Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Hippo Research - Cow Parade

The World's Largest Public Art Event

CowParade is the largest and most successful public art event in the world. CowParade events have been staged in over 50 cities worldwide since 1999 including Chicago (1999), New York City (2000), London (2002), Tokyo (2003), and Brussels (2003). Dublin (2003), Prague (2004), and Stockholm (2004), Mexico City (2005), Sao Paulo (2005), Buenos Aires (2006), Boston (2006) Paris (2006), Milan (2007, and Istanbul (2007).

  • It is estimated that over 100 million people around the world have seen one our famous cows.
  • Over $20 million have been raised through worldwide charitable organizations through the auction of the cows, which take place at the conclusion of each event.
  • Over 5,000 artists worldwide have participated in CowParade – professional and amateur, famous and emerging, young and old.

Why Cows?

This is a popular question. Simply, the cow is a universally beloved animal. The cow represents different things to different people around the world-she's sacred, she's historical, she connects us to our past-but the common feeling is one of affection. There is something magical about the cow that transcends throughout the world. She simply makes everyone smile.

As an art canvas, there is no other animal or object that provides the form, flexibility, and contiguous breadth of a cow. The three shapes (standing, grazing, reclining) provide artists with subtle, yet interesting angles and curves to create unique works of art. The basic cow form is also benign so that it can be altered, transformed, and morphed into completely other animals, people or objects. Incredibly, over 2500 hundred Cows have been created worldwide, but no two are alike.

Who Are The Artists?

The cows are painted by local artists from the amateur and unknown to the professional and famous. The artists are notified of the event through an "Open Call to Artists" process. This process consists of a targeted mailing to top artists, newspapers and television ads, and through cooperation with local arts organizations. The event maintains a portfolio of the design submissions from which event sponsors select.

Taken from the Cow Parade website.

Essentially this Hippo Trail is simplified, scaled down version of the Cow Parade. In this case that artists are primarily school children and the location is condensed into a single street in Armley.

Because it's aimed at children obviously the designs will be a lot less complex, mostly just painted, but there's nothing stopping people adding to the model itself!
I'm inevitably going to have quite a few hippos left over for my own use so I may be tempted to jazz some of them up myself.

Festival Volunteering

As it's been over a month since I sent my references and passport copy off to Platform2, and I have yet to hear from them I thought it best to start planning my summer on the assumption that I will be residing in the UK.

So I have came up with a more than satisfactory Plan B: festivals! Me and my friend Sara are volunteering through Oxfam to work at Leeds Festival and Bestival! It's free to do (a deposit of £180 is required but you get that fully refunded a month after the festivals), you get your meals provided, and over the whole 5/6 day period you're only required to work 3 x 8 hour shifts. Perfect.

Leeds resides on the August bank holiday and Bestival 2 weeks later, thus giving me a slither of glimmering optimism through what I fear will be a soul destroying summer of full time call centre work. Win.

Advanced Drawing Elective

Monday, 29 March 2010

Hippo Brief

Really random brief that spawned from meeting Jane Earnshaw at the Armley Mills community, who organises the I Love West Leeds Festival.

West Leeds Hippos – March on the city

West Leeds Arts Festival (also known as I Love West Leeds) is a quirky
annual arts festival, now in its 6th year, that takes place annually
in July. A cross artform festival, it features a mix of professional
performances, exhibitions & events and large-scale community
participation projects.

This year our mass participation event will be based around hippos,
with five artists commissioned to create one-off items and with
hundreds of school pupils decorating smaller versions for display
during the festival.

To realise this project we need a prototype hippo creating and then a
series of moulds made in order to produce 500 hippos for decoration.
The final mass produced hippo need to be a simplistic design and
constructed out of a material that is both suitable for painting and
is also suitable to be used by primary school children i.e. non-toxic.
The hippo should be able to be decorated in a single lesson and so
needs to find of a size large enough to be painted by young children
who may not be the most dextrous of painters yet small enough to be
achievable in a single lesson. A suggestion would be that the hippo is
no larger than 30cm long and 20cm high.

The hippos need to be made and ready to go into schools by the week
beginning 14 June.

