This is one quick project!
This project came very quickly after the Charity one, but I think that worked quite well. These two projects have really helped me to get out of my sketchbook. This is one of the main points of feedback that I received from Amelia in a tutorial once, so it’s been nice to be able to remember this and work away from my sketchbook.
So for this project we were asked to go onto the TED Talks website and out of the thousands and thousands of talks, pick one that fully excites and interests us to produce a minimum of 10 images to go into a 10 minutes presentation at the end of the 2 week project. The briefing was very inspiring delivered by Anna and Amelia, and we were shown some wonderful works of art too (which I always found ever so inspiring in a briefing). The tutors were keen to have this TED project follow on the from that Charity one in terms of context, so for me that means keeping my focus on wounded soldiers, PTSD, prosthetic limbs and so on.
When I got talking to one of my house mates about this project, she came bounding up to me so eager to tell me about a wonderful TED Talk she had watched and insisted on me watching it also. So I did, but I shall return to this point later.
I began to search for some Talks the focussed on the area of prosthetic limbs, wounded soldiers (mentally and physically), even looking at talks that explored things such as Anxiety, depression and mourning. All of these being able to relate back to how a soldier can be effected in war. After a while I found a lady called Aimee Mullins. She has done 3 talks with TED, but the one I wanted to focus on was called “My 12 pairs of legs”. I watched it over and over and began to grow ever so inspired by her. She had her legs amputated below the knee what she was only 1 years old. Her parents were told that she wouldn’t walk. Now? She is a Para-Olympian, a model and a motivational speaker.
When I watched the Talk, she showed us many of her different prosthetic limbs that she has had made for her, including wooden carved legs for a runway show for Alex McQueen, and also glass jellyfish legs for a photo shoot with photographer Nick Knight.
So I began thinking what I wanted to make for this project, and almost immediately I wanted to make an animation. In this animation I wanted a pair of legs stepping into each of the 12 legs as they walk along. I was so excited about this idea, however this was already 1 week into the project and I have never made a drawn animation before. So I began drawing the start so that I could get to grips with software and how to put it all together. Then things quickly turned extremely stressful. I had made 12 images, ready to use them for a mock-up. I scanned them into my laptop, however they came in as PDF’s and had no way of changing this to Jpeg’s. So I then had to convert them online, once they were converted they were changed from their original size to A4, so I then had to crop them all down before I could use them, which as you can imagine was very time-consuming. I then didn’t have any software, so decided to download a 30 day free trial of Adobe Premiere in order to put my animation together. I began dragging the images in and put them at 30 seconds each. All of this was just a pair of legs taking 2 steps. Then, for some bizarre reason, the images began deleting themselves whilst on premiere! It really was about 4 hours of a complete nightmare. At this point I could see no light- It had taken me this much time, for 2 steps. 1 pair of legs, out of 12. And this was only a mock-up, nowhere near how I imagined the final piece to look with colour and so on. I sat down, had a sup of tea and watched a documentary to calm myself down, before I gave up for good. So then I attempted to use an App that I had downloaded on my iPhone that helps you create stop-frame animations. So I gave that a go.
(I tried to upload the short video I managed to make on my phone here but it isn’t working)
After this I couldn’t bare to face it any more, I was totally exhausted by the idea. And that’s where the first TED talks I watch comes back into play.
This talk was so amazing, I highly recommend anyone to watch it. To cut a long story short, Mac Barnett is a children’s book author, and the first thing he says to us is that he ‘lies to children for a living’. His imagination spans for miles and has even opened up a supermarket that sells microchips for robots to be able to feel emotions such as love, fear, he also sells dead languages! He has written a book about a little boy who gets a Blue Whale as a pet, but this is a punishment, because it’s pretty hard to handle having a blue whale as a pet, right?!
