Month: October 2014

Presentation time!

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Today are the presentations and I will be posting key tips and items that I found interesting throughout the day as well as my own feedback.


Jonny’s presentation has a title for each module and looked at specific artists that relate to his work.  Looking at them allows him to pick out what he wants in his work for example Liam O’ Farrell and Jill Gibbon. I think it is clever how he has used different media to show case his work for example a pack of cards and posters. Its based on a topic (transgender) that is rich and complex yet can be hard to show and tackle as it could be classed as dirty or seedy which people can turn away from. Within my book I could have interactive items similar to The Jolly Postman  by Janet and Allen Ahlberg where they had items in flaps and cases that helped to read the story.

Comic Books

Paul’s presentation is about what the key issues are with the western society that concerns him – media bias, war, murder, organised religion, the removal of any “real” decent. The audience he wants to direct to is unlimited as he doesn’t know who will like it. Mainly it’s for himself but he would create a motion book which would be available through Madfire. He claims that the market research can be manipulated to gain the acquired results. He showed us a motion book which looks amazing, an image that has a movable 3 dimensional quality and panoramic viewing as well as sound with the graphic images. He is looking at key artists such as Sergey Kolesov and Frank Miller. He will be creating a 48 page interactive comic book for next term, for now he is just researching into his style and concepts.

Music Industry

Joe, is looking into design for the music industry. Does image design affect the way you buy music, to persuade and influence. Also why has buying physical copies reduced in sales and buying online has increased?  Is this affected by graphic design? Looking at if graphic design has changed artists album work as well as how the wholes design of a package can persuade people’s purchases.  He has looked at Linkin Park, looking at their album artwork from 2000-2014 showing they have cleaned their look from grungy to clean and precise. Some of the design he had shown were pleasing and was similar to owing a book in the sense of it could be displayed on a shelf. On the physical side he wants to look into how the CD packaging can be more aesthetically pleasing, to create more than just a CD case that holds the CD and then to create test designs. He was challenged to look at audiences that are more challenging and their identity – so people who has bought the CD but would throw it away rather than keep it. Similar to my work in the sense of my book has to be aesthetically pleasing to attract the reader. I could consider when designing my book whether it is going to be a traditional solid book or have parts cut out making it more interactive.

Methodology a means to find something out – testing things out to see what happens. Rather than I am going to create a character then a storyboard then etc. 


Leah is a graphic designer and she has been looking back on her work. Looking at ephemera- things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time. A greek word  Ephemeros meaning ‘lasting one day’. Permanency that are constantly around. She has focused on ephemera such as parking tickets and then looking/experimenting with paper cutting and laser cutting. Artists being Wilhelm Staehle and Kyoko Imazu.

Wilhelm Staehle

It was an interesting presentation as I had never heard of this and I even had to google what it meant during the session.


Amy’s presentation focuses on dyspraxia and how to make it more engaging to learn. Looking at logos to show how a symbol can be instantly recognised. To make it easier to find and learn about the condition through the website, she needs to find out who is looking at and how they are accessing the website.


April’s presentation is based on branding problems, not deep enough to understand, no brand promise just a logo or a name etc. Her dissertation covers branding as well as designing etc. Focusing particularly on ‘The Sensory Experience’ examples being Starbucks and Volvo. Volvo understanding the 3 senses when driving, sight, sound and touch realising this they spread the message of Volvo being the 6th sense creating security and safety. Synesthesia – Saying the word tomato, doesn’t mean you necessarily have to have a tomato in your mouth to see it in your head and to sense it in your mouth. She’s creating her project around food as she finds it interesting and she created a major project at college based on the food industry. Now focusing on specifically supermarkets, interestingly she commented on how they are cold and not customer friendly in the sense you walk in and then walk out forgotten. Ideas to make it more friendly would be to have a farm where the customers could go and visit as well as create brands or logos that gives an extra edge to the customers. Her final outcome being factious brand for an ethical supermarket.