I've been down to the 3D workshop to talk to the guy about it, and as I feared it is completely unrealistic to suggest that I make all 500 hippos myself. He worked out how many hours it would take and I'm sure it's more than I plan on being alive for. Then there's the storage and transportation to consider also, I'd single handedly take up half the college - although it would look funny as fuck to completely fill the studio with an army of midget hippos simply on the basis of observing David's reaction, who seems to have an unthinkable comment for every occasion. Another important factor to consider - would I be marked any higher for making 500 than I would for making 5? 
After voicing these concerns with Jane on Monday we have ourselves a solution. I design the hippos, make as many moulds as I can (ideally 10 or more), make a few prototypes and then pass the moulds onto Jane who will locate some minions to do the laborious birthing of my precious herd. This is great, because it's such a fun little brief, it gives me chance to work on a one to one basis with a client, learn some new skills in mould making and plaster casting and my hippos will be part of a massive regional festival! 
I am slightly concerned that whilst this is a lovely, if a little strange, brief, is it really helping me progress as a practitioner? Or am I just imagining justifications to distract myself away from the fact that I have no real place on this course? I suspect the latter, but we'll save the self pity for another blog post.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Creative Networks

Tonight was my first opportunity to help out at the Creative Networks event, it turned out to be pretty awesome. I was positioned on the front desk along with 2 other new helpers and the two girls who have been helping out for the past year or so. It didn't take long to get my head around the system of logging people in and registering new visitors and then (I know this may come as a shock to some) it was simply a case of maintaining a sickly sweet smile.

This month's speaker was Sir John Hegarty, who - dare I admit - I had never really heard of before this event (I'm not exactly tight with the advertising industry if I'm honest..). Initially I wasn't planning on staying for the lecture as I had a prior engagement but I can definitely say I'm glad I did. Hegarty is the mastermind behind such ad campaigns as 'Vorsprung Durch Technik' for Audi and Levi's famous laundrette advert. As well as conventional TV campaigns it was really interesting to see the variety of new methods created by BBH (Bartle Bogle Hegarty) in response to the ever evolving contemporary culture. For instance, as an alternative to spending millions on prime time TV ad slots the company tried investing best part of a budget on production and relying on the video streaming phenomenon to do the rest. This campaign for Smirnoff Raw Tea is simply genius - all BBH did was to upload it to YouTube and it swept the nation with so much more volume than a TV ad ever could; a cost effective way of testing your audiences reaction to a particular campaign.

Even though my interest in advertising is minimal at best I was riveted throughout the entire lecture because it was evident that he held a true passion for his subject matter. 'Ten reasons to be in advertising' damn well made me want to be in advertising. Bloody advertising buggers, sucking me in with their shiny adverts and funny jokes.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Artivism Community Project

After another couple of visits to Armley Mills, the artivism project is really starting to come along. I've finished my puppet head! As creepy as it is I am definitely proud of it and love it a little too much.. We've been asked to create a story for our character, or give them some qualities or anecdotes that we have either taken directly from a particular memory or have based around an item, a smell, an object that has or has had a place in our lives.

Every time I travel anywhere I always keep the tickets, I've got a mountain of discarded train tickets in my drawer - I don't know why I keep them but I just can't bring myself to ever throw them away. It's as though I'll be able to hold on to the memories I had in a particular place better if I have the physical object that allowed me to get there in the first place. Of course this isn't true - I couldn't possibly rifle through my ticket stash and tell you exactly what I did on each trip but every new "tickets please.." I am adamant that I will try. So the combination of this/these memories (or lack of) and the general appearance of my hairy-nosed old man has led me to believe that this guy is a ticket inspector, or was at some point - probably in the 'olden days' though because I can't imagine him traipsing up and down an East Coast shit heap.

The next stage of the project is to create a wicker structure to house our puppet heads that we will eventually decorate with relevant objects/imagery/text. The whole thing will encapsulate the thoughts, feelings and senses we want to get across from our 'memory'. Throughout this whole process Shari has been documenting the sessions through video, photography and sound recording and is compiling everything into one final moving image that incorporates our collective journey and creates a narrative by combining each individual 'memory'. This video will then be projected onto our structures (the main skin of the 3d pieces are made from wet-strength tissue which has a certain luminosity that is perfect for projection) to create the final exhibit-able piece.

So far, so good.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Book Fair

£30 says I went down a treat at the book fair!