Well, on the inside of the sleeve to this book is an advert for children, offering to them a 30 day free trail for a Blue Whale, all they have to do is send a home-addressed stamped envelope to the address given, and in return they send you a blue whale. And that’s where my work begins. I instantly loved this story, there is so much innocence, imagination and wonder sewn in and out here. Mac goes on to tell us about the children that responded to the advert, receiving letters saying things like “I bet you $10 that you wont send me a whale!”. What happens when they children write in, is that a few weeks after sending their letter, they receive a letter from the Norwegian Customs services saying that they are having a problem getting their Whale through customs and will be unable to send it over. However they say that the whale leaves and goes to a really lovely place somewhere in the sea. With this letter the children get sent a photo of their whale, and it also says that their whale would love to hear from them so they leave a phone number on which they can call their whale. When they call this number, they hear a bunch of whale sounds and it goes to voice-mail, where they are free to leave as many messages as they want. And that is where we get to hear about Nico.
Nico receives the letter and a photo of his whale, who is called Randolf. Throughout his talk, Mac shows us some of the messages that Nico leaves to Randolf. In one day, he leaves over 5 messages. Over 4 years, he leaves Randolf 25 messages. Throughout these messages Mac gets to learn all about Nico, he hears about how he likes to do crosswords, he hears about the Grandma he likes, and the Grandma he likes a little less.. he’s the best reader Mac could have hoped for. This is because of the way he is able to emotionally dive into his stories, and be able to believe every last word of it, and this for him makes him feel very lucky. This for me is so very inspiring, and is what got me interested in the talk in the first place. Although Mac is an author, as an illustrator I am still able to reach these levels within the child’s imagination through my images.
I wanted to used my 10 images to illustrate the story and the growing relationship between Nico and Randolf.
Here are my 10 images.
On the left we have Nico. I had so much fun imagining what he would look like when I was listening to the messages he left to Randolf. A colourful boy with a colourful imagination. To the right we have the advert that came in the sleeve of Mac’s book. “Wouldn’t life be perfect with a Blue Whale there?”
Then we have Nico writing his letter to send off asking for the 30 day free trail of having a Blue Whale as a pet. Then he gets sent the letter from the Norwegian Law firm and his photograph of his adopted Whale, Randolf.
I then went on to illustrate the relationship that begins to blossom between Nico and Randolf, showing Nico calling him and telling him all about his crosswords that he like to do, and on the receiving end we have Randolf who is happy lounging on his sofa in the sea, listening to all Nico has got to say.
So here is his grandma that he likes, and the grandma that he likes a little less…
And finally we have the last 2 images, of Nico calling Randolf to wish him a happy Christmas, who is on the receiving end, wearing a Christmas hat that he pulled from a cracker.
We were told that we didn’t have to have any perfect or complete ‘final’ images for this project as it is so fast, but I think it was very important for me to include colour in my images. I tried not to use too much colour and stick to a colour scheme, mainly of bright yellows, blues, oranges and greens. I also worked quite minimalist and simplistic with this project, which is also how I usually work, this is just because I am a big fan of negative space! I thoroughly enjoyed this project once I got into the swing of things, and would love to carry on. Some of the images work better than others and I think what works well with my images are they are comedic and playful. I’d like to play with my images more and expand on ideas.
At the end of the project we had a 10 minute presentation to do, chatting to the group about how the project went. I found the critique ever so helpful afterwards, everyone including Anna were ever so good to me! It was all very positive, mentioning that the images would appeal to an audience of 4-6 year old children. Anna mentioned to me carrying on the project, making more images and turning it into a children’s book. This is something that really appeals to me and would love to finalize this idea and get it printed into a children’s book. Another thing Anna mentioned is to make it more colourful, experimenting with full-bleed illustrations and veering away from leaving so much negative space!
Overall I really enjoyed this project, working for the audience of children is not something I’ve really done before and it was nice to hear people tell me that it is working for me, so I am going to continue working on this project and hopefully have a book at the end of it.
So the project has finally come to an end. We were given so much more time on this one as our tutors decided to extend it over the Easter period, which I’m sure the majority of us were happy about! I know I was, I needed the extra time.
