MA Fine Art alumnus, Rebecca Strain, travelled from Aberdeen to Bournemouth, meeting alumni along the way. She tells us about her A – B journey.
“It’s being really cool; I can’t believe it’s been a month, its gone really quickly. Its been really tiring as well, being in transit all the time and not knowing where you are going to put your head down every night, but meeting all these people and seeing all the different directions people have gone in, from this one base to where its all taken them.
I think I was just so impressed by what people were doing. Without art things just don’t exist. Everything in the world needs to be designed and has to be thought about. Meeting those people you get to see the start of process, they were coming with ideas and making things happen in the world. Some of the things were quite small scale, but others were huge. Big film production, a lot of it I can’t speak about, because they are in the process of being made. It was really inspiring seeing the determination of people because its not easy, its not an easy path to take and there are up and downs. Sometime its amazing and people are doing really amazing jobs and other times you are sat dong the crap paper work.
There are a lot of people free lancing and within the creative industry, a lot of things are project based. Whilst you are doing them its really intense and you’re part of that, but then it sort of drops. What I have noticed is that everyone becomes aware of that quite quickly and able to manage that. Whilst one project comes to an end there is another one coming. Even when there is not and there are a few months of gap, this one guy went to France and he met all these people he would never have met before, it was a really good experience. Another girl, had 11 weeks were she was looking for work, but she knew that it wasn’t some sort of crazy dream, she was qualified and experience and she was going to get work, maybe not tomorrow but it was going to be soon. She was going to do it and she would be back on the horse in no time. Tt was that kind of drive and determination and the trust that people had in there own abilities.
My journey was like a lot of our creative pathways and careers, the forks and the turn and the dreadful bits. You start off and you think right, I’ll start here and then I’ll do this and then this and I’ll end here, and that’s not how it works at all! You start off and you go with what is happening. You go with the flow, you find out what’s happening, you get distracted by something. If its interesting you go with that, and its quite interesting because the physical journey, I would have like to have a GPS tag on me and actually see what that was like, map it out.
As I say, its not easy. The creative industry is not easy and people are working really hard for really rewarding work. What I really noticed is that when I was here, like everyone else, there’s this feeling of an extended family while you’re at AUB. It’s very small, everybody knows each other, you recognise each other in the corridors, people are working with each other helping each other out. Whilst I was working out in the big bad world, I found is that the AUB alumni were continuing to maintain that kind of environment. They were maintaining those kind of relationships with their colleagues, with new people they were meeting and creating these kind of supportive environments and being open to collaboration, continuing the ethos. It’s and extended community. It could be like dog eat dog but its not. People are supportive and helping each other and its great.”
What is your One Piece of Advice?
“Be undeterred by months or even year of struggle, because you will get there.”
Jamie Smith graduated from BA (Hons) Arts and Events Management in 2013. He tells us what he’s been up to since.
“I was recently appointed as Events Account Manager for Enable Leisure and Culture, who are responsible for events in the parks and open spaces in the Wandsworth area. There are two parts to the job, the first is organising and managing internal events as part of a team and the second part is helping external companies with their events that take part in the parks an open spaces. The first account I have to manage is a 5k run, for 1000 people, in late January. I will help them to make the application and then make sure that they meet all the conditions of the use of land.
I was putting together the Battersea Fireworks Festival this year. It sold out, so there were 50k people attending. That was my first event in the job and I was on the ground helping with the build and the break. There were a lot of people involved. One company brought over 200 stewards and security, there were police involved and, on the day, everyone fulfilled their role to make it happen. It’s been going for 13 years and rest of the team are very competent. They’d done most of the pre-production before I started. Part of my role was ensuring that contractors built or located their infrastructure in the right places, and helping the build run as smoothly as possible. It wasn’t all problem free, but you find solutions and the show goes on. The event itself went really well. I even helped two lost children be reunited with their parents.
When I was younger I remember thinking about putting a party on in a field. In 2008, I finally got it together and had 300 people at a one night event in a marquee. I made some money and caught the bug. I did a few more events in Glastonbury, Somerset and, when I realised you could do a degree in events, it was a no brainer.
My first job was with a company called Serious Stages. I got handed a wire brush and shown to a pile of steel. I did two weeks of 12 hour days, brushing. It was a kind of a test to see if you’d give up when it gets tough. After that I traveled extensively, building stages for them. Since then I have done loads of jobs, from litter picking and stage management to tech support. Because I’ve had this wide range of experience, I feel like I can relate to the people doing these jobs when I am managing an event. I know what they need, what’s expected of them and what’s expected of us.
I borrowed some kit from Serious Stages and converted a truck to a portable DJ stage. Then I took that idea of a small quirky stage and developed another, of which a variation was used at a festival in Europe this year, and will possibly be used again.
It takes practice to keep calm under pressure. There’s no point in running about and being stressed out, other people get unnerved and lose confidence in you, when that happens you’ve lost control. Even if you are stressed you have to appear calm.
The highlight is always to see people enjoying themselves. No matter how stressful it has been when you see that and you know you have played a part in making that happen.
When an event is on, the hours are really long and you have to keep it together and not fall apart. You have a lot of people relying on you and have to be sharp, despite sleep deprivation.”
What would be your One Piece of Advice?
“Take all the opportunities. Get involved in any aspect of any event, whenever you can. Volunteer, do the crap jobs, it’s good to see the whole picture of what is involved. Network, everyone you work with is someone who you could be working with in future.”
Eight of our BA (Hons) Modelmaking alumni are working with Amalgam Models. We spoke to them about their journeys since graduating.
BA (Hons) Modelmaking
Eight of our BA (Hons) Modelmaking alumni are working with Amalgam Models. We spoke to them about their journeys since graduating.
Robert Bakewell. Graduated in 2006:
“When I graduated I worked for a bit in London and then with Paragon for a while. I’ve been at Amalgam for 9 years. Its great here, like a family. I have a wide range of skills, so initially I was helping out in all departments. For the first 3 years I was freelancing mainly in casting then, when the boss left the casting dept, I took on his job and moved to PAYE. Now I am a project manager, I am mainly dealing with clients and overseeing the projects.
On a recent project we have been making game controllers for Holovis, they are really nice clients. We get the electronic and we have to design and fit the casing and make sure all the controls work. We did two versions in 2 months and finally made 20 units for use in a show. We normally do batches of 25-50 sometimes, to prove a concept is working. Early in my career I developed an ice cube tray for Joseph and Joseph, I still feel a wave of pride when I see it in the shops. The best thing about Modelmaking is making real things that you get to see out there in the world.”
Glen Mcdouall. Graduated in 2010:
“Even though I got a lot of job opportunities in London, I came straight to Amalgam after uni. I did casting with Rob for a few months, then prototyping. It’s quite organic here so I moved around a lot. Now I am Dept Head for prototyping. It’s really rewarding. I am mainly advising clients and costing, but I still like to get hands on. We once did a massive job for Zodiac Aerospace who work with the fuselage of aeroplanes. I was part of a project that was making prototypes and exhibition models for seats. There were 4 pairs of full size seats that had to be durable to be used by visitors to the exhibition. There were a lot of options and I worked with a huge range of materials. We got it done on time and within budget; that’s the important bit. The best thing about Modelmaking is you can make anything; it’s always exciting and different every time.”
Andy Wright. Graduated in 2006:
“At the end of year show I was approached by Berry Place Models in London and I worked for them for 18 months. I was working solely with architectural models and I like it but then my girlfriend moved to Bristol so I wanted to move too. I did a lot of freelance work before Amalgam. My speciality is prototyping and fine finishing. I spend two years in the casting here, in Modelmaking you have a range of skills so you work in different areas. My favourite job was working on the Goo Olympics for Crème Egg. Most of the time you can’t tell people what you are working on but this was different – I was on TV and I my friends and family could see what I do. I spent ages doing the colour matching which was really hard because we were using different resins that have different base colours. Recently I have been working on a ‘tube anchor’ through a guy at Bristol hospital. It’s an idea that you can really get behind because it will make a really difference to patients experience. My advice to Modelmakers is to make the most of the New Blades show; it’s you r opportunity to sell yourself, oh and be nice!”
