Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Another Derwent Prize Winner!

For the second year in succession, one of our BA(Hons) Illustration students has won the coveted Derwent Prize for Drawing. Our heartfelt Grillust™ congratulations go to Illustration graduate, Catt Fearnley, the worthy winner in 2016.

Catt was presented with her prize in the magical surroundings of Carlisle Cathedral Hogwarts School.

From left to right: Professor Dumbledore, Professor Snape, Catt Fearney, Professor Gilderoy Lockhart, Professor McGonagall
You can see more of Catt's magnificent work here, and you can find more about Derwent's magnificent range of drawing and colouring media here

And, don't forget, a framed example of Catt's work, or pack of Derwent's finest crayons would make an ideal Christmas gift!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Portfolios, Personal Statements & Interviews

As the UCAS season approaches, here's a post that tries to answer those perennial questions about portfolios, interviews and personal statements...

The first thing you need to know is that we're looking for four things…
Passion: Someone who shows a passion for and interest in their chosen area of study.
Potential: Someone in whom we see potential. Raw talent! We’re not looking for the fully finished article!
Personality: Someone who has opinions and something to say. Someone we can work with productively over the next three or four years. 
Preparation: We like to see students who’ve made informed University choices, so, ave you… 
a.     Checked us out? Website, blog, Instagram, etc. 
b.     Visited us? Open day, privately arranged visit, etc. 
c.     Compared us to other centres?

We find out about these four things through your personal statement, the interview and your portfolio of creative work.

Personal statement: It’s your chance to tell us who you are, what makes you tick and what’s informed your University choices. 
Portfolio: We want to see what the you do! It’s an important way to show your skills, ideas, the pride in your work, etc. Also, we feel it would be discourteous to the you and your tutors to dismiss the fact that you’ve spent at least two years working to improve your creative skills. 
Interview: Primarily, it’s the you we offer a place to, not a portfolio, not a personal statement. Of course, all of these things are important, but talking to you enables us to draw out your passion for the subject. It also offers you the opportunity to ask us questions.

Personal Statements
This is your introduction to us.
Make it brief and to the point. Don’t procrastinate. We want to know about you, we want to get a taste of your personality. 
What are your passions, what are you interested in? Studies and extra curricular
Who are your creative influences? Who inspires you and why?
What are your achievements? Voluntary or community work; defining moments, etc
What are your ambitions? Future goals

Write from the heart, edit with the head.

The Portfolio
Remember, this is your chance to show us what you can do. You are in control of what goes in your folder and how well it’s mounted or presented, so remember, a few dog eared drawings or a notebook half filled with copied cartoons stuffed in a carrier bag probably isn’t going to send a good message. Overall we a looking for a portfolio that demonstrates a level of pride in the work and attention to detail – both in the work itself and its presentation – but your portfolio could contain...

Drawing from life – draw what’s actually in front of you; not images copied from pictures or photos, or from your imagination. 
Design projects – with an element of visual problem solving 
Art projects – painting, sculpture, installation, etc. Photographs of the big stuff, that tells us about recording skills, photographic control, pride, attention to detail, etc. 
Sketchbooks – personal drawing/sketching, supporting school or college project work, etc. 
Printmaking – avoid repetitions with minor colour differences 
Photography – Artistic ventures, not holiday snaps! 
Research, ideas and development work – thoughtfully presented as a package of roughs.

Any digital files should be supplied on a memory stick in .jpg or .pdf format, not native files.

The Interview
This is the time we get to find out about each other and we try to make it more like a relaxed discussion than an interview.

Try not to be nervous, we’re trying to get the best out of you, not trip you up or make you look foolish.
We’re trying to find out about you and your passions in life.
We don’t expect you to know it all, but we do expect you to know a little.
You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions.
It’s a 15 minute discussion, don’t be afraid to join in!

Dress code? There isn’t one, just wear what you feel comfortable in.


Friday, 4 November 2016

VÄG, the Swedish psychedelic rock band - You heard them in Carlisle first!!!

Our friends and Grillustasi™ entrepreneurs, Snask, have some work featured on packaging blog The Dieline. It's for their Swedish psychedelic rock band, VÄG, acquired on a drunken night out (well, that's how the tale is told).

Freddie & Magnus insisted on bringing VÄG along when they visited us a year or two back, and jolly energetic and psychedelic they were too. Well, now you can by them on vinyl by the looks of it...

 Shake, rattle and roll Freddie & Magnus!

The Roundhouse publishes posters archive celebrating 50 years as a venue

Re-blogged from our friends at It's Nice That, there's a visual cornucopia of poster design on display - just follow the link... 50 Years of The Roundhouse

Third year graphics, first project

After a long hot summer watching daytime TV, going to festivals, playing the latest video games, raiding the family fridge and other traditional student pursuits; the return to University can be a shock to the system. In this project, students produced directed research based on a single word and then designed and produced a monograph using that research directly...

Everything starts on layout paper of course. Kyle Bridson (21)

..before layouts are taken into the digital realm. Kyle Bridson (21)

Two experimental spreads by Emma Davidson (21)

Will Fuller (21) gets all 3D visually

Metamophosis. Becca Lettice (21)

Experimental type spreads, Becca Lettice (21)

Gravity, James Musson (21)

Experimental typography, James Musson (21)

Experimental typographic spreads by Elinor Prescott (21)

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Aldi Tat-Aisle Disaster

Nothing brings joy to the hearts of Grillust lecturers Dwayne, Jim and Tony (all 33), quite like a visit to The hallowed Aldi tat-aisle. Whether it's an opportune purchase of a Rio Olympics branded shell suit, unearthing a military grade, cold-war era, soviet nail gun and associated air compression unit buried in a pit of unlicensed hello kitty duffle coats or simply picking up the latest fad in kitchen utensil ('as seen on TV' Vegetable Spiralizer anyone?) they absolutely LOVE IT!

