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Student blog: collaborating with UEA Creative Writing on an Illustration project

BA (Hons) Illustration student Alex Maxwell-Clarke documents their experience working in collaboration with UEA Creative Writing.

Alex Maxwell-Clarke

Tell us about your project

At the end of first year, we had a group collaboration project with UEA creative writers to assemble a campaign to raise awareness using creative writing and illustration.

The groups were made up of 8 illustrators and 8 creative writers. This meant we could work in pairs and then regroup. However, my group was handed ‘World Statistics Day’ as our project campaign, which left us uninspired.

How did you get the project started?

To kick things off our group had several zoom calls to get know everyone and our work. This helped us all get an estimate of what to expect from everyone in the group.

I was paired up with a fantastic creative writer who specialised in poetry, so that was our key starting point.

“Collaborating with other illustrators allowed us to see the range of work we can create in our course and the broad ways of working.”

Alex Maxwell-Clarke

Our group decided to dive into individual statistics between our pairs to create a cohesive campaign. We chose statistics about sexual harassment.

I started to gather visual references and create rough sketches and pieces around our chosen statistic: “97% of women experience sexual harassment”.

How did you develop your creative outcome?

When refining my work, I realised it may be more of a challenge that I anticipated. I had I had set myself 16 different illustrations based on two acrostic poems I had received from the writer. However, I overcame this by putting all my focus on the outcome and effective time management.

I decided to create an A3 banner using digital software with a colour scheme of yellow, orange, and blue. I pulled the colour scheme from the World Statistics Day logo, with added contrast on yellow and orange tones.

Alex Maxwell-Clarke

Using digital software was something I was still slightly uncertain with, as I had not had much experience using it to create large scale works. I used my initial thumbnailing process to start exploring software, as I could have rough sketches and really get to grips with the layering system.

The easiest stage was the initial sketches in response to poetry, as it allowed me to be rough and experimental before defining the line work. I eventually grasped how the software worked and it became a lot easier to navigate, which meant it slowly became more enjoyable to use.

What was the hardest part of the collaboration?

The toughest part of this collaboration was communicating over Zoom and Microsoft Teams. This was such a challenge because sometimes group members would miss the notification for the meetings or simply forget to join the call.

I would have preferred the collaboration to be in person, but it taught us to adapt to the ongoing circumstances.

And the best?

Having the opportunity to work with other creatives to put together a campaign. I enjoyed working with students from another university and course as I was able to get a different perspective on the project. Also, collaborating with other illustrators allowed us to see the range of work we can create in our course and the broad ways of working.

This was one of the best projects during my first year on the illustration course as I learnt so many new skills and broadened my range of work. I have made so many new connections with people I would have not approached on my own.

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