Monday, 22 November 2010

BA (Hons) Graphic Design/Photography at University of Chester

The third course I found was a BA (Hons) course in Graphic Design with Photography at University of Chester. This is a joint degree course, which, according to the course information, is:
"A combined honours degree enables you to combine two subjects from different areas, or two subjects that are complementary, and is ideal for those students who wish to keep their options open. At the University of Chester, two subjects can be studied equally or in a major/minor combination."
This choice of major/minor or equal study of both subjects allows the modules to be split according to what students want to study, which is perfect for me. I like both Graphic Design and Photography, and would like to look into furthering my skills in both subjects. A joint degree would be perfect for this, and would allow me to study more or less of either subject as it suits me.

While the university lists a small list of facilities for photography, there certainly aren't as many avaiable facilities as the previous two places I had found. However, photography studios and darkrooms are still available on this course, and those are particularly interesting to me.

If I were to study this course, I might consider studying major Photography and minor Graphic Design as a way to phase myself into a career in Photography. However, I might find a career in Design is more interesting, and this course allows me to take that option also.

To get onto this course, I would be expected to get between 200 and 240 UCAS points, which is roughly a MMM grade on my current Extended Diploma.

BA (Hons) Photography at Leeds College of Art

The second course I found was a BA (Hons) course in Photography at Leeds College of Art. This course lasts for three years and is a full Degree course.
This course is very similar to the Photography (with Video) course at Leicester College, but it is a full Degree and doesn't include the Video units.

Like the course at Leicester, this course allows students to experience various areas of photography:
"The course addresses contemporary practice in four main areas:
    * Journalism/documentary
    * Fashion/lifestyle
    * Advertising/commercial
    * Gallery/Fine Art
Thought-provoking modules will provide you with opportunities to explore both commercial and personally creative work.
The course structure enables you to work within your chosen genre, resulting in a portfolio of work that is relevant for specific areas of employment/progression upon completion of the course."
 I like the way this course allows you to study within your area of choice so that your work is relevant when looking for a job, but I don't know if I am that certain about the area I would like to work in, and would certainly not want to start working in one area to later wish I'd chosen another. These are, of course, questions I would have to ask before choosing to apply.

In terms of facilities, the university offers a lot of resources:
"You will have access to 35mm, medium and large-format cameras, medium-format digital back and digital SLRs. You will also use our fully equipped lighting studios, two large darkrooms and 35mm, medium- and large-format capabilities (black and white), colour film processing and Hasselblad negative scanner (from 35mm to large format). We have two computer suites with Apple Mac G5s, all with up-to-date industry-standard software. A digital video-editing suite and a range of DV cameras are also available. We provide access to all the necessary specialist library publications and contemporary journals."
The resources include plenty of equipment I would be interested in working with: lighting studios, darkrooms and a wide variety of cameras (including 35mm cameras which I would absolutely love to work with!).

Details on UCAS points needed and other qualifications for this particular course are not listed, but I would easily be able to find this information out if I decided to apply.

Photography (with Video) at Leicester College

Taking a look at my options for courses after college, I found 4 courses that interest me.

The first of these four courses was Photography (with Video), a Foundation Degree course at Leicester College. The course lasts for two years and is a vocational course that can be turned into a full degree.
I find the course really interesting because I have a keen interest in both photography and video, but the fact it is a Foundation Degree is not quite as satisfying, as I was hoping to find a full Degree course that would cover both Photography and Video.

In an ideal world, I would like to be a freelance photographer after I have finished education, and this course clearly lists freelance photography as a career I could get into from this course.

The course features historical and contemporary photography techniques and study and offers a chance to experience editorial, fashion, studio and creative photography before choosing to specialise in one particular genre. I am not 100% sure which genre of photography I would enjoy the most, which is another positive point about this course - the chance to experience a variety of choices before making a final decision to specialise. This is also another reason I chose Photography with Video, as I am interested in both and am not sure which I would like more, though I have more experience with photography.

