Assignment 1 – Initial project proposal

The purpose of the assignment was to submit an initial project proposal summarising a range of visual starting points and exploring a research question.

Key words from the brief:

  • 1,000 words
  • A summary of your findings from Part One
  • Complete a review and analysis of your progress on your learning log


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 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.

Today is day 379 of the diary. Entries have been continuous (with no breaks), and so far, has generated approximately 1,000 images.  The problem is that I’m not sure how to contextualise and present this to an audience.

My idea is to make sense of this large body of work by using a combination of the coursework from Visual research and Advanced practice to shape it into a compelling and accessible story.


  • I want to develop my pandemic diary so that I learn how to deliver a substantial project
  • I want to integrate my written and visual work with my research so that the final output is more interesting and rounded
  • I want to refine how I frame and present my work so that I become a more effective storyteller/illustrator
  • I want to promote my work to so that I can sustain my practice and earn a living in a more creative/fun way

Research question

What can I learn about how the creative arts have responded to pandemics, (Spanish flu, HIV, Covid-19), how these catastrophic events worked their way into popular culture, and how I can apply this learning to my diary project?

This is interesting because recent psychological research suggests that the general effect of the coronavirus pandemic on artists and creatives has been positive. I therefore expect to find artists generating interesting work, about and in response to the pandemic, which I can use to contextualise, shape and present my own project.

Visual work options

There are two parts to the visual work:

  1. Creating content: My continued response to the pandemic in the form of daily visual diary entries
  2. Packaging the content into an artifact: Defining requirements, understanding and modelling audience needs, experimenting and testing different formats and approaches to design the most effective solution

There is a clear relationship between my research as part of Visual research, and this visual work as part of Advanced practice

Fig 1 – Diagram showing links between Advanced practice and Visual research


Qualitative research

  • A list of potential research participants and their contact details. Note that I am not publishing the list here because of Privacy concerns, but they fall into four groups:
    • Artists/illustrators that I’ve met through attending urban sketching workshops
    • OCA students and lecturers
    • Social media contacts
    • Artists/illustrators – direct contact with artists using their website/social media contact details
  • A mechanism for publishing the questionnaire(s) and collecting results. I’m thinking of using SurveyMonkey because I have explored this service previously and it’s free to use. This would also allow me to reach a lot of potential participants quickly

Quantitative research

  • A list of potential research participants and their contact details. Note that I am not publishing the list here because of Privacy concerns

Key texts

The key texts fall into three categories:

  1. Academic papers that explore the effects of the pandemic and provide the scientific basis for the hypothesis that the coronavirus pandemic has had a positive effect on creativity
  2. Artist’s responses to pandemics. Articles, videos and podcasts that are either a direct creative response to pandemics or interviews and articles where artists discuss the effect of the pandemic on their lives and way-of-working
  3. Historical context. Articles, videos and podcasts that take a long view over the effects of previous pandemics on artists and popular culture

A full list of texts is provided in the Appendix.

All of the key texts are accessible to me either through Google Scholar, the UCA Library, books that I own or via general internet search.


Figure 1 shows how the coursework in Visual research and Advanced practice are tightly coupled together. There are interdependencies between the two, so the work needs to run in parallel.

The main driver influencing the timeline, is that, at the time of writing (April 2021), lockdown rules in in the UK and the US seem to be relaxing, although some countries, particularly in Europe, are experiencing a third wave of infections. I would like to get my primary research done before lockdowns are lifted and things return to ‘normal’. My aim is therefore to prioritise this activity so that a significant part of the research will be done by June 2021.

I am aiming to complete both course units by the end of 2021.

I have a very visual and structured way of managing the work based on agile techniques typically used to deliver software.

Fig 2 – Making coursework visible using different coloured PostIt notes for different course units

Opportunities and threats

The content exists
The narrative to frame the content is interesting and current. Everyone has an experience of the pandemic and will be able to relate to the research
I have the skills/contacts to produce an artifact with high production value
I know how to manage large complex projects
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
I’m not sure that the photographs I’ve taken of A2 sized artwork is good enough quality for print
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 the Advanced practice coursework
It will give me the work and a story that I can use to market myself as an illustrator
The effort needed to make the work could impact my OCA timeline
Fig 3 – SWOT analysis


Bowyer, S. (2020) Pepys and the plague. At: (Accessed 03/04/2021).

Glaveanu, V. P. and de Saint Laurent, C. M. B. (2021) ‘Social media responses to the pandemic: What makes a coronavirus meme creative’ In: Frontiers in psychology 12 p.492.

Grayson’s Art Club (s.d.) At: (Accessed 03/04/2021).

