, and more importantly, experimentation obviously doesn’t finish after studying. Something Lucy mentioned repeatedly was the need to look at different artists and styles, which I agree is important so as not to narrow your visual field, which can definitely have an impact on your work. She also said something that I really feel is important for me to acknowledge and follow: “It’s just a matter of being ok with uncertainty, accepting it, and doing the work anyway.” If pieces don’t work the way I want them to, it’s fine. You never know how a piece is going to turn out until you do it, and if you’re always too scared to try you will never develop further.

Another thing I sometimes struggle with and wanted her advice on, was how to effectively compose my pieces in a way that’s harmonious with the themes and symbolism I want to depict. We begin in similar ways with sketches and playing around with ideas before you start. I’ve never felt comfortable beginning the final piece from the get-go as other artists are, and it’s good to know that by being loose and expressive in the beginning stages, you can then nail down an expressive and emotive piece and composition. Interestingly in her work, no matter what medium is being used, she is constant in her themes and messages being displayed. What I took from this is to follow the urge to experiment and follow your influences, and it doesn’t have to alter your subject matter or atmosphere of your pieces.

Overall, I am so grateful for the time Lucy gave to answer my questions honestly and personally. She’s even kind enough to answer any other questions I may have in the future. At the time I was going through some major second-thoughts about my work, and reading her answers and taking in advice helped me to calm down and look at my work abstractly. There are things that I was already doing – like looking at techniques from artists I admire and trying to experiment with them – that cemented in my mind that I’m not on the wrong path. The main takeaway I got after reflecting on her answers, was to be patient, and to not panic when you feel your influences are changing.

Anima by Annita Maslov – 25th September

Anima opened on the 22nd as part of the Small Wall Project at Outré Gallery. It was well worth going to see the incredible pieces up close, and to see the immense delicate detail. Each artwork was a representation of an historical figure with an interesting or unique story. Part of why I love Annita’s work so much is the amount of symbolism she depicts, and how well it compliments the composition. And of course her technical application is something to be admired. The Marcus Aurelius piece combines such delicate and harsh textures so effortlessly, and even with hard edges still portrays form quite nicely with the shadows from the foliage.

From an exhibition standpoint, while it was a solo show, it’s still helpful to see how works are hung and how to create an interesting and compelling show from one wall. For FLUX we only get limited wall space each, so it’s up to us how we want our space to look. As my pieces are quite small, I’m trying to find creative ways to hang or show my work, so as not to end up with a grid wall. There’s also the risk of looking too gimmicky and detracting from the work. So I’m trying to find a balance between the two, perhaps with framing or other decorative pieces to make the space a combined piece of its own. The set up for Anima was simple but hung well in a way that let the illustrations speak for themselves. The black frames were stark, but necessary not to clash with the delicate pen and ink works. The hanging worked better than it would have in a straight line, and also allowed for more work to be hung in a non-crowded manner. On a final note, mounting is normally a clean way to frame the work but is not normally something I noticed, but the black mounting really increased the contrast with the works and looks beautiful while also still looking understated. I’m not thinking of mounting my works as it can be too much when paired with an ornate frame, but it is still something to think over.

Library Mural – 18th October

A couple of months back, Zanin and I were asked to complete a mural on the new chalkboard wall in the library. It was my first time working on such a big space for a client, so it was both exciting and a little nerve-wracking, but an invaluable experience as well. I was glad I got to complete it with Zanin as well. Not only is her typography beautiful, but she was always on top of the ball and there to help out, so made a fantastic partner.

There were a few ups and downs with the design of the wall. The first design we made wasn’t exactly what the client envisioned for the wall, and the quote we picked first after some thinking, was found to be too long and clunky. So after another meeting with Maggie, our client, we rethought about our composition and how we were going to tie the illustration and the typography together.

mural line drawing
The first mural design we sketched out

One of the major concerns with this design was how it was too orderly, and the composition was too structured and bordered. Looking at it now, the illustration is too detached from the typography. I did try to connect the two with the ribbon-like vines and the cursive script, but it isn’t enough to unify the two. I did like the parallels though, so did use them in the next design. The other issue was the quote being too long. From a compositional viewpoint, it takes up too much space in the design, and perhaps would look too cluttered if the illustrations were closer. And from a legibility view, Maggie was worried that the quote would be too long and hard to read for everyone. A major point of this project was to make the library a welcoming and joyous place for everybody, and the quote had to reflect that. So we decided to start afresh with a new quote, and while take some aspects from this design, a new illustration.

