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Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

Paper Circus

Create a poster advertising what’s on, where and when, but only use paper to do it.


At first I was finding it difficult to find the kind of "examples" I wanted for this exercise. Perhaps it was down to the keywords I was using in my search. I wanted graphic, but paper, I wanted it look modern, but crafty. As well as this, I also find the general searches for circus themed posters or adverts to be on the outdated side slightly, making inspiration for my expectations to be little challenging. So I had to dig a little, find artists that I thought was at least communicating something that I found interesting with paper as their medium.


Naomi Anderson Subryan


Naomi was the first illustrator I found that worked with paper in a way that I loved. She brings the cartoon element that I really enjoy and coupled it with lettering, quotes or other humorous sayings to give it a comical feel to the work.

I really love the shapes in which Naomi uses to create appealing silhouettes. The bunny framing the text, the the dog stretching the length of the page shaping around the flowers and moon, and the way quack sits between the head and body of the duck.


Stephanie Wunderlich


The second artist I came across was Stephanie Wunderlich, where an actual circus poster popped up on Pinterest linking to her. Many other Stephanie's works are done with collage in mind, work traditionally with paper or using the same look/process digitally.




I was of course drawn to Stephanie's work because it was the first circus themed paper poster I had seen. I thought it was interesting to see what she had included in the poster and how she composed them. As much as I would wanted to not included people, I knew I didn't want to include animals due to the nature and conditions of a circus and what is known as rather torturous for them. That said, it would have made this process a hell of a lot easier had I just stuck with animals!


Sonia Alins


The next artist that I came across is Sonia Alins who's work includes paper but in a very different manor. Sonia creates beautiful artworks that layer different textures from elements such as fabric, feathers, wool, printed paper or plastic. The works I was most drawn to were the stunning underwater scenes that use a slightly frosted sheet over the elements to give the impression of being submerged by water, leaving feminine characters in the illusion of floating with head above the water. I loved this technique and wondered whether there would be a way to incorporate it into my own works. Escape artist perhaps?




Mood Board


Once I had looked around for artist inspiration, I gathered a few circus poster/illustration references that I thought looked interesting. If I wasn't able to find paper works, I looked at block prints that looked as though they could be made from paper cut out.




I also, for some weird reason, thought about matchboxes and how those would often use unique prints to decorate the packaging. What I had found was several designs from Russian matchboxes which I loved the design of.





I liked the reduction of details in the matchbox designs, and the use of limited colours. This is how I would imagined brainstorming an idea that would later translate to paper.


I began very quickly thumbnailing ideas on the iPad.








The problem I was having, was the simple fact of not knowing how I wanted people to look in this piece. I wasn't really motivated to make people at all, so trying to think of a style for this was just difficult. The idea that I kept gravitating to most was the long stripey leg concept. I thought the little feet were quite and there was a minimalist graphical edge to it that somehow I couldn;t get over. Perhaps this was a copout, the idea was very simple and is the least "circus" out of the bunch, but I liked it.



Well, call it simple, but wowza. It my first introduction to using paper and did I enjoy it? well cutting it out was ok, despite it being tricky the smaller it gets there's a therapeutic level to it, however the placing of the pieces is where I learnt I didn't have the patience for. Rewarding in the end when it finally stays where you want it, but it is certainly a tester on the patience.


It is beyond simple, but I don't mind that. I could have used a different font, and perhaps laid the letters out differently, and I could have used a different colour for the background but otherwise I am not mad at my first attempt with the first idea.




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