I was nervous about this presentation, but once it got started I found myself feeling quite confident and ready to be myself, personable and honest within the dreaded PowerPoint slides. one of the reasons I was so worried about that I still did not have a clear vision on what I was planning on doing within the project at this early stage. but because of the presentation, I wasn’t able to procrastinate this stage of the project for as long as I maybe would have without it. I found a lot of comfort in seeing that a lot of people were still a little lost and that everyone benefited from class and tutor feedback in real-time.
In my presentation, I showed examples of a number of artists, my own work and outcomes similar to what I would like to explore in the new future.
The feedback I got from my presentation was generally positive and that I seem funny and, trusted to get my bearings soon and that my concepts seem interesting, however, my concepts, at this stage, were still moderately half baked and all the ingredients were there but perhaps the whole concept was still not fully formed. I could not disagree with this as although I do have my general roadmap sorted, the outcome concepts are still vague. Primary research through surveys and polls will help me in this.
As a general theme, I am very drawn to femininity, I am already (just a couple of days after the initial presentation) a lot more settled in my ideas and concepts. I wish to explore what it means to be feminine outside of gender in unique and interesting ways. I feel will start with a series of zines.
I found the answers to my various surveys and polls incredibly interesting. I felt almost overwhelmed by the sheer volume of responses I received. I was initially worried about a lack of responses as a large bulk of my friends/people that I have on social media are either male or non-binary, I feared that I would lack many responses because of this but I tried to encourage that I did not want answers exclusively from women and that everyone experiences femininity in their own personal way, outside of gender. Once I clarified this, I started getting more responses from a more broad scope of people. I felt most inspired by the answers to questions about the female gaze, sexless objects that remind you of certain genders (this later became an interesting illustrative study exercise) and the struggles of presenting femininity through the eyes of different genders and walks of life.
Things that have no gender but feel Non-binary / Feminine / Masculine (order as shown below)
From my surveys, I chose to reflect on the responses I received to the question above, things that have no gender but feel ______. I took the responses I got from the public and stuck to them fairly strictly, only adding a couple of extras from my own answers to fill gaps. For the illustration triptych, I chose to hand draw each illustration into my sketchbook with a black 0.8 fine liner and to colour it digitally after the fact. I chose to colour the series using a water colour / marker style brush to try and keep a light, hand made feel.
I found it very interesting that a majority of the answers I got on each of the three gender/object questions mirrored what I had already written in my sketchbook whilst toying with the concept. Multiple people said that the moon was feminine, alongside water and nature, all inherently soft, yet profound things, similar answers were put for the non-binary category, and nothing negative was placed for either of these categories. However, for masculine, I was receiving answers like yelling, snakes, alcohol, etc. These answers were coming from a diverse array of people, sexes, age ranges and subcultures. I am still not entirely sure what to do with this discovery, but I feel it means something.
I really enjoyed curating these montages of seemingly unrelated objects, keeping the styling incredibly illustrative and flowy. (Please excuse the wonky layout of some of these images, they are all aligned in the edit but no matter how I move them around they keep being all wonky! (ignore this if everything is aligned))
‘The Female Gaze Is Like The Portrait Of A Lady On Fire And The Male Gaze Is Like The Hangover II’
The male gaze vs the female gaze. In a recent, in-class critique I was asked about the difference between the male and female gaze, as this was a topic I was mentioning. At this moment I was left to think quickly on my toes, I felt the question was asked in a negative light, criticising the notion that there would even be a difference between the gaze between sexes. At this moment I said all I could think of, the female gaze is like A Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (a French historical romantic lesbian film written and directed by Céline Sciamma, the emphasis throughout the film is on hands and prolonged gazes), and that an example of the male gaze is the Hangover Part II (a 2011 comedy directed by Todd Phillips, a film depicting three male best friends on a stag do, cheating, violence, sexist remarks etc takes place). I want to retract this statement and replace it with a more eloquent one, but I can not fathom one. I feel the delicate notion of the unspoken and lingering gazes of a portrait vs the unabashed, borderline cruel brutalism and rash nudity within the hangover dictates my point so tastefully and concisely. Love and heartache can be shown through the different gazes in repugnantly different ways. You do not have to be a woman to see things through the female gaze, nor a man to view through the latter, but they are different lenses to view the world through and can very much dictate your way of living.
One of my more primitive explorations within the plot of my final piece was the view of the cat and the bird as one of the two gazes, but as my project and storyline developed, I decided to go a more emotional, relationship-based route and put my former concept on a back burner. I wish to explore the world through these two lenses in my art again more formally in the future, as this is a topic I am not yet ready to let go of within my creative breadth.
Experimenting with form within simple line work and then distorting through printer scans. This was a quick experiment for myself to get warmed up and remind myself how to draw the female form. I found how the scan merged the two bodies together incredibly interesting. It reminds me of graphics I have seen that symbolise twin flames.
I thought that adding coloured paper in the background could create an interesting effect, but I believe I prefer it without. Two colours busy the composition too much. I also thought that in distorting the coloured paper in the background a blur effect would happen, but the paper was too matte and crisp to give the desired effect I was looking for.
