A powerful way of looking at the world

It seems that during this surreal time in our lives, we have found peace in drawing, colouring-in, making art. For instance, we have seen a surge of people resorting to the likes of Lockdown Life Drawing Livestreams and Grayson Perry’s Art Club. Similar to photography, there has been something quite poignant about creating a still piece which symbolises a moment in time. Our very own Illustration mentor, Helen Turner, did exactly that by documenting her lockdown experience with daily doodles. It has become a widely recognised form of therapy and has now more than ever become a powerful way of looking at the world.

Before all of this happened, we were in the middle of our TICE Explore workshops, where students have the opportunity to see the industry for their own eyes, meet inspirational people and develop their skills. We were fortunate enough to have completed Day One of TICE Illustration – and it was fabulous, as always. However, once we were in lockdown, things had to change slightly for Day Two. Ultimately, we wanted to encourage students to continue putting their pens/pencils/paintbrushes to paper whilst stuck in their homes!

So, here’s what happened on TICE Illustration Explore 2020 with 20 students from Jarrow School.

Totes TICE

The day began at the wonderful Mandela Building, home for all art and design courses at Newcastle College. With Helen being a current lecturer at the college, she gave an insightful tour of the facilities. They took an extra-long stop to look at the phenomenal work at the Staff Exhibition, as well as some of the work belonging to BA Hons Illustration students. This was a true taste of who the students could work with, and the quality of work they could produce in the near future.

Illustration students at the gallery in the Mandela Building, Newcastle College.

After the exhibition, Helen led students to the print room where Steph Oliver (Specialist Print Technician) made an anticipated return to TICE Explore to assist in a very exciting challenge. During this time, the team were expected to design their very own bags and badges using vinyl, fabric paints, heat transfer paper and the trusty badge maker. So many options and so much to learn in a short amount of time. Nonetheless, students did not go lightly and worked incredibly hard to bring their designs to life – you could see the frowning concentration faces from miles away.

Getting stuck in at the print room, Newcastle College.

After a well-deserved break, they eased into the afternoon by heading to the digital suite for a presentation from Jack Clapham, a current student on the BA Hons Animation degree. Jack kindly shared his story, discussing about his route into animation and the crossovers with illustration.

Busy studio!

It was the perfect inspiration for students to complete their projects. To their delight, students were able to leave with not only an illustration, but a DIY, tangible item which represents a pretty memorable experience.

Illustration in Isolation

Then, of course, COVID-19 happened. Schools were shut, workshops were cancelled, and the entire country were stuck in their homes, apart from our exceptional keyworkers of course. However, the TICE team reunited via Zoom and made the decision to continue however possible. From that point, ‘TICE-olated’ was born – an online platform for students, where they could complete TICE Explore in isolation.

TICE Illustration was packed with insightful Zoom interviews with an array of illustrators, animators and designers across the North East this included:

Charlotte Maddison – Student, Illustration for Commercial Application at Northern School of Art, Liz Million – Illustrator and Author of Children’s Books, Jo Burrows – Wot Ma Like, Jaanika Okk – Okk Arts, Carl Wilson – BooBoo, Jodie Lightning – Oh Lightning, Laurene Herodin – Student, Animation at Newcastle College, Kirsti Beautyman – Illustrator.

A short insight into the many interviews from illustration professionals and current students.

This career (Jo Burrows) appeals to me because I like the idea of making little cards and little products made by hand as I find it highly creative and fun that someone can make something that they love, and others will enjoy by purchasing the products you made. I personally think it would be a great achievement walking into a building or scrolling through social media and seeing people own and buy your own products.

Sophie Tudor, Jarrow School.

This career (Jaanika Okk) appeals to me because it’s the fact that you are making top artists’ work better by using words and demonstrations, not doing the work for them. It just proves that you can be the best there is, but there is always room for improvement. I like the idea of helping people who were in the same position as you once and them needing the same help you did. Artists may not know how to start off after graduation, so you push them forward and help them gain confidence, like riding a bike. It must feel so good to know that you’ve helped someone with their career or project or helped them gain experience/confidence.

Bethany Sanderson, Jarrow School.

To keep students occupied, we also popped in a few challenges which would not only enhance their skills but also encourage them to put a creative, positive spin on the concerning realities during the global pandemic, some of the activities included:

  • Editorial Illustration. Students were challenged to select one of 2 newspaper articles and create a full-page editorial illustration that could be displayed alongside the article to entice people to read it. It should bear reference to the information in the article, but the individual might choose to focus on one aspect of the article if it is easier.
  • Greeting Card Illustration. For this task, students were challenged to create a greeting card illustration that could be sent to a loved in self-isolation. It may focus on humour, cute, quirky or heartfelt but the design should radiate positivity make the recipient smile.
A beautiful submission by Louise Sharp for the the Editorial Illustration challenge.

A Huge Thank You

Day One of TICE Explore would not have been possible if it weren’t for the team at Newcastle College, warmly welcoming us once again. A very special shoutout to Steph Oliver for co-delivering a fantastic workshop.

Thank you to Ampersand Inventions at Commercial Union House (particularly Carl Wilson) and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art for anticipating working with us on Day Two. We are especially excited to reschedule the risograph printing workshop in the not-so-distant future.

Finally, a massive thank you to the our TICE-olated speakers for inspiring our students during lockdown:

I think you have done an amazing job of keeping TICE running over these difficult times and I have loved still getting to be apart of it from home. This has allowed me to keep up my illustration skills while being safe at home I think this was a great idea and has worked really well. TICE-olated has been fun as it has given me the chance to develop skills and get the chance to illustrate things I wouldn’t normally draw before which I have loved as it means I get to test what I can do. Thank you for keeping TICE running in these difficult times I think the way you allowed this to happen was amazing and I am very grateful to still be apart of this programme that gives me a good opportunity in illustration

Kate Young, Jarrow School

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