What I’ve learned from my final year of Uni:

I feel I’ve come a long way since second year, even the summer break. I began my professional development file very differently to where it has led. Over the summer I concentrated on selling greeting cards and hand-made ceramics on stalls at various events under the name ‘Cariad Moon designs by Rhiannon Morgan’. First term of Uni however proved my heart wasn’t truly into this and although it was a good short term way of making a bit of money, I quickly realized it wasn’t where my future and career lay!

(Cariad Moon ceramic designs from summer work on professional practice)

The Caldercotte project was the beginning of ‘finding my style’. From there I went on to other projects within the Professional practice module such as the James and the giant peach competition, Picturing time competition and Leopard gecko guy blog illustrations and I got more and more confident and comfortable. By the second and third modules, negotiated studies one and two I experimented a little more, applying my newly developed style to different materials. This I found very effective and exciting!

Mistakes, successes and everything in between:

Two happy mistakes: that I made this year were applying my love of posca pens and inks to everything other than white paper! I don’t know why I never tried it before. Being dyslexic I should have realized that working on white boggles my brain a bit but it took until now to work it out! I quickly learned that my favourite was brown parcel type paper.

I didn’t finish the picturing time competition brief. I really wish I had. At the time I was drawing close to completing the design for the final piece, my dad became very ill and I found it difficult to concentrate on my work. The deadline passed and I realized I was letting my work slip so decided to get on with other projects and catch up with Picturing time when I could.

Scale. I have always done my best work BIG. I forgot this. I was so busy churning out work I forgot to consider trying out different sizes. I think the biggest final pieces I did other than the very last (the water horse head for the degree show) was A3. It was my very last final piece that reminded me how much I liked to work on a bigger scale! This I think is one of the more important lessons I learnt this year. If I had more time or had worked this out in second year I would have most definitely done a lot more work A2 size plus. (of course I can take this lesson into my career and future projects!)

I.T skills. This was a lesson I crashed into in my second year but it was highlighted further this year. Although I like to work traditionally there are computer skills an illustrator must have and I think mine have greatly improved over the last few months.

Lack of sketchbooks. I am terrible for keeping sketchbooks and instead work on random bits of paper I’ve collected. I find it difficult and restricting to work in a book, even a large one and so rip pages out or acquire papers and card I like and work on them. Of course this is a nightmare of a habit when assessments are due! There’s bits of paper all over the place all in the wrong order or even lost and ultimately I’m making it very hard for myself. I should have worked out a way of keeping them all together in order or even make sure the papers I worked on where similar size so I could bind them later! This was my biggest mistake, and I will learn from it!

Blog. I should have done more blog posts. I should also have started my blog on blogspot or different server when I began to have problems with wordpress! (stated in the previous post.) I found it difficult to keep up a blog and ‘sketchbook notes’ at the same time. When I’ve left Uni I will work on making a point of posting a blog regularly, aka every Monday or fortnightly etc.

Keeping in touch with my Fine art training. Although the Fine art course wasn’t right for me I learned a lot during my time there. Some of the most important things I learned were to be intuitive about my work and materials, to trust my instincts and to be confident in the creation of work and the publishing/exhibiting of it.


Negotiated studies 1 and 2 conclusion:

Had a tutorial with Yadzia on Tuesday. We worked out:

*Caldercott, James and the giant peach, leopard gecko guy etc. will be Professional practice.

*GTV brief will be my negotiated studies 1

*My book negotiated studies 2

All of these are now completed.

My book it was agreed needed one page (my fourth final piece for this brief) re-working as the style of this page didn’t match

the other pages or my general way of working. This has been completed. Ordinarily I ‘d post some pictures for neg 2 but as there

pages of an unpublished book I’m not sure that would be such a good idea so i’ll talk about the development between neg1 and neg 2


Negotiated studies 1:

Neg 1 was to produce four or more finished pieces for GTV (Glyndwr’s online TV service) based on the welsh mythological story provided about a water horse called ‘the cefyl dwr’ luring a traveller into a terrifying ride. The brief was very open and flexible and I chose:

1. to veer away from the exact description of the horse in the story aka. small grey pony and use a bit of artistic licence  and make it a bit more fantastical.