Paul Pritchard. Graduated in 2004:
“I was at Fosters in London for 4 years after the New Blades show. There are an architectural firm so your clients are the architects. I’ve been at Amalgam for 7 years. Here I am developing work in electronics, lighting and interactive models. Before my degree I did mechanical engineering, and I really wanted to develop this. I started doing lighting for architectural models. I did a piece for EDF visitors centre to show how electricity is generated. Kids have to pump a generator to make a turbine spin which then lights up a map of Britain. At Amalgam people come to me when they want something to move or light up so I work on lots of projects. You’re never doing the same thing from day to day.”
Joe Preston. Graduated in 2002:
“I graduated from the first year of the Modelmaking degree when it was AIB. It was Ben Moss who initiated the New Blades show and that’s what got us out there. I worked for Fosters for 9 years. Two of us went there from the course so it was really good to have someone you knew in London. Then I moved to Bristol and freelanced from my own workshop. I used to use the facilities at Amalgam. When they got the contract to populate the EDF Visitor Centres they needed extra staff so that’s when I started with them. I am mainly working in architectural models but there’s a lot of cross over. We all learn from each other here. At Fosters I worked on Wembley Arena, as a football fan this was really cool. We also travelled a lot; I was in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the Far East. Every year we went to Nice to install work for Mipim a big construction seminar. In Modelmaking you have to enjoy it, you have to put the hours in even when it’s frustrating. It’s worth it.”
Anthony Newbury. Graduated 2010:
“When I was still at uni I did some work experience in Bath for 3D Create. I was working with Yohan Engles; he was a great guy. He just passed away recently, but he really lived life to the full. So I was working before I graduated. With Yohan I was doing architectural and theatre design. I worked there for 3 months and when that started to come to an end I got in touch with Amalgam because I had always wanted to work for them. I started doing freelance work- product design, casting, small scale stuff; mostly architecture. I took a year out to go to Japan. I spent 7 months as a ski instructor and then I went to Malaysia for a while. When I came back Amalgam had me down for a job. My favourite work was when I did a theatre design for a production of Faust for a major Parisian theatre. When we saw the photos they were exactly replicated to our models. I think Modelmaking is about the people rather than the models. Sometimes you have to do some boring things but stick with it.”
Ben Rogers. Graduated in 2003:
“I have always been freelance – it suits me. I worked for Jeff Cliff Models, MGS Modelmaking, and Codsteaks. I worked on animation, media, architectural, products. At the moment I am freelance for John Wright and Amalgam, swapping between the two depending on projects. I’m really proud of the work I did on Fantastic Mr Fox; I made the motorbikes and lots of armatures. My first job was The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. I have also worked on Frankenweenie. There is so much variety to Modelmaking. Do it for the love not for the money.”
Tom Bench. Graduated in 2011:
“After uni I took a year out to be a cycle technician at Halfords. I went to work for BMT Fluid Mechanics in London on wind tunnel engineering. It was really unsociable hours; we’d start at 5pm and work til 8am because we were working with the other site in Kuala Lumpur. The pay was good but after 2 years I kinda had enough and they were cutting our pay too. Whilst on holiday from BMT I did a trial week at Amalgam, three days later I started here. I am mainly working on the construction of bigger pieces, exhibition works and large film props. In my spare time I also work on making film props. I’ve worked on models for the London skyline, buildings like the ‘Walkie Talkie’. It’s cool to see stuff before anyone else has seen it. My advice to someone wanting to work in this industry would be to do it. I hadn’t realised you could do Modelmaking but when I found that I could my mind was made up.”
Joe Walker graduated from BA (Hons) Architecture in 2015. He’s now working for Architecture PLB and tells us more about what he’s been up to.
“I work at Architecture PLB. I was pretty quick off the mark getting my CV and portfolio out there so I was straight out of uni into a job. There are 45 registered practices in the city so there is a kind of network here and there are a few AUB graduates around. I am a part one architectural assistant and I am working on student housing projects within a design team which includes a director a senior architect and then me. So I’m involved in all aspect of the work. It’s a good office to be in.
Initially I wanted to do engineering, but I found myself to be more inclined to the artistic side and so I felt architecture would be a good direction. So through studying, taking a year out to gain experience and under the guidance of inspiring tutors I have found myself more impassioned with the architecture. The tutors showed me that it was not just about building houses that there was a much broader view of the profession. It’s something that is all around us.
Music came in to play; maybe when I was struggling a bit. It was something that helped me, it was a kind of therapy. I realised I could make a connection between music and architecture quite easily and a lot of people have done that in the past. I could actually create an instrument that wouldn’t have been created without doing an architecture degree. It was shortlisted for the Royal Academy, it got on a table in a room and then they had a second round of judging and it had to go back into the van; but I will hold on to that image.
The approach to making was driven by the same processes that you would use in architectural model making. For example it is made out of plywood and I used laser cutting, which are used to make models.
At PLB I am working on buildings for education, so I feel like I need to continue to develop this work that is engaged with music outside of this. As well as making music I am continuing to develop this work. This particular work is inspired by an artist; a musician who has an inherent connection with space and therefore architecture and I have noticed and opportunity to develop this. I want to look at how I can work alongside him. I’m working on a proposal for a London based art space to create a site specific sound installation, which could be part of a festival next year celebrating the work of the artist. It’s not fully realised but it will be a spatial sound installation and it will be a reinterpretation of space.
This is more of an artistic project, but there is also a scientific element to it. The premise of it is the fundamentals of how we experience space through sound; like how large space may have a lot of echo and a small space might be drier or denser. You could read this with your eyes closed. I guess it’s an aspect that can be overlooked. That’s what I have found interesting to raise that sense and make us more aware of it.”
What is your One Piece of Advice?
“I would say you should try to open your mind to different disciplines and think about it as broadly as possible, but also to find a specialism, a niche, something you can excel in but not to neglect other art forms. We spent a lot of time at uni collaboration and this really helped me to see and experience the different things that can be brought to architecture and it makes it more fun and interesting.”
BA (Hons) Acting alumnus Sherolyn Luby tells us about her career since graduating in 2012.
“Most recently I have been part of an immersive dining experience in London. It was all very top secret and hush-hush, lots of improv and a mix of food and immersion in a theme. It was good; I was playing a Victorian Lady of the manor and I had a butler which was great to bounce off. We would have groups of 16 people come around every half hour. It was great to have these different groups to work with who all bring different vibes with them.
One time Graham Norton came in with his friends and he was great to play with. When it was announced I was the Lady of the Manor, he began to clap. He was very respectful of me and my role. He and his friends had a great laugh and were calling me over and we had a great time. It’s very intense, you have to have a lot of energy and make sure you look after your vocals. Your role is to entertain and you have to be on it, people are out to enjoy themselves they’ve paid a lot of money to be part of this experience, so you have to work hard and give it your all.
The first job I did when I graduated was a performer at London Dungeon. You have about 15 characters that you play, they swap around every three hours or so. You are telling stories about Jack the Ripper and the Plague Doctor, depending on your character, to groups of 40. It’s not unlike the immersive dining experience job. The great thing about this job is that I met a network of actors in and around London. People know people and, when I went to create my show-reel with AUB Film graduates, I used friends from the London Dungeon job.
This summer I was on a TV ad for Lidl. I didn’t feel it was acting because it was all hidden cameras so I felt it used more of my communication skills and generally interacting with people. Alongside acting, I sometimes work in customer service and I felt I could really put this experience to use in this role. It was great fun. I met so many interesting characters on the set, which was a brewery in Glasgow. I have also been up in Scotland for the Fringe in 2014 – that was on my bucket list. We went to up Edinburgh to perform a production written from scratch based on the Master of Glencoe. I was working with professional and amateur actors, so that was a new experience and it was great to experience the enthusiasm of the amateurs and how they really got into it. Later we toured it to London and Frankie Boyle was testing some material before we came on, so we like to say we were supported by Frankie Boyle. It was a short run, just three nights there, but I’m so glad I did it and it was for charity too.
From what I have told you, there could appear to be loads going on and, when there is, it’s really great but there are those times when months can go by and there’s nothing. There was a time when 11 weeks went by and I was auditioning all the time but not getting anything. So you have to think about how best to use your time. You hear that you just have to deal with rejection but I think that you can also work on how you approach things. I recently put together a presenting show-reel to broaden my abilities and allow me to go for more job opportunities.”
