I keep having new ideas but for the moment my limited resources and mobility keep my ideas from being fully developed so I will keep doing background work for my ideas.

This orangutan is my first charcoal work in a while and I miss my pencils which gives my work more subtlety and allows for greater contrast. Anyway, this shall be the start of my new story ‘L1’. The story will follow an orangutan who has been captured, put into a zoo and slowly succumbs to isolation and inertia. My crash and corresponding house rest has shown me to a slight degree what these highly intelligent animals go through when secluded from nature and their normal lives.

The choice of orangutan was made consciously as they grow longer and shaggier hair the older they get and this will allow the process of time to be felt. I also wanted this to link with my reading of ‘the ape theatre’ by john berger, where his quotation of Angelus Silesius really spoke to me, ‘Anybody who has passed more than a day in eternity is as old as god ever could be.’ This quote really emphasises these animals’ plight and I want to finish the story on this quote.

I have punked up my elephant. I found it harder to reincorporate the punk elements into a pre made image and, much like colour, I need to stop believing I can rehash images to my own needs. I just need to man up and restart because the image is weaker when I add bits on top of it. That said I quite like the anarchy symbol.

My first drawing since the crash. I got asked to do a tattoo of an elephant for my friend and while I was slightly reluctant, due to my masses of elephants that I have done for my ivory trade project, I enjoyed drawing again after all the theory I have been reading lately. The head I drew from a photo first but I felt that it hung in the air too much, too abstract and dispossessed. Due to this feeling and the ,seemingly, eons of time I have till my recovery I decided to make up the body as the photo didnt extend beyond the neck. 

Apart from a few proportional issues in the thicknesses of the legs I think I did pretty well with this image. It has given me more confidence in making up my animals and not always relying on conveniently posed photographs to draw from.

I shall extend this drawing and punk him up a bit to add to my anarcimals collection.

Picturing the Beast - By Steve Baker

I have finished my first book from cover to cover with all the notes written from it. 30 odd pages of A5 scrawl shall now be condensed in this rather boring yet necessary essay.

To start with I bought this book as the book ‘How to look at animals’ by John Berger gave me some thoughts to mull over about how we actually view animals and what we think of them, as well as how we represent them. The title of this book and the review on amazon made me believe this book would help find these questions out. The book was divided into 6 chapters so I wrote an analysis of each chapter and I will rewrite these. Then, as a whole entity, I will try and work out what I exactly got from this book. 

Chapter 1

When we look at animals we don’t really view them. We see what they are, identify their species and then see the stereotypes that we associate with them rather than view the animal in its own right. This in itself isn’t a bad thing as everything really and truly has a semiotic value, prescribed by society. This chapter simply questions whether these are the correct evaluations and whether they work for both us and animals.

Chapter 2

This chapter took the idea of representation and applied it to national animals. National animals have a strong history of semiotics and these were used strongly in the early part of the 20th century as was seen in propaganda posters. These animals however, lose their national integrity every time they are used. Each individual use of the national symbol takes the abstract representation and puts it to a specific incident and this then muddies the interpretation of the national symbol. This has led to a rejection of the national symbol by many national programmes, as the connotations are no longer clear and can be misinterpreted quite easily.

Chapter 3

Chapter 3 tried to look at why we view animals as different to us. It states that we have a fundamentally different view of ourselves and all other animals. Being sentient we have created a divide between us and nature and this divide causes the difference that we then instil onto animals. This distance that we have created also means that we have created a derogatory view towards animals, generally using animal terms as either insults or as purely physical endowments (fast as a cheetah etc.). These views are then reinforced from childhood through generations and therefore we have this view of animals as beneath us.

Chapter 4

Chapter 4 played close to my heart, it talked about narratives and animals and I found this incredibly useful as It talked about how animals can mess up a narrative. As we create a narrative centred around animals it becomes almost impossible to distance oneself from the protagonists and therefore we run into problems. We imbue animals with these human traits that find conflicts in reality and these can cause conflict in the narrative. This was highlighted in the MAUS narrative (which I have now ordered) where the mice have human bodies yet animal heads and this caused huge outcries of racism etc considering the topic. Personally I think the idea behind the book is brilliant and it was a shame the author was bullied into having to defend his choices.

Chapter 5

This chapter looked at the misrepresentation of animals in the popular culture. It looked at neoteny and saw how the objectification of animals has made them into a fetish, where cute animals are sold because they somehow create this eternally young ideal which people buy into and try and live vicariously through. This practice of ‘cuteness’ also reinforces the stereotype that animals are juvenile, which makes society ignore the problems of animals all the more, thinking it is beneath them. 