2. I pushed the date description back a bit. The story says about a hundred years ago but i chose to depict a time a bit more than that through my characters costume design. I though it would be more visually interesting and create a better ‘before terrifying ride’ and ‘after terrifying ride’ comparison.

These final images were created on textured brown square paper and predominantly purple, cobalt blue and turquoise with red details most notably the horse’s eyes and the clothing of the main character. I though this quite effective, especially the horse’s red eyes which really did make it look quite malevolent!

Development into Negotiated studies 2: 

Originally I was going to turn Neg 1’s work into a book for neg 2. However I had some issues with this and felt I wanted to move in another direction.

Problems I had with Neg 1 was

1. I felt the story too brief. I would have to bulk it out myself or get someone else to and I found this process was taking far too long!

2.  Saleability. Who would it be marketed at? I felt the story and imagery too dark for very young children but as a picture book would it appeal to older children?

3. The story itself had issues. It contradicted itself and a lot of exciting mythology and I found myself  just not believe in it. I kept thinking a man stole a pony and got more than he bargained for and feeble minded people exaggerated this. That’s about it. Myths and legends often have very humble beginnings but this just felt like a joke. It needs fleshing out, it needs magic and mystery and wonder. I tried to give it this through my illustrations but as far as turning it into a book was concerned I felt it best to go with my instincts and leave it behind.

4. I hated the main character. There was nothing interesting or engaging about him in my mind both as character and as design. I would have liked maybe to have worked into him more and i did explore this in my drafts and early sketches but I was aware of time and left him be. The most I did was to show him in a negative light. A thoughtless and possibly spoilt child or thief (due to nice clothes) who the cefyl dwr wanted to teach a lesson.

5. Due to this development I felt a bit uncomfortable ‘lecturing’ older children and adults about morality. It just left me feeling a bit uncomfortable and i certainly wouldn’t want to do that in a book.

Negotiated studies 2: 

I liked the idea of creating a book and I liked the cefyl dwr.  Although my original design was quite malevolent looking I felt with a bit of re-working it could be perfect for a younger children’s book. I wanted to do a younger children’s book (e.g. under 6-7s) because I felt I would have a lot more freedom to work on the imagery and the story wouldn’t dominate.

I can’t really describe the exact process or decisions as to how or why I wrote the story I did. It began with imagery first and I just happened to be in one of those rare magical moods where the very first thing you draw/write is perfect! The story is loosly based on my own childhood holidays on the North Wales coast, the main (human) character a mixture of myself as a child and my 7 year old cousin Libby and the horse a development of neg 1. I was also, unwittingly at first, greatly inspired by a number of books and illustrators! To name a few:

Books and illustrators in no order:

The Wind Garden written by Angela McAllister and illustrated by Claire Fletcher

The MouseHole Cat written by Antonia Barber and illustrated by Nicola Bayley

Raggedy Ann Stories written and illustrated by Johnny Gruelly

Ginger and The Three Little Pigs  (and anything else really) written and ilustrated by Charlotte Voake

My naughty little sister written by Dorothy Edwards and Illustrated by Shirlry Hughes

Mog and The Tiger Who Came to Tea written and illustrated by Judith Kerr

Noah’s Ark and Can You Catch a Mermaid? (and anything else) written and illustrated by Jane Ray

A Night The Stars Danced For Joy written by Bob Hartman and illustrated by Tim Jonke

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow retold and illustrated by Will Moses (original story Washington Irving)

Richard Scary books

The Chocolate Wedding written and illustrated by Posy Simmons

Wishing Moon written and illustrated by Lesley Harker

Everything ever written and illustrated by Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake!

Illustration developments:

*The cefyl dwr/water horse became benign. This was clear in a number of changes made.

*The eyes became black like a regular horse. I didn’t like this at all at first. I loved the contrast between the blues and greens and the red. However I begrudgingly accepted red eyes on a blue horse were never going to look cute.

*Eyes became much wider and not so squinty and mean looking.

*The horse itself lost the purple and became entirely made up of blues and turquoises. This was done for higher contrast with the character dressed in red and also to make it look more benign. It was also due to THIS water horse being from the sea rather than a lake or river and I felt sticking to these colours reflected this better.

