Final Images and Evaluation

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Out of all of the projects for the FMP, this is my personal favourite and the piece I think is the strongest. Because of the powerful connection to the project, this was a bit of a emotional rollercoaster for me but it was a perfect way of honouring the people I miss, and almost a way for me to come to terms with the loss.

I’m so happy with how the dress came out. I have been asked where I bought it, which made me very happy because I wanted to create a highly professional looking dress that could be bought from a fashion brand. The finishing is perfect and my seamstress did a brilliant job. It turned out exactly how I imagined it would.

Creating the pattern was very challenging for me. I’ve never created a design as big as that, but thankfully it turned out perfect. The print is crisp, despite the fact that the images were blown up a lot larger than the original drawings. I think that although the meaning behind the print won’t be obvious to everyone, there is something about it that will make people think that it is more than just a decorative pattern. Venturing outside of my comfort zone to have such a deep, personal and meaningful concept was difficult for me but now I see that my work is so much stronger when a lot of thought goes into the design process.
Photographing and making the lookbook I felt was really important. I don’t usually undertake a lot of photography, and this project kind of made me fall back in love with it again. I now know the importance of using well thought out and beautiful photography in enhancing my illustration.
Using colour has never been my strong point, so I think I have done really well here in picking a beautiful colour palette that compliments each other really well. I also never draw flowers or fruits/vegetables ever, I used to be really bad at it and I didn’t enjoy it, but this project has pushed me to get better at one of my weak points in my drawing and designing. I also always stick to symmetry, so creating a print that was so random was really challenging, but it paid off here. A random design suits the subject matter and the flow of the dress so much better and gives the design a “natural” look.
I don’t know if I would produce more of these dresses, as this pattern is personal to me so I’d like to make this a one off. However, I see no reason as to why I can’t make similar designs to this with a similar dress.
I was initially worried that because I didn’t print the fabric or make the dress that it would seem like it wasn’t my work. However, i’ve come to realise that my role is that of an illustrator and designer – I’m not a printer or a seamstress. Focusing my efforts on being really good at one thing is really paying off for me. This year I have realised my strengths and limitations, and I know when things should be left to someone else more proficient in a skill to help me realise my ideas.
I will be collaborating with a clothing designer soon, so this project for me allowed me to get my skills up to scratch, so that when I create designs for fabric in the future it will be so much easier for me because I am already familiar with the technique. I really think that this piece will look fantastic in my portfolio, especially as up until now I have only created designs for t-shirts. Creating this dress and lookbook has strengthened my skills as an artist, and is helping me on my way to becoming a much more versatile illustrator. Although this design is dark, there’s no reason why I can’t soften up my work with brighter colours. I definitely think I could create work for more mainstream brands, which is key to me be able to secure more work and commissions in the future.

Final Degree Show

This piece is the project that I want to display in the final show – because it will be the most interesting visually to display and I can do so much more with it than the beer bottles or the book cover.
My main inspiration was Alexander McQueen’s show at the V&A. I want my dress to not just look like an item of clothing, but also a piece of art.  I want my display to be mysterious and dramatic, and to evoke the subject matter.

 

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My idea is to display the dress as if it is floating, suspended in mid air. I will use fishing wire to create this effect, as it is strong and almost invisible.
Also suspended from the dress with fishing wire will be flower petals.  I kept all of the dead flowers that I used for references because I had a feeling I would be needing them. I will tie fishing wire to one end, then on the other end create a loop and pin the flowers and wire to the underskirts of the dress.

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Underneath the dress I want a display on the floor of flower petals, as if they’ve dropped off of the dress. I feel that this shows the themes of decay and memento mori really well – it shows the dress as almost a tree or flower, wilting and dropping petals.
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I was upset that I wasn’t able to include the insects in my design, as it would have been too cluttered, so I bought taxidermy insects that I will attach/pin to the dress using pins. The insects will create even more of a Vanitas feel because they look like they’re still alive, when in reality they are dead. This dead/alive theme is so strong within Vanitas imagery. The insects I chose are moths, a cicada and beetles – the same ones I found in my research that had the most meaning to me.