It came to the day of the crits and I felt ready- everything was packed the night before ready for my cycle into uni. Not many of us turned up, which is a real shame really because these crits are here for our benefit, but oh well. I ended up delivering my presentation last, which I am not a fan of, I like going towards the start as everyone is awake and their minds are ready to interact, by the time it reaches the last person everyone has usually had enough. I delivered my crit and explained everything that I have done on here, I began to receive my feedback. I was happy to see people’s reactions when they were looking over my work. I passed around the circle each piece that was in my first aid kit.
Everyone handled the work very delicately which was very pleasant to see, and when it came to the solider to build, someone said they felt the need to handle him very lightly as they are aware he is suffering and needs care. Anna said some good things also, highlighting that I have worked with metaphor very well especially with the bandage. However something that came up that I have been aware about throughout the project is the generalisation of my box- it’s very fixed to a certain audience. The solider has brown hair and the wife blonde with 2 kids, so this is going to appeal to that kind of audience, rather to them all. An idea to fix this would be to make a few different boxes, changing just a few features in characteristics so that the public can make a decision for themselves on which box they would want to pick, to which suits them best. This then would increase the interest in my work and hopefully increase the amount of donors in the public also.
I had many tutorials throughout this project and that is something I found worked very well for me, so I am going to bare this in mind for future projects. This project has also helped me to begin to get over the fear of leaping out my sketchbook! I’ve enjoyed it very much.
At first I was very set on working with Help For Heroes, but didn’t approach them until my idea was solid. Once I had everything mapped out in my head I headed down to our local H4H shop in Cardiff and there I spoke to the manager. She then wrote down a phone number and an email for me also. I called them up, all confident and chatty to only be greeted by an extremely rude woman. I explained to her that I would like to work with the charity and then began to explain my idea, and it honestly was a shambles. She said things like “Well what on earth do you expect that to achieve?” and “I don’t think I have time for this”. After the phone call I had been speaking to a few different people about the Charity and quite a few people have told me of some nasty stories. To have a bad experience with the charity myself is bad enough, but to then have those feelings supported and conffirmed by other saddening stories really does make it hard to see good in that charity. I immediately stopped designing my work for them, because I had zero interest of working with them anymore. But all is not lost..
My partner is based in Taunton and it was through speaking with him about this project that he told me of a local charity there that his troop does a lot of work with. This charity is called ‘Go Commando’, and there motto is ‘Supporting the Royal Marine family’.
I had a nosey on their website and they seemed like a very lovely, genuine charity, so I immediate got in touch with them, sending out an email explaining who I am, why I would like to work with them and what my idea’s are so far. I also said I’d be happy and open to changing my idea, as after I had been talking to Amelia about the work I had made for this project she raised the point that this would be quite costly to reproduce, which is obviously a big factor when it comes to working with a charity as they would like to spend as little money as possible with these things, but I sent the email all the same, and here are my responses:
– – –
Heather Hi Great designs – you are very talented ! We are in preparation for a big concert in Taunton in July. It is the RM Band coming to play in Vivary Park (40 are also involved) It is to raise awareness and your thought would be a great promotion for the event and maybe you would like to design the flyers for the event ? Does this appeal ? Let me know Debbie H.
– – –
I was over the moon when they got back to me, and so quickly too! It’s also a really lovely event in which they have invited me to take part in designing the flyers too. I emailed them back the next day letting them know that I’d love to help and thanked them for getting back in touch with me. I then explained to them once more in my email that it may be costly to reproduce my first aid kit and that I would be very open to creating something similar in order for it to be cheaper for them, and I’m still waiting for a reply, but fingers crossed!
Now, I have all of these things to fit nicely in a box, so where’s the box?
I did a lot of thinking of how I wanted my box to look, and before breaking up for Easter (most of the contents for my box were made during the Easter break) I was working closely with Steve and trying out lazor cutting. I originally wanted my box to be wooden, with a lid that fastens with a button and elastic. I used a website online that offers me a template maker, so I could play around with the measurements of the box.