There are plenty of facilities available for use at the college, including:
"Full range of photographic equipment ranging from medium format/large format cameras through to the latest digital SLR's
Industry standard photographic studios
Black and White film and print darkrooms
Traditional hand print colour darkrooms
Digital Imaging centre
Apple Mac G5 studio
Learning Resource Centre"
All of this sounds very interesting to me, especially the darkrooms as I have never used a darkroom before and the process interests me greatly.

The course requires only 80 UCAS points and seems like a very interesting pathway to a career in photography or video. If I had to decide right now, this would probably be my first choice

Monday, 15 November 2010

Body Type: Sang Bleu

- Featured in Eye Magazine, Summer 2009 (Author: Keith Miller)

Sang Bleu is an exquisitely designed magazine - a heady mix of fetishism, art, philosophy and popular culture

I love tattoo art. I love design. I love typography. And I rather like fashion design, when done well.
When I stumbled upon Sang Bleu featured in Eye Magazine, I was blown away by the brilliant work on display. Sang Bleu, while a tattoo-focused magazine, is not your typical BMEzine or other tattoo 'mag'.
Sang Bleu is extroadinarily well designed, laid out with care and attention and written with profound insight. The typefaces of the B&P Typefoundry are also featured throughout the publication.
Keith Miller of Eye Magazine describes Sang Bleu:
"The magazine's many photo stories range between a slick, fetishy eroticism, with leather bra'd Sapphists tussling in nightclub lavatories, to a more detached, documentary or even anthropological approach. Where clothes are worn, which is by no means everywhere, their maker is cited at the bottom of the page in a nod to the conventions of the fashion press."

Sang Bleu's editor-in-chief Maxime Buechi explains:
"it's not an end, it's a means...We use tattooing and other underground cultures to talk about other things."
This view is definitely echoed throughout the magazine, with articles ranging from simple narratives to deep philosophical essays. There is real commitment to the tattooed way of life in Sang Bleu, and this relates perfectly to the commitment and die-hard determination of many tattoo enthusiasts. Sang Bleu really shows the art behind tattooing, the lives behind the ink and the stories the tattoos tell. The photography is stunning and inspiring, and compliments the text well. 

Being heavily into tattoo art, typography and photography, I can't see how Sang Bleu could not be a brilliant showcase for all three of these things.
As Keith Miller correctly states in his feature in Eye Magazine:
"It's the commitment, this potential abjection, which makes tattoo culture something other than 'fetishistic', in the rather glib sense that stockings and corsets are fetishistic."
Sophistication in an aspect of life many do not consider to by sophisticated at all, Sang Bleu is much more than a tattoo magazine, it is a true insight into a lifestyle, a thought process and a way of life.

Interested in Sang Bleu? They have a blog here.

Andy O'Connell: The Estate We're In

Journalist Gordon MacDonald posted an interesting analysis of a photography project in the magazine Photoworks this past October. The photography project is titled 'The Estate We're In' and was created by Andy O'Connell.

The project features photographs from around London, taking a look at the corners of the city that are sometimes overlooked by passers-by. The project could be described as documentary photography or as artistic photography, but as Gordan MacDonald remarks:
"they have elements of both defined modes of photographic practice - but they are neither, they are simply (and complexly) photographs".

The article begins with a tale from MacDonald's teenage years when he worked as a journalistic photographer, armed with a camera and a flash, seeking photographs of prisoners being driven to court in their police vans. He uses this tale to discuss the various styles and uses of photography:
"One reason could be that photography has its own history, which is often its main point of reference. It has many modes, which include porn, pack shots and documentary; these all go towards our understanding of this history and all contribute to our relationship with every photograph we view"
MacDonald makes a strong point. Photography has had such a wide range of uses over the years of its existence, and each one of these uses impacts us when we view a photograph.

O'Connell's photography has a simplistic elegance that comes across in every shot. The curling shapes of the tire-tracks in the grass in Joy Ride, Tulse Hill Estate are eyecatching and interesting to view.

