Towards the end of 2017, all students at Plymouth College of Art were given the opportunity to submit ideas for projects for a collaboration between PCA and the Tate, called the Tate Exchange 2018. The theme for this exhibition was “Factory Settings“, and we had to come up with ideas based around production. I had an idea to produce collaborative comic strips working with groups of other students, where each participant would give me one frame to draw to build a series of stories. The projects selected to be part of Factory Settings would take place at the same time in London and Plymouth.
My idea was selected as one of the art events to take part, and I requested to have my project based locally, partly because of my age. I’m fifteen, so that places some restrictions on my ability to travel – even with supervision and safeguarding from PCA. I also think it is important to support and create more art projects in Plymouth.
The next stage was for me to plan out my project and what resources I would need for it. Maddy Blythe, the Curriculum Manager at PCA Pre-Degree, suggested that I work across three separate venues, spending one day at each – PCA Tavistock Place, PCA Palace Court, and Plymouth School of Creative Arts, and where in the buildings I should set up. This gave me the chance to work with three different age groups, and see the differences in narrative and content between them.
I decided to carry out my project in an A4 landscape sketchbook (mine was produced by Seawhite of Brighton) and black ink fineliners (I used Sakura Pigma pens) and a brush pen (Pentel), as these are materials I am used to and are good quality, and will keep in good condition for a long time. I supplied myself with the materials (bought at my local specialist art shop The Art Side), but the different venues I went to supplied the chairs and tables!
I visited PCA Palace Court on 31st January, PSCA on the 1st February, and worked in The Warehouse at Tavistock Place campus on the 2nd February. For each comic strip I began by marking out the frames (each strip has four frames, all on one page) For the first frame of each story I asked a participant to give me an idea for the beginning of a story, such as a character doing an action or an event. Then I asked the next two participants what happened next, letting them refer to the previous frames in that story, and then asked the final participant to provide an ending for that story. The next participants would start, continue, and finish the next story/stories.
I didn’t limit people to just giving one idea, as several people had gotten really interested in the project!
In total, I worked with around 38 participants – students, staff, and visitors at the venues from primary age up to adults of between 50-60, and we managed to produce twelve different comic strips. Some of the results were wacky and action-packed, and others were more sweet and thoughtful. The themes ranged from rockets in space, to an elderly couple breaking the fourth wall, and duels between unicorns. Each strip fills an A4 page and consists of images with no description, and so the theme of production is able to continue in the reader as they must interpret the story themselves, so each story can have multiple meanings depending on the interpreter/reader.
My plans for my sketchbook of comic strips is to make it into a new zine, which I hope to release at Counter art book fair in Plymouth on the 17th March. I will also have the original artwork with me for people to look through. After that, I will be making it available for galleries and exhibitions interested in art books, comics, or work from young artists.
If you are interested in viewing the original art for this project, please come along to Counter, or contact me.
UPDATE (11/3/18)! My new TEX Comics zine will be available at Counter! See this post for more info!