Saturday, 23 December 2017

Studio repaint...

Our magnificent Graphic Design and Illustration studio/workspace is being repainted during the winter break.

And, much to Tony's chagrin, when it comes to matters of interior decor, Jim and Dwayne cling resolutely to the male stereotype, despite Tony's best efforts to help them get in touch with their "feminine side"...
Dwayne, Jim & Tony (all 33) think decorating
... so when that inevitably failed, we asked the students to suggest colour schemes.

The hot favourite was obviously Nathaniel Hunt's 'Rococo Revival'; heavy on decorative plaster work and gold-leaf, light on visual sensory respite. But the scheme that was finally chosen was a Silver Grey and Marr's Green combo (Marr's Green, the world's favourite colour according to our friends at GF Smith!) and last week the painters were in making a start. Here's where they're up to, first coat on...

There is just the thorny matter of cushion covers and curtains to sort out now!

Monday, 27 November 2017

UCAS Create Your Future - Manchester Central Convention Centre

We're just back from the two-day UCAS Art & Design event held at the Convention Centre, Manchester.

It was a very busy two days for 'Team Cumbria'. We met lots of interesting people (hello), answered lots of questions (about our wonderful courses) and gave out lots of prospectuses and leaflets to interested students (and their tutors). 

Here's the team 'limbering' up before the doors are opened and the crowds come flooding in...

 ...and here they are in action!

Monday, 20 November 2017

The Year is...

Our Second Year Graphic Design students have been busy developing their understanding of editorial design, typography, and information structuring. For their second project this semester, each student was given a year of the 20th century to research with the aim of producing an information broadsheet which presented a snapshot of the most newsworthy events and cultural happenings of the time. Like all good design, the most successful projects employed in-depth research and an understanding and mastery of the chosen content to create eye-catching and intelligent work which reflected 'the spirit of the times'. The A2 broadsheets were double-sided and had to exploit at least three folds in their format. Here are a few of the most successful examples, unfolded.

Sam explored the year that taste forgot, 1970.

Gaby had the momentous year of the D-Day landings, 1944...

while Josh charted the rise of fascism and preparations for war of 1939,

and Becky explored 1948's events for post-war change and independence.

Monday, 13 November 2017

We take pencil sharpening seriously
Too seriously
what could possibly go wrong?

Y3 Illustrator wins top award at comic art fest

Hazel Mason (21), aka Hi-Viz Hazel, has beaten off stiff competition to win the top award at this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival.
Hazel, originally from Stoke-on-Trent and a third year BA (Hons) Illustration student at the University of Cumbria, entered the competition to re-imagine the 1940s comic book character ‘The Spirit’.
“I envisioned Will Eisner’s character actually in the Lake District”, she said. “The feedback I’ve had is that the judges really liked it; it was very different from what they’d seen before. I think everyone went into it making an entire comic book, because it's a comic festival, but I thought I’d put my own spin on it.”
She concluded, “Winning made me feel great and now I feel even more confident to enter prestigious awards and competitions in the future.”
No stranger to success, Hi-Viz Hazel’s work has also been recognised in this year’s Cheltenham Illustration Awards. From over 1000 entrants, she was selected as one of sixty successful illustrators to be listed in their 2017 annual.
See more of Hazel's work here.

‘The Spirit’ was a 16-page comic section which ran for 12 years from 1940-1952. It introduced action, mystery and adventure through the crime stopping escapades of its hero ‘The Spirit’ – a dashing, masked vigilante who dispensed justice in ‘Central City’ and beyond.
2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of ‘The Spirit’s’ creator, Will Eisner, and to celebrate the centenary, the Lakes International Comic Art Festival commissioned the competition in homage to comic book legend.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

First Years, Second Project - Old School!!!

It's been a very busy last two weeks for our first year students as they completed the visual and technical 'assault course' that we call Old School...
Manual skills still underpin much of any working Graphic Designer or Illustrator's life. Think of all that packaging that needs to be mocked-up or presentation boards that need to be professionally assembled.

Great Illustration is not only underpinned by an ability to draw well but also by great technical skills. The reality here is there are no 'quick fixes'. It takes years to become a really good painter, or pen & ink artist, or printmaker or...

'Old School' is our opportunity to allow the students to find out how good, bad or ugly their making/drawing/gluing/painting skills actually are right at the start of their course. It helps them identify what they're good at and much more importantly focusses their attention and concentration on working hard to develop those areas that they're not so good at.

Some students are a little camera shy...

This is what stretched paper looks like

The construction of a 3D letter 'R' is revealed

How many students does it take to use a guillotine?

Happily, we can report that the overall standard was very good. For a generation who hasn't done any technical drawing or that much painting, we were particularly impressed with their ability to handle constructed letters, draw straight lines, wield a compass accurately, understand the complexities of oblique, isometric and orthographic projection and produce impressive copies of great illustrator's work.

Here's a small selection of what they did...

Window mount a postcard.
Use the correct tool (knife) and this can be achieved beautifully (left). Use the wrong tool (hamster) and the results can be a little disappointing (right).