*Different surface. My original surface was far more textured. If i could I would have stuck to this type of surface. It was lovely to draw on and gave my work a far better quality of line. However I needed long panels to draw on for the book and couldn’t find anything as good as the square textured paper of my originals so opted for sheets of cardboard. This didn’t look half as nice as the textured paper in my opinion and tended to make my pen drag a bit but it didn’t buckle like the textured paper and could take more ‘wet on wet’ working so overall it was a good choice.

* The story change brought different characters and scenes (this time of my choice) and my style became a lot more relaxed and free flowing which I felt was a big improvement. Because I hadn’t enjoyed neg 1 quite as much I felt the work started to get slightly tight but as neg 2 went on the work became far more relaxed again and I think you can tell I enjoyed it much more.  I felt I went back to the roots of my style with neg 2 and built on it.

Final pieces for GTV brief:

These are in order of narrative. There is one more but it’s not quite finished and shows the man and Cefyl dwr plunging into the water which better explains his bedraggled appearance in the final picture. These will be 5 of 15 pieces overall. The agreed deadline for these however is October so I have plenty of time to work on them.

Belated creative futures write up:

Creative futures


Does everyone find WordPress temperamental or is it just me?? It must just be me or other people would complain! I’ve tried it on lots of different computers and still come up against the same problems!

To my horror I realized my creative futures notes were still not on my blog. I’d forgotten to put them up! This was because at the time of creative futures I simply could not post anything to WordPress.

Whenever I tried the whole format changed, wouldn’t let me post images, wouldn’t let me post anything at all and or slowed down then froze… This has been a nightmare and meant my blog has been decidedly

lacking this year! This is why when I do get a good day on WordPress I tend to cram in as many blog posts as I can on the same day!Any way luckily I remembered about my creative futures notes and luckily

I’d typed them up in a word document at the time of creative futures just in case, so all I had to do was copy and paste. So without further ado here they are my creative futures notes:

Creative futures notes:

 I’ve decided to type up the top 4 lectures I attended which 1. I found the most helpful and informative 2. made me reflect on the actions I need to take to further my illustration career and 3. clearly

highlighted the options and help available to me along the way.

Jonathan Edwards :Diversity

‘Jonathan’s work first appeared in 1993 in Deadline and Tank Girl Magazine with strips such as Dandy Dilemma, Simon Creem, The Squabbling Dandies (with Richard Holland) and one pagers about, amongst

others, Scott Walker, Sly Stone, Nancy Sinatra, Kraftwerk and The Beach Boys. Since then he’s worked for the Guardian, Mojo, Q, Mad, The Black Eyed Peas, A Skillz & Krafty Kuts, The Jungle Brothers,

The Glastonbury Festival, etc. Comics include Aunt Connie & The Plague of Beards, A Bag Of Anteaters (with Ian Carney) and Two Coats McWhinnie (also with Carney). He’s also been a regular contributor

to the Guardian since 1999 and illustrated the Hard Sell weekly column in the Guide since 2002.’


Words of wisdom:

*Get a good break and you’ll do fine. Preserver for it!

*Twitter- Have a go! Keep plugging. Your work will come to someone’s attention eventually.

*Don’t expect people to come to you though, you go to them!

*Expect the unexpected

*Don’t rely just on small local designers. Will get you jumping through hoops for next to nothing. Go for big companies. I f they pick you, they’ve done it because they like your stuff and so won’t try

to change you. I found Selfridges and the Guardian to be great!

*He did the 100 days project. 1 drawing a day for a 100 days. He posted them on his blog and made them into a book. (I think this is a brilliant idea!)

Daisy Dawes: Children’s book illustration 

Daisy Dawes studied animation and stop motion at Plymouth university. Her creative career began working on the film set of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone’ and she went on to work on children’s

TV programs such as ‘Rex the Runt’ and ‘Pingu’. With the rise of digital animation becoming more and more popular Daisy moved away from stop motion animation and began her career as a children’s book illustrator with the publication of her first book, Get Ahead Fred. She used her skills as a stop motion animator to make and re-appropriate her 3D models. She then photographed them and built a unique and funny story around the images resulting in a picture book. She quickly got published by Maverick and she is now a successful illustrator and author.