Raising Awareness for Red Listed RSPB

Grace is raising awareness of the RSPB Red List through the use of pattern, there are 52 species on the red list caused by non breeding decline. Pattern is fashionable and is used for a variety of  things. She was going to create a more appealing bird guide but after research she was going to focus on a smaller group of birds to target her audience. Birds are used on wallpaper, furnishing and various materials for fashion. She wouldn’t specifically do furnishing but general products, looking at artists Matt Sewell who uses cute animals to create an empathy with the character.

tawny owl
Matt Sewell

She has looked at artists who create complicated designs as well as simple designs. Creating images for each species, focusing on the surrounding or a specific topic e.g. how they hunt or the habitat they live in. Targeting a range of audiences but looking at people who try to do conservation work and the possible outcomes are packaging, books, website, fabric and artwork. Looking at the criteria which she has to develop, what do you want people to do e.g. do you want them just to spot them or to change their habitats? It allows people to join in instead of just giving information. It was interesting how they showed her another way of looking at it, asking questions like if you created this fabric print what does this tell the viewer about the bird or how they can help. This can relate to my work, when designing my characters or backgrounds; could they tell or educate the reader by just visual representation without telling the reader in the text.

Mauritius ans a Luxury Holiday 

Nadeem, on his last project. Working title Mauritius as a Luxury Holiday. To convey people through pictogram in a luxurious way for business people who have money to splash and to spend it in, but then moved onto targeting the general tourists class and consider budget and expense. Looking at the rich colour palette of Louis Vitton and then using these colours to go onto his designs. He has then changed his direction again and targeting business class again by creating a fancy box to show what the experience would be using expensive materials or using the aesthetic material to attract the attention and show class. However, it is very male dominated and the images chosen are showing a British male class with the bowler hat. For research, he could go to a top business company and see who walks in and out of the area to see what type of material, clothes and items the wear and how they show their identity. It is interesting seeing another type of topic completely different to mine and see how they have to tackle issues and what type of research they can do. I could relate this to my work by looking at maybe what are children into for example the types of books or style of work or themes of books. Now this would be a wide variety of books but there might be something that stands out or is missing that I could tap into.

My Feedback

One type of feedback for the whole group really is if there is some testing ground do it, even if you have no idea where it is going to lead you and it may be a dead it doesn’t matter. Some students spoke about dual reading, parent and child reading a book together or a teacher and child. I already knew about this and this is what I struggled with when choosing an audience as the child is the predominant audience that is why it is called a children’s book however, it may be the case the adult picks the book for them and then reads to them. If the adult finds it boring then the child will pick up on these vibes which would lead onto them not enjoying the book together. For my realisation project, I was told to focus on more why a book with educational aspects to it, can be successful or not rather than look at what techniques they used to create a character for example. An example is Peepo!, the reader is looking through the eyes of the baby and can relate to the things they see but at the same time in the background of these scenes you are learning about the war.

The BookSeller is a site that I was told to look at for sales figures and interesting articles about my topic of interest. A suggestion was made by a fellow student about what my book in the future could be based on. A book that has different stages of development which the child grows up with, how I would do this is mind-blowing and as I am focusing on a specific age if I were to do this then I would have to undertake more research on the other ages. However, I thought this was an intriguing idea and one to think about in the future. Overall, the feedback wasn’t as harsh as it could be and I can take these points and start to research into them.


Benning, D., 2011, Illustrations From Wilhelm Staehle [internet]. Available from:, [Accessed 27 October 2014, 1.04pm].

Rough Trade Shops., 2012, Our Garden Birds – An exhibition by Matt Sewell [internet]. Available from:, [Accessed 27 October 2014, 12.37am].

