My initial rationale for choosing ‘backgrounds’ as a focus was to improve my own practice in this area of illustration. I quickly realised that my keyword was very broad and open-ended, which at times I considered a hindrance, whereas at other times I feel it allowed me to read and experiment with a wide range of areas, thus adding to my overall understanding and skill-set. My research was mainly practice-based in an attempt to gain further knowledge around the area before utilising this newly acquired understanding in experimental work to resolve my theories.
I am a big advocate of an iterative design process. However, I found my overall approach (not pre-meditatively) to my research to be more multi-linear. I sourced, read and researched an area, which then triggered an idea, I thereafter executed my interpretation based on this to prove/disprove my hypothesis before briefly evaluating and progressing to another area to repeat the process. I feel it is this selection and data collection that could have been streamlined early on. It was successful however in helping to narrow my focus for future work when I initially could not and allows me to subsequently approach my work (now with a clearer focus) in an iterative way to try and perfect my chosen area. I do feel that if I had formalised my plan earlier on, it may have allowed me to focus more on my practical work, which I feel has limitations with a rather sporadic execution. By ultimately using two different approaches, I consider it an adequate approach in order to help me find a key focus.
One of the first articles I read, went on to focus much of my research. I found Alan Walker’s ‘Flat as a way of visualising space’ a fascinating introduction to the concept of flatness. The subsequent effect led me to read amongst others, depth portrayal in Japanese culture, multi-layered space in anime and scenography approaches. I loved finding connections between these broad genres and time periods.
The other main area I kept referencing were the four methods noted by Kress and van Leeuwen (2006) of suggesting setting. I was surprised that I found this to be a largely correct argument, and irrespective of genre the same techniques to suggest settings and backdrops reoccured. These areas became the foundation for much as my exploratory work and have had a lasting impression on me as a practitioner.
Despite entering the process with limited focus, I became more interested in both depth portrayal and techniques to differentiate foreground and backgrounds. I discovered that my methodology needs greater planning from the outset to focus my direction. I collect, hoard and sift through information and dip into practical work. It is the ongoing reflection I have done throughout my blog posts that I have surprisingly enjoyed the most and found to be the most productive. I rarely take focussed time to reflect, rather just add scribbled notes in my sketchbook. I found a more formalised approach to this process of reflection to be a key tool to aid progression.
Kress, G., & Van Leeuwen, T. (2006) Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design 2nd edition. London: Routledge.
Walker, A (2013) ‘Alternative Traditions: Flat as a way of visualising space’. Varoomlab journal issue two.
Available at http://theaoi.com/varoom-mag/varoomlab/varoomlab-journal-issue-two/ [Accessed: 13 October 2015]