Words of wisdom:

*Got to be brave and balance the love for what you do with paying the rent. Aka get another job.

*Maveric published her book

*Do your research but…

*Stick with your style! You will meet people who will try to change and dilute your work to make it more marketable

to the masses. BE STRONG! Go with your instincts!

*From a writing perspective, never talk down to children.

*Put your spirit and passion into your work. Be confident!

*Don’t be disheartend by rejection.

*Think how your work could adapt to digital media and be verdatile. (computer, TV etc. reaching audiences in different ways.)

*However publishers would rather have good raw material than an over thought design/product.

*Find the right publisher for you. Also remember it’s about ‘the right time.’ Go back to publishers and ask again.

They may have a need for what you do the second or third time you approach them but not necessarily the first.

*Do your research. Don’t just go for the first acceptance.

In the mean time:

*Anything you can do to give yourself a head start, do it! Brochures or tourism etc. (gives you experience and

pays the bills.) Use whatever other time you have for your free lance work.

*Stick to it and be inspired!! Read books, watch films. Take a break and surround yourself with people and things

that inspire you. You never know where it will progress. (e.g. you may meet someone at a gig etc. get out and meet

people. NETWORK!) Tim Burton wears stripy socks when having a creative block.

*If you want to write or illustrate for children-meet some children! Hold an art class, get involved in activities.

(artist in residence)You will get lots of ideas and it could lead to some amazing places.

*Stick with your convictions and you can’t go wrong!

*If your faith can keep you going the rest will come. You’ll learn to be business savvy, you’ll learn what you need but

you must have faith in yourself and your work.

*Key to writing is reading. Read other childrens books. Immerse yourself in other peoples books. Look at what is good/bad/appealing.

What is a Pack?

*A pack is a CV, portfolio, profile about yourself (no more than A4), a good photo, a list of projects you’ve worked on and

a list of websites featuring you. (for a writer also inc. a manuscript.)

*April, London book fair. Good idea to register!

*Belonia this month. Illustration fair. Amazing apparently.

How do you protect yourself legally?

*You have a relationship of trust with your publisher. It is very difficult to safe guard your work.

*Find a publisher that’s right for you and you feel you can trust. Down to your intuition at the end of the day.

*You need to sell yourself and your work as a package not just a one off  image.

*Look up your rights. Put your name down for foreign rights. Look up subsidery rights (publishers rights) look up legal

stuff, what should be in a contract etc.

*Ask other illustrators for advice. If you get an agent they will look up these things for you too.

*You have to be very switched on to what you’re signing your name to.

*Make sure you get what’s coming to you.

*Don’t sit in your studio all day everyday. Get out and about, make connections, get inspired!

*If you are driven it WILL pay off!

Joe List: Illustration and design, 6 years out

Since graduating from Glyndwr university 6 years ago, Joe List has worked for a design company, created a comic book

known as ‘Freak Leap on line’ and also started his own blog ‘The Annotated Weekender’ in which he doodles over the

Guardian’s weekend magazine every week and then posts his improvements online!

Which big foot?

Words of wisdom:

*Keep going. Don’t give up.

*Stylise! Trying to be perfect and photo real is very hard to pull off and most of the time will just look ‘guff’.

*Don’t lose the charm.

*Keep pitching. –take part in competitions and projects

*Keep a sketchbook and keep sketching

*Try collaborating

*Invent your own projects!

*Don’t o work for free unless it’s really worth your while (for fun, charity etc.)

*Don’t ever hide your work, show it to the world!

*Good reading- David O’Reilly, John. Ks blog, Rexbox, Grain edit.

*Think about whether you care about morals and ethics. What are your limits? Would you be happy designing work for

gambling company for example?

*Got to collaborate with a writer or be a good writer to do comics/books. Depends on you and what you want.

*TWITTER! ‘really good’ ‘invaluable’ ‘brilliant’- gets rid of a lot of boundaries and walls present in day to day life. Never know who you may come across or who may come across you!

