To be honest I cant quite believe that I’m writing this; I still feel as though I have only just begun University and am now having to face up to the realization that soon I will no longer be a student and will have to make my way into the ‘real world’. It would seem so easy to ignore this, to bury my head in the sand and try not to think about the fact that I won’t be in education for much longer; but one of the things I admire about the course that I am now so rapidly approaching the end of, is that they don’t allow this. They want us to come to terms with this and to prepare us as best they can for life after graduation. That is why they have asked us all to write this piece about our final semester and life thereafter.
So, what are my hopes for the future? I suppose my biggest hope will to be pleased and satisfied with my work. This all sounds so simple, but as any art or design student will know all too well, it is often far easier to love the work of others than it is to be proud of your own. It usually takes me a long time to decide that a piece is complete and usually when it is I am relatively pleased with it, but then the next day or even the next hour I usually look back at it and see only the mistakes that I have made and can bring to mind only the changes I would like to make or how I would like to do it differently were I to do it again. It often takes a while, a few weeks usually, when I am removed enough from the project in question that I can better judge my work, and then I can see the piece’s merits in amongst all of these said mistakes. That is how I feel about my portfolio, I’m proud in retrospect of the work and ideas that lay behind it but still cannot help but think that I could do it all so much better were I to do it again. Perhaps this constant dissatisfaction with your own work is inevitable and in honesty it is probably healthy as it keeps you perpetually aiming forward towards creating better work. All I want at the end of the year is to able to look at the work in my portfolio and to like it all. Obviously I want other people to like it also: I want to create work that my colleagues, friends family and potential clients will enjoy; but as I am my own harshest critic I feel it is important that I like it and am proud of it.
As for my other more professional hopes: I would hope to get commissions from clients to create interesting and enjoyable work. What for that work will take and who those clients are, I’m not yet sure. The past year has taught me that the most satisfying and interesting work can be the most bizarre projects from the most unlikely of sources.
Now for the scary part: my fears. My biggest fear for the next semester is that I will choose a brief that will lead me in completely the wrong direction and will result in work that I don’t like. I worry that I may throw away this last great opportunity and create something that lets down all of the work I have created up to this point. I have this terrifying image of standing at my end of year degree show, looking with envy at the overwhelming collection of beautiful and sophisticated work created by my colleagues and looking at my own with a soul destroying feeling of guilt and disgust. I fear looking through my portfolio as a graduate and thinking: ‘is that it? Three years of blood, sweat and tears and that’s it?’.
My fear for after graduation is that the previous three years that I have spent in my most enjoyable and creative part of my educational life, will ultimately lead to nothing. I fear never getting the chance to utilise the skills that I have acquired during my time at university, of never receiving a single commission and of being condemned to an unfulfilling and disappointing working life.
Ultimately, I am the only person who can do anything to eradicate these fears and it is up to me to work hard through this last semester and thereafter to create the best work I can, to not give up and to keep on pushing forwards in the hope that it will ultimately lead to a working life as enjoyable and creative as time at university has been.
On a more positive note, this next semester is filled with exciting opportunities. For a start we are given plenty of time to create, complete and become immersed in our ‘Final Major Project’. Hopefully this will give me time to create work that I am truly happy with; to be given this much time to work on a self initiated project really is a fantastic opportunity to create the best work that I can. If I use this time wisely enough and make the most of the input from my tutors and colleagues I should hopefully end up with something positive.
I have been working recently with animator Sarah Brewster on a collaborative project whereby I provide illustrations for her to animate. This throws open another exciting opportunity. The project has been my favourite of the year so far and has led me to think about possibly pursuing illustration for animation in the future. Learning more about animation would also be useful in light of the way that the industry is evolving and illustration and animation seem to be merging (see previous post regarding ‘Illustrations Digital Future’).
The talk we had recently from Lord Whitney and my recent installation for Music has made me realize that the world is full of interesting and unexpected opportunities for illustrators if they are willing to look outside of their usual sources of work.
So to conclude, in my final semester I aim to make the most of the time I have left to produce the best work I can and leave with a portfolio that I can be proud of. After University I aim to look to beyond the usual sources of work to continue to refine the skills that I have learned over the past three years. In the meantime, for the time I have left in education I aim to make as best use of my tutors as I can to prepare me for what is to come. Finally I aim to appreciate and take advantage of working in a studio alongside my colleagues, who are some of the most intelligent, creative and inspirational people that I have ever met.