 

It was also suggested to me in my crit that i could include music playing. McQueen’s exhibition was a triumph because the music they picked for the displays made such an impact in connection with the pieces.
It is possible that I could hide some small speakers near my piece.

One choice for the music would be Shine on You Crazy Diamond I-IX. After my friend passed away I would listen to this song on repeat as the lyrics reminded me of her. The only problem is that it is a very long song and would need to be cut down. I would only pick the instrumental parts of the song, because I don’t really want to include any singing in the music.

I also thought about using this instrumental piece by Einaudi. The only issue I have is that it sounds a little too…cheerful. I don’t think it would have the right impact for the installation.

The last choice for my installation is the one I am going with. This instrumental piece by Nine Inch Nails has been one of my favourite songs for years. It has a really ethereal quality to it. This song is what I could listen to in any mood and somehow it seems to reflect it perfectly. For my installation, it will be a sombre, haunting accompaniment to the theme and I think it will work perfectly.
To make the music a little more personal to me, I decided to record myself performing a piano cover of A Warm Place. As I’ve shown before in other projects, piano is a hobby of mine that I have been trying to master since the age of 7, so it i and has been a huge part of my life. Playing piano is a good release for me, hammering away at the keys relieves a lot of stress and tension and also gives my hands a break from drawing while still stretching them out and keeping them limber.
I think that if I put a lot of effort into my installation, it could be really beautiful. I’ve never displayed my work quite like this so it is a huge challenge for me. I think that this piece is the perfect way of honouring the people I miss.

Constructing & Photographing The Lookbook

I had my lookbook printed at the same place as my Clockwork Orange book cover was printed.
I really liked the way my beer label photos came out so I set up the lookbook in the same place. I scattered the desk with dried petals which made the display look more interesting.

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I found a greetings card box with a window that I thought would be perfect to keep my book safe. The window means that the cover is visible through the box so I wouldn’t have to worry about what the box had on the front.
I took some photos of the book to show the overall design, and then some detail shots. The petals really work well with the images because they’re bright and contrast against the black, but also the colours of the petals represent the tones of the photos and the dress colours.
I decided that I would include the digital files of each spread of the book. There didn’t seem to be much point in photographing photographs.

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I wanted the book spreads to match the rest of the photoshoot, so I created a petal border from some of the photos I took. I kept the background dark to mimic the photoshoot background and also to make the colours pop out.
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When I placed one of my double page spreads over the petals, it looked pretty tacky. The petals looked really odd and it looked a bit gimmicky. The petals were also too distracting from the photos and take away the focus somewhat.
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Even when I lowered the opacity of the petals they still didn’t look right.
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Even the black border looked pretty unnecessary – especially as my book doesn’t even have borders.
I decided that the best way to display the book pages is just to show how they are, with no gimmicks or other unnecessary elements.

Lookbook

I decided that I wanted to create a small lookbook for the dress. As I only have one garment, whereas usually clothing designers have a few different pieces, I decided that I would have to fill up the lookbook with other supporting images. I decided that the book should be a kind of ‘diary’ of how the dress came about.

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Rick Owens Lookbook, 2011. I’m interested by the unusual layout style, although I’m not sure if it would work for my own images.

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Ribbon binding found (here)
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String binding found (here) 
I want to keep my lookbook as simple as possible, so I think one large image per page is the best bet.
I started out with some composition ideas for the front cover. I knew I wanted something very simple, white text against a black background.

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As all of my images are mainly portrait, I had to change the orientation of the book.
I decided I wanted a simple, effective monogram of “MM” (memento mori)

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This one was way too simple.

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Although I like this one, it’s perhaps a little too much for the front cover. This is a sketch I scanned in and then lowered the opacity of to make appear grey.

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I chose the Georgia typeface because I already use it for my logo.The letters are simple but really beautifully designed. The monogram is a bit more interesting but still very simple, and the added text gives the viewer more information about the title.

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I was going to add a box around everything but I felt that it didn’t need this – it makes it look too much like a fashion label which was not really what I wanted.

