In our space at the moment we have 'Out Of Order' a show of work by Leeds College of Art, 3rd Year BA (Hons) Illustration students. We have worked alongside LCOA for the last 3 years and it has been a joy to see the work of such a talented bunch evolve. This show has been a particular highlight. We thought you'd like to know a bit more about the show, so we caught up with Georgie Gozem who talked to us about the process involved in creating the work and organising the exhibition. If you get time please come and see it, it closes on Thursday 30th. There are prints and publications for sale too so don't miss out!
Please also check out their dedicated instagram account which gives a profile on each of the students and their work too.
Tell us a bit about 'Out Of Order' How did the show title come about and tell us a bit about the brief.
We were left to come up with an exhibition title or theme between 38 of us, so as you can imagine it wasn’t easy. We worked through a load of ideas and all chipped in, then eventually a smaller group of us whittled it down to four ideas.
We liked ‘Out of Order’ because it acts as a disclaimer, similar to ‘Colours May Vary’. Plus it offered a load of scope when it comes to idea generation - broken, disrupted, out of the norm, out of sequence… we could all approach and interpret it in different ways. We had a vote before we decided to go with it as the exhibition title.
The brief was really open. We set the dimensions for the prints to all fit the same square picture frame, which would give a clean, sleek look to the layout of the exhibition. But there was also the option to make a publication. Other than that, everyone could interpret the title however they wanted, with whatever process they wanted. Giving everyone freedom at this stage of the course meant that each of us could focus on what it is that we want to do, making the kind of work we want to make.
You are in the 3rd year of your course. Tell us a bit about why you chose illustration and why LCOA. Tell us a bit about your journey.
I think the majority of us chose to study Illustration because we love drawing. We wanted to spend time developing skills, learning new processes and exploring the different potential directions that we could move forward in to pursue a creative career. We all have different backgrounds, although the majority of us came from Foundation or DIVA/Access courses and have a real drive and passion for making pictures. Each of us wants to say something through drawing and making.
Leeds College of Art has a really welcoming, supportive, community kind of vibe about it. It’s a place to explore your creativity really honestly, without the fear of being judged. It specialises in guiding all kinds of creatives across loads of different disciplines, as well as offering opportunities to collaborate across courses. The staff are fantastic and all have their own practices, so their experience is so valuable to us. LCA has brilliant facilities, and we’re given the opportunity to explore different methods and processes that we might not have even considered before. The ongoing feedback from tutors and peers helps to drive us forward and give us a real sense of direction.
This might sound really cheesy but each of us has definitely discovered who we are as creatives over the past 3 years, and it’s really set us up in figuring out where we want to be in the future.
What advice would you give students who are thinking they might like to study Illustration?
If you’re passionate about making images and you want to develop your practice, go for it! You’ve got to know the difference between commercial illustration and just drawing for fun though. Working to briefs means structuring your practice and hitting deadlines. It’s about working out what a brief or client requires, and providing them with that work. But I guess the bottom line is that you can learn time management and organisation skills, you can develop new practical skills, techniques, and processes, but you have to love being creative and making images.
How do you move from the idea stage to your final piece? Do you have a set way of working, or does this vary from brief to brief?
This will definitely vary from illustrator to illustrator, as well as brief to brief, but for me there’s usually a structure. Sometimes ideas just come to you as soon as you hear the outline of a brief. But even when this happens, I don’t immediately start working on the first thing to pop in my head.
Normally, there’s the process of researching (the brief, imagery, context, what’s already been done), then a load of sketchbook work (initial ideas, thumbnails, sometimes mind mapping or writing). Exhausting ideas at this point is really important in moving forward. The best few ideas get pushed forward into thumbnails, compositional roughs and eventually, more refined sketches.
There might be a few rounds of refining or perfecting the image before the final outcome is anywhere near started. My process is usually linocut, so finalising an illustration can be really time consuming. It’s good to take breaks, not just for the sake of your sanity, but also to come back to the image with fresh eyes and stay critical of the work.
There are a lot of different processes used in the show. How do you decide which to use?
We really wanted to use the exhibition as an opportunity to showcase all of our different processes, styles and approaches. Each one of us is individual in the way that we make images, and we didn’t want to restrict each other when it came to the processes we used. So that’s why you’ll find screen print, linocut, ink drawings, digital work, embroidery etc… Allowing each one of us to be ourselves and display our individual creative practices for what they are is really important to us.
What part does technology play in your work? How does the internet and its infinite pools of inspiration affect how you formed your own style? Does it help you or hinder you?
This will vary from illustrator to illustrator, although I’d say it can both be a help and a hinderance. It’s a great tool for contextual research and finding reference imagery, but I reckon it’s important not to get too caught up with looking at other people’s work all the time. Although you may be pulling together inspiration, you want your work to be your own. The last thing you want is to imitate another hard working creative. I think that primary research - going out and actually experiencing something, or drawing from life (where it can be done) is the most effective method of finding inspiration. Of course not all projects can be resolved using primary research only, but I find it’s best to get a mix where possible, instead of getting lost in the internet. Plus we all end up on youtube watching videos of cats anyway.