hand floral_2
The second mural design

Maggie spoke about the design being ‘cosy’ or more abundant, and wanted a bit more of a range of imagery rather than solely floral. We wanted the composition to reflect rich abundance, which was missing from the first design. In addition to a more compatible composition, I also added in some fruit imagery, bringing in different shapes and colours to the design. The pomegranate works especially in bringing in a “rich” atmosphere, with the seeds bursting from the centre. After some tweaks in the illustration and typography, we were ready to start the actual chalkboard.

Our final line drawing fitting the space nicely

Luckily Zanin had a projector we could use for getting the line drawing up, so we didn’t have to use a grid system or anything like that. It made the process super quick and easy, and the drawing went up accurately. It took a little bit of getting accustomed to the pressure, but overall chalk is a fun and not too difficult medium to use. The only thing that’s different is essentially I was drawing in reverse; normally I use hatching for shading obviously, but with white line it becomes hard to translate that. That was just something little we had to adjust to while doing it.

While adding colour, I tried seeing how the white hatching would look over the top, but it was too confusing and honestly, not really necessary. Normally I leave lines within my final rendered piece, but you have to adapt to the medium, and the chalk was looking much better without visible line. While we decided to fully render the flowers and fruit, we still wanted some contrast, and to utilise the black of the chalkboard in our design. So we were intent on leaving some of the illustration as outline and minimal white shading. I especially like the contrast because it shows the different sides of chalk. It can be soft, pastel like colours, or heavily textured and striking contrast. Having both really worked with the design, and the space wasn’t too cluttered. Zanin added a little bit of colour to the type, which helped bring it back a little bit, and not pop too much from the design. Overall, I’m ecstatic with the result. The illustration and typography work so harmoniously with each other, and the bursts of colour look great against the black of the chalkboard. I’m also really proud at how we were able to use a medium we weren’t so comfortable with, and render some beautiful imagery. I’m very grateful we got given this opportunity, and very happy with the positive feedback we have been getting!

Finished mural

Photography – 2nd November

We don’t have theory classes anymore for the final term, but the photography classes we do have I’ve found are stemmed in both research and practical work. For me at least, it makes the class more relatable with interesting content. As I mostly work small, I don’t need to worry too much about photographing my work as I can easily scan, but it’s still handy to know the basics, as well as photographing exhibitions and what not. What I like most about Greg’s project and what’s true for photography as well, is they allow you to experiment with different styles and incorporate ideas which you struggle to in your usual work. Researching the photo illustration brief, it was interesting to see how people work with “found” mediums and incorporate their own aesthetic into an existing image. It was also a great opportunity for me to play with imagery I haven’t been able to in my project this year, and also practice using colour. Photo illustration seems to be a fairly new genre of work, and a lot of the artists I found tend to work digitally. Photo illustration as a genre, works by intertwining wildly different imagery, and so I wanted to maintain this division in my own pieces.

Richie Velazquez

Of the artists I was drawn to, common factors were the simplicity of the designs, and the simple use of colour. Most had limited palettes, and the colours were pastel like. Richie Velazquez’ works include grime portraits of pop culture figures, and they work because of how simple and refined the designs are. This one works especially well with the contrast of the greyscale image, as well as a contrast between eras of art.

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Another artist I’ve followed for a while is Cheyenne Randall, known for photoshopping popular figures and altering their entire aesthetic. The tattoos are incorporated so effortlessly and suit the figures beautifully, perfectly merging figures from all different eras in todays culture and in a way, comment on how these icons are still relatable.  While for my own I wanted to play with the contrast between reality and stylised imagery, Randall was a big inspiration for me, and is in general as an artist who’s style I really respect. After being stuck for and idea for a long time, I thought playing with tattoo imagery would be perfect for this project, and in general for some of the goals I have for my art practice in general. I’m trying to branch out into different imagery and utilise colour more, but unify it with my line-heavy style. It also gave me a chance to work digitally which I don’t do often, but really is a necessary skill set to have in today’s market. Originally I had the idea to shoot my own portraits, and have the tattoo designs be reminiscent of each models personality or values. However, it’s difficult if you’re not working with professional models as posing is incredibly hard, and honestly I’m nowhere near capable in taking studio-quality portraits myself. So for the sake of the project and in order to focus on the idea more clearly, I used professional shots just for within class use.

