4.0 Understand the problem

The purpose of ‘Understand the problem’

‘Understand the problem’ is all about identifying, analysing, writing down and testing what the problem is that needs to solved.

There are two outputs:

  1. An elevator pitch that summaries what the project is about and why it’s interesting
  2. A brief that elaborates what’s in the elevator pitch into a written description of the scope and objectives of the work

Initial thinking

The assignment brief contained three options:

  1. A place
  2. Imagination
  3. The Word

The first task was to narrow down to a single theme. To do this I created a mind map that pulled together my current research practice, interests and personal objectives in order to see which approach would provide the most value.

Initial thinking mindmap

A high resolution version of the image is here: Initial thinking mindmap

The  outcome of my initial thinking was to select Imagination the theme for this assignment. This was based on three things:

  1. The work I’ve completed for Assignment 3 has a lot of potential to develop and this is based around storytelling using pictures (and imagination)
  2. I could elaborate On the Last Day (from 3.5 Once upon a time), so have a readymade, visually interesting narrative to work with
  3. It ticks all of the requirements in the brief and is something I’d be excited to develop

I created a further mind map to explore the idea further and refine my thinking into a simple elevator pitch.

Idea refinement mindmap

A high resolution version of the image is here: Assignment 4 Imagination mindmap

OCA Zoom tutorial

At this point I presented had a Zoom tutorial with Bee Willey where I talked through my thinking and ideas for the assignment, presented the two mindmaps, and asked for any advice or guidance.

My main objective was to check that the scope of the work and the approach proposed was acceptable for a self-directed project of this size.

The work to date seemed to be well received and I got the feeling I’m going in the right direction.

The key learning points from the discussion are captured below:

  • I should research the market trends for subject matter/books of this nature. This will help understand the audience and what is marketable within the UK.
  • The subject matter would position the book at a young adult/more specialised adult theme audience.
  • It would be worth looking at interactive graphic novels to see if/what the possibilities are for this genre of illustration
  • It would be interesting to look at the education market. What is the market for these ‘epic’ tales.
  • The theme of the book and it’s subject and symbols are part of our collective subconscious/knowledge.
  • Thumbnailing the story for pace and layout will be crucial. Two references related to this:
  • I should look up the Bologna Fiere, to check out picture book publishing worldwide
  • I should look at use of illustration with theatre sets, particularly ‘Wolves in the walls’: https://wolvesinthewallsonstage.com/
  • It would also be worth looking at the work of Max Beckmann.

There were some words of warning that extending my brief to complete book design was probably an overstretch and it might be worth pulling back from this in order to prioritise the illustrations. Perhap mocking up a page would be sufficient?

Note: I will incorporate all of the learning points into the research stage of the project.

With this feedback I created my elevator pitch and personal brief.

Elevator pitch

I’m making a series of illustrations for a picture book adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen story called ‘On the Last Day’ that deals with a man’s journey from death into the afterlife, and his trials on the way. It’s a dark Judeo Christian moral tale with a twist, and what’s interesting about it is that (as far as I can tell), there is no other illustrated version of the story and the subject matter has a lot of scope for an inventive interpretation.

Personal brief

Working title: On the Last Day

Description of the work: To create a series of illustrations for a picture book adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen story called ‘On the Last Day’ that deals with a man’s journey from death into the afterlife, and his trials on the way.

Target audience: To be validated during market research, but probably young adults/adults interested in more specialist themes.

Size and format: To be validated during market research, but must be ‘typical’ of the genre.

Output: Digital: Photoshop PDF, CMYK, 300dpi

Number illustrations: To be defined during the design phase where thumbnailing will be used for narrative pacing. There are five main scenes in the story, so the expectation would be a minimum of five full page illustrations. A stretch target is to mock-up at least one page of the book.

Creative approaches: One of the objectives of the project brief is to use the creative approaches explored earlier in the course to design the illustrations. At a minimum I would expect to use the three approaches that were used in Assignment 3.

Making approaches: I would expect to use model making and hybridised landscape and portrait techniques.

Visual style: I want to explore the visual style of Russian illustrator’s Masha Pryanichnikova and Victoria Semykina. I think it’ll work really well with the dark aspects of the story.

Definition of done: All of the objectives and outputs described above completed




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