Day before the presentation

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It’s that time again where I have to do my concept presentation which from far away I am not bothered about yet when it gets closer and closer and closer the butterflies within start to emerge! I have created a 23 slides presentation which is in the form of:

  1. What I did before starting the presentation
  2. The first idea for the dissertation
  3. The second idea and what I learnt from it
  4. What I am now working on
  5. Moving onto my concept project
  6. What I have done for that
  7. What I am going to do now for each module over the next week
  8. A gantt chart of my study with how the dissertation and concept project work together
  9. As well as what I want to get out of this research
  10. What I would hopefully be doing in the last MA section – creating a children’s book.

Throughout I will be dropping in points on how the dissertation and the concept project interlink as well as just general explanations for my actions. I hope this is what they want because this is all I’ve got, when timing it I was hitting the 8minute mark which I think is fine. I may speed up during the presentation due to nerves or when reading each slide I speak a little more about the item shown. It gives me a bit of room either side. I think I have a lot of slides as my ideas kept changing and due to it being all over the place in my head and on paper it’s hard to pin down key moments. Hopefully after I have done more research and experiments when it comes to the next presentation it will be more accurate and precise.

Waaaah! I’m so nervous and I keep going through fight, flight or fright and I am currently in-between flight and fright. Hopefully tomorrow I will be in fight mode getting all my nerves out now. I am 4th on the list which is placed after a break which is good and bad as I like to be 1st or 2nd o get it out the way but I guess if there is a problem with my presentation I will have time to sort it out. I might post the presentation on tomorrow and place the comments and advice I get after I have done it. So wish me luck!

Concept Project Update

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So for my concept project I am still analysing children’s books from a range of years (mainly contemporary) to see how their books work and how they use the book to their advantage. Recently I have looked at Peepo! by Janet and Allan Ahlberg who have created many major books over the years. I was looking at this book as they have used the physical properties of the book to their advantage. There is a hole cut out in the centre of every second page showing what the baby can see.


Front Cover.


Showing what the baby can see from his cot.


As you turn the page over the full scene is revealed, and as the page rest on the left the hole focus on the baby. It is a simple but clever design that adds anticipation in every turn of the page not knowing what is happening within that hole. With the rhythm of the text it goes a steady pace that allows you to absorb the short story and the detailed scenes. If they made the scenes with the baby full bleed, I think it would have lost it’s delicacy and simplicity. Using the white page with the thin blue line border focuses the readers attention within the ‘centre stage’.

From this I decided to have a go at a similar style without copying as this would be a waste of time as I’m not making anything new.


So this is a rough mock up with two double page spreads. As shown there are clues on the left based on what the animal is on the next page. I placed vignettes with the text to carry on experimenting with the previous task I did and I think they look alright but I would change the display and colours as they look a little plonked on. I then used the Peepo! technique of the holes in the page, I changed them to slits with flaps to make the book more interactive. Using short sentences like ‘Go on…take a… sneaky peek…’  to entice the reader to have a look through the holes where they would see part of the animal. Small visual clues to the guessing game.


A closer look at the flaps. If I would improve this I would see if I could make the slits larger or the image clearer as the are a little hard to see. As the reader interacts with the pages, it would hopefully amuse them and allow them to learn uncommon facts about the animal at the same time. Ideally they would go to their friends or older siblings and tell them what they had learned from this experience.


Turn over to reveal the animal, these facts are quite bold but I just did a quick research although if I was going ahead with this idea to develop it further I would look and research into the specific animal more. From experimenting with this design it has opened my eyes into what else can be done with the physical book as well as teaching myself facts about these animals.

If I was to critique my actually work I think the colours all work well together and has a dry feeling to it. The grass in the background is paper that I took a photo from the last project with Babel. I thought the use of the words going vertical creates height and texture to the grass. However, I am not sure that the colours do merge into one another and the giraffes don’t stand out, I would have to experiment with the colours and shading. Also from reading the Picture Books as Aesthetic Objects by Lawrence R. Sipe I could use the angle of the lines and character to emphasis certain aspects of my work. What that is I don’t know until I look into it a little deeper. So from here I am going to look at another book and experiment further with my work and alternative techniques.