It also spurred on a thought that we enjoy animals because we never really see them age. We see them die yes, but we never see them deteriorate because we cannot tell this the same way as we can with humans unless you study animals closely. This ‘immortality’ is something we leach onto as we see animals as these strong and everlasting creatures, defiant before extinction and we seek to vicariously absorb this power. Just an idea but an interesting one.

Chapter 6

Finally, chapter 6 looked at how we deal with these representations from a proactive side. It implies that when we conserve animals and try and protect them we take ownership of these animals, implying they are not free and that they are no longer self sufficient. To really give animals their identity back we should completely leave them alone. This approach however is idealistic and, with our current intervention we cannot leave them be because we’ve messed up the natural cycle far too much. 

It states that the best idea to help animals as well as give them their own identity is to represent them as victims. For humans to be repulsed at what we have done to them and then leave them be or support them from afar, which will stop human intervention. These shock tactics work better than cute images of animals because it stops the objectification of animals as cute commodities.

Summary

This book proposed quite a few questions to me and has helped me understand my own work, as well introduce me to other practitioners and theorists. Ultimately the book states that the animals cannot really be represented by us because we anthropomorphise them whenever we think about them and therefore any conservation or thoughts should really be subjective to your own personal tastes. This being said, objectification isn’t really bad as classification is part of human nature.

In the sense of narrative I really liked this idea of the distress caused by the clash between humanity and animality and i really want to explore this awkward juxtaposition. It has also helped me with representing animal images in the subtlety that is implied in how we show the animal stance and condition and, in general I think this book will be instrumental in my dissertation proposal.

Seeing as I am currently an invalid, due to a person’s shunting into my car at 50mph, I thought I would check out some other illustrators that do animals as a career. This guy is called Andreas Preis, the style is completely different to my own but I quite like the way the animals are drawn. The lion has this linear style which is tempered by the gradient and low hues of the colours to mesh into a surprisingly warm image. These badges are strong graphic images and, while they are different from my graphic images the meshing of the soft and the linear is a technique which I could maybe play around with.

These images also remind me of the illustrator John Dyler Blaizley. He is both a band member and the graphic designer for their merchandise and album covers. His covers are beautiful, intricate and trippy and its probably one of the contributing factors to the fact they’re a favourite band of mine, and as my car is testament to. Many hours of bad singing.

I put my animal design and the animal onto a tshirt to give a rough example of how it’d look if I made the design. I changed the typography from the examples below as it wasn’t legible according to friends and it didnt really fit the style of drawing that is represented by the stag. The only thing bothering me at the moment is if it he text and surrounding swirls are too thick compared to the stag and maybe I should reduce these. (As well as straighten up the stag in general.

I am trying to create my title for my graphically drawn animals as a type setting that I can then put with the animals as I put them onto the tshirts. My wish is that this name ‘anarcimals (or anarkimals)’ will be a key phrase on my website and then if anyone sees a tshirt and wonders what an anarcimals is they will type it in and find my website will pop up on google and then people could find them, buy them and transport me to a land of riches, tax exemptions and sun. Monaco to be precise. Or switzerland.

I took inspiration for the type face from the punk band ‘The Casualties’ and I guess a bit from the thrash metal band ‘Slayer’. These typefaces are strong, linear and bold and I think they will contrast well with the sweeping and fluid drawings of the animals. I am only worried that these designs aren’t bold enough, legible enough or interesting enough to work and as I have never studied typography or lettering I am a bit unsure at the moment.

My third attempt takes out the gaps between enclosing letter parts as I think it became too confusing visually. I also pushed the lettering out a tad in order to give the word some space and, thereby make the image more legible. I changed the C as I found the two lines simply didnt register on my mind and I am the one creating this stuff. Ideally I need some actual insight into why I feel so unsure about these attempts and any critique would be invaluable.

I want to do a narrative based on a spoken poem (ocd by neil hilborn, look it up). I hope it won’t be a problem copyright wise, however drawing a human narrative will be good for me and I found this imperfect love to be more representative of emotion than Hollywood ever does.

This self set project will be a challenge for me, not only expressing the vivid emotions, but to represent OCD strongly enough. I want to add in strong phrases from the poem, partly due to the righting and otherwise to give the imagery and stronger and more understandable context.

I am starting my printing with the lino stencils I have been putting together for the last few days. These are trial runs of my designs; the cheetah, rhino and stag anarcimals. The technique is quite rusty, I haven’t printed in a while and i am quite worried that i shall mess up the process on actual tshirts as that will be expensive. I will also need more space, this was done in my bedroom at uni and didnt really fit.

These are illustrations for a project called ‘Portraits’. This project looked at a person and then we were told to create three illustrations which interpreted this person. I chose Dian Fossey, the gorilla conservationist who died for her beliefs. 