I honestly didn't expect to sell any, and when I got there on Saturday morning for my stewarding slot my initial apprehensions were confirmed - none were sold on Friday at all. But in all fairness, they were shoved in a tiny pile on the very corner of the table with the propped card label placed on top obscuring most of the actual design. Unhelpful. There was a huge space at the other end of the table, so I took one set out of the packet and arranged them as a display model with the sealed cards beside it - within 10 minutes my first one had been sold.

If you want something doing you have to do it yourself. Fact

Artivism Community Project and Festival Placement

My second weekly visit to Armley Mills involved much of the same sort of thing as the first. We simply continued on with our paper mache puppet heads - adding extra layers and priming them with emulsion. Again, a highly satisfying process.

There were two new comers this week so once again it was introductions all round, and one member of the group had brought in some of his photography work to show us. I spent a while chatting to a man called Steve, he is the ultimate fountain of knowledge. I like to call him Fact Man. His great-grandfather (maybe great-great?) was the founder of Armley Mills, he's involved with Wakefield Westgate Studios and he used to be a mega pre-computer graphic designer in his day. I can't remember the name of the studio he used to work for but it was London-based and he did the type-setting for the Miss Selfridge and Saatchi campaigns in his day - so I'm guessing that particular studio was, erm, good.

He was talking me through photo type setting, which was the process used to produce large bodies of type before computers - all the text is exposed onto photographic film which is then spaced and lined up by hand. Sounded pretty daunting. He was also talking about the interviewing process for graphic designers in his day - the interview that secured his job at the design studio in London rendered CV's irrelevant. The candidates were given a compass, ruler and drawing materials and told to draw a border of a particular size with rounded corners - whoever was most accurate got the job. Crazy.

Managed to talk to Jane about the I Love West Leeds festival that she organises as well. This is the first instance in my life where the whole 'it's not what you know it's who you know' cliche has worked in my favor. She needs some interns to commit to 2 days per week for the next 3 months to help with general running of the festival. Initially she said that she understood from Christian that I probably couldn't offer up that much of my time but right now I really don't have anything stopping me - from now on the timetable seems to be plain sailing. Basically what she's done is sent out a formal intern application (I'm signed up to the Arts Council weekly jobs mailer and I spied it on there) requesting CV's and some pieces of extended writing, which she will then shortlist and interview. However because I've been involved in this community project, Jane has simply said that I need not apply this way at all, I've got a secured position regardless of how much time I can offer. BOOOM.

Festival management was never something I had considered getting involved in until the opportunity arose. But now that it has I can't possibly turn it down, it will be so beneficial and, obviously, an incredible thing to have on my CV. I have no idea if events management will become a focal point in my career direction, I'm not sure it will as I still want to be a 'maker', but this project definitely can't hurt!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

D&AD Submission

These are just high resolution scans that I submitted as the digital images. The actual boards all contained unique elements that are impossible to mass produce - Board 1 was handwritten and dog-eared, board 2 was an actual 3D cube and the shredded strips of board 3 hung freely on the page.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

D&AD - Submission

My final boards for submission - these are the physical things that I'm sending off but I also need to upload digital images of them. Since by nature they are all resistant to reproduction I'm going to have to work out how to capture them digitally..

Monday, 8 March 2010

Artivism Community Project

Today was the first session of the community art project at Armley Mills. I had honestly no idea what to expect from the whole thing, all I had to go on was 'it's an intergenerational art project', which - if anything - is exceptionally vague.

I was one of the first to arrive, I met Jane who had organised the project and Shari and Kevin the two artists involved - seriously the loveliest group of people you'll ever meet. When everyone had arrived it became apparent that the 'intergenerational' aspect was a tad one sided - I was the only student that had showed compared to the 8 or so older people. I thought this would be much more of an issue than it actually was - turns out my fear of communicating with the elderly were completely irrational, as it turns out they are people too. Quite funny people as well. One woman was wearing skinny jeans and a beautiful vintage jumper, is it wrong that we were dressed the same and I liked it?

The project itself is pretty random. It's part a larger government funded scheme about promoting recycling and going green. This particular project is called 'Artivism' and Kevin and Shari decided to approach it in terms of revisiting memories, and how we can use things from our past to inform creative decisions and as a product of this we'll be working towards creating a series of pieces to be displayed as part of a final exhibition.