What is your One Piece of Advice?
“In acting you learn so much and there are so many transferable skills such as communication and team building, that maybe other graduates haven’t got. These are really useful to get part-time work to support you through the times when you’re not working in acting. I think acting is not just a career, it’s a lifestyle choice. You are always working on your craft, networking, writing emails, getting head shots done, doing show-reels, meeting people, doing taxes and invoicing. It’s ok to have a night off, even if you are not in a play that week.”
BA (Hons) Animation Production alumnus Kayvon Darabi-Fard graduated in 2010. He tells us about his work since graduating.
My current home is Belfast, where I work freelance, but there are a lot of networking opportunities in London so it’s good to visit and also see family too.
I drew a lot as a kid, from flip books to drawing cartoons on TV, drawing from extras at the end of videos and using three sheets of paper to try and make the images move. From that I drew for many years and went on to study media in Manchester but specialised in animation. One of my lecturers there was an AUB alumnus and advised me to go there. So I headed down and met Peter Parr and he was really inspiring.
Peter really encouraged us to always keep a sketch book with you and to draw and observe and get those things down on paper. Nowhere else quite had that spark. It was contagious, when he showed us his sketch books and started telling the stories of what he had seen it really made all of us appreciate the importance of observation and recording it to use and show later. He referred to it as clocking up drawing miles.
Unfortunately I wasn’t straight into a job from uni. I was so adamant that I wanted to do storyboarding and I turned down opportunities to animate. In the meantime I was working in bars and restaurants and then began in the retail arm of an international media company. I thought I could use this opportunity to work my way up to the role I wanted to be in. After two years of persistence, meeting people in the company trying to get a way in to the things I wanted to do I came to a point where I realised that this approach wasn’t working.
Luckily I had a call from a friend in Belfast who asked me if I wanted a job as an Animation Fixer so even thought it meant I would be giving up all of the time I’d invested in pursuing a role in this other company I said yes, left my job and started working in Belfast. I was starting all over again but I was going in the right direction. I wasn’t doing storyboarding and I was using software I hadn’t used before; it was a tough first month. I was living in a hotel, eating noodles from a kettle, but it was worth it to get back on track.
For the first time since uni, I was surrounded by people who were great at their jobs and who knew what it is they loved to do. I knew I loved to storyboard and that I could do it even though I hadn’t gotten industry experience. The moment people asked me what I do I said “well I am doing animation fixing here but really I am a storyboard artist – that’s what I do”. I told the director, my supervisor, the producer, everybody. At the end of the project there wasn’t one person working there who didn’t associate me with storyboarding.
Jam Media put out a call for storyboard artists and I applied. A few months later they called me back and I got to work on Zig and Zag. I was a little bit star struck. It was so cool to hear the audio track and recall those voices, a trip down memory lane. It was great to be working on something you’d seen on TV as a kid. A great job! I also worked for BBC on a series called Messy Goes to OKIDO. That was my first freelance work as a story boarder. I had a lot of creative freedom; they gave me the characters and the scripts and just said to go for it! So I got to pick out the best bits and make it visually really rich. This show was great to work on because it was educational too, so I felt like what I was doing was having a positive impact on kids.
When I was still at uni I was setting up life drawing for the animators. I have always loved acting and the theatre, animation is acting with pencils. I put a call out through the uni to get people involved. I brought actors in to the life drawing and had them dressed in costumes and that really got people engaged. When I left uni I went to my local theatre and asked them if I could do some drawings of the show, they agreed and I did about 13 sessions of the Three Musketeers and from there they asked me to do some designs of flyers so I did that to build my portfolio and keep clocking up the drawing miles. Then fast forward to three years down the line still very much enjoying the theatre and drawing in this situation.
I approached the Lyric Theatre in Belfast and they said come on down. So I sat there in the darkness with my drawing board and desk light and made drawings in ink and chalk. When I had finished I gave the drawings to the theatre and they really liked them. They used some as promotional material especially on social media. Two months down the line I got a call saying the director of the new show wants you in – how much to you charge? So I became a Theatre Sketch Artist. I really feel like this work. I feel it could only have developed out of my skills in drawing for animation. I’d love to continue doing this between storyboarding jobs or even all the time.
What is your One Piece of Advice?
It’s an obvious thing, but stick at it. Remember what makes you smile, makes you want to sit down and draw. Consider those opportunities that may not be exactly what you imagined doing. Be kind to people, it’s a small world. Be kind to your fellow students also, the years below you will be your colleagues when they graduate.
Christina Evans graduated from BA (Hons) Photography in 2014. She chats to us about what she’s been up to since leaving AUB.
My recent project is called ‘Boxes of Oranges’, it’s a slow process. I took the images this time last year when I went travelling with a friend; I’m hopefully trying to finalise it into a book. There are a lot of decisions to be made; what paper, cover, font, size, image selection and layout, what works what doesn’t work.
I submitted my work to a competition. The lady from Live Art Local in Fareham got back to me and asked if I would like to do a solo show. I was delighted so I said yes even though it was a quick turnaround. I managed to get frames done in a week and prints in a day; I had to bribe the guy with chocolates to get it done on time and then I put up the show that weekend and it opened on 26th October.
Like a lot of people I decided to go travelling after uni. I had a small fund I had saved up. I could either use it to start renting a place or to go travelling and I decided on the latter. I had a great time going around Europe, it was definitely money well spent; especially when you have been in education your whole life, you need that break. I think you need it especially when you’re creative. I took my camera with me and came back with this body of work.
Mostly it’s about the things you see every day. I’m fascinated by colour, by form, composition and I’m intrigued by the strangeness that you see, or the things that people wouldn’t usually notice and capturing them in an image.
Yeah a lot of it is based on chance. All the images are taken when I’m just wandering around looking around me and it just so happens that I stumble upon this image. One image I took when I was in 2nd year was of a dog out of a window. I took a shot and it worked. For me it’s that one shot and that’s it. I only take one image if it works it works if not then…
My degree show was about your wanderings around Winton and Boscombe. I took them at a pivotal point in spring. It’s a transitional time in the area the weather is changing, students are leaving and tourists are arriving. I was looking at the subtle coincidences; a lot of the images include pairs in the subject.
Photography can be quite broad in terms of the career, you might get into and for me I was interested in the gallery environment. I started interning at TheGallery at uni and went on from there to Six Gallery in Boscombe, were I had the use of the space for two weeks, so I programmed four different exhibitions. I set up a collective in order to share ideas and support each other and we put together at Factory in Boscombe. A few of us from the collective took part in Bournemouth Emerging Artist Fringe this year. We put together a show at the Old School House and it was really nice to go back after graduation and do something completely independent.
There are a lot of people who have set up websites that showcase their love of image making and curating and I thought “why don’t I do one myself?” So I’m hoping to maybe produce publications or run exhibitions but at the moments it’s about gathering together people that I admire contacting people whose work I really like and asking them to be part of it. It’s good because at my current job I’m based at a computer, so any free time I can use to develop this work.
I work as Programme Administrator as part of the School of Media and Film at The University of Winchester. I get to use the library there which is great and as part of the job they have offered me a Masters Degree Culture and Arts Management which I will start in September. So yeah it’s really great and I think the masters will bring all these elements together.
What is your One Piece of Advice?
Don’t give up keep going. Don’t sell out and make the work people want you to do. Get your work printed, frame it make it into a book but don’t just leave everything as digital files.
BA (Hons) Illustration graduate Helen James graduated in 2013 and now runs her own business Gappy Gobs.
I have started a company called Gappy Gobs (because I have a gap in my gob!) and I am currently making ‘plushies’, which are a cross between a cushion and a stuffed toy. I started with pop figures like Amy Winehouse and Snoop Dog and I have also developed an animal range. I also take orders for customised pieces so people can request a pop star I haven’t already done, or they can have one done of their family of friends or pets. There have been quite a few orders for pets for Christmas.
I officially launched three weeks ago, but I have been working on the project for several months. I have been slowly drip feeding work in progress through social media prior to the launch of the website and the Etsy site.
I have always felt that I had a strong vision. When I would go out shopping as a child, I would look for things that looked a specific way in my head, but I could never find them. So I want to build a brand that expresses my strong vision and explore different areas of this, branch out into textiles, clutch bags, stationery.