Cut a perfect freehand circle

Stab stitched book with elaborate, hand-cut graduated square hole motif. Tidy!

JJS celebrates achieving perfection in the task to flat mount six postcards by adopting the classic double 'thumbs up' gesture and shouting "losers" at his fellow students

Construct a classic, Roman 'M' by following a devilishly complicated set of instructions

Cut-out letters carefully spaced

Colour wheels and tonal scales

Create a perfect cube from thin card - at the bottom we see what perfection looks like

Embossing geometric shapes, two excellent, one not so excellent

Graphic Design students were given freehand pen and brush tasks. Pictured at the bottom is the hand of destiny brandishing the Parker pen of doom

Constructed 3D 'R's and two more bashful students

Draw a 52mm square in the middle of an A4 sheet of pristine layout paper. The overlay shows where it should have been...

Oblique, Isometric and Third-angle Orthographic projections of the 3D 'R'

Graphic Design students had to recreate a poster by the German designer Emil Pirchan

Illustration students copying a dip-pen drawing by the great illustrator Mervyn Peake

Illustration students used scraper board to recreate a wood engraving by Clare Leighton

Here are the illustrators having a go at doing a 'Brad Holland' using acrylics

N.B. Once the tasks had been completed the students were advised to have a lie down...

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

First Years, First Project

Working in teams of two, we asked the students to produce a digital magazine that attempted to capture something of the essence of a location of their choice.

The idea here is to point out from the start (N.B. we would never use the phrase 'get go' because we hate it...) that design and illustration are not impersonal, neutral activities. 

Having passion and something to say are central to the production of memorable, communicative work.

Here's some of what they produced:

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Getting to Know You Grillust Style

Problem: Your students have come from all over the place and don't necessarily know anyone else on the course. How do you make them feel welcome and make new friends within hours of starting?

Answer: *Fun in the studio™!

*Fun in the studio™ is a Grillust™ product guaranteed to get students talking, laughing and sharing information within 60 minutes.

It may involve pub quizzing, throwing games, poor quality 'prizes' and a geographical challenge (see the previous post). WARNING: may contain nuts - check before consuming.

Introducing our new students.

Order is the prerequisite for rational observation, imagination, understanding, and peace of mind. 

This is the human prefrontal cortex at work and is why all animals (and some teenagers) seem content in the chaos of the wild (e.g. dirt, filth, socks left strewn around the room) and yet we (adult) humans strive to arrange our music collections alphabetically and by genre: Acid House; Afro-Cuban; Ambient; Barbershop; Beatbox; Bluegrass etc.

We at Grillust Towers take it to the next level by lining up our new students by where they come from, carefully ordered  from North to South.
Here's a sample of this year's findings going from North to South (obviously):

Glasgow; Ayr; Dumfries; Carlisle; Newcastle-upon-Tyne; Workington: Darlington; Teeside; Thirsk; York; Skipton; Blackburn; Bradford; Chorley; Manchester; Liverpool; Nottingham; Shrewsbury; Leicester; Poland; China and South Africa.

Quite a cosmopolitan crowd...

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

New Designers (and Illustrators) 2017

New Designers takes place in this grand space (The Design and business Centre, Islington). As well as graphic design and illustration there are graduates from areas such as product and furniture design. It makes for a really interesting visit and the event is a magnet for a variety of industries. It's also a great place to see concept designs for cars that will (hopefully) never be built in a month of Sundays (see below).

There are also a few highly specialist institutions like this one...

Which, in our over-active imagination, looks like this...

Anyway, here's the GRaphic Design and ILLUSTrstion space and the group of graduates who's work adorns it. As you can see, we have a massive slice of real-estate to call our own.

New Designers attracts a huge amount of industry interest. Students manning the stand were never shy of people to talk to. Business cards flew thick and fast and many promising contacts were made.

Here's Tash (21) who, when she wasn't talking to visitors (most of the time), recreated scenes from the great pop videos. This is her doing Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights...

Bass ace Tom (21) was fully coordinated with his portfolio

As were Sarah (21) and Zoe (33)...

Here's our hard working road crew at the end of a frenetic Saturday evening loading session: hot, happy and more than ready to hit the North.

So that's it for another year, and let us take this opportunity to wish all our graduates success - it's been a pleasure working with you all.

In the meantime, we'll throw a metaphorical 'dust sheet' over this Blog for the summer months as the staff take their holiday leave, undertake research and prepare for the next academic year. Currently, Jim is looking at how combustion engines can be used to turn electric cars into 'proper vehicles'. Tony is writing a long article on the furniture designs of  CFA Voysey (tragically true) before he departs to Vienna to see what colour the Danube is. Dwayne is seeing how fast he can colour-in without going over the lines. Rhiannon is working as a Red Coat at Butlins, Rhyl. Zoe is on a tour of the low countries: Holland, Belgium and Tuvalu (she often acts as a stand-in when minor Royals are indisposed). Nick is working as a guide at Walt Disney's World of Semiotics (Florida) and Dave is off to the future to bring us back valuable information about hover-cars and stuff.

Have a good summer and see you in September.