Ahlberg, J., Ahlberg, A., 1983, Peepo!. London: Puffin.

Sipe. L, S., Picture Books as Aesthetic Objects, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 24.

Dissertation Update

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After my tutorial it’s changed again! To make it more focused I am now focusing the dissertation on the whole fact within a children’s book idea. I became really stuck because all the research I had done, I felt was wasted and I had wasted my time looking and analysing work that I wasn’t going to use. However, after a massive brainstorm over two days I have come up with a solution, whether it will work and it will be excepted is another matter but for now it has settled my worrying brain. So here it is, a rough layout of my dissertation:

Define what a picture book is.
Show what my criteria is – books chosen from 2007-2009, all are based on animals, books aimed at children aged 5 years.
Define why children aged 5 years is roughy the year that their learning/thinking changes and they are developing differently compared to previous years. (depending on what research I can find)
Look at how children’s picture books that have fictional stories can help or hinder and interact with a child’s learning. Using two books that I will compare, contrast and analyse – Ernest and Harris Finds His Feet both by Catherine Rayner.
Move onto how children’s books that are fact based can help or hinder and interact with a child’s learning. Using two books – Woolly Mammoth by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom. Little Mouse’s Big book of Fears by Emily Gravett.
Then come to a conclusion which I have no idea yet. Again, I am learning that I struggle to handle work that is constantly in the air whereas I like it when I have got an anchor point that I can keep going back to. Although, worrying about this is a waste of time and effort so all I can do is push on!
On the next blog I will post what I have done so far for the concept project.

Scary Mice

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Today I tried to create a mouse that was totally different to one that I created earlier this year. I wanted to see if I could change the persona of the charter and make it become an evil character. I was inspired by the book The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith. As the book is about the wolf’s side of the story and how he accidentally blew the houses down by his sneezing. The illustration of the wolf is totally different from the wolf that we all know and see from the fairy tale, big teeth, big eyes etc. This is the image of the wolf in the book:


As you can see the wolf has tiny teeth, small eyes with glasses on which shows intelligence as well as an innocent look about him. The eyebrows are raised to suggest he is saying ‘who? me?’ His colour of his hair is a light brown not a dark dirty colour so it shows he his clean and takes care of himself. Also the way he addresses the reader is quite relaxed as he tells you to call him Al, first term basis which is associated with friendship. From this short analysis I could see how the whole character has become softer and a lot nicer than one originally perceived. From here I used this mouse that I had originally produced:

I wanted to make this mouse evil and come across as a bad character and so produced a couple:

mouse 2

Above is using my usual materials that I tend to scan in and collage with. I went for the intellectual look with the glasses that are unusual. Using simple colours he could be a character that looks normal however he is clever and devious in the way he thinks.

mouse 1

Above is the same character but using a different collage. I have used I photo I took from within a flower, the way I have placed it looks like he has some funny intestinal organs within him and you can see them due to him being slightly opaque. I like the bold colours although it is totally out of my style and I feel it is too cartoony which I don’t tend to do.

evil mouse

This is the one I think works best, using the combination of the previous two techniques I have created a mouse that you wouldn’t exactly want to cuddle. The hair is made up of a photo of a tinsel head, putting the spikes in the direction of the natural hair of the mouse. From reading the previous posted article by Lawrence R. Sipe, where it comments on how spikes and sharp angles create an uneasy feeling of insecurity with the reader. That is what I have tried to attempt with the teasel hair. Making the mouse look rugged by adding scares and scratches to show it has been in a few battles without consequences. I have not gone a for a cartoony look as I feel it will just make fun of the mouse. I have found I tend to work better when I use real natural anatomy of animals as I find it easier than creating the figure from scratch. Here is one of the images I tried to do from scratch:

bad mouse

I didn’t finish it as I was getting frustrated with it. I learnt that everything doesn’t work first time and if this was part of a book I would go back to it to improve it but I really don’t like it due to the composition, figure, colours etc. I prefer the previous image  and so I would try and use that one.