I knew I wanted to develop a brand but I didn’t know how to get there. I did a course with Outset Bournemouth and they taught me the basics of how to set up and run a business. There I met lots people who had different ideas they wanted to work on. Every week we would meet up for sessions that were based on finance, marketing, motivation and other key aspects of business. I also do a lot of my own research as well. I think it’s really important to learn everyday so read a lot online and I have reached out to other small business owners who are where I want to be now. I am in regular contact with them online and have built up a good relationship with them. I went on a course run by one of them two weeks ago on ‘vision session’. It was a networking event really, we all talked about our goals and had a chat with each other and gave each other advice.
In the creative field, I have found that people are really friendly and helpful. By interacting with people online it’s not only developing my work, but also promoting their business. I read a lot of blogs and comment and interact with people to build up these relationships. Through these conversations I joined a closed Facebook group of where a lot of these small businesses that I am talking to are members of. It’s a space where you can ask questions or if you need a supplier for services like printing or whatever, people will share contacts and everyone helps each other out.
I work Monday to Thursday at Sound Storm Music Development Agency. I work in marketing there, so I design all the flyers and posters, leaflets etc for all the events, do the website and run social media. When I graduated I applied for loads of jobs and got loads of knock backs, then this internship turned up; it was around the corner and it is creative and allowed me to use all of my skills. I did a six month internship and then they offered me a job, so I have been there for a year and a half now. I spend Fridays working on my own work. At the moment I just work from my small living space, but I would really like to start renting a studio space. I think there is a really strong creative community in Bournemouth and I think it would be beneficial to tap into that. Plus I think it would be great just to be around other creatives, to bounce ideas around, get feedback and have that support. Sometime you just need someone’s advice.
I don’t see myself as just an illustrator. Although it’s based in that, I am doing a lot of design work. When you’re a small business you have so many hats. If I were to give myself advice as a student, it would be to utilize your time. When you have a full time job and you come home and walk the dog and make the dinner- time just slips away. At university you have so many opportunities to do work experience, you can gain so much knowledge; you have so much time to work on things like setting up your own business, that you could start working on whilst still at uni. You need to be determined and passionate about what you are doing and really make the most of your time.
Christina Button graduated from MA Graphic Design in 2012. She tells us about her work since graduating.
“I’m doing a Diploma in Education and Training at City of Westminster College. It’s equivalent to level 5 and it will qualify me to teach over 16s, so sixth form colleges, adult education etc. Mondays and Friday we learn the theory of teaching and Tuesdays to Thursdays is practice. We begin with observation of related courses and then team teaching and, as the year progresses, we become more independent until we are teaching by ourselves.
I got into it by doing the PTTL’s course part-time during one of my first graphic design jobs. I had wanted to get into university teaching so I thought this would be a good first step. I really liked the course and then an opportunity came up to teach ITC in a college near me for six months. It was a very scary experience but, despite that, I enjoyed it and decided to do some more training to increase my chances of getting a job in teaching design.
Since graduating I’ve worked for several companies as an in house Graphic Designer. I didn’t go down the agency route. In my first internship, I had a big part in designing the packaging for their new product, it’s retailing now (or soon) in the packing I designed so that’s kinda cool.
Also I was involved in the branding of sound equipment; so my logo is on headphones, earphones and other sound equipment out there too. I spent a month putting together book covers for a publishing company and I also did a lot of their promotional material too. I went from there to an outdoors company, designing quite a lot of t-shirts and also fabric prints for other clothing. They’re now available online and in their stores.
I have taken and unusual pathway but it’s really good that I’ve had a wide range of industry experience. I want to bring what I have learned into a teaching career, because I will be able to give advice to students based on real experience.
I’ve been involved in Shell Suit Zombie for the last few years. They started out as a zine and they were set up by four university graduates, who’s aim was to produce a yearly publication. They’re also involved in festivals and run their own exhibition, workshops at D&AD and other events. After their third issue they decided to open up to other creatives to get involved and form a collective. We now have around 40 people, including: designers, illustrators, copywriters, artists, photographers, advertisers, film makers and even stand up comedians.
Our last issue was called ‘The Money Issue’. We felt it was really important to address the issue of internships and unpaid work for graduates, that can sometimes go on for too long. Our next issue, which launches on Tuesday 24th November in Shoreditch, is more focused on career paths. The theme is ‘I still don’t know what I am doing’, and it’s about graduates who have been working for a few years, but still aren’t sure what direction they are going in.
We distribute to universities, but we also get requests to send oversees. Our last edition went to the US. The aim of the project is to represent our skills, but also to support and promote new work. I oversee a blog connected to the website called Mad Skills Monday where we promote new work. I started off just asking people that I know, so there were a lot of AUB alumni on there, but the more we posted the more applications we got to feature work. When you get featured on Mad Skills it also opens up the opportunity to collaborate with us on the publication. Last year I helped with a feature in Creative Review. Two of us wrote an article on advice for new graduates. It included ten steps for success, so I put together a brief for our featured artists to illustrate the ten steps and then that was published in Creative Review.
For any budding Graphic Designers, I’d say to consider joining a collective; I would really recommend it actually. There’s a lot of opportunities that can come up like blogging, magazine publishing and designing websites. As for teaching, if you’re a bit on the fence about whether you’d like to teach or not I would suggest the PTTLS course. It’s not that expensive and it a fun short course.”
“I have recently moved to Leeds to work on Victoria which will be aired ITV. I am a Costume Trainee so I am doing a bit of everything; assisting, sewing, I dress a lot of people and generally doing whatever is asked of me. We’ve been filming at different locations for the past few weeks. Yesterday we moved into our big set which meant me rushing onto set and delivering corsets, because there was a last minute adjustment needed for the sleeves. It’s very fast paced, very varied, but great work. Not every day is the same. I also work with the crowd controller and assist with all the extras dressing them and generally looking after them on set.
Before I graduated, I had started to work on Lewis also for ITV. It was based around Guildford so I was there, came back for graduation and then straight after graduation I was back on Lewis working on that for the last few months. When it started to wrap up I was sending my CV out to designers and everyone I knew. As it happened, the designer on Lewis knew the designer on Victoria and they recommended me. So it’s all about who you know.
After I got the Victoria job I got a few more job offers, so I sent them on the contact details of other AUB alumni. Maybe it will come around again for me in the future!
The costume department at AUB is affiliated with Creative Skill Set, which is a hub of recent graduates in all areas of film and TV. When a project comes up, companies can go to them and ask for a list of potential trainees. It means that graduates get great opportunities for professional work straight out of uni.
I live with two other Costume Trainees. I worked with them on Lewis, so I knew we would get on well. It’s like a little world of costume in our flat. It’s very intense but very rewarding. We are usually up at 4.30am but we car share, so that makes it easier. The third year at AUB really prepares you for the pace of professional work. You need stamina to maintain the long hours. The designers have been impressed with my work ethic and the way I can maintain production levels under stress. You just have to save sleeping until the weekends.
I think the best bit is seeing everything come to life, especially things that are of a period and refer to an actual person. For Victoria the references are the paintings. To see that, as a real thing; it’s incredible to see it unfold before you and be part of it.”
What is your One Piece of Advice?
You’ve got to be really, really passionate about what you are doing. It’s such hard work so you can’t do it half-heartedly. Put yourself out there. Take every opportunity. You learn so much at AUB, I did puppetry, textiles and tailoring. Just learn as much as you can because you never know when it could be useful.
“I have been working at Factory Create for over a year now, my role there is prop-maker and I have been working on a children’s TV series which is just airing now on CBeebies called Scream Street. It’s aired on Wednesdays at 5pm and it’s based on a series of books by Tommy Donbavand, who also writes the adventures for The Bash Street Kids in The Beano. We started putting together the sets in 2014 for the town where the families of vampires, werewolves and mummies live. I was working with the art director to come up with ideas for these, like what a vampire’s kitchen would look like.
They also shoot it on site so I see it from the initial drawing stage all the way to the finished film. We’ve got the characters already designed, but the way that sets and props will look is up to our Art Director. They come up with the ideas and then we get assigned to make these. It’s usually quite a quick turnaround, there’s a tight timescale, about a week or two between getting the script and making the set and props. There will usually be new sets to make and props that move, according to what the script says. So there might be an oven that needs to open so we need to make a prop that complies with the script. It’s very much to do with making things functional and efficient.