Heyer, C. H. et al. (2020) ‘Design through vulnerability: Designing presence in a time of pandemic’ At:

Karwowski, M. et al. (2021) ‘Creative Lockdown? A Daily Diary Study of Creative Activity During Pandemics’ In: Frontiers in psychology 12 p.600076.

Lee, V. (2020) Vic Lee’s Corona Diary 2020. (s.l.): White Lion Publishing.

Lewis, H. (2021) ‘Where Are the Iconic COVID-19 Images?’ In: The Atlantic 24/02/2021 At: (Accessed 07/03/2021).

Lotz-Heumann, U. (2020) ‘Diary of Samuel Pepys shows how life under the bubonic plague mirrored today’s pandemic’ In: The Conversation 24/04/2020 At: (Accessed 03/04/2021).

Mathew, S. (2020) Corona Diaries: Perspectives During Quarantine. (s.l.): Independently Published.

Nedelcheva, K. (2018) Understanding the visual language. At: (Accessed 12/03/2021).

Pandemics: Now and then (s.d.) At: (Accessed 21/03/2021).

[Paris] #BookTalk: Viral modernism, the influenza pandemic and interwar literature (s.d.) At: (Accessed 03/04/2021).

Scrum: How to do twice as much in half the time | Jeff Sutherland | TEDxAix (2014) At: (Accessed 14/03/2021).

Shock Waves (s.d.) In: BBC At: (Accessed 17/03/2021).

Spiro, N. et al. (2020) ‘The Effects of COVID-19 Lockdown 1.0 on Working Patterns, Income, and Wellbeing Among Performing Arts Professionals in the United Kingdom (April-June 2020)’ In: Frontiers in psychology 11 p.594086.

Tavares, G. M. (2020) ‘My plague diary’ In: TLS. Times Literary Supplement p.14+.

The City of Edinburgh Council (s.d.) ECA Diary Archiving COVID 19 Guidance. At: (Accessed 17/03/2021).

The giant pause and the new now (s.d.) At: (Accessed 03/04/2021).

Wilkinson, A. (2021) The Plague Prophets. At: (Accessed 30/03/2021).


This is a self-assessment of Assignment 1 against the IL6ADP – Illustration 3: Advanced Practice learning outcomes (OCA, 2020) and Vis Comms (HE6) assessment criteria (OCA, 2020).

IL6ADP – Illustration 3: Advanced Practice learning outcomes

LO1 demonstrate a coherent and detailed understanding of your chosen area of interest, informed by recent research and your own visual investigationThe proposal includes a good balance of primary research, secondary research and visual investigation applied to a very contemporary subject and substantial body of work
LO2 use appropriate research and data collection methods to support a written and visual body of workPrimary research will use a range of qualitative and quantitative research techniques to collect information and data that will be used to frame the visual work
LO3 analyse, evaluate, and synthesise ideas from appropriate research sourcesAreas of research include historic context, artist’s research and scientific research. All research will be synthesised to prove/disprove a simple hypothesis
LO4 construct and present a written argument and practical/ visual investigation that informs and is informed by your personal visual languageThere is complete alignment between the research question and personal investigation. The results of one informs the size, shape and content of the other.
Fig 4 – Self assessment against OCA Learning outcomes

Assessment criteria – Vis Comms (HE6)

At this stage in the coursework these criteria can only really be applied theoretically based on the Assignment 1 research proposal and how this will translate into future work.

Employ creativity in the process of observation, interpretation, problem analysis, proposing, visualising and/or making; articulating independent judgements and a personal creative voice
Will be apparent in the written work through the way in which research is assimilated and conclusions are made.
Will be demonstrated in visual work through how the research is incorporated into the content and design of the pandemic diary
Research and idea development
Source, analyse and assimilate research material and develop, test, and evaluate ideas in order to generate ideas and solutions
Research – will be demonstrated through doing the research and how this is applied to the visual work
Idea development will be shown through how the outputs of the research are applied to the design and testing of the pandemic diary artifact
Visual and Technical Skills
Use visual skills in visualising, making and presenting, and materials, techniques and technologies to communicate ideas and information
Will become a factor when the work is physically presented including page layout, creation of diagrams, charts and information graphics
Exercise awareness of appropriate historical, critical, professional and/or emerging
contexts, debates; be informed by underlying concepts, principles and working practices; and use critical and reflective skills to support a self-directed and sustained personal and/or professional position
This criterion really goes to the heart of the critical review and the desired outcomes (see the Outcomes section above).
The research will help locate the work within a contemporary context and contribute to current and emerging debates around how the subject will make its way into popular culture.
Fig 5 – Self assessment against OCA Assessment criteria



OCA (2020) IL6ADP – Illustration 3: Advanced Practice learning outcomes At: (Accessed: 05/04/21)

OCA (2020) Vis Comms (HE6) assessment criteria At: (Accessed: 05/04/21)

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