(I’m sure when you’re reading this you’re probably confused as to why I made all my things to go in the box, before I had made the box, but I will explain all that later)
When I had found some measurements that I was happy with I took them down to Steve and he began helping me with it. Although it was that easy, this took around 3-4 days to actually manage to get hold of Steve, and when I did he was always running away, so this delayed me a lot. Once we had finally got around to cutting out a mock-up on paper, it all went horrendously wrong- it was too big, it hadn’t been set up properly on the computer, the machine was confused, I was confused and Steve was confused. And to top all of that off, this was all happening as I was supposed to be turning up for a presentation for the project. So to clear up any confusion, I attempted to make both my 3D printed soldier and the box itself before we broke up for Easter.
I then had some bad news about my Grandfather falling ill so I left around a week early for Easter in order to spend time with him. Most of my Easter was spent being with him and taking care for him. I had messaged my tutors and they were aware of the situation.
Towards the end of my Easter break is when I had realised how quickly the time had gone and how little work I had managed to get done. I had to pull my finger out; although I know that my tutors are extremely supportive and would have understood if I couldn’t meet the deadline, I had an urge and some confidence that I could get this done in time, and it helped to take my mind off things.
So, In the last week of Easter when everything became hectic, this is where my box comes in. I didn’t have time to make the one I had originally planned. However I did find a perfect sized both that something had been delivered in. I made this box a home, and put it down to sheer luck that I stumbled across it. Everything fit in it really well. So I then decided to paint it, keeping my colours to a minimum, once again mainly focussing on the typical colours of camouflage. I made the main/base colour cream, along with the inside of the box. This made it nice and bright when you open it and its clear to see the contents of the box. I then drew on the Charity Logo to finish it off. Here is the finished First Aid Box:
I am happy with the turn out of the box. I painted it cream first and then I added the grey shapes. I didn’t think I would end up putting the green on the box, but after I asked around for some opinions, it seemed like it would be a nice idea to add the colour. I did a test piece of some paper before making the leap onto the box and I also liked it myself, so it was a deal. I printed off the logo and used a ruler to gently mark where each of the box/text went before drawing it on with Posca pen. Something that I am not too happy about is that I couldn’t actually make the box myself in time, so this box is bigger than I had planned therefore wouldn’t fit through the letterbox.
If you’re wondering why the logo is of another charity, please see my next blog post.
The final little thing within my First Aid Kit is the little book.
I am treating this part as a sort of information leaflet, and originally I planned to include lots of facts and statistics about PTSD, but I have never been keen on working with text in my work and it may stand out against the rest of my work. But maybe this is something I can play around with. Originally I wanted this booklet to be a pop-up booklet but when I realised that time was pressing on I felt as though I was making things a little more complicated for myself. I began to narrow down my thoughts and get some idea’s drawn onto paper to try and help me understand more just what kind of thing I was going for. In a tutorial with Chris, he highlighted something I had mentioned to him in my presentation; the way PTSD can have an effect on sleeping patterns. Many people suffer from night terrors or night mares and more commonly recurring dreams, causing them to wake instantly or sometimes not be able to wake themselves out of them. These usually consisted of things they have seen in war, the things that really stuck with them and troubled them. So I tried to get this down on paper.
After some decision making I decided I wanted to keep the book simple and without text. I also decided to have a couple in the bed, instead of the just soldier alone. This then brings in and shows the effects at home and the effects within a relationship. Because I am making the book small (It needs to be able to sit comfortably at the bottom of the box itself, once made) I decided to make the figures that gather around his bed to be silhouettes. This also probably works best as well because if I tried to design an enemy, or the common enemy that the Royal Marines usually face, this could cause some uproar and upset some people. So it’s better to keep the enemy vague, open to interpretation instead of generalise or stick to stereotypes. So the story shows a couple laying to sleep in their bed a home. Once they have fallen asleep dark figures begin to appear at the side of the bed, then at the back, and then around the other side. They crown over the sleeping bodies. It all becomes too much for the soldier and he awakes from his nightmare. The crowding bodies are then to make things tense, to create an uneasy and uncomfortable atmosphere and hopefully this is portrayed to the reader. The final image shows the soldier waking; I made his eyes wide to show fear, leaving his partner asleep (hopefully this reinforces its his dream only). With the book, I made it out of an old cereal box and used the standard binding technique to hold it together, with a simple title of ‘zzz’ to represent sleep. I really like the concept of my book but I don’t think I am that happy with the ‘creepers’, I feel like they could have been designed better. Maybe this is something I will look ever at a later date.
