In February I was asked to design the programme for Do I have to paint you a picture?, an international Polaroid exhibition and symposium. The brainchild of photographer Sam Perry, the exhibition and symposium had a good timing now that theoriginal Polaroid film is no longer being manufactured.*
This was one of those projects I can honestly say I enjoyed working on very much. Our meetings took place in a relaxed but productive atmosphere at an arts centre café/bar, usually over a coffee or a glass of wine. We had great conversations about the meaning of Polaroid and its unfortunate demise – and this shared interest formed the foundation for a good client-designer relationship. I actually saw myself as more of a consultant, advisor and collaborator in this project, which made the project run smoothly and the client feel more at ease. The more I work on freelance projects directly with a client, the I more I realise the importance of really listening to your client.
It was fantastic to take part in the symposium, listen to some inspiring talks by Polaroid photographer artists, researchers and journalists, and feel the shared connection in the space. Mark Arkless, a Welsh photographer with a passion for Polaroid, mentioned how the slowly disappearing Polaroid film stock has forced many photographers slow down and think through their process a bit more – the opposite of the effects of digital photography. He also talked about the preciousness and physical nature of Polaroids and how for him the colour variations of the classic SX-70 film express the Welsh concept of hiraeth, a kind of a deep longing for home. A real sense of ownership, care and curiosity was present both in the words of the speakers and the questions of the audience.
I agree with many who say Polaroids work best when they document everyday moments. The unexpected blurs, colour shifts and hues almost mimic the way our memory works – it’s not quite sharp in places and the tone of memories can change over time. For me it’s the size and weight of a Polaroid that makes the physical snapshot of a moment so much more precious – it becomes an object of desire.
*This does not mean the end of instant film – Fuji manufacture a peel-apart type film, and then there are the amazing people behind The Impossible Project who managed to salvage the last Polaroid production plant and who finally have succeeded in producing their own new instant film.
Rewind & Fastforward:
- Last post in January – good vibes for the year
- Go to to West Wales for research week on a film
- Come back from West Wales & commence storyboard drawing (ideas stage)
- In February, continue drawing for storyboards & characters (starting to lose bits of paper with sketches on)
- Design the programme for Time Zero Polaroid photography symposium (it turned out very lovely – more on that soon)
- Do a lot of dancing and busting some groovy moves, and then, at the height of contact improv dancing (it sounded like a good idea), injure my knee in five different ways
- Get cabin fever after two days of immobilisation (patience building exercise can never hurt?)
- Continue drawing a lot
- In March, get back to walking again and realising I have a huge list of stuff to share here.
So, here we are. Lots of interesting little bits to come, here’s a snippet from December. After out improv gig at Chapter, which I mentioned in a previous post, me and the genius of Mr Nic Finch did some improv drawing.
I’d love to do this more, just unplanned, raw drawing out of the blue (well, the blue of the mind). Here’s the final drawing:
I love Nic’s animal collective! My style is more rough and ready, with pyramid-shaped fish, a crumbling tower with a crazy jazz cats blasting out notes enjoyed by deer, and two fairytale characters having tea. Oh, and Mr Moon with mushrooms growing out of his chin.
And also, I designed a poster for the event with an otter in it. Can’t go wrong.
I’ve just finished doing some work for the brilliant artist, Matt Cook, on his Open Top Sound art event coming up in Colchester this Saturday. The work included both printed and email flyers and a bus ticket (as seen above); when boarding the bus the ticket will be rubber stamped with Matt’s logo.
Making the bus ticket made me think how much fun little bits of work like this can be, playing around with type and paying homage to the style conventions of the past. And the fun isn’t just in the work, it’s also in the process of working with the client: an evolving, sparky two-way interaction at it’s best.
So what was the project about?
Open Top Sound is a sound art event that took place – you guessed it – on top of an open top bus as it made a journey through Colchester.
Open Top Sound is composed of field recordings, sections of ambient noise recorded around the town, combined with recorded descriptions of places in Colchester by local Blue Badge Guides. Recorded noises blend with noises from beyond the bus to create an immersive experience.
If you want to see more of Matt’s work, check out his website.