I did a four week trial, and then there was a bit of a break where I was working at a gallery building exhibition installations. Then Factory Create called me back and it’s been over a year now of uninterrupted work. When I first moved to Manchester, I worked for six months with Mackinnon and Saunders who make the puppets or characters for the shows. I moved away from the animation side of things for a few years and it was someone at Mackinnon and Saunders who recommended me to Factory Create when this project came along.
I would say the social aspect is almost as important as the work you make because you doing short contract and you need to get along with people in your team and get the work done. I rely more on contacts and recommendations from people I have met rather than a website to get work. It may seem a bit old fashioned but this approach works for me.
I was brought up in Leighton Buzzard with is north of London. So when I left AUB I spend about six months looking for work in London. There were a lot of companies who offered me a week or two weeks of work experience. When you’re starting off your looking for an opportunity to get your foot in the door. I thought it would lead to paid work but after a while, when I was still getting unpaid jobs, I started to look beyond London and that’s when the job came up at Mackinnon and Saunders. I’d met them at the New Blades show and kept in touch with Sarah, a producer there who liked my work. I think it’s important not to be disheartened if you don’t get your perfect job straight out of uni. You have to realise that there are a lot of graduates out there who are coming onto the scene at the same time as you, but you have to persist and maintain those contacts and let people know you are there and eventually it will come through.
I have worked on other things for TV and film, but this is the first time my work has been credited. It makes a big difference, you can really take pride in your work when you literally have your name on it. I guess it’s because I have been working on it for an extended period of time. A credit isn’t everything but it nice to see your name up there on the screen.
It looks like I will be there until the end of the year at least, which is a long time for a freelance job. I’ve built up a good range of skills and experience with different companies now, so I feel confident about getting more work. I’ve not always being doing animation based work. I spent a lot of time building exhibits where I earned a lot about joinery; that’s a skill I have been able to use when building sets. I would like to continue working with animation, but I’m open to do other relevant work that will build up my experience and skill-set.
If I spend my working time making I need to have a break from it at some point, so what I like to do is find other creative outlets. Recently I have started guitar lessons. It’s not something I am naturally good at, but it’s a great way to be doing something creative without the pressure of having to make money out of it.”
What is your One Piece of Advice?
“Well there are a lot of opportunities for graduates, the likelihood is, if you graduate from AUB, you will end up in a job you love. But don’t be scared of making slow progress, you can take your skills in a lot of different directions. I didn’t think I would be in animation, but I love it. You might surprise yourself as to what you’re going to enjoy doing until you give it a go.”
“So at the end of the course everyone attended the New Blades show in London, which is a big showcase of industry professionals in all aspects of Modelmaking. Architectural model making became my focus and I won an award, which was sponsored by Foster & Parters. It opened up a lot of opportunities for me and I got a lot of job offers and potential avenues to go down. The offers were mainly in and around London and I felt this wasn’t where I wanted to be. Even on the course this was hard for me to be away from home.
Despite this I took up a job in London. I went for Network Modelmakers, as I felt like I could be part of the team rather than just a cog in the wheel. The other companies just seemed to be demanding too much and I wasn’t going to stand for that. At Network I felt like I was respected as an individual.
I think it goes a long way, coming out of uni having some experience of the working world and knowing how to value yourself and being confident about your position. I had worked briefly at Manchester Uni, where I work now, and at a lot of other model making companies so I had built up a good network of contacts. I knew where to get information and also what my skills and qualifications were worth.
I didn’t feel happy there so I decided to move back near home. I was very quickly able to pick up work opportunities, I worked at three different companies over a year and a half/two years, then I had the opportunity to work here temporarily. It was evident when I got there that a permanent post was needed, so eventually that was created and, after a recruitment process and interview, I was appointed.
My role here is to offer Modelmaker advice theory of why Architects make models and how students of Architecture can use model to aid understanding of what it is they are trying to create. I’m here as a theoretical supervisor and a technical supervisor, guiding the students on using the machines and finishing and bring my industry experience to them to instil a high standard of working, which hopefully they will bring into their own practice and careers as architects.
Commercially it’s about money but, in good architectural practices, the model is used as a tool to understand more fully what it is they are designing and to help them overcome certain problems. There is a lot that can be achieved digitally but to have something you can hold, pass around the room is really important. It’s sometimes more effective than drawing, to make something out of paper or card, usually inexpensive materials to see problems before they arise. There is a common misconception that if the technology is modern or you spend a lot of money on the materials that that instantly makes it better but it’s only as good as the design behind it. If the design is poor you can’t hide that even if it’s made of solid gold. So that’s our goal is to develop good designers.
I have always worked on side projects from home alongside freelance work and one of these projects was working on the second edition of a book, which I referred to during my studies, called Architectural Modelmaking. I was fortunate enough to be invited to work on that, so I did a lot of the text and technical information for that.
Being here has involved me archiving the models from the history of the school; cataloguing them and, as a sideline of that, we decided to curate a celebratory exhibition for the 45th anniversary of the school. The exhibition chronicles model types throughout the history of the school and it also serves as a reference and as an inspiration to students for approaches to architectural model making.
The best thing that I got out of AUB was learning how to learn so I could accept any job that came my way. I am able to turn my hand to anything. I know where to look to be able to learn it. I may be labelled a model maker but there are a lot of things that I can transfer my skills to.”
“I’ve been working as a character animator on Tree Fu Tom which is aired on CBeebies. I’ve wanted to work here for a while, I heard of the company before I graduated so I’m really glad to be here. I really enjoy acting, it’s my passion, so this is the area I have mainly been working on both for TV and film.
I think I was one of the lucky ones, I got a lot of work straight after graduating; two studios gave me an offer based on my degree show so I had a choice between doing more animation or more rigging based work. One company wouldn’t give me the details of how much they were paying and what the details of the job was so I ended up doing two weeks of test animation in Devon and then went on to do the rigging based job – which I really enjoyed actually. To be honest I just wanted to do animation I never thought I would do CG until I went to uni and the first class we learned how to make a ball bounce. There was a lot of work involved but it was kinda magic to make that happen.
I always felt like I was going to be an animator, but I grew up in Glasgow around Charles Rennie Mackintosh and I thought that would be the direction I would go in – like design and architecture. I was talking to this guy who was doing that and he was really passionate and I realised that wasn’t what I was into at all. This was the week we had to apply to UCAS and I was really bummed so I was watching a cartoon to cheer myself up and it hit me that this was exactly what I wanted to do. So I changed all my forms to animation. It actually took me two years of building a portfolio to get into AUB. I didn’t have the observational drawings and it was really competitive so I did a foundation and finally got into animation at AUB.
I had a three month gap of no work and that was pretty tough.
I was working at Double Negative which is in the top VFX five studios and I was working on the movie, John Carter. It was probably the best experience for me, but a lot of work went to Canada so things were quiet in London. I was unemployed in London, it was kind of scary. There was very little work for animators at the time I had been doing a lot of technical work, but really my strong point is character animation but on my CV it didn’t match up so I was missing out on jobs. It was a blessing in disguise because I ended up going to France. I learned a lot there I loved being there. It was a break from London in a way so I stayed for a year. The thing that made me come back was my friends here, I really missed them and a company wanted me to come back to work on a project on my own and I’ve been here since.
Networking is really important. It’s so competitive so you have to keep up your contacts. But I’ve met some of the best people working in animation. I’ve never found it boring because there’s so much to learn. I did some pre-vis which is like a 3D storyboarding. It’s really good for seeing all the effects. I mean it’s not my passion but I learned a lot from it. I’ve brought this into my own work, now I think a lot more about the composition the overall look of it, the lens, the angle those kinds of things.
You have to keep working on your own projects; to keep your skills up and really as an artist you do need to. It all comes back to drawing really. There’s so much happening in this city, so much to inspire work. All your ideas come from life. Like this character was taking and he was stroking his chin which is something I noticed myself doing. People recognise these little details- it makes the character more human.”
What is your One Piece of Advice?