Today we made paper mache heads. And yes, it really was as random as it sounds. The idea was that our characters were based on people from our past, someone that triggers a particular memory or feeling - but not an awful lot of memorable things have happened to me in my humble 20 years and so mine gradually turned into a character from The Muppets.

It sounds like a really stupid concept, and if someone had said to me before hand 'yeah you're just gunna be sat there making a paper mache puppet head with a select group of elderly people' I would have been SO apprehensive but truth be told it was incredibly worthwhile and I'm really looking forward to next week.

Thursday, 4 March 2010


Finished! Priced at £5. My very first sellable product - welcome to the world Chris Gauntley.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Appalling Time Management

One week into the brief.

I'm already caving under the pressure. This doesn't bode well for the next 3 months.

Business and fucking enterprise is clawing at every working minute I have. Then as soon as I get shot of that ball ache I'll have crit studies to crack on with. And then there's PPD hovering in the back ground just waiting for it's chance to scream "Hey guys remember me?? HA THOUGHT NOT NOW FEEL MY WRATH." I know PPD isn't a massive amount of work and it's not as taxing (Ha. Taxing. Business. Get it? Kill me) as the others but it's still contributing to a continuous stream of work that just won't allow me to get on with my live brief.

This is the part where I admit that I have fully screwed myself over.

I could have done my business, and even some of my essay, before now. Leaving me free to amble between the finishing touches of my business plan, perhaps the conclusion of my essay and a nice healthy dose of LIVE LIVE LIVE brief. However I actively chose not to do this. I made a conscious decision to just leave it for the time being. Yeah nice one Chris, I bet you did something really worthwhile with your accumulated time as well, no? No that's right I probably drank it away. Even now, writing this blog post - this is procrastination because I should be doing my enterprise work!

Horrible realisation that the D&AD deadline is 19th March. It is now 3rd March. That means to enter I have to finalise my ideas and then actually carry them out. I'd planned on going crazy with lasers again which you have to book a week in advance. I. Don't. Have. The. Time.

One more time, screwed myself over. Don't be shy guys say it with me now - when I say screwed, you say over: screwed, over, screwed, over.....


I managed to get my 4 additional embossing plates made on Monday, which is lucky as there technically wasn't meant to be drop-in - apparently I'm really bad at reading the spreadsheet because I definitely checked it 3 times to make sure. The plates turned out really well and since no-one pays the hydraulic press much love these days I was able to come in and use it while there was a class in.

So I've spent all day Tuesday and 2 hours today going ape shit on the hydraulics. My. Arms. Hurt. It's not an easy job getting the press up to 6000psi , and the grip on the press handle is made out of sand paper or something to that effect - I hope it is becoming apparent that this hasn't been an enjoyable experience BUT I SOLDIERED ON. Somebody acknowledge and reward my manual labor. Please.

Then came the horrible realisation that I do actually have to align and cut each card by hand. Ordinarily that wouldn't be a problem, however these cards have no markings. Nothing. Trying to align an image that is raised by a mere millimeter is ridiculous. Although I did devise an efficient tactic involving tracing paper and pin holes, but still it's ridiculous. Ridiculous and time consuming - it took me about 3 hours to align, mark out and cut 5 sets of cards. Hmmm.

When snow blindness forced me to take a break I started thinking about how my cards will be presented for sale. I've ordered some A6 cellophane sleeves from ebay (which will come in time if they know what's good for them) but obviously I can't just whack them in there and send them on their merry way; I need some sort of personal branding.

I considered making business cards and putting them in there as well but to be honest my ideas are quite aspirational and involve cutting stuff with lasers and folding stuff and double sided printing and considering I'm struggling with the concept of fitting all of my tasks into each 24 hour day I really can't pile that on to my work load as well. Let's be sensible. So I knocked up a lovely little sleeve. Nice and simple bit of graphic design (which Paul said he likes and he IS graphics so therefore it must be acceptable).

AND. I used the copyright symbol for the first time ever! (I don't know how to make it appear in this text... fail) I'm not sure what I have to do about that now.. Do I have to post it to myself? Someone said it works the same if you email it? Should probably find out really.

My only issue now is what material to print the sleeve on to. As much as I'm hammering the white on white at the moment I just don't think it would work here. Too much white. I'm gunna have to look in the library an see what papers are available, I want something with a natural earthy colour, maybe brown paper but I don't know if that will be printable. Damn you lack of knowledge.