I was really excited to start this piece. It had taken me a long time to design it but when I eventually got there I thoroughly enjoyed it.
With this part I really wanted to play around with metaphors. I also wanted to shift the focus away from the soldier slightly too, and remind people (and myself) that family and relationships suffer almost as much as the soldier themselves also. So how can I bring this into my own work? How can I accurately represent a family suffering, or better yet a family on their way to repair (due to the help of the charity)?
I began with the material, I always feel like this is the best starting point for me because then I know what I’m working with. I got some material from Maggie down in Textiles that I had already previously used when working on some stitch work I did for my Morocco piece (Field 2).
I compared this to your standard bandage material, then began to think about the ways in which it is used. When I thought of the idea I imagined it being wrapped around the top of and arm, around the biceps. I wasn’t keen on the idea of using a sling, so I stuck with this idea. I measured the material around my step-fathers arm so that I could cut it down accordingly to the right size. The material is quite thin and this worried me slightly; I remember when I used it last the thread didn’t sew into it too well so this is something I had to be aware of. However last time I was using the free-hand sewing machines and this time it is just by hand. I decided to stitch into the single layer of the fabric and then once I am finished I can fold over the remaining fabric to cover the stitching at the back and also thicken it. I had everything planned out.
Then when it came to deciding what I would illustrate onto this fabric, I began to struggle. I was really unsure. I began looking at other adverts the already exist and this one really stood out to me.
I really like how each edge of this advertisement becomes linked together when it wrapped around the pole. This would work well with my bandage, I just need to think of a design in which this would work.
As you can see above I thought of two arms coming together once wrapped around the arm, giving a hug showing support, but this was far too simple for me and it didn’t interest me in the slightest. Like I mentioned before I wanted to take this piece to focus on the family. My thoughts began to turn to all the different situations families and relationships are put in and the causes of these, the main one being absence. I wasn’t sure how I could combine the absence of the loved with the connection of the two ends of the bandage, then it hit me! Unfortunately I don’t have any photo’s of the process I went through when making this, just the final product. This is a real shame.
So here is a family; a little girl, a wife and a son together. On the opposite side we have a Royal Marine, in uniform. Between them represents the space and his destination. The mountains are there to resemble destinations such as Afghanistan, Iraq and so on. By making the surroundings between them foreign and different to what you’d expect to be next to a family (For example the standard family home setting) this makes the distance between them feel greater. Again with the colours I tried to keep to a small (ish) and simple colour scheme, yet including all of the colours that are in the Royal Marines uniform. I then used the red to stitch the bandage together to hide the threads at the back and also to give it a sort of frame, leaving out the edges so that once it’s wrapped around it all comes together well. I also left some of the material clear so that when I wrap it around there is enough space to be able to use a safety pin to attach it together. And here it is wrapped:
I am very happy with how this has turned out. When the bandage is wrapped around the arm it comes together really well and I hope it gives out the message of the family coming back together, through the help of the charity. I’m playing with metaphor a lot here, with this idea being upon a bandage, symbolizing support and healing. Some thing that does really bother me about this illustration is the woman’s face, her eyes are too close together and this does make me feel uncomfortable. Again, like with the soldier, I have generalised the situation and made it hard all the donors to be able to relate; not every soldier is that ages with 2 children and a wife, or even a blonde wife for that matter, all these features come into eye when reviewing a product.
The second item to go into my first aid kit is my soldier.
