1.1 Initial ideas

The purpose of the exercise was to reflect on previous written and visual work in order to help identify and shape a research question.

Identify your initial ideas

On 19th March 2020 I started a pandemic diary. This became the subject of Assignment 4 – You are here which was part of Level 2 unit Responding to a brief.

At that point I framed the project in an ‘elevator pitch’:

You are here is a visual diary that captures the ordinary day-to-day experience of being locked in in self-isolation against the extraordinary unfolding of a global pandemic. It’s interesting because at its core is a real-life narrative that shows how one person managed whilst their everyday life was turned upside down.

Finally after three lockdowns, over 124,000 covid related deaths in the UK, there seems to be a way out. The rollout of highly effective vaccines combined with the effects of the third lockdown mean that the rates of infection, hospitalisation and deaths are falling sharply. Spring is here, the weather is improving and for the first time I having thoughts of actually meeting my work colleagues in the flesh for the first time rather than over Zoom.

Today is day 351 of the diary. Entries have been continuous (with no breaks), and so far has generated approximately 1,000 images.

Fig 1 – A pile of A3 and A2 drawings – some of the outputs of my daily practice

Several of these images formed part of a exhibition in Musee Des Beaux-Arts in and were featured (very briefly), on related stores carried by ITN News.

Fig 2 – Banner from the Sketch Your Window exhibition website: http://sketchyourwindow.org/ (2021)


My initial idea is to make sense of this large body of work through framing it within a current and/or historical context and use this to shape it into an artifact of some kind.


HOW to present content in the most engaging way that meets specified outcomes (still to be defined).

This has two parts:

  1. The output format: A physical book, a website or content hosted on a social media platform?
  2. The visual voice to provide the wrapper around the content

This will be explored through practice research and testing.

Analyse your previous projects

Advanced practice Assignment 1 – Personal statement helped me locate my practice and identify my developing visual voice through a reflection on previous work.

What’s interesting is that my visual voice has emerged through the large volume of work produced over the last year.

It can evidenced in its most mature form in the portfolio of work created for Assignment 1 -Personal statement.

Fig 3 – Smoking (2020)

The evolution of a developing voice was the subject of my practice research for Advanced practice Assignment 6 – Critical review: What are the optimal conditions that enable an illustrator to take creative risks, and how might these be implemented in my own practice? (Hadfield, 2020)

The following two groups of images were part of a sequence that I used in the critical review to evidence the development of my life drawing and visual voice across time.

Fig 4 – Life drawing from 2017 whilst studying Level 1 Key steps in illustration (2017)
Fig 5- Life drawing from October 2020 made during the pandemic during Level 2 Visual exploration (2020)

Reflections on my own personal visual voice

What makes your work different from other people’s?

  • A distinctive visual style based on observational drawing, mark making and media mix usually based on pen and ink.
  • An interest in character and narrative over anatomy, accuracy and realism.

How do you produce your work?

  • Fast, quite fast, through observation.

Do you have a specific style?

  • I can work in several visual styles but will look to consolidate and focus during Level 3.

Do you predominantly use certain media?

  • Yes. Most of my work is centered around pen and ink with coloured pencil, charcoal, crayon and pencil.
  • I am currently exploring use of watercolour to bring more colour to my work.

Do you tackle certain topics?

  • People, place, storytelling.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses


The content exists
The narrative to frame the content is interesting and current. Everyone has an experience of the pandemic
I have the skills/contacts to produce an artifact with high production value
I know how to manage large complex projects
I’ve not got a strategy/approach for marketing myself as an illustrator
I don’t feel comfortable asking established artists for an interview
I don’t have enough understanding of data gathering techniques
I don’t have experience of self-publishing physical books
Are the A2 photographs of some of the artwork good enough quality?
I know of artists/illustrators that have created work in response to the pandemic
I will learn how to create a substantial piece of work and take this into production
The subject is current – there will be connections to other projects
The subject is current – there could be a surge in interest for creative projects that explore the pandemic
I will need to learn how to position myself as an illustrator and how to market myself and the work
The idea links back well to Advanced practice i.e. I could use the exercises and assignment in PART 2 Words and pictures to explore applying a visual voice to the diary
The effort needed to make the work could impact my OCA timeline

Fig 6 – SWOT analysis diagram


The diary does reference politics such as decisions made by the UK government, Donald Trump and the US elections, the UK exiting the EU, but these are all part of the narrative and are not controversial
Printing a high quality physical book could be expensive (it that turns out to be the solution). I would need to think carefully of the risk of making an investment with potentially little or no return
Are there any copyright issues I need to be aware of?
There could be opportunities to tie in with other pandemic related initiatives
Fig 7 – PEST analysis diagram

Mind mapping

Fig 8 – An initial mindmap exploring WHO and WHAT questions in relation to the pandemic diary project. Research topics were explored further in a second mindmap. A2 sized.
Fig 9 – A second mindmap developed research ideas and through this I was able to identify a specific area of interest. A2 sized.

The specific area of interest

My (draft) research question is:

What can I learn about how reportage illustrators have responded to the coronavirus pandemic, and how can I apply this to my diary project?

This is interesting because “reportage illustrators are acting as visual journalists, proactively creating narrative work about issues and subjects” (Embury and Minichiello, 2018). I therefore expect to find reportage artists in particular generating interesting creative responses to the pandemic which I can use to shape and test how I present my own body of work.

NOTE: May choose to widen the scope of the research to include how the creative arts have responded to the pandemic.



Embury, G., Minichiello, M. (2018) Reportage Illustration: Visual Journalism London: Bloomsbury 

List of illustrations

Figure 1 – Hadfield, Hugh (2021) A pile of A3 and A2 drawings [Photograph] In possession of: the author 

Figure 2 – Sketch Your Window (2021) Digital banner used to advertise the Sketch Your Window exhibition At: http://sketchyourwindow.org/ (Accessed: 11/03/21)

Figure 3 – Hadfield, Hugh (2020) Smoking [Pen and ink drawing] In possession of: the author

Figure 4 – Hadfield, Hugh (2017) Life drawing from 2017 whilst studying Level 1 Key steps in illustration [Drawings] In possession of: the author

Figure 5 – Hadfield, Hugh (2020) Life drawing from October 2020 made during the pandemic during Level 2 Visual exploration [Drawings] In possession of: the author

Figure 6 – Hadfield, Hugh (2021) SWOT analysis

Figure 7 – Hadfield, Hugh (2021) PEST analysis

Figure 8 – Hadfield, Hugh (2021) An initial mindmap exploring WHO and WHAT questions in relation to the pandemic diary project. Research topics were explored further in a second mindmap [Pen and ink] In possession of: the author 

Figure 9 – Hadfield, Hugh (2021) A second mindmap developed research ideas [Pen and ink] In possession of: the author

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