“Don’t be disheartened, it is competitive; just be determined. Be open, always have a sketchbook and be friendly.”
“It’s quite funky here. There’s a good mix of creative companies, tech start ups, designers, architects, typical East London. We’ve been here for five months. When we got it, it was a just shell, so we had to put up shelves design the work and lounge areas. It’s small but the illusion of space is kept by the full length widows and sliding doors at each end.
Adam Robbins (also BA (Hons) Graphic Design) and I worked at several agencies for a few years and then Adam’s boss left and started up this company. Adam started a year ago, then I joined about 6 months ago as director and designer. I worked with them when I was working at Ragged Edge on a few projects and, when I wanted to move on, this seemed like the best move.
After graduating I actually went to Winchester, home of King Arthur’s Round Table, but not really the home of contemporary design. We had a guest lecturer Martin Coyne and he had his own practice Bond & Coyne. He met me when I was a student and he liked my work. When I was still studying he asked me to do a placement, which turned into an internship, which turned into a job after university. I worked there for about two years and then the company moved on to London so I moved with them. It worked out quite nicely.
After that I went to Ragged Edge where I was before this. I met lots of nice people on the way and I’m hoping to use these contacts in this new venture.
When it comes to running my own company, Jim does a lot of the business side because this is his second company, which is quite lucky for me and Adam. It makes it much easier for us to crack on with the day to day work.
We are a digital focused design agency, so most of our work is online based or apps, but also we do some work which branches off from this like branding or print. We work with start-up and existing brands to maybe bring some new energy. Recently we got a new job. They wanted us to audit a website from a big fashion house Loewe based in Spain, but with stores all over the world. They wanted us to look at a specific part of the website and we pitched against international designers. It’s grown from there into a much bigger project. We have various sized clients, not just all in London.
Within reason we can do what we want. We are our own bosses so as long as the work gets done it doesn’t matter when it happens. We’re free to have our own take on projects as well, as long as the client is happy. We are all mates and have a laugh, we’re all doers. In agencies there is usually a client manager, but we deal with every aspect from initial contact to delivery, so that is a pro and a con.”
What is your One Piece of Advice?
“Get yourself out there, be outgoing to put your work out there, contact as many people as possible, because you never know what will come out of it. You never know where jobs will come from and just work hard.”
“Uncertain States have an ongoing open call for submissions and if your work is selected it is printed in a broadsheet which is distributed throughout the UK. It’s a quarterly publication with about 10 artists and you can get the paper for free at the V&A, Baltic, Tate etc. I initially submitted when I was still at uni, that was two years ago and then about 18 months later they contacted me and asked if they could print my work. Then every year they have a show of all the artists who have been published so that’s how I got here.
As part of one of the modules at uni we had to research how we would make it after we graduated. I just found all of these opportunities and applied to everything, this was one of them. I still do it now, every Wednesday evening I look through all of the opportunities, shoots, residencies, everything even if I can’t do it I apply because it was 18 months before Uncertain States got back to me. They’re not the only ones, I’ve heard nothing for months and someone will get back to me. I also do some commercial work and I emailed this lady at uni and about a year later she asked if I could be her assistant on a shoot, so just because you don’t hear back immediately doesn’t mean you won’t get work.
I’m an Artist in Residence at The Purcell School. So, I live in the school, and I am an art assistant within the art department, I work in the boarding house, I do photography workshops and I run the photo club for everyone. They have a darkroom and amazing facilities so I get involved in that way but I am also time-tabled hours to do my own work and I am allowed to use the facilities to do this. In the application for the position they asked for a proposal for a project you would undertake. The previous year I did a documentary project at a National Trust site and I really enjoyed it. My favourite thing is the research part, I do a project to learn something. For me the reason to take photos is because of the research I have done, a quote I have read or a reference to the place. So when I started researching The Purcell School I found out there it had been in five previous locations and there were staff working there who had been with the school for a long time. So I was able to go to those buildings and locations and ask people there about the history of those places as well. So I photographed all five locations and each photograph has a meaning.
I was really worried about getting a job after uni. I started looking in January and then I thought, this is ridiculous I still have 5 months to do. I was so scared, so terrified that I wouldn’t get a job and that I would have to move back home – not that it would be unpleasant but I just didn’t want to waste the opportunity. With this job it was quite funny because when I saw it the deadline had passed so I rang up and they said that the applications had just been given to the Head of Art but if I sent mine in before 5pm they would pass mine on. So this was 4 o’clock and I was working at the florist, serving people and desperately trying to write the proposal at the same time. Then a few days later they asked me to come for interview which was on the day we were putting up our final show. I was so relieved when I got the job, and I always said as long as I was working in photography or something creative I didn’t mind what job I did, so to get a job I really wanted and to get it so quickly it was like a huge weight off my shoulders.
Initially it was for one year but they extended the contract for a second year but that will be it then. It’s given me a chance to find my way. It seems to be the perfect job for a graduate, the pressure is off and I have the time to develop my work. I had a year were there was nothing really happening with my artwork, if I had have been at home and not had a job, that would have been really tough. In my last year of uni I lived with six girls and five of us were on the same course and I think they were more ‘on it’ than I was. Any opportunities and exhibitions we went to it all and doing the degree show just inspired me to do stuff, seeing them make stuff happen I thought I have to make the most of it. Also the technicians at uni used to send us loads of opportunities and it wasn’t until second year I realised that I wasn’t always going to have someone passing on opportunities and I need to make the most of it.
I find being an artist is like running your own business. At half term we had two weeks off so two other alumni and I put together a show for the Bournemouth fringe. I decided that the second week I was going to chill out but it didn’t work like that because I had applied for things and people were asking me for follow ups and it can just take up so much time. An application can take a solid 4 hours.”
What’s your One Piece of Advice?
“Well I always think the smaller, independent or artist led galleries have the most exciting work, and they are usually free too. Like looking around here there are so many approaches to making a photograph and presenting it. Just go to everything, you don’t know what you like until you’ve tried it.”
“I’ve always been interested in movement and the body but I have never shown works that have actually been in motion during the show. Although, I did make a piece with Larissa (a fellow MA Fine Art graduate) where we rotated a rectangular canvas throughout the show, there was an element of mischief to it. My work is based in painting but also kinetic painting and there are elements of influence of mainly two artists Jason Martin who’s about gesture and the performative and then Bridget Riley who’s all about the optical. I’m also trying to link painting to performance, I’ve been involved with collaborations with dancers which began during my MA and have continued afterwards also.
What made me decide to do an MA? Well I have a child with a disability so I have been working on getting a program implemented for him, so that had taken up quite a lot of my time. I continued with my practice throughout and I got selected for a show about art made by mothers and that was a real boost. I was the only painter in the show which was also a big boost, I thought maybe I have got something to say. There are all these things that I wanted to be part of my work and around this time I began to think that there was a way of opening up my practice and developing it further so I decided I would do an MA. The work that I do now is very different. Before it was very centred on painting on canvas and it was figurative, I used photographs but there were very separate. But the MA helped to bring all of the aspects of my work together. Probably not in a way I would have foreseen. It helped me think about the performative aspect and the crossover between movement and sculpture and installation as well as painting. But it was a difficult time, I have to say it wasn’t easy. I found it very hard to settle in and I had to change supervisors a couple of times.
I came up with the reasons why we (Project V) should show our work together and made the proposal to CMR Gallery which resulted in this residency and exhibition. It’s a membership project so you become a member when you take part in their programme and so they will have a members’ show which we can take part in but it would be great to come back and do a short term piece. I think what I’d like to do is tour this show that we have here. I’d like to see this group; Project V develop and grow and I feel this has been a great project with an outcome that has the potential to go elsewhere.
It’s a privilege really to be curating this. I really love all the work in the show and I wouldn’t have been able to write that proposal without caring about the work. Working with other artists there can be friction but we are respectful and I certainly find other peoples input very valuable. I mean I did the initial concept and writing but when it came to installing the show it was a collaborative effort.
Actually that’s another thing I got out of the MA , I did the curatorial unit and at first I thought it wouldn’t be something I would like to be involved in but that it would be interesting to know more about how the process works. It was probably the key thing for me, because a lot of it was about making it happen which I have a lot of experience in. It’s great when you do something like this and you realise that you can do it.”
What is your One Piece of Advice?
