4.1 Re-assessing your practice

The purpose of the exercise was to evaluate my body of work, identify any areas for development and improvement and use this to shape my portfolio going into Assignment 4 Presenting your practice.

Key words from the brief:

  • Review what you’ve achieved so far
  • Re-assess your initial personal statement
  • Use a series of prompts (see below) as a starting point, but you’re free to develop your own line of additional questions
  • Summarise your evaluation in your learning log, aiming for around 300 words


I carried out an extensive review of my work and capabilities as part of Assignment 1 Personal statement. In this exercise I carried out a gap analysis between my practice then and my practice now.

I start with my overall evaluation summary followed by the analysis.

Evaluation summary

The work I’ve produced for Advanced practice builds and develops my practice outlined in Assignment 1 Personal statement, and because of the self-directed nature of the assignments, I took longer to get into a flow than expected and struggled to know when to stop.

Things I’ve noticed about the work:

  • Following the principle “start from where you are”, I’ve successfully introduced illustration into my day job (Reference 3.1 Agile leadership visual identity). This means I’m creating income from my visual skills.
  • I made discoveries about myself that have reinforced understanding of my personal voice so that I can narrow down my area of interest and practice and focus clearly on my portfolio (Reference 3.1 Being part of an audience).
  • I created a series of images that experiment with applying my direct and expressive style to silkscreen printing (Reference Mark resist experiment and Experiment – Print editions [ADDREF WHEN COMPLETE]).
  • I challenged myself to take more risk with my visual style and treatment of subjects. I have an almost irreverent approach to the work and this has freed me up to experiment with composition and content.

Whilst I continue to create my visual pandemic diary (currently Day 553), I didn’t develop the content into a finished artifact; this remains work-in-progress.

Areas to develop as part of Assignment 4 Presenting you practice:

  • Complete the fifth silkscreen experiment [ADDREF WHEN COMPLETE].
  • Continue to pay attention to what I pay attention to: Subjects I’m drawn to intuitively but don’t know why.
  • Start a series of illustrations that explore difference and bring characters and stories to life. Subjects that could be developed include:
    • Back to normal? – Recording the post pandemic return to a new normal
    • Twitchers – Bird watchers as a subculture
    • Morris dancers as a subculture
    • Life drawing – continue to develop this strand of my practice
  • Start to push design and composition as most important so that final images have coherence, strength and impact.
  • Continue to experiment with visual language
  • Continue to experiment with direct methods of silkscreen printing
  • Stop compromising by reinterpreting work for an OCA audience.


The remaining information is the gap analysis that I used to create the evaluation summary.


Earn a living through being myself

Goal (next 12-months)

  • Establish who and what I am as an illustrator and how this generates an income

Outcomes (next 12-months)

  • Create a strong portfolio with depth and focus
  • Define and test an operating model (my approach to engaging with and selling illustration/creative work/services to clients)

Objectives (next 12-months)

  • Complete the OCA Illustration Degree by August 2022
  • Achieve a First-Class Honours Degree
  • Complete experiments to test the operating model
  • Generate income through my illustration practice

Work review

A reflection on Assignment 1

During Assignment 1 I used this diagram to capture the essence of my work:

I added keywords to provid more colour:

  • Human stories
  • Slightly weird
  • Humour/irreverence
  • Observational
  • Expressive
  • Words and pictures
  • Narrative
  • Storytelling
  • Humourous
  • Documentary

A selection of new work

This description of the work has not changed. All of the work selected from recent Level 3 work falls into one of these categories and demonstrates development in knowledge, application and understanding.

Words, captions and pictures

Visual style

Silkscreen printing experiment

Skills audit

Practical skills audit

DescriptionHow I said I’d like to develop theseWhat happened
Rostrum photographyMUST to a lesson in studio lighting and optimum camera setup. Have already got a quote and need to make time to do the lessonLesson booked. Delayed by Covid-19
MUST be able to take high-quality photographs of work as part of portfolio development.
PhotographyWON’T develop any new skills at this timeNothing
EtchingWON’T develop any new skills at this timeNothing
Woodcut/linocut printingWON’T develop any new skills at this timeNothing but COULD use woodcut as an approach for developing a portfolio image
Silkscreen printingWON’T develop any new skills at this timeI carried out a number of silkscreen experiments initiated by research into a collaboration between Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol.
Silkscreen printing has been an exciting new direction and ongoing projects.
MUST develop this as part of portfolio development.
WatercolourSHOULD to develop my skills. Follow exercises in One Watercolor a day (2013) Veronica LawlorSome experimentation, but nothing consistent.
COULD develop my skills further in this area but given time constraints this will be ‘on the job’
GouacheSHOULD develop my skills.Nothing.
COULD develop my skills further in this area but given time constraints this will be ‘on the job’
Spray paintCOULD develop my skills.SHOULD use this with masking to give more depth and variation to my visual style.
CollageCOULD develop my skills.Some experimentation as part of Assignment 2 Text and image.
COULD use collage further as part of silkscreen print experiments.
Model makingCOULD develop my skills.Nothing.
Video editingWON’T develop any new skills at this timeNothing.
MaskingWON’T develop any new skills at this timeHave development skills in masking as part of the silkscreen printing process.
LayoutSHOULD develop my skills.Have development skills and understanding through 2.1 Visual dynamics.
SHOULD explore this as part of portfolio development.

