This afternoon I went to visit the PCA Graduate Show 2018. I only had a chance to visit the Game Arts and Illustration exhibitions, but I plan to go again tomorrow (the last day!). I’ll try to post about the full exhibition later, but for now, below are some of my favourite pieces that I’ve seen so far.
After I visited the Illustration degree show, I went to look at the other creative graduate work around the Plymouth University campus. This post shows my favourite pieces from the BA (Hons) Graphic Communication with Typography show.
Sophie had on display her zine SOS #1. What I like about this zine is how noisy the graphics are, with a mix of busy shapes and active and bright colours. The black and white checkered pattern is really simple but eye-catching, and looks really great with the black text on yellow “Welcome to #1” labels.
Kaisa’s project included animation with spinning, flashing and other moving parts, and packets of stickers, to raise awareness of the lack of equal opportunities to female DJs. I think the use of equipment dials and read-outs to demonstrate the issues is clever and I like how the poster colours make them look like gig posters.
I really like the mixture of different text types used in James’s Analog Magazine, which includes handwritten words of different thicknesses and slopes, typed text, and text which has been printed or stamped. The magazine looks really interesting and I think it would appeal to graphic designers as well as people who are interested in vintage creative equipment like old cameras and typewriters.
Lucy has created a zine which draws attention to the design of really useful everyday items that we might overlook as great examples of design, but they are! I like the way she has limited her colours in each picture to give a 3-d effect to her simple lines.
Gemma has designed a set of alternative street designs that look at the sort of problems that might happen if we were to start modifying human DNA. The signs have a dry humour to them and very clear messages that provoke thought.
This is my last post on the Plymouth Uni BA (Hons) Illustration show, previous posts are here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. This post features eight more of the artists who had work on display at the show.
Natalia Pątkiewicz (Instagram) takes inspiration from fantasy and sci-fi themes to design characters, environments and worlds to illustrate short stories and games. Natalia thoroughly explores her ideas about a character’s background, story, costume and expression.
Failures of Felix was one of the game jam projects from a jam I participated in locally. The jam only went on over 48 hours but Natalia still made time to take a lot of care over her character design and his background story.
Natalia’s sketchbooks were fascinating to look through and alongside her sketches they contain written story and character ideas, as well as her research notes. As a young illustrator, being able to look at some of the artists’ sketchbooks is one of the biggest benefits of going to the Graduate Shows. On the wall above Natalia’s sketchbooks were prints of some of her Daily Speedpainting Studies which each took between 30 minutes and 1 1/2 hours.
James Robinson (Instagram) specialises in portrait and editorial illustration. I like his work’s cartoony, yet carefully detailed style. The contrasted colours give a great impression of opposite sides or enemies.
Darius Gilbey is an editorial designer inspired by music, politics, and science. His Plymtek Poster design reminds me of sailor-style tattoo designs and graffiti art. I like how bunched up the main illustration is.
Another piece on display by Darius, titled Visual Metaphor and Editorial design, has a soft and warm feeling to it because of the airbrush style of shading and highlighting and the colours chosen. I like the way that the bright illuminated colours bring your eyes to the centre of the picture.
Calum Hanchett specialises in caricature illustration and often incorporates humour into his work. I really like the oil painting style of his caricatures and how carefully detailed they are.
Calum’s piece INK Journal illustration on the theme of Night reminds me of the natural environments in Studio Ghibli movies like Princess Mononoke, the long winding branches or vines give it a mystical feeling and I can imagine hidden creatures just out of sight.
Amber Dunsford (Instagram) specialises in editorial illustration based around and inspired by genetics. Her illustrations on display had a muted colour scheme, and she uses collage and print in her work.
When I visited the Animation room I was lucky to speak with graduating students Tim Howe and Bram Whitford. They explained to me that the first year of the degree course was quite experimental, in the second year they started to specialise and took part in a big project with the other Animation students, and in the third year they specialised further and worked on their final projects. Tim said that students can “start from zero on this course and develop their skills” and Bram explained that students are “encouraged to experiment on this course and explore their strengths”.
They both said that students are able to practice at different roles to see what suits them, for example directing or creating assets, and they are encouraged to collaborate with students from other departments in the college (some collaborated with Plymouth University students too). Bram said that the course covered a lot of different styles of animation as well as business and practical skills. Now that they have finished their degrees, Bram plans to focus on running his own illustration company, and Tim is hoping to do more CGI animation work.
Jessica Mehler is a 2D and Stop-motion animator. For her animation Catawampus she has created beautiful models, she has even hand sewn the clothes worn by her characters. Jessica’s attention to detail is incredible and she has put a lot of her models on display at the exhibition. There is a whole miniature house to look inside, with tiny food and crockery and furniture, and faces featuring different expressions for her main character. Jessica collaborated with filmmaker Julia Claxton on the design and building of the set for Catawampus. The story is about a young girl who gets lost in the woods and finds a mysterious cabin. The animation is of extremely high quality and was one of my favourite pieces in the Animation degree show. Watch a trailer for Catawampus here.
Larisa Cleaver has put a twist on the stories of Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks in her animation Goldi And Red. The style is really cute, using paper cutouts and split pin joints. The movement of the characters and scenery are really exaggerated like puppets and this makes the animation seem playful. The story is fun and I think that younger girls especially would enjoy it. Watch a trailer for Goldi And Red here.
