Today Susanna Edwards, Head of Visual Communication at the Cass (and current studio leader) introduced us to our major brief for the term leading up to Christmas. She is currently working with Solent University in Southampton to do something about… Southampton. We are also going to contribute. The Solent students will provide written material which the Cass students will then translate into some sort of visual design-work.
In anticipation of this brief, Cass students were asked to do some research on Southampton.
One of the more interesting things I found out was that one of the early inventors of the machine gun went missing in Southampton. The BBC have an article on it. This inspired me to do something a little bit in the style of master storyteller Will Eisner. I had no strong notion of composition to start with and just got stuck in. While the technical aspects of the picture are sloppy at best, I am unconcerned. It is better to have a dodgy first draft immediately than to waste so much time worrying about just how one does a good job hand lettering with a pen. And speaking of hand lettering…
The internet tells me that Benny Hill is the most famous person I’ve ever heard of to come from Southampton. Michael Jackson was apparently a fan, so maybe he was a bigger deal than I give him credit for. I had intended to colour this image in some sort of tie-dye 60’s way, but really, I’ll save that for when I do something on Austin Powers. My time is too fleeting, as it is. Hand rendering the letters allows me to look at them as if I were drawing figures. There is definitely an area of investigation here, if only I can find the time to pursue it.
Do you know what else they have in Southampton? That’s right! A cabal of inventors! Their webpage displays prominent inventor entrepreneurs of old, so I thought, why can’t I? I mean, for 45 minutes messing around with some ink pens, anything’s game right? I need to make time to do more things like this. Sitting down with pencils and paper, ink pens and what have you, reminds me that what I’m trying to learn is a craft, with its own tools and techniques. It will feed directly into better work for my graphic novels, which is important because that’s what this is all in aid of.
Cass students were asked to look at one or two of the texts provided by the Solent students and write down anything that jumped out at them.
My list looked at A Guide To The Ruins Of Great Britain by Owen Hatherley. His language was withering as he discussed just how it is that Southampton (his home town) is just one big shopping mall. It will be interesting to see what imagery I can produce in relation to the texts available. I love the idea of telling the story of Southampton’s old zoo in a children’s book format with art from a Roald Dahl book, directly juxtaposing the grim content with such an art style. Also worthy of consideration is applying the Will Eisner treatment to the story of an American GI who carved his name and service number into a brick on his way back from the front at the end of WW 2. He was then reunited decades later with his daughter or something like that. The details escape me, but it sounds like it would fit right into Eisner’s Minor Miracles book. It could be argued that those two ideas represent too narrow a view of illustration, but I think I will benefit strongly from less of a focus on avant-garde posturing and more on honing my craft. After all, to successfully break the rules, one must know them first.