There is, as Gordon MacDonald points out, "a level of slow careful observation that raises them above 'straight' documentary photography" in the photographs of this project. The photographs are more than just devices through which to tell a story, they are also stories in their own right, works that catch the eye and linger for a while until that story has been told.

Intriguing as the above picture is, my eye is also drawn in by the composition of the shot. Whether intentional or not, the strong line where the door meets the wall draws the eye across to the letterbox.
The photographs, which mainly seem to focus on criminal acts, give another, more creative approach to crime. When discussing this, Gordon MacDonald says:
"These creative accidents are clearly not the main intention of the crimes' perpetrators, but are one of the more positive outcomes and O'Connell seems to relish these moments of black humour in this dark place."
And indeed, adding this other dimension, a lighter view, to crime and squalor in a big city is something we should all take note of. Taking the lighter view, a more creative look, to the lives of these people is surely what creating good art is all about - looking at things differently.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Restless Times: Art in Britain 1914 -1945

As well as the Abram Games exhibition, we also visited the Millenium Gallery for an exhibition called 'Restless Times: Art In Britain 1914-1945'. This exhibition featured art from a period where Britain was defined by the devastation of two world wars, and as a result, a lot of the work was very powerful to express the feelings of the British at that time.

One of the pieces that caught my eye was a piece called 'Speed Underground' by Alan Rogers. It was part of a campaign to restore interest in the London Underground system. The poster is very eye-catching and I immediately sat down to draw my own sketch of it:

Alan Rogers' original - Speed Underground

My sketch - done in graphite.

I also really loved a piece I found by an artist called Julian Trevelyan, called 'Rubbish May Be Shot Here'. This piece is photomontage/collage and is another piece that really caught my eye:

I love this piece because I feel it is a statement on the feelings of the British people in 1937, when the work was created. The people perhaps felt like they were useless and rubbish, thus creating the image of a landfill-type site filled with people. I also like the way the sky is painted with the various dark tones to create clouds in the sky and the pollution created by the chimneys. It gives the painting an industrial feel which helps with the feeling of oppression the people express.
I really like the statement this image gives, as well as the way the message is presented, and it definitely inspires me to look further into collage and photomontage in the future.

I enjoyed the Restless Times exhibition, though I found it harder to take in because of the sheer amount of work available, and the prohibiton of photography. I did enjoy the Abram Games exhibition more, but I found the Restless Times exhibition very interesting and insightful, and it definitely inspired me to look at new techniques to use in my art in the future

Visit to the Abram Games Exhibition

On the 18th October, we headed out on a trip to Sheffield to visit two exhibitions. The first was an exhibition called 'Restless Times', which I will cover in the next post, but the second was on the graphic designer Abram Games.
Abram Games is well known for his poster work, which included many posters for recruitment in World War II. A lot of these recruitment posters were on display at the exhibition, as well as many other pieces of advertising for The Times Newspaper and ads for holiday destinations like Jersey and Blackpool.

While at the exhibition, I took plenty of photographs of Games' work. I particularly liked this piece that was on display:

I found this piece particularly interesting because of the shell's shape which forms the 'J' of 'Jersey'. The colours were minimal, as was the design, but it got the message across clearly. Games' personal motto was "Maximum meaning, minimum means" and this was clearly on display in all of his work.
One of the things that fascinated me in particular about this piece was the 'work in progress' sketches that were on display near it:

These are very helpful in understanding Games' thought process as he was designing the Jersey poster. It always amazes me to see the 'behind the scenes' of an artist's work, so I can learn from it when working on my own artwork. One of the big things I noticed (and liked) about these concept sketches was how random and messy they are, which makes the ideas seem much more spontaneous and chaotic. I am fascinated by the image this conjures of Games at his desk, struck by an idea and scribbling furiously in response. It feels very special to be allowed into an artist's mind and placed on the journey from inspiration to product with them.

It was hard to choose a piece that truly illustrated my admiration for Abram Games' work, but I feel these photographs showcase the pieces that spoke to me the most at his exhibition.