University Blog 1: The Origin Story

Welcome my insanely awkward beginning to Professional Practice. Here I will be discussing and analysing my own academic as well as personal working practice in my pursuit to further understand and advance my journey from being a cliché student to a full-time illustrator.

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t start with a gripping plot line, but instead with a begrudgingly stereotypical beginning. This was like most of my generation in Art and Design courses who spent their childhoods doodling illogical nonsense rather than playing outside. Although I was always drawn to sketching (Mind the pun) throughout primary and secondary school which can be seen as a means to an end, as it was an enjoyable hobby that built me up as person. Always drawing from new perspectives yet my true engagement with the topic of illustration was aided by my other passion in History; which lead me to see the value of cultural and moral thinking.

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(Sketchbook Doodles- Evidencing my Addiction to Pen & Ink)

This combination I will call is my lethal dose where I finally found my path in the world apart from squandering on just doodling as a form of escapism from own anxieties. As with my history course I traveled to Berlin as a part of a module studying Nazi Germany, here I embraced a new cultural hub despite the freezing temperatures.

The experience really opened my eyes to the social and cultural effects that both world and historical events can have. Especially when wandering the city that pays delicate homage to the atrocities the German people suffered through its memorials, even more so in the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen. Such cruelty on a vast scale truly put into perspective the power to argue and oppose acts or ideologies that would restrict our thinking or freedom. In short hand, this was the point where I became more invested in world affairs as well as finding my liberal political alignment.

To which my interest in world affairs, anarchy, politics backed by my own sarcastic humor guided me towards satire illustration, to which is a vital milestone I wish to achieve in my illustration career. Although my ideal situation would be to work for the likes of the guardian, new scientist, New York times as a free-lance practitioner. I would also envision working in a studio as part of a design collective within publishing or advertising on the scales of books, to posters and billboards. Yet my overall focus feels that with my precise line work and analytical passions would prosper more in the editorial field; which can be backed by an author that inspires a more philosophical dynamic to my own thinking.

“I am basically analytical, not creative; my writing is simply a creative way of handling analysis.”

Philip K. Dick


As I have mentioned my art and history passions leave little to the imagination in terms of visual inspirations, which have an endless sea of.

From a young age, I implored the sketches of John Howe who illustrated J.R.R Tolkien’s ‘The lord of the Rings’ with a rich yet dark precision of hatching to create a visual world for Tolkien’s creative madness.  Howe’s covers for the trilogy pushed me into draftsmanship yet Tolkien’s books themselves set me up to enjoy the value of a plot and visualization of my characters.

The Dark Tower
John Howe, The Dark Tower, 1990

This became apparent by my interest in more mainstream media such as G.R.R Martins ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, TV Series such as ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Mr Robot’ and ‘The Stranger things’; who all span different periods and genres that allowed me to apply plots, history, composition and dynamism into my own work in visual communication. The writing of Philip K Dick in books such as ‘The Man in High Castle’ and ‘Do android dream of electric sheep?’ pushed me further to search for new angles that I can insert into my work to add more layers of depth while still providing a clear message.

Image result for the man in high castle coverImage result for do androids dream of electric sheep cover

To narrow down my current illustrations heroes if you want to think of them like that (Illustrators and spandex would be a deadly combo, for all the wrong reasons); both Paul Blow and Tom Gauld are what push my aspirations in illustration. They both provide editorial work with the publishers I have previously mentioned, while Paul takes a more serious visual approach, Gauld provides a mundane or dry opposition to creative briefs. It’s fair to say I want to usher a hybrid of the two as my own personal style reflects clean lines and hatching to create forms, my composition with visual clues can be both humorous and appropriately serious.


Policy Restrictions By Paul Blow 21/05/10

Four Obstacles To Writing By Tom Gauld



This quote by G.R.R Martin sums up in an odd juxtaposition that more black and white media is just a skin for a grey or more philosophical undertone.

“I prefer to work with grey characters rather than black and white.”

George R. R. Martin

Even Gauld’s and Blow’s websites have a contemporary aesthetic, albeit a mainstream and clichéd setup, yet it provides the vital aspects of their portfolio and clients with ease of access. That professional accessibility to artwork and the manageable layouts accompanied by simple captions which maybe a reliable source to base this blog on.

This finally leads me to the end of what now seems like an essay (I cannot seem to shake essay writing out of my system, academic gift or social curse?), my feelings on my professional practice. Although confidence has been an issue, it’s not the lack of ability to create work but the lack of belief that it will succeed. I thoroughly analyse and base my work on ideals and founded arguments yet it leaves me vulnerable to over thinking. This anxiety into what is expected of me is more self-inflicted, but with my progress at undergraduate level I have found that with briefs there is no time to over think or worry as it will not result in success. Deadlines require decisive and creative thinking, the pressure itself is a distraction from any anxiety which has now become a strength from what was a weakness of mine. Its fair to argue that I want to push my boundaries but be realistically ambitious to maintain my sanity and nerve within a competitive career such as illustration.

This now leaves questions on what other creative industries do in terms of free lancing or working within their respected industries, and whether it could add my discussion and research into professional practice.

Artist References:






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