Chris begins by explaining his work as an artist/illustrator, emphasizing that it is possible to be both! He talks about the practicalities and freedom of Illustration and how it can take you down multiple pathways to suit your interests. Chris explains that his practice is made up of commissions and teaching and that he has designed CD covers, animations and books. His work also spills over into other disciplines such a Graphics, Fine Art and Photography. Chris is keen to express that illustration can be much more than just pen and ink. He’s influenced by the works of Tim Minchin and Edward Gorey who’s style influenced Tim Burton and encourages the participants to consider what their illustrations might be in response to- i.e. poetry. Participants will be exploring the method of storytelling, and the relationship illustration has with a narrative.
Chris explains that the first task is to draw each other, as an exercise to warm up their creativity. The participants are quick to begin drawing and many take their time in creating some highly detailed observations. Many students are studying ‘still life’ in school, and Chris makes the link into his own illustrative practice. He emphasizes how this simple task informs the basis of everything we do artistically. After looking around the room at the portraits being created Chris comments “A lot of you are producing some really good work. I’m really impressed!”
Students then move on to the second task of the day which involves picking a character, an action and a surrounding from three hats. From this they were then asked to devise a story, which will be transferred onto a glass bottle using ceramic pens and sharpies. Many students discover new ways of using these materials, for example the ceramic pens if pushed down hard enough create colourful drips of ink, which they use to enhance their illustrations.
These stories became intricate and thoughtful designs. Chris speaks about the history of this method of storytelling from ancient Greek vases to the modern day interpretations by Grayson Perry.
Once these stories were completed on the bottles, students then began a collaborative version by sending around one bottle and adding to it as their turn came. The result was some beautiful, colourful illustrations and unique stories an subject matters!