It's in the very 'unknown' of what might be held in those twin lanes of promise that grasps their attention and commands their loyalty so keenly.

However, sad times awaited one lecturer in particular. Today, it's our unfortunate duty to report back with this sad image, taken by Dwayne Bell (illustration lecturer and clothing for builders enthusiast), who, when we were able to coax words from him had this to say, "Nowt. They were empty. I got off my bus 6 stops early, as I do every Wednesday, to take in the glory of the tat aisles. I was hoping to find a gas powered roof felting tool; there's been rumours online (Dwayne's an avid 'Aldi tat-aisle forum user. username: Tat'll-do-nicely) of someone finding one at the Aldi in Dumfries recently. I was particularly excited. I don't even know what a gas powered roof felting tool is. To walk in and find this! Well, the bottom fell out of my world".

Dwayne tried to make the best of the situation by purchasing some polish strawberry chocolates and a large decorative box of turkish delights but, in his own words "it's just not the same".

We contacted Aldi who pointed out that there is still a large amount of winter clothing available for purchase or simply comedic 'trying on' sessions; including ponchos and 'kinda cowboy-ish looking hats'. They have extended an invite to Dwayne to return to the shop to take advantage of this.

Meanwhile, rumours abound of a shipment of North Korean work-boots that might be showing up in these very aisles in the near future. Is this the calm before the storm?

Monday, 31 October 2016

Famous Artworks Ruined By Clients Who Think They Know It All

Supremo Grillust graduate, Petra Blahova, sent us a link to a recent post on - the title of this thread says it all...

Here's a link to the original post on

...and another to Petra's own website, chocked full of visual treats!


Friday, 28 October 2016

First Years Second Project - Old School (Yeah!)

It's been a very busy last two weeks for our first year students as they completed the visual and technical 'assault course' that we call Old School...

Manual skills still underpin much of any working Graphic Designer or Illustrator's life. Think of all that packaging that needs to be mocked-up or presentation boards that need to be professionally assembled. 

Say Aaaaaaaaah!
Great Illustration is not only underpinned by an ability to draw well but also by great technical skills. The reality here is there are no 'quick fixes'. It takes years to become a really good painter, or pen & ink artist, or printmaker or...

'Old School' is our opportunity to allow the students to find out how good, bad or ugly their making/drawing/gluing/painting skills actually are right at the start of their course. It helps them identify what they're good at and much more importantly focusses their attention and concentration on working hard to develop those areas that they're not so good at.

Happily, we can report that the overall standard was very good. For a generation who hasn't done any technical drawing or that much painting, we were particularly impressed with their ability to handle constructed letters, draw straight lines, wield a compass accurately, understand the complexities of oblique, isometric and orthographic projection and produce impressive copies of great illustrator's work.

Here's a small selection of what they did...

Create a perfect, 70mm high cube

You're fired!!!

Window mount a postcard. 
Use the correct tool (knife) and this can be achieved beautifully (left). Use the wrong tool (hamster) and the results can be a little disappointing (right).

Cut a perfect, freehand circle 
(Neil Armstrong walking on my face, Buzz Aldrin walking on my face...)

Two attempts at a stab-stitched book with elaborate graduated hole motif. 
One excellent, one not so excellent (can you tell which is which)?

A tidy piece of Orthographic Projection

Mmmh, lovely crisp embossing

Stretched paper containing a colour wheel and tonal scales

Exercises for Graphic Design Students

If you follow these instructions you should produce...


Hand-rendered type (pencil on tracing paper)

Original poster (gouache on paper) by Ludwig Hohlwein...

...copies by our students

Freehand drawing with a brush

Exercises for Illustration Students

Original by John William Waterhouse...

...student copies

Original woodcut by Clare Leighton...

...Scraperboard copies

And again

Watercolour by Arthur Melville...

...and its copy 

 Original acrylic painting by the great Brad Holland...

...and the copies

After working so hard we gave them the whole weekend off (to recover). Come Monday it was back to work and they are now busy on a two week animation project. 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Field Trip to The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival

On Saturday 15 October we took a bus packed with students to The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival in Kendal for the day.

Here's some of what we saw...

Martin Rowson a multi-award winning cartoonist and writer, whose work over the past 30 years has appeared regularly in The GuardianThe TimesThe Daily MirrorThe SpectatorThe Independent on Sunday and many other publications painting a savage political mural just off Kendal's main drag.

The University of Cumbria's Comic Book Collective stand in the Clock Tower manned by Edwin 'I'm a Tiger!" Burrow

  Oliver East (of Elbow cover art fame) signs one of his book for a fan.   

 Hotting up at the UOCCBC stand.

 Sponsored by The University of Cumbria...

 Here's a comic car.

 Ken Niimura 'Making a Scene' at The Brewery Arts Centre

Ken Niimura.

José María Ken Niimura del Barrio was born in Madrid in 1981, he’s lived and worked in Brussels, Paris, Montreal and Madrid under the pen-name Ken Niimura. Three years ago he moved to Tokyo

 Various big-name talks were attended including Mick McMahon and Tom Gauld (above)

Tom Gauld is a cartoonist and illustrator who lives and works in London. He has weekly comic strips in The Guardian and New Scientist and his comics have been published in The New York Times and The Believer.In addition to his graphic novels Goliath and You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, he has designed a number of book covers.

His most recent book is September 2016’s Mooncop, published by Drawn & Quarterly, which recounts the deadpan adventures of the last police officer on the moon.

 Happy (and tired) campers spilling out into the twilight back at our Brampton Road campus.