Contemporary practice audit

What aspects of contemporary practice would you like to develop? What skills I said I might you need to achieve this?What happened
Life/figure drawingContinue regular Zoom classesCONTINUE to attend regular Zoom classes although these have reduced since the pandemic has eased. This remains a core practice. I also attended the 2021 Mini Life Drawing Symposium.
Portrait drawingContinue regular Zoom classesCONTINUE to attend regular Zoom classes although these have stopped since lockdown restrictions were eased. I’ve now integrated portrait drawing into my core practice
ReportageAttend workshops run by current practitioners e.g. How to look online workshop over the final two weekends of January.CONTINUE to attend workshops.
I attended a Pushing Your Sketching Boundaries online workshop and reportage is a core part of my practice.
Narrative sequenceDevelop skills further in this area through OCA exercises and assignmentsCOULD develop work using narrative sequence for portfolio if there is demand/need.
Practice researchContinue to incorporate research practice into my ways-of-workingMUST continue practice research using an experiment format (Reference Mark resist experiment).
Continue to publish the results.
CaricatureContinue to practice this skill. Zoom meetings are an excellent opportunity for thisCOULD develop if the need arises [Reference Experiment Caricature WHEN COMPLETE]
Identifying themes and subjectsPay attention to what I pay attention to. This is an area I need to work atCONTINUE to focus on this. The self discovery analysis carried out in 3.1 Being part of an audience sharpened why I’m attracted to certain subjects and themes.
This is a high priority focus area as I develop my final portfolio.
Identifying projectsAs aboveSTOP work on all projects.
I’ve been offered at least three projects to work on during the last 6-months. My current concern is to prioritise activity that most quickly and effectively takes me towards my outcomes and objectives. At the moment this means politely turning down projects and/or collaborations that don’t ‘fit’.
CollaborationLook for collaboration opportunities – could be developing the pandemic diary idea or finding a writer to work withAs above.
Narrative illustrationDevelop skills further in this area through OCA exercises and assignmentsCONTINUE. This is a core element of my work.
Use of colourAdd this to my practice research backlogCONTINUE to explore use of colour.
Sustaining my practiceKeep conscious of this but this is the subject of the final Level 3 course unitMUST. Exploring this is one of the objectives of the Print editions experiment [ADDREF WHEN COMPLETE].
Visual facilitationKeep exploiting all opportunities that come my waySHOULD. Development and delivery of visual notetaking learning module experiment.
Marketing myselfKeep conscious of this but this is the subject of the final Level 3 course unit.
Update whoshugh.com with the outputs/design from Assignment 1 Personal statement
START to market myself and my work more effectively.
Ideas for how to do this will be developed/explored in 4.3 Self promotion.


How do you evaluate the body of work you have produced so far?

See Evaluation summary above.

What main points are you taking from your tutor feedback?

Tutor commentWhy this is important and what I plan to do next
A comment made in relation to the feeling that somehow information recorded in the learning log is being diluted because I’m reinterpreting it for an OCA audience. “If you feel your work is being compromised, it’s not what you want”. This resonated with me. I’m going to try and use material generated in my work in a more ‘raw’ format. This means thinking about using more immediate recording methods such as video and audio.
My tutor picked up something I said when I was describing why I’m attracted to certain subjects. I said, “I’m drawn to it and I don’t know why”. This plays back to my comment about exploring difference in my work such as reportage illustrations of twitchers (bird watchers). Drawing is a way of working through why I’m paying attention to something.
We had a discussion about an approach to the assessment. The advice was to concentrate on doing good work and the marks would follow.I sighed deeply at hearing this because I’d started to think about changing my work to meet a set of assessment criteria rather than focusing on doing interesting work.
I was asked whether I have a forum to share work/get feedback.I do have an OCA related group that meet to review each other’s work. It would be great to have more regular sessions. I’ll make more effort to pursue these opportunities.

What can you take from student and other feedback?

Using illustration in my day job is an act of co creation with customers and users. The objective is to rapidly develop and test ideas so that a solution emerges iteratively. For me this is the most effective and efficient way to deliver customer value.

Examples of this can be seen in Assignment 3 Better by design.

I do feel that in my OCA work I’m currently lacking regular critical review and I need to find a way to correct this.

Re-assessing your personal statement

Based on the analysis above, I reworked my personal statement:

I’m a London based illustrator with a practice rooted in observational drawing and documentary storytelling. My images bring characters and stories to life using rich expressive visual language combined with curiosity, satire and dark humour.

I’m often attracted to subjects without fully understanding why, and the work becomes an act of self-discovery.

%d bloggers like this: