Friday, 25 May 2018

A Glimpse Behind the Scenes as We Prepare the End of Year Exhibition (1-8 June)

This year's exhibition has been titled 'A Cabinet of Curiosities' and has been styled accordingly.

Here's a video 'fly-through' of the exhibition space taking shape (sans work) - if you look carefully you can see that a convincing bar has already been installed for the opening night. 

Who'd have thought that students were such amazing 'tat' magnets!

You are all welcome to join us at the opening event next Friday evening, 6 June.

Full exhibition details are on the invitation below, designed by Year 3 Illustration student Hazel Mason.

HERO(ine)S – a New Exhibition on Gender and Comics

Since the early days of the comic genre, female protagonists have been few and far between. Approximately one in four female comic characters are female, and even those characters often have passive or minor roles. The Hero(ine)s exhibition (which we recently hosted in our Vallum Gallery) aims to challenge, question and subvert our perceptions of the comic hero. 

The exhibition features original artworks where comic artists have been challenged to reinvent their chosen male superhero in female form and contribute a narrative to explain their choice of heroine and their perceptions of how women are represented in the comic genre. Artists include Steven Appleby, Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard, Finnish artist Kaisa Leka, Swiss artist Hélène Becquelin and Belgian comic artist Brecht Vandenbroucke.

Don't worry if you missed it, the exhibition  will return again as part of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal, Cumbria 12–14 October. 

Nick Dodds, Senior Lecturer at The University of Cumbria, said, “The opportunity to host Hero(ine)s is a fantastic coup for the university. The theme of the exhibition, exploring gender roles through the eye of the comic artist, appears timely and pertinent given recent news stories. The 'alternate' take on the typically male comic-hero by the artists featured in the exhibition is done with wit, humour and a certain knowingness - asking the viewer to question cultural attitudes to gender representation, myth and narrative.”

As part of the Hero(ine)s exhibition, there was an opportunity for students to take part in creator workshops led by international comic artists Steven Appleby and Kaisa Leka.

Here are some photos of the workshops, lectures and exhibition all taken by Rachel Miller (R. Miller - Copyright: creative commons)

An Instagram campaign #heroinesproject encourages comic enthusiasts to draw and share their own heroines. A selection of these drawings will be displayed at the Lakes International Comics Arts Festival in October. You'd best get drawing!

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Tuesday 24 April - Another Busy Day

Monday, 16 April 2018

The power of hair

Ever mindful of the Samson and Delilah debacle, the Grillust™ machine has always recognised the strategic importance of a decent 'short back and sides', key knowledge we're keen to pass onto students.

That's why, each year we aim to take on at least one prospect who's got some experience of creating a decent bouffant... this year it's Marc Noble (21).

Here he is demonstrating the barber's art on fellow 1st year, Tim Stewart (21). Tim's ambition is to become a top flight graphic designer.

But with that haircut!?! No way!

Marc to the rescue.

Here we see Marc sizing up the task at hand while the rest of the studio look on... 'Measure twice, cut once' is Marc's mantra.

After briefly visiting the barbers standard repertoire, along the lines of 'Going anywhere nice this year?' and 'Would Sir like something for the weekend?', Marc gets down to the serious business of cutting and styling. It reminds him of his training in the shearing sheds of outback Australia he says. Note the use of safety scissors. 

And five minutes later...

The transformed Tim Stewart (still 21), tonsorially prepared for the cut and thrust life of graphic excellence. 

Friday, 13 April 2018

Beamish Open Air Museum - A Grand Day Out

On Wednesday we went back in time to that top visitor attraction Beamish 'The Living Museum of the North', to experience the past for ourselves. Obviously all images taken in the past are sepia coloured (as demonstrated above) so we've used Photoshop trickery to 'modernise' them by digitally adding a rich palette of colour...

 That's much better isn't it?

 Here's a charabanc to take us to the pit village (or "downt pit" as they say "oop North")

 Some students decided to take the tram (sort of like a bus with wires) to "gan tashin' on the toon".

Here's 'Puffing Billy' (the locomotive not the man) - Puffing Billy is a replica of he world's oldest, surviving steam train, built in 1833 and now on display in the Science Museum in a small town to the south called London.

Coal can not only be used to power steam trains but also cook fish and chips, fried in beef dripping...

and believe us, the results are delicious!

The main reason we went to Beamish was to look at examples of period graphic design and illustration. We were granted privileged access to the museums extensive store to examine the delights hidden there.

A large ledger held an impressive collection of period advertising including:



Lot's of samples were laid out for inspection in a study room...

...before we ventured into the darkest depths of the collection store.

 ... an 'Aladin's cave' of wonder and delight.

Gorgeous enamel advertising signs are everywhere...

 Later on there was time to visit the Victorian fun fair which included the opportunity to partake in coconut shying, Hoopla hooping and a quick spin on the 'Speedway' (see below).

Thank to Beamish Museum for giving us 'behind the scenes access', we all had a 'grand day out'!

Monday, 9 April 2018

Max Maxes Out and Wins £500 of Art Materials!

We do our thinking on paper - visuals, roughs, scamps - call them what you want, it's important to get ideas down on paper as quickly as possible. After that intelligent conversations can take place and great design and illustration developed. You'll therefore understand that around here we take our visualising materials very seriously: be they pen, marker, paint, crayon or pencil. 

Some Year 1 visuals yesterday

When The Univerity of Cumbria Institute of the Arts Art Materials Shop or 'The Art Shop' as we call it (it saves time) took delivery of a wide range of excellent but modestly priced Spectrum Noir markers it caused quite a stir. However that was nothing compared to the excitement generated when the lovely people at Spectrum Noir decided to run an art competition with the first prize being £500 worth of their art materials!

The competition was open to all UOCIA students and involved 'colouring in' using Spectrum Noir products. We can now proudly reveal that the victorious on the day was our very own Year 1 Graphic Design student Max Wilkins (21).

Mine, all mine! Max celebrates his victory...

Max was brought up to respect boundaries and not cross the line (ideal traits for a top 'colourer-in'). Unfortunately, we don't have his winning entry to hand but believe it probably looked more like this...

...than this:

Max, who hails from Shropshire (a county not famed for colouring in) was overjoyed saying: "I'm ***** with ***** and will use these to ***** the *****!" However, after he'd calmed down a little and consumed a nice milky drink, a more considered Max went on record: "I'd like to thank Spectrum Noir and tell them winning this prize has made me a very happy chappy."

Well done Max!

Friday, 23 March 2018

First Years, Tenth Project - Type Play and Poster

Our first year students have just spent a challenging and fruitful two weeks working alongside our 'national treasure', H.R.H The Typographer Royal, Dame Rhiannon Robinson OBT*.

As you probably know, Dame Rhiannon is a demanding taskmistress with a ruthless, critical eye that can spot the slightest typographic imperfection at more than twenty paces. 

Luckily for our novice students she took them through the fundamentals of good typography through a series of lectures, on-screen tutorial sessions and lots of experimental play (see previous post).

This is but the start of a very long journey, but even after such a short time the students can all spot loose tracking, unfortunate apostrophes, orphans, widows and line lengths that are too long or too short.

The project was deceptively simple. Take some information about a typography event that looks like this:

- and turn it into something beautiful like this:

Tim (21), Year 1 Graphic Design 
Like all our two week projects, we put great emphasis on the journey (the ideas development work) not just the destination (the final poster), so here are lots of examples of what can be achieved during two weeks...

First, let's have a look at some of the results of the type-play workshops:

Max (21), Year 1 Graphic Design 

Beth (21), Year 1 Graphic Design

Beth (21), Year 1 Graphic Design

Shawna (21), Year 1 Graphic Design

Connor (21), Year 1 Graphic Design
Connor (21), Year 1 Graphic Design

Connor (21), Year 1 Graphic Design

Marc (21), Year 1 Graphic Design

As ever, we design on paper before we go digital...

Hannah (21), Year 1 Illustration

Now let's have a look at some of the final posters...

H.R.H checks everything looks 'ship-shape'.

To induce a bit of friendly rivalry we decided to introduce a leader's 'hot seat' (like they have in the Winter Olympics snowboarding).

Dan (below) was an early leader - just look how happy it's made him!

Here's his poster:

We should point out that the students produced some fantastic typographic posters of a quality and attention to detail that would shame the work of most third year students (nationally).

Marc (21), Year 1 Graphic Design

Ellie (21), Year 1 Illustration

Max (21), Year 1 Graphic Design 

Connor (21), Year 1 Graphic Design

Dan was joined by two-others on the 'hot-seat' (yes, it got a little cramped) and it looked like the honours would be shared. However, late in the day Beth (21) produced an outstanding piece of work that took the top award and left one bottom only on the by now, very hot, 'hot seat'. Here's the victorious work...

...and here's an ecstatic Beth -  Queen of all she surveys.