Thoughts on my upcoming MA Children’s Book Illustration!

About three weeks ago I was over the moon to learn that I’d been accepted onto MA Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University on a part time basis over 2.5 years! I think I’d always known an MA was right for me since the end of second year at university in my BA when I met Anna Bhushan. She mentioned how she had used her BA as a time to really experiment and push herself in her work and an MA to refine her practice as she was still unsure as to what to do, these are and were my feelings exactly. I thought my personal statement was a good explanation of my feelings behind applying for this particular MA. Part of this is seen below:

In my BA, my work was a visual exploration of narratives, often with no targeted final outcome to challenge myself and see where my ideas would lead me. My final products focused on illustrating underlying aspects of narrative such as themes, metaphors and even how a story is constructed. This freedom of exploration often resulted in different outcomes for briefs both aesthetically and in terms of a final product, leaving me questioning the place and purpose of my work.

I have always ultimately been interested in Book Publishing and sequential illustration and found myself questioning my some what ‘abstract’ explorations of narrative and asking how my work has related and where I go from here. Having so much freedom in my studies has been fantastic in terms of pushing my limits, challenging myself and gaining a deeper understanding of illustration, but can also be a danger of going too off tangent in a project. An MA could provide me with the boundaries my working process needs to allow my practice to flourish.

As I reach the end of my degree I have realised where my strengths lie and the potential for my practice ahead. These strengths are research, ideas, and experimentation of media and image making. I love researching into a story’s context, allowing this to influence and augment the aesthetics of my work and love experimenting with media to create colourful, interesting and unique outcomes. Aesthetically, my work is often colourful and playful: what most suggest is fitting to a Children’s Book Context.

The MA in Cambridge could be a natural progression for me; a chance to harness the experimental nature of my work and apply it to a context, taking control of the professional direction of my work. On visiting an open day I was excited to hear about the potentials of ‘Children’s Book Illustration’ and opportunities to focus on non-fiction and teen fiction. I’m excited at discovering what more ‘Children’s Books’ can offer and hope to bring new ideas to the course, pushing ‘less obvious’ illustrative devices such as the narrative frame, (a subject I chose to base my dissertation on) whilst seeing how I can create interesting and unique work pushing within the boundaries.

After sending off my application I was invited to interview. This experience made me want to get a place on the course even more as I found out more about it and the dislike for pre-conceived ideas of Children’s Book Illustration: something I certainly don’t have. My interviewer and I went through my portfolio and picked out images seen above, images which are part of my development work which have always stood out to me as the pieces I liked most. I was excited that potential could be seen in these pieces and can’t wait to develop my way of working!

Over the summer I will be doing lots and lots of sketchbook work in preparation for our first module and in order to get back into the swing of drawing from life! My project on The Color Purple which I was working on for 6 months involved flat, graphical imagery so I can’t wait to get drawing! I also hope to continue the research I touched upon in my dissertation on ‘The Narrativity of the Frame’ and do a lot of research into visual storytelling and sequential imagery which I’m also really excited about- I have a busy summer ahead!