*Social media really helps if you’re not based in London. You can feel a bit disjointed from the rest of the creative

centre. Can put you in touch with the right people.

*Get yourself a brand, a website, a nice url. Etc.

*Look at what you’ve got and look at ways of presenting it.

*Get organized! Get professional!


Neil Johnston: Day time design and free time design

(no image)

Neil Johnston graduated from Glyndwr University 5 years ago and is the only Design post graduate from Glyndwr

to have won a D & AD award. At the outset of his career he found it difficult to get work but with some initial

help from the university he went on to work for View Creative where he did a number of design jobs. Presently he

works and lives in Prague and has done for the past three years.

Words of wisdom

*You don’t need to be employed to be an active designer.

*Try designing a logo for a company you think needs it and propose it to them!

*Have initiative. If there’s no work make some!

*Initiative is key to no regrets.

*Don’t wait around for work to come to you, you have to look for it.

*Working with bigger companies may make you lose touch with clients.

*Student awards 2011- your pencil, your potential- Enter now!

*Advertising agencies. If ethically minded might not suit you. Drink/cigarettes/ insurance etc. You may get one or

two meaningful projects but by and large it’s all about the hard sell.

*Craft and design can get lost in a big agency.

*Look into making a portfolio booklet. (Neil was glad he invested time and money in it because it got him work. )

*Treat your portfolio like a brief in itself.

*Knowing a photographer can be very helpful.

*Look up portfolio website- indexibit.org

*If you have an opportunity to create your own brief or project DO IT! You could create a magazine or comic for

example. More opportunities could spring from it.

*Look up Anti Design festival (ADF)

*Don’t be afraid to contact and send your work to people. They can only say no.

*Take photographs and keep a sketch book to keep the ideas flowing.

*Neil used to work for View. Found them good to work with. If we wanted to get in touch ask for ‘Simon’.

*Don’t be afraid to work for free sometimes. Will help you on the road to learning and will improve your portfolio.

Overall what I learned:

*Be proactive, this career path isn’t an easy ride so don’t take a back seat. Potential clients won’t just turn up

out the blue because you want them to! You’ve got to canvas, sell yourself, be motivated and confident, put yourself

out there and give it 110%!

*Keep your originality and style. Others will try and change it to suit them and make it more marketable to the masses.

If you aren’t happy with selling out then stick to your guns!

*Rejection happens. Keep going.

*Social networking= Twitter! EVERYONE raved about the joys of twitter.

*Be and look as professional as you possibly can.

*Always keep a sketchbook

*Don’t be afraid to work for free or very little. It can teach you a lot and look great in your portfolio. But be

wary. Only do it if it’s REALLY REALLY worth it. Many people/companies will take you for a mug so be very choosy as

to who you bestow this on.

Children’s book illustrations:

After my tutorial before the Easter holidays I got down to work. Originally I was working towards entering the puffin children’s book competition but I soon realized after another tutorial that I simply couldn’t complete the volume of work needed in such a short space of time. The ideas I had were half-formed and the work I produced stilted and boring focused on landscapes and scenes which are far from my strengths. I decided to forget about the competition and make my own book brief. I liked the water horse ideas still and of course it would be very helpful to combine research and ideas and use them for two projects!

New brief:

Write and illustrate a children’s story book.

*Include story in full

*Include a clear indication of intended illustrations of whole story in draft form.

*Include at least four finished double page spreads or three double page spreads and a front cover.

This is what I have primarily worked on over the Easter holidays. At this point I have completed four double page spreads and the skeleton of the story is complete, I’m now working on the editing and completing the drafts.

Here’s some examples of my draft work:

Initial draft ideas for one of my main characters:

A draft scene, one of which I’ve completed as one of my double page spreads!

I will have another tutorial over my completed work when I go back to uni after the Easter holidays.


I had a tutorial focused on the work I’d been doing for the Glyndwr T.V project and Yadzia suggested I enter the Macmillan children’s book competition. Unfortunately the deadline for the competition was due a week or two after my tutorial so I didn’t have time to get all my work ready and finalized however I decided to go ahead and try creating a children’s book anyway.

