By emma harding, Jul 19 2017 03:21PM

Not much time to type this as I've stopped and should be working on six new originals.

Back on my old love affair with mountains, these ones are inspired by twin peaks - twin peaks - not Twin Peaks. This one has a long way to go.

First time I've worked with metal paints and looking forward to scaling up on the next pieces - also twin peaks inspired. These are original editions. The idea of repetitive drawing (because I loath repetition) is an interesting one - to see what happens to memory, relationship to representing rock, form, surface... endurance. All fantastic challenges. Already noticed, working with gold, gives everything thing I look at -- in the after trace -- a golden tinge (this might be something wrong with my eyes)

By emma harding, Jul 6 2017 08:09AM

This is a quick post in relation to a few questionnaires I've received from students over the last couple of months. I suspected it was that time of year... where support and critical study work needs to be handed in, hence a few tick-box (and not so tick-box) surveys sent out to various illustrators - me being one of them.

Firstly, apologies for being unable to answer the requests individually. Time is the main reason (plus, some of them questions were too tricky to give off the cuff quickie answers...) nothing whatsoever to you with you, if you contacted me. For information sake, I am also a lecturer.

So, formal questionnaires aside, here's some general advice that may (or may not) help:

1. As a professional. If you plan to go into freelance business, i.e. where you approach commissioners as an independent illustrator / designer, the most important thing is the relationship you build with that person (person being the operative word). Do not let the wrangling with money, contractual unfairness (and there will be lots of that) cloud your relationship. Unless that person is a complete arse, remain professional and don't allow any of the afore mentioned stuff drag you into petty low level gripes. Often art dir / eds are just trying to do their jobs - they are usually wildy busy people and under pressure too.

Plus, not only are petty gripes a creative killer, these relationsips are the most important thing. You will be able to pay the rent, buy food, sit drawing and painting lost in your own world all day long and leave the studio (or very small desk in the corner) any time you wish. There is no end to the cups of coffee, staring out the window and general day dreaming that being freelance allows, if you get these relationships right. If someone is paying you... well, it is about as good as it gets! But you need to get paid.

2. As a professional student. Knowing what you are good at is important. I definitely did not learn this at college and frankly, this has been a difficult drawn out process. Some people know their strengths and aren't confused... others are really confused. It is common and normal to be confused.

A typical story for an illustrator (in my experience) goes something like this: "I don't know if I am a fine artist or an illustratior?" If this is you: ask to have an honest chat with a tutor you trust, respect and of course like. Also, unless you have a similar glorious relationship with your parents don't ask them what to do, or what they think. Parents always mean well but sometimes advice from a place of well meaning ignorance is the worst possible advice and can take years to undo. Ask yourself, what really feels good - it's usually a good guide.

I would say the definition of illustrator resides in the high scale of collaboration. On jobs, you will be asked for very specific things, there can be endless tweeking and returning to the drawing board... but none of this can take too long - time is always a feature. If this tweaking is intolerable, painful even, you might be more of a fine artist. NOTE: there is a distinction between absorbing and assimilating criticism and working within someone else's brief, which too can be painful, but it tends to vanish quickly and you become hungry to do it again if you're an illustrator. Artists assimilate criticism differently - it's more risky to simply change something, but often, as an illustrator or designer, if you don't change something you lose the job. Ultimately, you decide.

Another indicator, if perhaps you are an artist rather than illustrator, is proliferation of work that constantly moves within themes... it's just an indicator but artists tend to do this and illustrators float from one subject to another with not a care in the world. Illustrators care about themes but not in a deep life ending way that artists do.

Lastly on this subject, think carefully about trying to achieve both. Yes, if you have another income or go into teaching, or basically plan to dabble at being an illustrator or a fine artist. The committment to being either is equivalent to three full-time jobs: you are your own agent, your own accountant / life coach / cleaner / therapist etc etc... plus the centre of your creative universe. I know some people do it, but check their life circumstances carefully (question yourself... how do they support themself? Do they really do much artwork and show regularly etc.. if not, they're not really doing it. I've been in this position as a tutor / illustrator and most money I earnt was through teaching and teachers are not always in the best position to know the reality of what it's like to be out there struggling to get the jobs in).

4. The serious stuff. Your best attribute is your individuality. This is never truer than when you are a student. Taking creative risks now will set you up for what lay ahead.

Advice: throw away your TV NOW and (consider at all times, who is giving you what information. It's true, information = power but I would + gut response and reflection to that)

Listen to Jim Muir in conversation with Tony Pitts

And the very best of luck.

By emma harding, Nov 17 2016 12:24PM

Participation Mystique

A term derived from the anthropologist Lévy-Bruhl, demoting a primitive, psychological connection with objects, or between persons, resulting in a strong unconscious bond.

By emma harding, Oct 12 2016 04:09PM

To all interested parties: Hello, I sincerely hope you are well - all five of you.

Next year's exhibition is now confirmed and I'm very happy to have my friend Robert Clarke onboard. Rob is a printmaker who studied at the RCA and works primarily with photographic images.

My own work is still laboriously slow: I'm purposely simplifying with biro pens and big paper, and I'm drawing from life and imagination using a combination of found objects. Needless to say I enjoy the large scale of paper and small tip of pen; all good challenge.

Bye for now. Warmest wishes. E

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