From here I am going to carry on exploring, I don’t know where it is going to take me and I am not comfortable with it but I think it will benefit from this learning curve.


Scieszka, J., Smith, L., 1991, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. London: Puffin.

An amazing article – Lawrence R. Sipe

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If your like me when it comes to researching into a topic, at first I have tones of motivation but when I start reading into a stupid amount of pages I start to get bored and then slowly but surely I become easily distracted. This is when one morning I thought this hopefully is the day I won’t become distracted and focus like a cat trying to catch a mouse. I came across this article: Picturebooks as Aesthetic Objects by Lawrence R. Sipe. This article is amazing if you want to analyse an image or painting in more detail. It is broken down into various sections, easily understandable and is put in simple terms with key words such as vignettes etc.

As my dissertation has changed I am going to compare, contrast and analyse 6 books. I was going to do the basics such as this colour suggests blah blah etc. After reading this article I have found a lot more to talk about and in depth which is perfect for example:

Colour… easy right? Well there’s more to it:

Universal Association e.g. blue is calm and serenity

Culture Association e.g. black is for mourning but in other cultures white is the culturally constructed symbol for grief. (Pg. 28)

Within colour there are hue, tone and saturation as well as tint and shade.

Learning from this one section, I will be able to look into more depth when analysing the colours and suggesting why the illustrator has picked certain colours. Also how certain aspects such as a darker texture can effect the mood of the image.

So definitely check this out if your doing anything with analysing an image specifically more a children’s picture book. If your not doing anything to do with this topic, it still is interesting as it makes you realise there’s more to a simple picture book than meets the eye.

Update on my work: I have currently had a go at merging text with image with the beginning of a fairy tale story.P1110972

Here are the two I had created taking inspiration from The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith (see above for the original inspiration from the book).

far far away when chocolate were rivers

Using key items in the text I have tried to incorporate them within the image without going over the top. Looking at the pine image I am thinking maybe I should take out some of the trees within the text as there are one too many and over crowding the scene. The chocolate image, I am quite pleased with it although I would have liked to add another colour in to make it stand out e.g. the word river could be blue. I enjoyed creating these as I had put a time limit of and hour for each which I achieved.  Thinking about next year where hopefully I will be able to create my own book I would like to incorporate this in the title page or something as I enjoyed the one in the three little pigs.

I am slightly concerned with the amount of work I have been doing for this project, as most of my time is being spent trying to research into the dissertation as that is in for the beginning of December whereas this other project I have until January. Hopefully though I will be able to pull this project back up and get stuck in.


Scieszka, J., Smith, L., 1991, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. London: Puffin.

Sipe. L, S., Picture Books as Aesthetic Objects, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 24.

Concept Project Update

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For my concept project I have been looking at other children’s picture books to see what techniques they use when it comes to:

  • text
  • colour
  • page layout
  • characters etc

Annotating and highlighting areas of interest. To test my skills I am going to try out some techniques and give myself some tasks, from this I will be able to establish what I can do and works with my style of illustration. I will then be able to apply these skills next term where I will be hopefully designing my own book.

Research is hard!

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Ok so far I am meant to be researching into my dissertation as well as having a concept module that runs very closely to the dissertation. They are running so closely that I am getting confused what I got to do for each! For my dissertation I thought I had it sorted out, plans and everything but that was soon turned on its head. Original Plan:

Question – ‘What makes a children fiction book for 4-7 year olds attractive enough for it to become a best seller?’