Libby (LJ) Durose is an illustrator and animator and her work on display includes badges and her animation Ava. In Ava a young girl is chased by bullies and thrown into a well, then is befriended by a mysterious girl, who might be a ghost? Ava was another of my favourite pieces in the Animation degree show and I would like to see a longer project or even series of shorts based on these characters. The style is sketchy pen in black and white, it looks influenced by anime and the shadow work is really good. Watch a trailer for Ava here.
Libby’s badge designs are closeups of pen sketched faces and I plan to get one on my next visit to the exhibition. She also does ink portrait commissions and her artwork is in a detailed comic style, contact her by email.
Tim Howe originally specialised in stop-motion but is now working in CGI. His animation Jerome is a stop-motion animation about a man and his dog. Sort of. It has a really unexpected ending which young children might find a bit disturbing, so beware! The story is strange but darkly humourous. Tim’s models are made from oven hardened clay and wire and have a lot of personality. He has also used action figures in parts of the film. Watch Jerome here.
Sophie Oliver is a 2D Animator and her animation Migaloo has painted backgrounds and uses flowing fabric to create a wavy effect. The story is based at sea, a young diver is carried away by the current and helped by a giant whale. The style reminded me of Eric Carle’s story books and the animation was gently flowing. I really enjoyed how the music began smooth and calm and picked up pace and became more frantic when she was swept away. Watch Migaloo here.
Bram Whitford is an illustrator and animator. His animation is about a young person who finds an old top hat in an attic which attaches itself to their head. It seems like an origin story for a crime-fighting hero or villain. It was a funny short animation and I like the simple but cute artwork. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a link to it to share here!
There is more to see in the Animation room and even just seeing the models used in Catawampus and Jerome are really worth the visit. Allow at least half an hour to watch all the animation pieces which are being shown on a loop projected on a large screen. The PCA Summer Show is on until the 22nd June and the Animation room is on the first floor, next door to Game Arts. The Tavistock Place campus is also having an Open Day this Saturday 17th June so if you are interested in their Foundation, Undergraduate or Postgraduate courses you should go.
Last weekend, Plymouth College of Art opened their main campus to the public for a huge exhibition of work by their students. The college holds a Summer Show every year to show work from the students who are graduating that year. I try to go and see as much of the Show as I can because it is great to meet the artists and talk to them about their work, to learn about what the courses are like, and to see so many different styles and forms of artwork. I will be trying to cover as much of this year’s Show #BreakingThrough17 as possible this year but as there is so much I will be doing it across different blogposts. This one is about the Game Arts room on the first floor.
The projects on display range from interactive VR prototype games to character design work and projects with more focus on story development. I wore a VR headset and experienced being in a virtual spaceship as it flew around a space station and dodged meteorites as the creator, Jake Kay, piloted it using the keyboard. Jake’s simulation of being in space felt realistic and I could look at stars and a planet and asteroids all around me. I felt a bit unbalanced when I took off the headset but I would like to try out more VR projects because they really can give the sense of being in a different world.
Jake said his project took around four months to model and code and was inspired by other games he enjoys like Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen. He said he had “lots of fun” on the course and he hopes to find work as an environmental artist in the future.
There are other environmental modelling projects on display in the room. One is an interactive VR experience called House Vr by Lucy Kisielewska, where the player is able to move around with teleportation (in a similar way to Google Streetview) and pick up and throw objects like cushions and cans using handheld controllers which show up in the VR simulation as a pair of hands.
I also watched video of a 3-dimensional courtyard built by Amy Watson complete with houses, wagons and a well.
One of my favourite projects in the Game Arts room is Sarah Damo’s Wonder Seekers. She has some beautiful concept artwork on display as well as a 3D printed model of a robot, an art book, and a video of short animated scenes. Sarah told me that Wonder Seekers is about “the story of a girl and a parrot in a post-apocalyptic world full of marvels” and that she wanted to do something “a bit different” by creating a post-apocalyptic world that “isn’t dark”.
Sarah explained that her work is inspired by many things, including Romanticism, Impressionism and 90’s cartoons. She works using Photoshop and creates short animations with After Effects. She showed me how she had deliberately placed a three-dimensional robot character on a two-dimensional background drawing in order to make the character stand out.
Not all the concepts on display are for video games. Jack Challoner has created bright and colourful artwork for his card game design project The Art Of Restrict. I read through his detailed explanation of his decision making and artistic process designing monsters. He thought about real creatures in our world and incorporated some of their anatomical features into his invented creatures to make them more believable. He has thought deeply about colour, shape, environment, movement, and behaviour.
Another project I was really impressed by was Hero Brawl by Andrew Cole who has designed characters for a “team brawler” video game. Andrew has carefully explained every stage of his character design process in an artbook, including how he attempted to emulate the style of Norman Rockwell’s character paintings and how he has combined elements of Steampunk, Samurai, Medieval and Nazi armour and clothing to create his character designs.
The artbook for Hero Brawl really showed how much work goes into character design – Andrew identified an aesthetic style that fits the concept, did lots of drawing and painting exercises using stock images to get a feel for that style, studied history for ideas and inspiration, and painted characters and costumes from all directions. I would like to see more books like this one published regardless of whether the games are made or not as they are a really interesting insight into how the artist works and into character design. I hope that PCA is able to keep copies of these Artbooks for their library because I would like to have a much longer look at them.
There is lots more in the room to see but unfortunately I can’t cover everything and some of the work is interactive so it is best experienced for yourself! You can visit the PCA Summer Show until the 22nd June and the Game Arts room is on the first floor. The Tavistock Place campus is also having an Open Day this Saturday 17th June so if you are interested in their Foundation, Undergraduate or Postgraduate courses you should go!