As mentioned before I am making this as interactive as possible, so I want to make a 3D soldier which the viewer then has the opportunity to build. I want this to almost take the viewer back to feeling like a child with a toy, they get to make something, which in itself differs from the usual brochure/pamphlet you get in the post. But there’s a twist, the soldier has a prosthetic limb. Whether this an arm or a leg, this is supposed to bring a slight shock to the audience. Hoping to take them to a child-like manner where they get to build together a toy, then to bring them back down to earth again to make them realise that this is in fact raising awareness for a very serious matter: this toy is broken. This is a very hard-hitting approach towards the idea and hopefully it wont be to gruelling for the viewer, and hopefully by taking this route people will be able to take a step back and understand the importance of what I’m trying to say.
I really wanted my soldier to be 3D, with detachable arms and legs in order to rebuild him. I began weighing up my options for making him first thinking of modelling him with clay, then had the realization that we have the facilities at university to do 3D printing, which is something I’ve never done before, so I also get to learn something new! I found out Ingrid, hidden away in maker and ceramics to see what she had to say about it all. It really was a wild goose chase that lasted around a week. I got to sit down with her and explained my idea to her and she began to tell me about my options. In order to 3D print I had to be a bit of a whiz with the software, which surprise surprise, I was not. I went away to see if I could become well equipped with it, and fast. I needed to find a 3D template of a soldier for my starting point. I then had to use the tools in the software to detach his arms and legs, then create fastening points for the limbs to be reattached. I got home and got out the list of software that Ingrid had written down for me and began to download it all onto my laptop. (This included Meshmixer, Sculpt 123D, Autodesk 123D Catch etc..) This took a few hours, and I had no idea how to use it. Ingrid didn’t have any spare time to show me too much of what I needed to know as she was very busy with her own day (which is completely understandable), so it was all looking pretty hopeless but I wasn’t prepared to give up! Until I tried to open the software which refused to work with my laptop. I needed to figure out another way I can get my 3D soldier as I couldn’t afford to get him printed in the FAB-LAB. I went to look for one of the tutors in Ceramics, I can’t remember his name, but he directed me to a website where I can buy bulks of soldiers which he insisted came as separate pieces, so this could be another option for me. When I looked into this it was clear that I couldn’t buy them separately, so back to the drawing board.
In a tutorial with Amelia I explained all of this mess, and then it dawned on us both.. why not make a 2D soldier? Life quickly became much more simple after this and I finally began to enjoy this part of the project.
I had picked up some really strong card from Pen and Paper in Cardiff and planned to use that to illustrate onto. I knew that the expression on the soldiers face would play a very strong and important role in this- if he were to be smiling, laughing and so on it may add a comedic factor here, and that isn’t what I am aiming for, I am after sympathy and empathy. I feel that the eyebrows are an ever so important feature in the face as they portray so much emotion, so I planned to use them to my advantage. The same goes for the lips. This will also be the first introduction of colour into my work, so here I began thinking of a colour scheme to run throughout. The obvious colours I have taken from the Royal Marine uniform, then using fain skin tones for his face,hands and the prosthetic leg. I began thinking of what I would use to attach the limbs together now that he is 2D and will be cut out of card. I thought of split pins and how they will quite accurately represent the joints in the body; these will be on the shoulders and on the hips. When making my mock-up soldier out of paper I first made his arms a little to bendy and long, so I was very glad to have a trial of this before jumping in at the deep end.
Here he is, all finished. I am happy with the results, and if I am completely honest with you I am so much happier with the fact that he has turned out 2D rather than 3D. As great as it would have been to learn new tricks and all that goes into 3D printing, I wouldn’t have been able to put as much of my own personality into my work as I managed too here. The way he has been illustrated is very typical of my style, which I am glad about, this also gives me opportunity to have consistency throughout my work. The split pins work well and make him interactive just like I had hoped for. Something I would say is that I have generalised soldiers a lot here, with the colour of his hair, the age, the build and so on, which if I expect this to go through customers letter boxes then I will need to create something that will appeal to everyone and something that everyone can relate to. But for now, here he is.