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Back and front cover
I made a list of the kinds of images I wanted to include in the book.

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I looked back through the photos I had already taken and chose a few that I felt were the best shots and also presented the ideas I wanted within my lookbook.
I loved this shot I took in the Horniman museum. I felt it represented my research really well – one of the starting places for me was research and museum trips. I edited the photos a little, trying to see how they might look really dark. I change the hue to a purple-ish colour to match the tones in the dress. I love how the dark black silhouettes look against the purple textured background.
I also edited this image similarly, but this time I reduced the saturation as well. I feel like this stage of my project was equally important – witnessing the decaying of flowers and life and also researching into the specific meanings of flowers which are now extremely important to my project and dress design.
I also found these images I took of some burnt petals. The colours aren’t really right – my design doesn’t feature the colour yellow. I liked the decaying look to them, how they look so fragile.

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I rotated the image to match the orientation of the others, and edited it using the same methods as the Horniman Museum photo. The purplish colours are a really important factor of both the dress and book, which is why I’ve been changing the colour balance of all of my images.
Using the same set up as what I was using to photograph my other two projects, I used my photobox with the black backdrop. I used my macro lense to get some closeup shots of the drawings, and also the cicada on a flower. I used a lamp on one side to give the objects dramatic lighting. I set my camera up on a tripod to maintain steady photos. This set up was very easy but really effective as I managed to get some great shots.

 

Photos of the drawings. I tried to achieve an interesting angle and depth of field – so that the drawing looked more interesting than just the scan. I also wanted to show some of the detail of the pencil lines and marks.
The photograph I chose to use. I picked it because it shows a lot of detail in the drawing, the depth of filed and angle is interesting and I also realised that the pomegranate fruit doesn’t feature anywhere else in the book yet so I needed to include it. I inverted it because the original was so bright it looked odd because all of the other photos are so dark.
Photos of the cicada. These were really difficult to achieve but the depth of field is so interesting.
The photos I chose – the insect was easily distinguishable and the angle and depth of field were really interesting.

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After editing. This one has a more pinkish orange tone, but this isn’t a problem because I know that the dress has a few of these colours on it. I will place this image alongside another one that shares the same colour palette.
I laid the dress down in the photobox to act as draped fabric that occurs so frequently in Vanitas paintings. on top of that I arranged a still life using insects, flowers and vegetables/fruit.
Some of the photos. I had a hard time with this shoot, the beetle wouldn’t stay still and I had to rearrange the display several times. Eventually I took a few photos that I was really pleased with.
After editing. I lowered saturation but didn’t need to change the colour balance as the tones in the objects already match the purples of the dress colours.

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The image I chose. The objects are clear, the composition is really effective. It feels like an old vanitas painting which is what I wanted to accomplish. The print on the fabric is visible but doesn’t take anything away from the objects.
I also took some photos of the dress hanging up against a white wall. I wanted to achieve very strong lighting and shadows on the wall behind the dress. I took the photos from an odd angle because I wanted to make the photos more abstract than just a standard photo of the dress.
Some edits of the photo – altering the saturation and levels to make the photo dark and mysterious.

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I chose this one in the end because the composition is the best – the front view means that you can still tell what the image is of, but the angle is still interesting enough that the photo doesn’t feel boring. The shadows cast by the dress on the wall give the photo a mysterious, etherial feel and also makes the dress feel like it’s moving.
I also took a couple of photos with my macro lens of the detail of the fabric. I wanted to show that the fabric is translucent so I overlapped the fabric slightly to achieve that layered effect.

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I chose this photo because I felt it would work best with the closeup of the cicada insect. The layering shows that the fabric is floaty and the composition is the better one out of the ones I took.

 

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First page – the meaning of memento mori in Georgia typeface to keep things consistent.

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Second page – a photo I took in the Horniman museum, edited to have a faded colour that matched the colouring of the dress.

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Third page – inverted photograph of one of my drawings for the dress.