For this I was going to explore what a children’s picture book is but then move onto why it is hard to get into the industry. Brushing up on potential trends, influences that effect the sales. Moving on to then comparing a couple of top selling books and seeing why they are popular etc

However, after emailing numerous people and companies when I went to my tutorial the plan was changed. I find I struggle with major changes especially when I thought I got my head around this question I thought I knew where I was heading and actually started to write drafts of my work. However, after some advice I was told to focus even further by looking at books that have uncommon facts in them. This was suggested due to me already creating a different book called Snodsbury’s Snail Trail where he learns facts about animals that you wouldn’t normally know.


So now I need to find books that teach facts about things; but I don’t want any normal fact finding book I want to find ones that have a gist of a story within it. So after spending all day in 2 libraries I chose the following books:

Books written in the 1990’s:
A Ruined House – Mick Manning
Stellaluna – Janell Cannon
Chomp! Munch! Chew! – Karen Wallace and Ross Collins
Books written from 2000:
Harris Finds his feet – Catherine Rayner
Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears – Emily Gravett
Yucky Worms – Vivian French and Jessica Ahlberg
I have focused the criteria on books that have uncommon knowledge based on animals. Over the next couple of weeks I am going to look into:
  • ​​compare, contrast and analyse each book
  • See what other people have said about the books
  • See if any aspects of the older books are shown in the new books
For the concept project I am going to:
  • ​Use the books for the other project and analyse them in detail
  • Research into how artists work – when creating a book

I am going to try and just purely research during these two weeks as I found there’s no point getting ahead of myself like before as I will waste more time doing things that may be useless. This whole bonanza is a lot harder than I imagined! I thought I could cope with it alright like I did with the BA but this is a different level. I think there is going to be a lot more extreme highs and lows then I anticipated!

Artists Videos

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Unfortunately I can’t post videos on here due to restrictions but here are some websites that have videos based on their life and their stories:

Lynne Chapman


When researching into illustrators I could email, I came across Lynne Chapman who writes and illustrates her own books. On her site there are a few videos where she is talking about how she got into the industry as well as her showing how she draws her characters. Its very interesting and you should totally check it out!

Oliver Jeffers


Oliver is getting more popular by the minute, he has many styles of work as her uses more than one type of material. This is interesting as I always believed it was best to stick to one material however he does have a distinct style which may help him when choosing the right medium. Here is his website where you can watch an amusing video about him:

Brendan Kearney


A new illustrator I found, his drawings are fun wit loads of things packed in. His colours are beautifully put together, also it kind of reminded me that my work doesn’t have to be so restricted and I should experiment more with matching colours and make some or all more vibrant. Here is his blog:

Bibliography and images

Chapman, L., 2014, My Overflow Blog [internet]. Available from:, [Accessed 3 October 2014, 4.48pm].

Jeffers, O., FAQs. [internet]. Available from:, [Accessed 3 October 2014, 5.02pm].

Kearney, B., Brendan Kearney Illustrations. [internet]. Available from:, [Accessed 3 October 2014, 5.14pm].

Module 2

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The second module is called Concept, this term is based on research and explore our individual ‘Area of focus’. It is an area of time where we can really dig into our subject and try to understand the in and outs. This will eventually lead onto our final masters project.

As I have said many times throughout these posts I am very much into children’s books and one day  would like to be a independent children’s book and illustrator. For this module I will be closely following my dissertation as they are interlinked. Focusing on how to make a book, sounds easy but I want to know the details for example:

  • what types are paper are there
  • are there certain stories that are successful in the age category of 4-7years
  • Average page numbers (32) and why is it so specific
  • Why do artists take years to finalise their book
  • How do artists work
  • Can I work how they do

… and many more questions. I will achieve the answers to these questions through research on the internet, emails, interviews and books as well as possibly observational research. It is quite daunting of where I will be going with this and if I am on the right track but you won’t know unless you try. Although saying that I am finding it difficult to motivate myself to work, it’s not that I am not trying it is not being satisfied with how much work I am doing per day. For example the other day I wrote a few blogs and created a mind map which for me is terrible, but I am hoping that I will pull it together and crack on. I will have to wait and see…