“Make the most of your peers, really, make good contacts. It’s a tough world out there and you need all the support you can get. Your peers will have a similar experience and understand where you are coming from and can be an amazing resource.”
“I’m currently designing a structure based on a space station for inclusion in a shopping mall in Egypt and it’s for kids to play on. I think it’s about two meters tall by three meters wide and octagonal in shape, so I am doing the production drawings for that. It’s already gone through a design approval process with the client. So I basically take the initial concept and check the design and get it ready for manufacturing. Some of the components will go across to be C’nCed and some of the components will go across to be made traditionally by hand and then assembled by firstly joinery. Next it will go to have the interactive element added, then graphics are applied and then it’s shipped out to Egypt. Then you or somebody on our team will go out there to install it.
I learned how to use design software ‘Rhino’ at AUB, but design is not my main field. My job description is Modelmaker, so I am in the Modelmaking workshop making models, replicas, interactive models.
The satellites were from the science museum in London. The oil refinery for a museum in Kuwait and also the drilling heads, which had an interactive element. The model landscape was a big piece 4 or 5 metres by 3 or 4 meters. The burial mounds are on a vast stretch of land in Kazakhstan, so this model was to bring the idea inside the museum for people who couldn’t get out into the land.
There is quite a lot of research involved. I had to research what the burial mounds look like, going on Google Earth, and looking at other peoples’ photos of them, looking at topography and contouring of the land, it has to be accurate. Then the whole thing was carved out of foam, which is then covered in Jesmonite, a gypsum based product then painted up and various details added, like people to get an idea of scale.
Before Paragon I worked in London for 18 months at Millennium Models. I started there straight after university. Then I saw this job advertised and I wanted to move back up north to be near family.
I started the ball rolling with Millennium when I went there for work experience for two weeks whilst in second year. Simon, who is also a visiting lecturer at AUB, gave me some freelance work when I was in my third year and when an opening came up he offered me a permanent job.
I was making architectural models with Millenium Models. It’s a great basis for any other type of model making because of the accuracy that is involved and the kinds of materials and processes being used. It allowed me to transfer skills into museum model making.
There is quite a large team here at Paragon with lots of different skills. There are about 50 permanent members of staff here and they include joiners, model makers, prop-makers, solid surface workers, metal working engineers, interactive engineers, designers, management etc. The skills of a model maker are transferable so I have worked in every department across the company except metal work. I have a great overview of how things are done and when an extra pair of hands is needed I can help out.
Because of the diverse skill-set you learn as a model maker it does make you very valuable in a company.”
What is your One Piece of Advice?
“Get industry contacts throughout the course and keep those links up, because you never know where opportunities might arise.”
Jane Crawshaw graduated from BA (Hons) Acting in 2010, she tells us about her latest production Penguinpig.
“Penguinpig is based on a best-selling children’s book written by Lincolnshire based Stuart Spendlow and illustrated by Amy Bradley. It’s predominantly about e-safety aimed at 4-8 year olds. It’s about a little girl called Phoebe who goes on her parents iPad and reads about a creature called a Penguinpig, which can be found at the zoo. She asks her parents to take her there but her parents are too busy, so she sneaks out by herself to find the Penguinpig which is obviously a very bad idea.
She goes to the zoo and she finds not a Penguinpig but a big scary bear. So the message is that you have to be very careful about what you read on the internet. It is predominantly a narrative story, a bit like Little Red Riding Hood and the aim is to tour it to theatres and schools next year.
This is the research and development stage of the project. For the last few years I’ve mainly been working in puppetry. I really wanted to do this project because I went to school with the author. We’re both from the area and I really wanted to come back and make new work for Lincolnshire, because there is very low arts engagement here. There’s just not as much going on here because it’s so rural, so I wanted to come back and work with stories from the county using the language of the area in the script also. I pitched the idea to Little Angels in London, who I also work with. We did a scratch performance there back in October. Then we got some Arts Council funding and part of that was to develop the work in Lincolnshire. I wanted to get involved with the Walls Words Festival, which is based here. They have a significant children’s element to the festival so I felt it was key for this production to be part of it in some way. I had wanted to tour but, because of timings, this will now be next spring. This does mean we have extra research and development sessions. When I pitched it to Walls Words they were really keen because of the theme and because it was from the region. They’ve been really supportive on this.
Since graduating, family support has been huge. Mum and Dad were here today distributing programmes, helping with audience feedback, and they put up the cast overnight. Their support is really important.
In London I have a really great network of theatre practitioners. The guys I went to AUB with and I are really close so we help each other out whenever we can and, of course, Little Angels have been amazing.
I’m involved in Arts Emergency because it can be hard to get into the arts. Sometimes it feels like that’s something other people do, so I want to support young people and show them that they can have a career in the arts too. When I was young I had a really great drama teacher, Cara Ashcroft and, if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have gone in to theatre. So I want to give that opportunity back.
My mentee has just turned 18. She really wants to go to drama school, but it’s very difficult to do straight out of college and she’s very under-confident. I wanted to dissuade her from applying this year. She started volunteering at a zombie show and they’re now paying her to be part of the production, so she’s got her first paid acting job. I’m so proud of her, her confidence has grown tremendously. She’s gone from being too shy to talk to strangers, to getting a job as a zombie interacting with the public!
When I started in theatre I decided I wanted to make a difference. When I was young, I was taken to shows that were real highly political and these really affected my views. I wanted to make work that also made a difference and, although not every show is about this, even if you’re doing a light-hearted comedy it still is making a difference. That’s two hours when somebody can be distracted from their everyday problems.
I’m continuing with the shows I’m doing with Little Angels until March and then pretty much straight away we’ll be touring Penguinpig, which means I don’t get a break, but hey that’s life! We’ve just got to work on getting funding and bookings, that’s the next step with this. Tonight I am teaching on my boyfriends show! I have a lot of hats, maybe too many.”
What is your One Piece of Advice?
“Perseverance. It’s a long game but it will happen.”
“The pieces are a manifestation of a distillation process, so it’s what comes out at the reductive end of process that might be about a subject matter. These pieces are about presence and absence really and they refer to my work as an ecologist the elusiveness of finding of and confirmation of protected and rare species and the difficulties with that. The cutting work is part of the drawing and the drawn element is the grid and the grid contains the cuts. Before there were no borders; the cutting was an outpouring. The drawing now is quite minimalist and spare. It’s quite hard work to do and probably hard work for the viewer. For experimentation there has to be parameters but in theory things are very open-ended, for example with astronomy and the questions around that are very open, it’s just the nature of it. Before I did the MA I did a post grad in Art and Science at Central St. Martins and I think I needed to move towards a reduced, distilled, the purest form that I can see and feel about the subject. They are driven by that now, not about seeing a figure or a landscape and draw it.
Drawing, drawing, drawing, drawing, from life, in a very conventional way. Doing the MA turned that upside down really; drawing is the end bit, the final part of a very long process. It’s like doing yoga it’s quite restorative. I’m not very aware of my surroundings because I am focused on what I am doing. There are times when I think about what led to this or there are times when I am listening to the cut of paper but I’m not really aware of what going on around me.
It’s interesting that you say that because during the MA I thought I would sit with science because that’s my background but I also wanted to push myself. I am afraid of blood but I wanted to do some work shadowing with surgeons. I had the great opportunity to sit in on facial reconstruction surgery. As I watched in amazement as they worked so precisely and thought about the stakes; a wrong move could severe a nerve cause untold damage. I also realised I had never held a scalpel and I wanted to know what it would feel like to hold a scalpel and to use it on paper. And when I did there was this outpouring of cutting.
It’s maybe hard to see but each mark is a definite indelible mark has been made. Back in April/May I found out and I have been thinking about making this work anyway. I only just finished the process a few days before the show.
There are plans to do more in this series and also plans to do work that is completely different from this. I wanted to come out of the MA with a practice because I didn’t have one before, and I have done this.
I started off at St Martin’s in London and then transferred to AUB they were great about that and I got what I wanted out of it.