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Fourth page – one of my reference photos of the flowers, edited to be washed out and darker to match the dress and make it look a little more dramatic.
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Fifth and sixth page – Vanitas style image of my dress as draped fabric, along with some objects depicted on the dress.
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Seventh page – detail of the dress fabric

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Eighth page – close up macro shot of a cicada insect

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Ninth page – petal closeup.
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Tenth page – image of the dress hanging so as to see the detail and shape better.

Fabric, Seamstress and Finishing the Dress

My fabric arrived from the company I ordered from and I’m so pleased with how it has turned out. The colours are perfect – subtle but not too dark. The detail shows up fine and the fabric hasn’t pixellated and remains crisp and clear despite the large size.
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I also purchased a black cotton lining material. Black seemed to bring out the colours better than white underneath the fabric.

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I gave the pattern, printed and lining fabric to my seamstress. She took my measurements, then went away and constructed some of the dress.

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At this stage the lining material hadn’t been sewn in under the main skirt yet. The colours still look great! The dress is very floaty which is exactly what I wanted.
The finished dress. I couldn’t be happier with this – the finish is so professional. The dress has good proportions and fits really well. The pattern and the fabric create a beautiful floaty effect which works very well together. The seamstress did a fantastic job and I’m so proud that I am able to wear something that is my own design but looks like it came from a store like All Saints.

Ordering The Fabric

Using the fabric printing online design tool here, was really easy although I had to make sure that everything was perfect before I ordered the fabric.

 

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I first set the fabric type to Paris Chiffon, then set the measurements. The tool automatically converts the measurements so I was able to check that it was definitely 45″ x 5m. This is actually the largest size that the website offers, thankfully.

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I uploaded my file which took a while but I knew this would happen as it was so large. When it finally uploaded I placed it on the template and made sure there were no white borders. I would have preferred to have left a little bleed but as this was the largest size they offer for printing I didn’t have any choice.
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The tool checks images to see if the quality is good. Because I set up my document correctly, the quality was absolutely fine. I’ve now ordered my fabric and I will wait a few days to receive it.

The Finished Design

I finally completed the drawings for the main shapes of the pattern. It was easier for me to draw each piece separately because my scanner is only A4 size and it also allows me to focus on the detail of each section without becoming overwhelmed. I scanned in each piece at 300dpi to achieve good quality for the print.
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Using Photoshop I then collaged the pieces together on one document. The dress pattern said I needed a length of fabric that was 45″ x 5m. I converted 5m into inches which was 196.85″. This is a screenshot of how I created my document. CMYK is better for printing, whereas RGB is better for web graphics. I kept my doc as 300dpi and 8bit to make sure my program didn’t run super slow as I would be working with a huge document.

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I split the 45″ x 5m rectangle into 8 halves. Each section is 22.5″ x 49.213″ so I created a separate document with those measurements and the same options.

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This is the first composition I created. I wasn’t happy with it because I felt there was too much negative space and I wanted to stick to the initial composition I created because I felt it was more balanced.
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This is the second composition I tried and I decided to stick with this one. I was so much happier with how it looked because the negative space felt a lot more natural. I did notice that it wasn’t perfect – there were still some weird gaps which I will fill later after the pattern has been coloured.
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Using the same colour palette I picked out, I coloured each different element. I set the sketch layer to ‘multiply’ then created coloured layers underneath it. This is the finished pattern with colour.
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I then c+p’d the pattern into the larger document. The reason I created a smaller section first is because the pattern is mostly a repeat with some elements that are different. To create the pattern on the larger document would have slowed Photoshop down quite a bit, so it was easier to create the main pattern on the smaller document first.
This is the finished pattern, after I’d c+p’d the main design multiple times and then added some more flowers, leaves, etc into the weird gaps to make the design feel more natural.

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Here are some detail shots of the design to show how I built up the pattern randomly and naturally. The pattern does repeat but it’s not as noticeable because of the way I’ve placed everything.

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The finished pattern.

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After a lot of trail and error, the pattern finally turned out how I wanted it to and I’m so thrilled with how it has turned out. I never usually create patterns like this so it was definitely a learning curve for me.