Applying Visual Languages

—   P R O X E M I C S   —

The branch of knowledge that deals with the amount of space that people feel it necessary to leave between themselves and others. In other words it could be called ‘Personal Space’.

For this brief…

To apply visual languages we are asked to explore the proxemics of the viewer within your work, you are asked to consider not only visual language on its own, but also in the context of the viewer to consider the viewer as a participant within the illustration.

We were asked to choose one of these following topics:

– A historical event

– A current or recent news story, for example, the NHS, Ebola, Syria and so on

-A personal story which could relate to others

Write down all first impressions and first general feelings towards the brief, you never know you might end up returning to your first ideas. First things first though? Research!

Begin to apply your visual language in order to give your images a possible context. How do you want to involve the viewer in your image?

– – So what popped into your head first of all? – –

After having yet another wonderful chat with Amelia in her office about the brief, just to clear out any confusion, I went on my merry way to see what my little brain cells spat out. Last year a few of us went on a trip to Falmouth, Cornwall, to a lecture full of beautifully famous illustrators who spoke of themselves, their work and their adventures. Amongst those illustrators was Sue Coe, who produces very hard-hitting work, and work that I never thought I’d picture myself taking an interest in. But since seeing her work and being lucky enough to hear her speak in-depth about her work and her practices, her adventures of sneaking into slaughterhouses and everything that came with that, has stuck with me in my head and I haven’t been able to shake it. So ever since I have been looking for an opportunity to expand on my knowledge of her and use what I have learnt from her, and push it through into some of my own work as it is a way I have never considered working in myself.

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What I find most interesting about her work is that it’s very hard-hitting. Seeing her speak about it so passionately makes you realise the extent that she goes to in order to make her work successful. You are not allowed to take photo’s in slaughterhouses, and hardly ever allowed to venture inside of them, so when Coe was ever lucky enough to get inside of one she’s create her work according to what she sees. But what is really special about all this is that we have to fully trust what she illustrates and presents to us, as we have no other reference.

So with the want to use Sue Coe as an inspiration I began to think about how she could coincide with this new project, then it came to me.

I wanted to speak to the viewer through the perspective of an animal within the slaughterhouse, waiting to die.

Grim, I know. But never before have I attempted to create a piece of work that unearths such feelings within someone. Upon doing some online research of Sue Coe I stumbled across a website which took away my breath.

When you scroll down the page you’ll see a box with a list of animals, next to those animals are constantly rising numbers, reflecting this: Number of animals killed in the world by the meat, dairy and egg industries, since you opened this webpage. This does not include the billions of fish and other aquatic animals killed annually. These statistics are taken from 2007, now 8 years ago. The world has progressed massively since then and I f that these numbers will have doubled since then. This is a great way to realise the extent of slaughter in the meat industry. All of this research is very hard and certainly pulls on the heart-strings. So after a little break I began to start drawing.

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When I began drawing I wanted to create an effect that makes you feel as though “you’re up next”, looking through the eyes of one of the animals. I began firstly with Sheep, using man holding up a gun and using the barrel of the gun to be the focus point of my image. When it came to illustrating the sheep I attempted to give them sad and sorry-looking expressions in order for the viewer to sympathise with them. After asking classmates and house-mates what they thought to the idea the general feedback I got was that I needed to lower the gun, because if it were to be looking through the eyes of a sheep then I would not be the same height as the man. I then wanted to explore different animals, moving next onto chickens and cows. I used Google to research some reference photos of animals within the slaughterhouses, which was very difficult to look at, but there I found images of how the animals are hung by their feet from the machines within the houses. These became good reference photo’s for me to respond too.

I then began to feel as though my illustrations were too minimalist, and although that is the way I much prefer to work sometimes, it simply wasn’t working if I wanted to create the effect I was after. I wanted to emphasise on just how many animals are brought to slaughter a day, their certain death that they have no say over. I then worked with one-point perspective combining the feeling of “you’re up next” and a busy, full illustration.

You are drawn to the closing point in the middle which signifies the wait to be slaughtered. The chickens toward the front of the illustration allow me to focus on their expressions in order to emphasise on the empathy within the illustration. I am still a little unsure whether I want to include the lighting at the top, as it would be a tool to add colour, and highlight the horizon point. But I’m not sure at this point. This has been the one to stand out to me most, and one I would be happy to pursue as a final for this project. Next plan of action is to find myself some lovely paper to work on, slightly off-white and thick. Get it drawn, get it painted.

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  When it came to painting this image, I wanted to bring out a little of the ‘sue Coe’ in me, although it wasn’t much, and I suppose in hindsight I’ve been a little shy, but I wanted to work a lot with the darker colours and shades in order to set a tone of my illustration. The colour is focussed on the chickens however the centre I’ve dripped thick red to mimic the movement towards ‘the end’. Almost painting the chickens in a Quentin Blake style, the colours aren’t specified to lines. I have done this in order to emphasise the feeling of a ‘hurrying’ or busy situation, to highlight a claustrophobic feeling.



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