Well I have a very busy job in Ecology it demands a lot of time. For me leaving AUB, I mean within seconds your email account is closed down so you can’t even send a thank you email. Not having that supervisor, I was very lucky with mine and they had a huge influence on my practice. Also the peer support, it feels like a wrench and you’re in a black hole. I think that’s maybe why I got involved in Project V because we’ve all been through the same experience. When you go back to working alone you have no idea about whether what you are doing is good, that’s quite tough. Nobody’s saying well that’s not bad, and giving your encouragement.
There are lots of things I never knew about, not coming from and arts background. Alone I can raise the animal but then how to bring it to market? So being in the group there are a wider range of skills and other people know about funding or projects or ways in that I wouldn’t know about so it’s very important for me.”
“I have been making art since childhood but I became an accountant by profession. I started to do evening classes in watercolour but this just made me want to know more. I started formal training in 2008, I did A levels then a foundation then a degree and now I have given up accountancy and only make art.My art practice is quite wide it is very hard to define, for example in this show there is photography, performance and video and I also work in sculpture, all mediums except painting.
Here for this residency I have been thinking about light and dark but also about chance. The intension with this work is to reference the traditional. Like when you go to the national gallery and you see all these classical paintings. It’s a time paradox really where chiaricuso in painting meets chiaricuso in photography and using technology to express these ideas.
Yes, this is true and time is part of it also. You have an object in the right light and you can make an image just like that. Why would you paint? Back then they like to paint they had to paint but if they had the technology would they still paint? People still do paint like this but there is not many, why? Because it is not fashionable, but who is to say tradition is bad? We like it, when we look at it we like it!
I made a lot of work on the MA. It was hard. I tried everything, I need to make. My tutor encouraged me to develop my photography and I am glad about this because I had just looked at it but I hadn’t developed it.I work from home where I have a garage. Really my work happens in a space; everywhere is my studio.
I have a lot of plans. Doing this residency has also helped with this. I found this seaweed it’s a very good material from the sea. I live near the sea and I didn’t realise seaweed was so fantastic. I made a small piece for this show but I would like to make it much bigger. I’ve also applied for some competitions and two have accepted my work but one I am waiting to get back to me. There is an issue with my age, they accepted my work and then asked for my date of birth. The competition is for young artists so it will be interesting to see what their response is. I’m happy they accepted my work, that’s good enough for me. The other one will show my sculptures, one or maybe all three.”
Jenny Pritchard talks about 'The Possibility of Everything'.
MA Fine Art
MA Fine Art graduate Jenny Pritchard tells us about her work and her exhibition, ‘The Possibility of Everything‘. The exhibition comes from Project V, which is made up of five alumni from Arts University Bournemouth.
“Having worked completely on my own for a long time, but for many years I wanted to have an informed conversation that would put my work in context. I wanted to put my work out there and have it pulled apart, generally push forward to extend and change what I was doing. I was making work about the family home; woman in the home environment which is both a sanctuary and an entrapment. I made many, many things; I knitted, platted, stitched and I used plaster and wood. I did an AA2A residency at Portsmouth. I showed my work there. When I finished making the tent in the gallery and people came through and talked to me about what they thought about it. I found that really interesting and I wish I had recorded it
Doing a Masters changed quite a lot of my work, not the basic ideas behind the work, although it may have shifted them a little bit, but it changed the way I work; the materials and tools I use to express what I wanted to.
If you had told me before I started the MA that I was going to work with video I would have said don’t be silly. However, with this work I found that this is the best way to say what I want to say.
I had planned to find a residency but then I had to take some time off because of health problems so that held me back a bit. I started by taking a studio at Artsway. I felt I needed to think about it, not rush into anything. I used to work in my garage, then on the course my supervisor suggested I move into the house so now I mainly work in my house but I have the studio to maintain the informed conversation I mentioned. I share with Peggy, it works quite well as we shared on the final year of the MA also.
For me I feel like my work sits well with their work, we trust and respect each other. During this week long residency there have been many occasions when we’ve made suggestions about each others’ work; and it’s been useful.”
What is your One Piece of Advice?
“I’d say you have to really want to do it. You have to put the work into it to get the best out of it and you should approach it with an open attitude.”
“The courses in Scotland are all very theory based and I wanted to get out there and make films. So I did a bunch of interviews down in England and Bournemouth just stood out. Moving makes you grow up really fast. I was really lucky; I’m now best friends with the people I moved in with. One of them did Make-up for Media and Performance and one did Modelmaking so we could have had a mini film company in our flat. We met pretty much when we moved in and we became best friends. They come up here all the time in fact they’ve just left, they love Edinburgh.
We finished our grad film in May and I did work for a production company last year and they said we’ve got a job so I came up to Edinburgh to do that. Then our final hand in was June so I still had a bit more work to do on that and the work continued after I graduated. Then I sent my CV out to everyone and it turned out that Heehaw in Edinburgh got back to me.
It’s great it’s totally different everyday; like today I was up at Edinburgh castle to meet a client who wants work done up there, last week I was out in Stirling. It’s just always different and that’s exactly why I like it, it’s awesome, I just don’t want it to end.
It’s a three month contract. It’s the first time they’ve ever had someone in my position so they are just working things out. There are six of us working there, but there used to be a website department for a while but now they are only focused on film production. It’s quite small but they have commercial contracts with big companies. There’s a wide variety of work, so you become a mini expert on things.
In the interview they were talking about maintaining social media and this is an area of work which I’m not so sure about, so I thought I wouldn’t get it. But I did. My main role as Production Assistant is to support the Producer and Director. When a project comes in one of them will take responsibility for it, so what they need is somebody who knows what’s going on across the board, to be a central point for all the projects and know what the deadlines and schedule is. Everyone’s just trying to find their feet with this new role.
Last week I had to leave early but there was a deadline due, so before I left I made sure they had the details and the email address of where it had to go. It was my responsibility to make sure it happened.
They are training me up so eventually I will be able meet with and take on new clients, so I’m learning so much from them. Its good being back in Edinburgh too because I can stay with my parents and I don’t have to pay rent. I was away for four year so my parents are glad for me to be back. It was hard to move away that far, even to find a house. I have to either fly or do an 8 hour drive but I got used to it really quickly.
The guys at Heehaw are really open and there’s never a stupid question, if I need to know something I just ask and they respect that I need to know to do a good job. When I was at school I was thinking about acting and I had auditions set up at RADA, but then I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I was literally in my last year at school doing media, I decided I wanted to be involved in production.”
What is your One Piece of Advice?
“You definitely have to be committed and strong; you have to be prepared for people to ignore your emails or phone calls, and just keep going with it. I literally spent weeks emailing and calling and sending my CV, you just have to get into that mindset to do that. I used to work in bars to make money whilst at AUB and just after. When you come home after that you don’t feel like doing work but you have to make yourself do it otherwise all your training and the time you spent learning and building your skills go to waste. You have to work for it if you want it.”
BA (Hons) Illustration alumnus, Nathan Cowdry, tells us about his exhibition ‘The Past is Another Country’ at Doomed Gallery, London.
“Andrew Finch and I met a couple of times in the past, at events and then he contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in doing a show so I said yeah. The title of the show is The Past is Another Country. I’d come back from spending time in Japan and Andrew had been in America and Australia and well, we’re not there anymore, and so it’s about moving on. This is the thing that connects our work because visually the work is polar opposites.
As part of the uni course I did half a year in Japan. It was a bit mad because none of the tutors spoke English. It was a challenge, but I learned so much just from being there. It had a massive effect on my work. The draughtsmen in Japan are the best and that really reinforced my belief in what I am doing. I mean that’s my thing.
I have had trouble with old teachers maybe not reacting to my art in the best way. I got banned from Facebook for a month for putting up a picture of a teddy bear doing something bad, but the challenge really is knowing when you have to make big changes to develop your work. I mean I had been working in black and white for so long and then I only just realised that it had been holding my work back.
The exhibition is half colour half black and white. It was actually when I came back from a comic book festival in France. I went through a period of reflection because I hadn’t done as well in my first term in the final as I wanted to and I realised it was because I wasn’t using colour.
Having a show in London is great. Just making without knowing what the end result is hard. I made a lot of work; twice as much as is on the walls and I’m annoyed that some pieces didn’t end up being shown, but that’s the way it came together.
For the future, I’ll just keep working, keep improving, doing work that’s challenging and hard to do. Every-time I try something new I add to the work and that’s the goal. Keep learning.”