I’m happy with the overall idea and it’s definitely something I want to expand on and continue to grow, however I think the execution still needs work. I feel as though the limited palette works best, and find the last design a bit too messy or crowded. Greg gave a few ideas on how to improve them, mainly that leaving just the linework makes it seem unfinished. I enjoy that contrast between the two styles, yet it obviously isn’t translating as well as I want it to, so it needs some extra tweaking. I wanted the designs to follow the form of the body which I think they do. While they follow the contours of the muscles, they are still very distinct and the divide is noticeable. Out of the three the first is the most successful to me, but again, I want to continue developing the style so they look natural and fluid, yet also playful and bold. In order to do this, I have to improve my photography skills, as then I can shoot with a design already in mind.

Term and Year Recap – 17th November

Coming to the end of the year, I’ve started to think about my project, and how successful the year has been for me overall. In terms of my project, at the end of the year I’m pleased with my progress and happy with where I’m at. I managed to get all of the royal card illustrations done, which was a goal of mine, so in that instance I succeeded. Looking back to the start of the design process I can see some changes – stylistically and thematically. At the beginning I wanted to depict more vanitas or skeletal imagery, which is seen briefly in the King and Queen of hearts design. However in the later designs, the style became more influenced by medieval imagery, which came about while I was researching primary clothing references. I’m happy with the newer designs and, while they’re different than the onset, I feel the designs are more relatable while also reflecting the themes and atmosphere I was aiming for at the start.



As a product it definitely works well, and i think it was a good idea to pick a linear project so I wouldn’t get lost trying to find inspiration through out the year. By the end of the year there were designs that I am proud of, the Queen of Diamonds and the back design in particular work extremely well, and depict the mood and atmosphere I have been aiming to create. However, if I was to do it again, I would consider picking a project which would allow more room for experimentation and different mediums. I did find myself, by the end of term 3, a bit bored or disillusioned with my project and lacking inspiration, even though I tried to take steps to stop that from happening. A main reason for that, was that I was unsure it truly showed my full capability of an artist. I think a way to fix this would be to still pick a definitive project to ensure there’s a path to follow, but one which allows room to create and play with different compositions. A tattoo folio would have been a brilliant idea, as it’s a field I want to enter and would have been a perfect opportunity to practice will I still had mentors to help me, and I would have left with a folio to take straight to studios upon completion. It also would have allowed me to utilise different mediums and combine some – I played a little bit with ink and charcoal, but would like to refine this a bit more.

After talking to Con he helped me realise to get inspiration back I had to put the project on the back burner and try different things.  Taking a break allowed me to work on different projects and practice different mediums, like this poster for the Girls on Film Festival. Firstly it was perfect project, with no restriction at all on composition, size or medium and gave me full creativity; and secondly they were such lovely clients and a pleasure to work for. Not only did it give me artistic practice, but real life experience with clients outside of a school or personal environment. This particular piece allowed me to incorporate colour into my personal style and while I still need to refine it more, I’m happy with the progress. Taking a couple of weeks to do this project let me come back to term 4 reenergised and ready to complete the final cards I had left, and I think they were done to a higher standard. While I couldn’t finish it, I also started inktober, which was a good and pressure-free way to unwind and do pieces of a completely different subject matter. It would have been good if I found a way to incorporate them into my course somehow.

Even though I had a little bit of a setback one term, overall I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made this term. The mistakes I’ve made have just made clear the areas I need to improve on, and it helped me identify where I need to improve in my art practice and experiment more. I do think that I will redo some of the cards next year in order to match the others, and this time I have more of a clear direction of where I’m headed. I also intend to practice on some of the styles I’ve developed this year, and I hope to create a more comprehensive folio, suitable for exhibition and for studios.

I’m super grateful to all my mentors this year, each one taught me different things about my practice and the industry in general, and this year has been invaluable. I’m definitely going to miss the friendly and helpful environment and the connections I’ve made along the way, and I can’t believe how much I’ve improved since starting the Cert IV. Thanks so much for all your help this year, and these 3 years in general!!