I wanted to represent what she meant to people and, as a fiery and combative person she presented vastly different views. The first image looks at how the gorillas viewed her. This image was drawn in charcoal and was quite tricky to get right compositionally, even here I am not that happy with it. It shows her glove and a gorilla, as her first intimate encounter with a gorilla was a gorilla inspecting her glove and thought this would be a good symbol to show the connection between her and her gorillas. The second image looked at how conservationists saw her, namely the protector of these majestic apes.I chose a photo of her holding a baby gorilla which captured this maternal instinct of protection, using charcoal to show the softness of her compassion. Finally I portrayed her as the natives saw her, a witch. The natives believed this pale skinned and fire haired woman was a sorceress and feared her aggressive tactics, I used traditional african masks as a basis for the figure to help reinforce that this image is the perspective created by the locals. The strong and contrasting use of coloured inks helped show her explosive nature and the fear she created in the locals.

I am quite pleased with the outcome of this project, it was the first of the year but due to it being A2 size I have only now photographed it for assessment. I really like the witch portrait but oddly enough I then left the inks alone for the majority of the year as I focused on composition and used media that I was comfortable with, rather than trying to be genuinely experimental so maybe this is something I should casually explore in my free time.

My friend got a cute little kitten on Sunday and she posted this photo so I drew a little sketch of him for her.

Critical analysis of websites.

This presentation was to be done alone and therefore I took a bit more of a narrow minded view, looking at aspects which would be useful for my own website. This is where I think Michelle and I worked well otherwise in the year, she adds her interests to mine to make the presentations far more diverse and far richer and experience for both ourselves and for the people listening to us. Due to my narrow mindedness I bulldozed ahead, looking at the list given to us by Fig and came across a number of website builders that had the sort of websites that would interest me.

In general I found that I preferred the websites that were very clean and clinical, as it allowed the work to be easily seen. As I said earlier, I did not look at the sites for work that interested me, and maybe that was a mistake as I just searched for a format that interested me. The first I came upon that i liked was a hairdressers web format created by Wix. This format came in a triangular shape, with steadily shrinking images going down and allowed your main image to be shown in a large format while smaller images and links being smaller down the triangle. I thought this would be good for my style of illustration, where my marks make my work interesting and would allow my expressive style to be visible. 

The second website builder I viewed was weekly. I was not as impressed with this builder, a lot of sites were more like blogs than websites and they did not look very professional. I found a website that had a page on it called ‘upcoming events’ and I found this quite a good idea, as well as publicising yourself online you are also publicising your events to make attendance better. 

Finally I looked at Edicy and found a website that was quite conventional but used this to its greatest effect. Using a very clear format and a scrolling down list of images it allowed the work to be viewed in a large format and stopped any awkward cropping in squares from obscuring the image to an unintelligible mass.

Overall I found it to be quite informative and, looking into the actual setting up of a website demystified the concept and made it seem more approachable than previously thought. I also never thought about the concept of a bilingual website but Snow showed some and this could be an idea as i speak German well and I would love to work abroad for a while or, with the power of internet, simply work with german clients.

'Why Look at Animals' John Berger

I am currently reading a book of essays by John Berger. These essays centre around animals, the human spirit, how we view animals and how this view has impacted on human culture. These views are incredibly insightful and have made me question a lot of things I never did think about in regard to animals. 

The essays ‘The Ape Theatre’ and ‘Why Look at Animals’ have given me a lot to mull over and I have gotten a few ideas out of them. Firstly, I have been given ideas for possible paths on my dissertation. The anthropomorphism of animals in literature and illustration to create a conscious thought in animals, the dualism between our lives and animal lives, domestic and wild (as well as captive) and the design of cages to create artificial environments. These ideas interest me but I think only the first one would be applicable to a dissertation, still this book is only half finished and I have gotten multiple ideas.

Secondly, I was deeply moved by the mention of a 68 year old orang-utan. This orang-utan, whose eyes were like staring into eternity, was such an evocative phrase that I would love to show and convey the captivity of these majestic primates. The very idea of spending your life in a cage, viewed for other people’s pleasure is a distressing idea and the consciousness within these animals clearly show this.

Thirdly, the notion that animals in cages are not even animals. The lack of a natural environment and the need to find food or a mate has made the animal lose all purpose and therefore, when we look at animals in a zoo we see only the physical representation. Actually, this too could be an interesting proposal. To imagine what an animal would feel when it has lost all purpose, to view their imprisonment and see how they can live out their days and how they vent their frustration at their incarceration. These ideas sound like the ramblings of a madman, but to paraphrase Oscar Levant, the line between madness and genius (in my not so humble opinion) is a narrow one.