Friday, 5 December 2014

Guru for advent (5): Michelle Fifis... and penguin development

A few years ago when I first started getting into this Surface Pattern Design thing one of the first blogs I tripped over was PatternObserver, written by Michelle Fifis. It also seemed back then that there were two main online surface pattern design courses: Michelle's 'The Sellable Sketch' and the 'Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design' courses run by Beth Kempton and Rachael Taylor.

Of the two possible routes I chose the British one (ABSPD) - in my ignorance I felt safer with home turf and it was a little cheaper. Both companies now run a range of course levels and content. As with any text book, different styles suit different people; I believe the main difference between them maybe that you get more individualised feedback from the course leader via Michelle's courses - which may account for the higher cost. Also sometimes I feel I see higher quality art based work on Michelle's site. But I could be wrong.

Despite not taking her course, following Michelle has still been immensely valuable. From time to time she offers free 'mini-courses' (eg 'Artwork Preparation: a freelancer's guide') and webinars (eg Marketing can be beautiful') on aspects of the business, which are like 'tasters' for the full courses. This allows you to sample her style of teaching at the same time as learning a new skill or gaining insight into the business. Brwosing her website just now I also came across other options and useful help eg the opportunity to have Artwork Critiques and a page of helpful design resources.

I'm not looking for another course at present; I have just done ABSPD Module Two but was in fact too ill over several weeks properly to engage with it. I feel also that I need to allow myself a good long while to squeeze all the goodness out of what I have learnt so far and work on consolidating my style. I sent Michelle a feedback email after the 'Marketing can be beautiful' webinar and was delighted to receive an email back:

Hi Catherine!

Thank you so much for this kind and thoughtful email.

When looking for your style, I recommend sketching a little bit everyday until you find "your groove". Maybe focus less on what's on the internet and more on your sketchbook!

Much love,

I do find Michelle's style helpful; I do find the idea of personalised feedback from the course leader attractive. And I believe I'm right in thinking that Ellie Cashman (one of my favourite designers as you know) also took courses from both sources (particularly praising Michelle's 'Ultimate Guide to Repeats'). So if the time comes when I'm ready to invest again I may well be looking in that direction.

And so to penguins. I'm chickening out of Faye Brown's actual challenge today: snow creatures, because to be frank, I am inspiration-less on that front. Instead I'm taking yesterday's work further.....and in doing so it's becoming less obviously penguin-y (which means it wouldn't recognisably fit any penguin trend....).

    Original from yesterday
Indexing the colours of my rock-hopper (as per the 'Artwork Preparation short course mentioned earlier). If I wanted to work with a screen printing company as opposed to a digital printers and if I'm not using images that have been created purely using Illustrator, then I need to know how to reduce the number of colours in the image to match the number of screens being used (a different colour for each screen).
Masked first then indexed to 12 colours
with a customised palette - interesting!

Using my rock-hopper's monstrous head-dress as inspiration I develop line work that is more adventurous.......
......more of 'me' in this......

'Lifted' the belly and wing of penguin,
indexed, mirrored and then placed line drawn icon

Not being sure I like the colours I try variations:


Of course, people responding to my post yesterday liked the cute penguins and the dancing penguins. I'm really not sure what anyone is going to think of this.... Christmassy, it ain't!

Let me know, someone!


1 comment:

  1. love your penguin!!! not all penguins need to be little dancing cuties with winter scarves around their necks. Also love your penguin-hairstyle-adventure approach. And totally agree about Michelle - she is one great lady. Love everything she does.


I'd love to hear what you think and what you're up to, creatively. Feel free to leave me a message. Thanks, Catherine