Leopard gecko guy blog illustrations:

I was commissioned to do some illustrations for a popular blog on the maintenance and care of Leopard gecko’s.


My first published illustration:

Originally this was:

But Leopard gecko guy wasn’t sure this was suitable for his audience as he gets a lot of children making enquiries about the health of their pets etc.

Other pieces waiting to be published on the next blog are:

As they’re designed specifically for the Leopard gecko guy blog there is ALOT of leopard gecko humour which someone not acquainted with these animals may not understand.

GTV brief initial images:

Here’s a few initial sketches and ink paintings i did in response to this brief:

I didn’t really like any of these so I decided on a new more magical approach and use a little bit more artistic licence!

I then began to look at the other main character of the story, the traveller man. I researched clothing of a hundred years ago and it was very  VERY boring. I thought I’d employ some artistic licence again and push the time of the scene back a little bit more to the mid-late 1800’s. The Victorian era had some more interesting costumes to offer according to my research.

I felt the story needed bulking out a bit especially where the main character was concerned. At first i drew him as a handsome well dressed young man. I liked this idea mostly because i wanted a real contrast at the end. Handsome and smartly dressed then after the Kelpie ride, bedraggled, scratched and bruised .  This is a nice idea but would a handsome young man be a bit boring? Could I add some comic effect or drama? What if he was a lazy fat pampered man (which would explain his haste in taking a short cut) or a cruel thoughtless man that thought nothing of taking someone else’s lost horse! Would any of this translate in a hansdome man or would it be clearer in a more ‘memorable’ looking character? I decided to experiment with these thoughts in my drafts:

I didn’t really come up with any conclusion in the end. I decided to focus on the development of the horse character some more instead.

GTV brief:

‘WANTED – Animators/Illustrators

This project is open to North Wales School of Art and Design students.

Would you like to take part in a new, exciting project where your work could be seen by a local audience?

If so GTV, Glyndwr’s own online, on demand television service may be for you.

We’re looking for animators/illustrators to help us create 3-5mins films, based on Welsh Myths. We’re interested in all styles, individual animators and groups.

If you’re interested we would love to hear from you.’

This was sent to me by an graduate student of Glyndwr. She thought i might be interested and directed me to a website that has one of the myths GTV would like me to illustrate.

Email and brief:

‘Below is the hyperlink to the myth (The River Honddu Water Horse) that I thought would show off your magical and beautiful style.


(I think the message of this myth is that taking the easy way is not always the right way but you can come to your own conclusions)

It is a very simple story and would require 20 or so images to last about 3mins (we’d edit it for you and sort out some narration).

There is no deadline but I’m thinking if all the pictures were drawn by the end of the summer that would be great.

You can alter the story if you wish. The criteria is for the myth to stay magical.’

The link info:

River Honddu Water Horse
The River Honddu (Afon Honddu) runs through the Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons starting at the Vale of Ewyas and said, according to folklore, to be the home of a small grey Ceffyl-dwr (a welsh water horse similar to a Kelpie). In Folk-lore and Folk-stories of Wales by Marie Trevelyan a tale is told of the water horse that resided in the River Honddu.

Near the town of Brecon the remains of a Roman camp are still to be seen. It is supposed to have been formed by Ostorius Scapula, on the site of the British camp “Caer Bannau”. This camp stands on the bank of the River Honddu.

About a century ago a weary man was lured by a small grey water-horse from the camp to the edge of the river. Opportunity was too inviting to be lost, so the man mounted the horse an in a very short space of time was set down on the banks of the Towy, not far from Carmarthen. Three days later the man was again lured by the small grey horse and carried back to the Honddu – but, as the narrator said, “in a worse state than when he left, for the Ceffyl-dwr (note: Welsh name for a water horse, similar to a Kelpie) had dragged him through mire and water, through brambles and briars, until he was scarcely knowable”.

The water-horse of the Honddu had a “tormenting” reputation


Final piece for James and the giant peach competition:

Here’s the finished piece complete with provided puffin template of logo. bar code etc.

I like it’s simplicity and eye catching colours behind the black silhouette which was screen printed onto hand-made paper and then scanned into my computer to be digitally edited.

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