1.4 Narrowing down your visual topic

The purpose of the exercise was to clarify how to link my visual and written projects.

The brief outlined three activities:

  1. Review my visual work and identify areas that could interlink with the written work and explore these further
  2. Identify the resources needed to to carry out the visual work
  3. Write answers to a set of predefined questions to help clarify the visual outcomes that I would like to achieve

The link between visual work and written work

I created a Rhizome map to help me to explore the question:

Fig 1 – Rhizome map exploring the links between my visual and written work (2021)

i will execute two cycles of research:

Cycle 1 involves qualitative and quantitative research to discover information that will directly inform and probably become a part of the visual work, particularly HOW the visual work could be framed to an audience i.e. how it’s located within the context of the coronavirus pandemic. Cycle 1 is the subject of the critical review.

Cycle 2 includes user research and user testing. It involves the identification and analysis of an audience to understand their needs (why they would be interested in a visual pandemic diary and how would they access it). This informs the creation of prototypes. Testing of these with the target audience will refine, iterate and improve the design. Although it would be possible to use Cycle 2 as the subject of a critical review, it would be too much to combine both cycles of research into a single 3,500 word essay.

At this point I can’t directly answer how the written research and visual work will link together. At a high level the link is self evident. I have a large and growing body of work that takes the form of a pandemic diary. My primary and secondary research will explore how other artists and the creative arts have experienced the pandemic. I have a hypothesis that by researching the experience of other creative practitioners during the pandemic and understanding some of the psychological impacts, I will be able to better locate/position/frame my own experience/practice/work.

The point is that the link between the two will become clear through doing the research.

The range of resources needed to carry out the visual work

The subject of the visual work is my experience and reaction to the pandemic. I am constrained to work with materials, processes and subjects that I’m able to access under the UK’s coronavirus lockdown rules.

As the vaccination programme progresses and lockdown rules are eased my work will change as my world expands.

One area I’ve started exploring are interviews with front line workers, for example the figure drawing sessions organised by life_drawing_plus:

Fig 2 – Drawing key workers banner (2021)

This reportage approach became the subject for 2.3 Developing Content and may be another approach I could take for recording my research.

Fig 3 – Steve, A&E Nurse figure drawing with quotes (2021)

Defining outcomes

  • I want to develop skills in documentary storytelling through a large body of work so that I learn how to deliver a substantial project
  • I want to consolidate skills in writing narrative text, content design, layout and qualitative research so that I become a more effective illustrator
  • I want to produce an engaging piece of work that explores the coronavirus pandemic through an artefact (format to be confirmed but could be a book, website, social media thing, an exhibition), that links a personal account, national and global events and the experiences of other artists and creative practitioners, so that I can deliver a piece of work that has value
  • I want to promote my work to publishers, curators, art directors, creative agencies, or in the case of a self-published artefact, to an audience, so that I can sustain my practice
  • I want to refine how I frame and present the work so that I become a more effective storyteller
  • I want to explore how other creatives experienced the pandemic and how this will manifest in their work so that I can frame and locate my own project
  • I want to prove that I can sustain my practice so that I can pivot towards earning a living in a more creative/fun way
  • I want to involve creative practitioners, particularly reportage artists, in the research so that I can prove (or disprove) my hypothesis that creativity is enhanced through constraints
  • I want to integrate my written and visual work with my research so that the final output is more interesting and rounded


List of illustrations

Figure 1 – Hadfield, Hugh (2021) Rhizome map exploring the links between my visual and written work [Pen & ink, watercolour] In possession of: the author

Figure 2 – life_drawing_plus (2021) Drawing key workers banner Instagram [Screen shot] At: https://www.instagram.com/life_drawing_plus/?hl=en (Accessed: 27/03/21)

Figure 3 – Hadfield, Hugh (2021) Steve, A&E Nurse figure drawing with quotes [Watercolour, colour pencil, crayon] In possession of: the author

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