First thumb nail sketches for my series concept.
Drafting and sketching my concept design for the moveable overlay for final zine compilation.
Discussing the text within the zine
“How do I stop myself? I’ve grown so much but I can’t help it. I don’t want to go back but they are good deep down, I swear. I was happy with bird, I felt secure in myself for the first time in a long time. Cat never liked the bird. They say they’re no good for me. I don’t know, I don’t know the truth. I feel so alone. Cat won’t hurt me this time. They promised. It has to be different to last time. Right?”
This text is aimed to be rambly and slightly incoherent. The words do not slow like water, you can imagine them falling out of someone’s mouth like rocks dropping at a quick, painful rate. As these words tremble out of their mouth, you can tell she is confused and this is further mirrored in how the text distorts and waivers towards the end. I chose to use hand written type instead of a computer generated font to make it seem more personal, as though it were a diary entry, something that you are not supposed to see. The ramblings of a girl trapped, not knowing what’s best for her. The text almost hurts to read, you want to reach out and tell the girl its temporary, and it will be okay, we can help get you the support you need, you just need to let us help. But she isn’t ready. Sometimes you need to hit rock bottom several times to truly feel how hard the floor is and to need to change your pattern.
“They say they’re no good for me”, I kept the subject of this phrase vague purposefully. Wherever on the girl is in the cycle, someone is saying that the other subject is the issue for the girl. The cat insists that the bird is the problem whilst the bird tries to explain that the cat is what is hurting the girl. She does not know the truth, she knows she is better when she is not with cat but she longs for its presence. Whether she is at rock bottom with cat in her mist or thriving with the bird, she never knows peace. She longs for everything she doesn’t have and doesn’t know what’s good for her, even when progress is in clear sight. The zine diptych is meant to be read over and over again, each one fading in and out of each other. It’s a blur and it will go on infinitely, until she is ready to break the cycle. She has come close before but for now this will go on indefinitely. Girl is in a toxic relationship of sorts. It is up to the viewer and their life experiences to lead them to the assumption on what form of relationship it is. I have two key thoughts when it comes to the possible relationship options between the three.
1) a toxic relationship with a partner, constantly breaking up and getting back together regardless of what is better for you in the long run.
2) a persons relationship with themselves, the ever changing struggle between self-acceptance and love in contrast with self doubt and hate. The constant cycle of learning to love yourself then slipping back into old habits of denial and depression. Sometimes it can truly feel that just as you’re starting to understand and grow in ones self that the cats tail will wrap around your leg and destroy the progress you have made. However it is prevalent to note that progress is not linear. A relapse in any form, regardless on what you are relapsing from, does not erase any progress that you made whilst being ‘clean’ from what you were trying to avoid. You haven’t stopped loving your body just because you spent an evening crying about how your hips look. Blips happen, relapses happen, that doesn’t erase your progress.
The second option was what I initially sought out to capture within my artwork. Though as it developed and I showed my pieces to peers I was intrigued to see how your own experiences can be reflected in what you see within the series.
Final piece explanation/analysis.
My final piece hides multitudes under its carefully designed children’s book illustration style. This zine-style popup book captures a subtle narrative between three characters, the cat, the bird/s and the girl. Within the bird and the cat, we see two types of relationships. The cat is a representation of a negative relationship, that hurts the girl and brings her down and hurts her. The bird juxtaposes this relationship, the bird is slow healing that leads to self-love.
The girl gets hurt by the cat’s dismission of her, ignoring her and leaving during a scene of her reaching out to them, in this, you get the sense that this isn’t the first time this occurrence has happened. From this negative interaction the girl goes on a walk and finds the injured bird, she takes it home and heals its wounds and brings it into a new life. The bird represents her self-worth and esteem, the bird is love that can only come from work and introspection.
The girl flourishes, etc
Once the girl is whole again, the cat comes back. The cat gives the girl the attention and affirmation that she always desired from them. At this moment, the girl stops guarding and tending to the bird. The cat later kills the bird whilst she sleeps, depleting any progress that was made in her time away from the cat. After this scene, we cycle back to the first frame of the series, the girl reaching toward the cat for comfort and getting met with a dismissive tail and absence. This is an endless cycle of grief and healing.
I believe that there are multiple ways to interpret these relationships, all depending on your views and personal experiences. The way I read the situation is as such; the girl is real, and the animals are fictitious and allegorical.
Even after immense personal growth from something painful happening to you, it is still so heartbreakingly easy to relapse into old ways. She taught herself how to love and respect herself again through the bird, but the cat’s grip on the girl runs deeper than any self-reflection and love can do. When you have a cat in your life, it can take years to truly loosen its grip on you.
I chose to do a childlike, whimsical, illustration style to juxtapose the aforementioned heavy subject matter. Hiding heavy topics under brightly coloured, softly outlined imagery. This allows the viewer to see what they want to see within the illustrations, you can choose to accept it as a pretty series or something deeper.
Zine Draft Scans
Final Scan Designs
Flick Through Zine Tour < video of me going through my final zine!